BY CAROL HAZARD Richmond Times-Dispatch

How’s the housing market in the Richmond region? We talked with Mark Joyner, president of the Richmond Association of Realtors and vice president at Napier Realtors ERA, for an update.

QUESTION: Where is the housing market now in the cycle?

ANSWER: The cycle has changed due to a few large factors, but I would say we are in the second year of a low slanting upswing.

QUESTION: Why do you think it has taken so long to recover?

ANSWER: Lack of focus on housing from the top down. It is that simple. Not too long ago, I was in my 20s, fresh out of school. I wanted to start a career. Find the right girl to marry. Start a family and buy a home. The American dream has not been talked about in years. One single factor that is unavoidably the largest obstacle to a normal housing recovery is the Dodd-Frank bill. Right behind that is an ongoing job market that cannot recover because business, especially small businesses, cannot recover.

QUESTION: Where do you see it going in the next year?

ANSWER: Next year will be about the same as this year. Unfortunately it won’t change until there are changes in policy and law and that is not going to change until the policymakers change or are replaced.

QUESTION: What about the next two years?

ANSWER: See above.

QUESTION: Are we beginning to see multiple offers in some locations of the Richmond area?

ANSWER: The market is fragmented, but yes, some areas are seeing multiple offers. In those areas, it is a great time to sell. There are many areas doing well all around RVA.

QUESTION: Which locations are the most in demand?

ANSWER: The city of Richmond, eastern Henrico and Colonial Heights have seen a double-digit percentage increase in homes sold year over year. Homes are selling the fastest in the near West End of Richmond and western Henrico County. Pricing is still key here. Prices have risen nicely in most areas around central Virginia, but you can still overprice your home — and you will know when you have.

QUESTION: Which areas are the softest in demand?

ANSWER: Rural areas are doing better but seem to have more than a six-month supply of inventory. A six-month supply signifies a balanced market between buyers and sellers.

QUESTION: What is the biggest obstacle to selling now?

ANSWER: Finding a ready, willing, able and qualified buyer. This is again due to the heavy restrictions placed on lenders when qualifying buyers because of the Dodd-Frank bill. In addition, the sputtering job market is a major obstacle. Many have even given up looking for a career and those are mostly left out of the statistics.

QUESTION: How tight is the inventory?

ANSWER: It definitely depends on the area and sometimes even the neighborhood. If you have a good home in a strong area in nice condition, and you price it correctly, it will sell.

QUESTION: Which segment of the market will continue to do well?

ANSWER: Those with great infrastructure and community support systems. A strong community is one people want to live in. That being said, we have a lot of pent-up demand in the first-time home buyer market. Lots of them do not have the ultimate career they were shooting for. When they get it, they will buy and when the first-time home buyer buys that frees up the second-time home buyer, which then frees up the third-time buyer and so on.

QUESTION: Will there continue to be demand for McMansions in the suburbs?

ANSWER: There may be, but in a different way. As boomers age, the McMansions make for great multi-generational homes. Many can be repurposed into that with very little expense. With a sputtering economy, a multi-generational, multi-income home makes a lot of sense.

QUESTION: How significant is the trend toward new urbanism, where people live, work and play in the same community?

ANSWER: The early adopters of that idea have done very well. Like any market, that can be overbuilt as well. Currently, strong sales in those types of communities would suggest we are not approaching our saturation point yet.

- Carol Hazard

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