Home sales in Charlottesville Down, and More
Note from Jim | July 2023
The market moves, both slow and fast. Have you seen a fast turtle? I have. Questions about anything you read here? Please ask! 434-242-7140 or please reply to the email
Quick Market Stats
1,036 homes (attached + detached) not-new-construction homes sold in
Charlottesville + Albemarle from 1 January to 24 July 2022.
835 is that number for the same time this year. That’s a big big difference, with huge ramifications.
103.58% (475) of asking price
97.37% (174) of asking
91.18% (187) of asking.
Price matters, from Day One. Thinking about selling? Start here.
Starting with a new perspective. When someone asks me how I’m doing, my new response is often something like, “I have no valid complaints. I had breakfast. Likely a second breakfast too. And I know I’m going to have dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow.”
Sure, I have complaints, and many of them are real and suck, but in context, I have a family, house, reliable transportation, and a career that brings hard-earned and sometimes frustrating fulfillment. I’d wager that many of you might share this mindset. Might make me sound old, but I’m okay with that. :)
A client sent me this:
Read your Note again yesterday. In regards to my homeowners insurance: my policy with (name removed) increased by 36% with renewal in July. To maintain the current premium, I’d have to opt for a $10k deductible for all perils.
Question: How vital is earthquake insurance in Crozet? I understand “it could happen.” But with a 10% deductible on earthquake damage, wondering if its worth the added premium and and should I just self-insure against that. I’ve been doing some research on it. A quake like that (the one we had in 2011) is generally once per 100 years. Damage to a foundation can be $5k-$10k on average, plus other potential issues.
I genuinely don’t understand how or why people are moving to Florida right now. Insurance is one of those “have to have” things. Now AAA is out, joining Farmers, State Farm, Allstate. Free market at work; climate change is real (have you been outside in July?).
We seem to be making a bet that somehow it will all work out. That the government will backstop the insurance market; technology will bring us more climate-resilient homes; that the water either won’t run out or will be kept out.
We hope the bet pays off, but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t a little nervous.
AI is still moving too fast to pay attention to.
I think a human (me) is better than AI for this (at this point).
I was giving a client directions to my office in downtown Charlottesville.*
I said, “Do you know where ACAC is, or IX? We are couple blocks in that direction from the mall.”
Ok; what’s a place you know?
Okay, if you step outside Jack Brown’s and look straight, our building is two blocks that way.
*And Nest is moving soon!
So far, I’m better at listening, then adding context. Things will change.
Related - When to Jump into AI. A great podcast by the Basecamp folks
The first segment in a “value of a good buyer agent” series
What does “Realtor” mean? It means “pays dues to a trade organization, and thus, access to the MLS.”
Many years ago, I was on the Professionalism Advisory Group at the National Association of Realtors (NAR). advocating for something that made being a Realtor *mean* something, and was using CCIM (a commercial real estate agent certification that is the gold standard for competence and experience) as a model - including minimum number of transactions andpeer and consumer reviews. I think I was even one of the first to use "raise the bar" in the eventual national conversation.
NAR has no incentive to make Realtor mean anything other than a dues-paying member, and they demonstrate that by advocating to "use a Realtor" rather than "use a competent, qualified, professional Realtor."
So what’s a good Realtor?
My opinion: someone who is competent, and is always learning rather than believe they know everything and has nothing left to learn. Someone who cares, who has peers to ask questions of, who listens, changes the advice they “always give” when it doesn’t suit the clients’ needs or wants.
One who adapts, and adopts the right technologies and applies them such that they help the client rather than provide a box to check that “I use this!” When it’s not actually beneficial. (See: QR codes in 2011)
One who communicates effectively and promptly, who knows and accepts when they don’t know something, who owns mistakes and learns from them, and is above all, trustworthy. And trusted.
All of those are things that are hard for a real estate consumer to know and evaluate when they either a) have never bought or sold a house or b) haven’t bought or sold one in 7-10+ years.
Part two: What’s the value of learning where/how you don’t want to live?
Two comments from two clients:
"We determined what we don't want and where we don't want to live, more than what we DO want. I guess it was important for that reason."
We “loved the house itself, but we decided that living on that street isn't a good idea at least until the kids are teenagers. We live in a nice neighborhood where the kids will be able to ride their bikes and play with friends, so we shouldn't move unless we find a house in another nice neighborhood where we can feel reasonable letting them run around (even if we are quite squished here). We hadn't realized how important the neighborhood was to us until we were thinking about an offer. The school district concerns are also a factor. Anyway, just didn't want you to spend time pulling comps. We did really love the place though.”
I’ve told my clients for years: - We can find you a house that is “good enough,” but if the location is crap, you’re not going to be happy.
A tip for those buying: rent first.
— We’re in interesting times; what if simply buyer agency goes away?
The extra space
“Where will your kid go when she has friends over?” That’s one of the questions I ask buyers without kids. Sure, the house is the right size now, but if you have kids, do they have a space to hang out with their friends?
“Where is the office?” One of the more common questions buyers and I ask. We had that discussion before, but more now in the WFH environment.
I don’t offer answers (sometimes), but will prompt the questions, all the while in the context of:
If you have the spaces and friends nearby/outside, is that extra friend space as important?
We don’t have that extra space, and my wife and I would either connect with friends or hide out upstairs when our girls had friends over.
Somehow, my mom and her four siblings (and many other families back then!) survived with under 900 square feet.
Physical Therapy and Being Remembered
Longtime readers might recall that I had a fun separation of my shoulder that required surgery and physical therapy. The surgeon told me to keep my arm in the sling for 12 weeks, which I dutifully did.
I found a physical therapist who seemed young, but we were all young once, and inexperienced. I prepared him for how much muscle I had lost in my left arm, and he seemed prepared. But when I took the arm out of the sling, he almost laughed in surprise, “Holy cow! You were right! You lost all the muscle!” I knew something wasn’t right. I confirmed that when I caught him looking at the anatomy map (?) on the wall for how he was going to work me.
The point is, vet your professionals. Tf they are young, great, but make sure they have a mentor. If they’re experienced (I am), suss out how they are still learning. If they’re not, maybe find someone who’s looking forward to not doing things “the way they’ve always been done.”
I’d like my clients to remember me for being good at what I do, for listening to them, and for guiding and representing them exceptionally.
What I’m Reading
Why We Don’t Recommend Ring Cameras - because they’re bad for society?
What I’m Listening to
Why is the US so good at killing pedestrians? (Freakonomics)
Understanding AI’s Threat and Opportunities - with Mo Gawdat (Prof G) - this is a must-listen; it’s about more than AI. I’ve sent it to friends, my partners, and family.
The Wedding Industrial Complex (Seth Godin) - $80K for a wedding, or $1M for your kid? is a great way to frame this discussion.
Conan O’Brien with Patton Oswalt - good stuff here about AI, content, and nuance.
Thanks for reading!