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Virginia Economic Roundup: Foreclosures on the Decline in Virginia

 

According to a new report from residential property information service CoreLogic, Virginia households in some stage of foreclosure represented 0.8 percent of all mortgage holders in the state in September, down 0.6 percent year-over-year.

Nationally, foreclosure inventory represented 2.3 percent of all households with mortgages, compared with 3.2 percent in September 2012.

Virginia households seriously delinquent with their mortgages (more than 90 days late with payments) represent 3.1 percent of all mortgage holders.

In other Virginia real estate news, Lynchburg, Blacksburg and Roanoke recorded a 17.8 percent jump in home sales year-over-year from July – September, according to the Virginia Association of Realtors (VAR) quarterly report.

The Richmond area showed the second-highest increase at 15.8 percent.

Every region in Virginia saw a double-digit increase in home sales in the quarter. Median sale prices increased in every region except for Southside Virginia, where home prices remained flat.

Agricultural Payments Resume After Shutdown Ends

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began distributing payments the week of Oct. 21 for land conservation and other programs delayed by the federal government shutdown.

The USDA began distributing delayed Conservation Reserve Program annual payments and Average Crop Revenue Election payments.

Supreme Court of Virginia Reverses Ruling on Hampton Roads Tunnel Tolls

The Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously rejected a legal challenge to the Downtown and Midtown tunnel tolls that link the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth, clearing the way for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to begin collecting tolls Feb. 1, 2014.

Residents and business owners had sued VDOT and its private partner, Elizabeth City River Crossings, to stop the tolls, which they contended were unfair, illegal and harmful to motorists and commerce. Portsmouth Judge James Cales ruled that the fees were unconstitutional taxes and that the General Assembly had exceeded its constitutional authority by allowing VDOT to “set toll rates without any real or meaningful parameters.”

The Supreme Court ruled that the tolls are user fees and not unconstitutional taxes, saying that the tunnels are part of an integrated network and that users will receive a benefit not shared by the general public. Justices said that the Gilmerton and High-Rise bridges in Chesapeake provide reasonable alternatives for motorists who do not want to pay the tunnel tolls.

The tolls will start at $1.84 for passenger vehicles and $7.36 for trucks during peak travel times, with motorists who do not sign up for an E-ZPass account paying higher fees.

Venture Capital Market Strong in Third Quarter

Companies in the Washington region attracted $445.7 million in venture capital in the third quarter of 2013, an increase of 106 percent year-over-year, according to a quarterly report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association from data supplied by Thomson Reuters.

Investors have spent $1.15 billion in the first three quarters in the region, more than the first three quarters of any year since 2001.

The report defined the Washington region as Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

SCHEV Recommends Expanding Two-Year Transfer Grant for Community College Students

Under a recommendation approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), community college students could complete their four-year university degree at two-year college prices.

SCHEV backed a proposal from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) that would expand an existing grant program to cover the difference between two-year tuition with and four-year tuition at a public school. Students transferring to a private, nonprofit school would receive the equivalent of the average charge of public institutions.

The Two-Year College Transfer Grant Program, established in 2007, awards $1,000 a year to students who transfer after earning an associate’s degree with a 3.0 grade point average, with an extra $1,000 going to students who enroll in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) or nursing programs. While students must show financial need, the threshold was expanded this year to include more middle-income families.

The proposal to expand the program was included in budget recommendations for the 2014–16 biennium. Outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell will introduce his budget to the General Assembly in December.

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