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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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Fredericksburg Moving Forward in a Recession

Four area experts talk about trends you can look for in 2023

 

Remember all of the anticipation and fanfare that we entered the ‘20s with only to be derailed by COVID, inflation and talk of an impending recession? As they say, tough times never last but tough people do. In the spirit of all things new year, Fredericksburg Parent wanted to bring out the crystal ball in 2023 to see what experts had to say about what you can expect in Fredericksburg moving forward during an impending recession.

Here is what they had to say about housing, lending, education and mental well-being (because as parents, a booster of self-care is never a bad thing!)

Filling Pandemic Created Educational Gaps

“We have seen many more parents seeking out extra help for their elementary-age kids in reading and math. They are looking to catch up on skills that were missed during the pandemic or skills that they noticed their kids needed help with when working one-on-one at home.”

Nina Parrish, M.ED.
CEO & Co-Founder
Parrish Learning Zone

 

Unplugging and Being More Present

As a parent, one of the best ways you can influence your children to be more mindful is to lead by example. Spend a few minutes a day focusing on your breath. This can be sitting or lying down. Guided with an app or just repeating over in your mind to breathe in, breathe out.

Let your children see that you take time to ‘unplug.’ Turn off your phone, the television and shut down the computer. Give them your full attention instead of allowing yourself to be distracted by technology.

Enjoy nature together even when it’s cold outside! Remember, there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing choices.

If you’re leading by example, those habits will transfer to your children and teach them how to focus on their breath, to unplug, and enjoy the outdoors. All helping to create a more mindfully based society.

Anne Kemp
Director
Dragonfly Yoga

 

Real Estate Market Leveling Out

We have seen historically low mortgage interest rates and an unprecedentedly high amount of homes sold over the past few years, and this has come to an end. In the upcoming year, we are going to continue seeing real estate heading back toward a more “normal” market. This means that home sales will most likely be less in 2023 due to higher interest rates.

We have also clearly been in a sellers’ market the past few years, and the upcoming year will not be as clearly defined. Both buyers and sellers will have advantages in different areas.

For buyers, there is expected to be an increase in homes that are listed for sale, giving them more options. For sellers, they remain in a strong position due to the equity they have earned, and prices are expected to continue to increase, albeit at a slower pace than in recent years.

Jay Parrish
Director of Business Development and REALTOR
Coldwell Banker Elite

 

More Balanced Bidding on Homes

Conventional 30-year fixed mortgage rates started this year in the high 2% range and surged all the way up toward 7%. We’ve eased back a bit into the high 5% range as of the third week in December 2022. This has all been in response to expected rate hikes from the Federal Reserve. (Yes, they told us they were going to do it!)

The lower rates of 2020 and 2021 created significant buyer demand. Up until the middle of 2022, it was incredibly difficult for a first-time homebuyer or a buyer with little cash reserves to win a bid on a home to purchase. All cash offers, offers well over list price and huge down payments repeatedly put these buyers at a huge disadvantage. It was quite frustrating for a large part of the market (and for me as their loan officer!)

While higher rates may seem like bad news, they have eased demand enough to bring more stability to the market. Less competition has made the process much more reasonable and realistic for everyday buyers. We’ve even begun to see home inspection contingencies and seller paid closing costs creep back into contracts. This is a very good thing for buyers!

The Federal Reserve has stated many times that they need to see sustained decreases in inflation before they will start to ease their restrictive policy. This means that the rates we saw in 2021 and earlier in 2022 are likely not coming back for some time. We may need to get used to where we are for a bit. How long?  Well, I don’t have that highly sought-after crystal ball, but if we start to see inflation respond to the rate hikes this year, we may have the worst behind us.

Personally, I am ecstatic that we are starting to sense a little more balance in the bidding process. I am pulling for the everyday buyer who has worked hard to save and qualify for their purchase. I am happy to see this become more and more of a reality each day.

Melissa Okrasinski
Branch Manager
CMS Mortgage Solutions
204 William Street, Suite C
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
NMLS #212405

 

Open Up Family Communication

I’d like to encourage families to remain engaged with their children—more than checking on grades and academic success. Check on their emotions, give them words to define their emotions. Provide consistent support and be present. This will help not only with mental wellness but also substance use prevention. Vaping is a massive concern now starting in middle school. And with the increased availability of marijuana and other substances laced with fentanyl, we’re seeing an increase in students vaping something they shouldn’t resulting in a situation requiring medical attention. I’d like to encourage families to have regular and ongoing conversations with their children regarding substances—alcohol, tobacco, vape, marijuana, prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, etc. Let kids know you’re willing to have these conversations. If you don’t know the answer, research it together. Also, parents should be checking bedrooms and backpacks regularly.

I think an increased focus on primary prevention activities is important. Providing quality activities to keep kids and families engaged and active—sports, clubs, the library has so many wonderful opportunities, youth groups, music, etc. All it takes is one caring and competent adult to make a difference in the life of a child.

Michelle Wagaman
Prevention Services Director
Rappahannock Area Community Services Board

Chris Jones
Chris Joneshttps://www.fredericksburgparent.net
Chris Jones is an award-winning journalist and graphic designer and editor of Fredericksburg Parent. When he's not editing or digging up ideas for stories, he loves playing classic video games with his 5-year-old daughter, getting outdoors with his boys, rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams, and reading books.

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