Jim's Note - Trust, Satisfaction, Buyer Agency, Insurance
Note from Jim | October 2023
This month: a few words about trust, satisfaction and ignorance, unsubscribing, buyer agency’s evolution, homeowners insurance, more on solar and a fair note.
A quick word on the Charlottesville real estate market: not much has changed since last month — interest rates are higher than last month, inventory is still low (seasonality is part of this), buyers are still buying, and I’ll be writing a lot more about the market next month.
If you like this note, please share with a friend; it would mean a lot. Questions? Reply to this email, or call/text anytime. 434-242-7140.
Trust is a small word with huge meaning.
How does one create trust when you can’t trust that which is in front of you? Photos, news, AI - discerning what is real and trustworthy is ever more challenging.
Writing is one of the only ways left to display and convey authenticity and empathy. AI is going to heighten the value of being consistently authentic and empathetic.
The so what is that the voice I have in the real world is the same as my voice here (Ok, to be fair, I curse less here.) I wrote in 2007, “If you’re not offending someone, you’re doing something wrong.”
Want to know if you can trust me? Let’s talk. And then you can determine if what I say to you is what I’ve written for nearly 20 years. (Holy cow, that’s a long time!)
Satisfaction and Ignorance
Many years ago when I was younger and a bit more ignorant than today, I was telling one of the other agents in my office that my goal was to have 100% of my clients be happy clients.
He pushed back. This was his second career, and he’d made his living in the corporate world making widgets or whatever they do in the corporate world. He told me that aiming for 100% satisfaction was an unattainable goal, “you can’t make everyone happy.” When he was making widgets, they had a threshold of success, something like 98% satisfaction.
That was a hard lesson, and a needed one. I’d love to have every single one of my clients be happy ones, and over 22 years, I think I’ve done a pretty darn good job of serving and representing my clients. And sometimes, we end up not being great fits, or expectations are unreasonable, and — sometimes, it just doesn’t work. Coming to peace with that reality is important.
I will occasionally ask you to unsubscribe from this note. I do this not to be mean or brusque, but because I value your time, and I want you to want to read this note when you get it, and if you like it, consider sharing it with your friends. If this note becomes a chore, please unsubscribe — you won’t hurt my feelings (for long).
For you real estate agents and agent types — I know you’re there, and I do not write this to or for you. Periodically, I might cull you from the list. :)
How do you quantify the value of listening? I don’t want to and don’t want my clients to be focusing on the clock. I learn a lot from listening. I remember one time recently when my clients and I were sitting at a table in a house that wasn’t quite right. At some point in the conversation one of them remarked how much they enjoyed cooking.
I usually ask, “Who cooks?” But this instance was a more organic comment on how they loved cooking, and we discussed the value of induction versus gas cooking.
Had we been focused on billing in 15 minute increments, that likely would not have come out.
I still don’t know how to quantify said time, and know that the next 6 to 18 months are going to be an evolutionary period in the world of (dis)organized real estate.
Check your policy — see if you are under-insured. I suspect that with the combination of inflation, cost of materials and labor, and the increases in policies due to so many climate disasters, the insurance replacement cost for your home might be less than what the *actual* cost to rebuild would be.
500 single family homes have sold in Albemarle + Charlottesville from 1 June to 12 October — average price per square foot was $266.
*I pulled out the one that sold for $2,490/foot as it was an odd, anomaly and outlier.
A client sent me this, and it’s pretty nifty. Google and solar.
Another client sent me this in response to last month’s note:
Thought I’d give my insights on solar as we are now 2 1/2 years in.
Overall the project cost us $28,000. 26% federal tax credit took that net down to $20,720. I’ve had two power bills in 2 1/2 years and the most was $50. Usually it’s just a $5 service charge to Dominion. Alt Energy/Tiger Solar put me in touch with SRECTrade to sell my renewable energy credits. That nets me about $80 per month on average. Long story short, I calculate I’m saving $236 per month (conservatively) and that lowers my break even down to just over 7 years. So in 4 1/2 years I’ll be in the black. I won’t live in a house without solar going forward. And as an owner of one fully electric vehicle, it makes that type of powertrain so much more doable while putting no excess burden on the grid. Lastly, when we refinanced awhile ago, the appraiser added $20k to the appraisal for solar. (bolding added by Jim)
His house is about 3000 square feet above grade.
Have questions about solar? Ask me.
Why no Charlottesville Nest County Fair?
Simply: the Nest County Fair, our celebration of our clients, grew too big. Our first County Fair was in a small tent with bottles of beer and liquor, and about 80 people total. We ran out of barbecue, so we went to Belmont BBQ and cleaned them out.
The second County Fair had two kegs and enough BBQ.
The last one before Covid, we had over 3,000 people at the Charlottesville Pavilion, and last year, we had about 2,300 people. (and a few more kegs and BBQ than we did the first year).
Sometimes, the best action is to take a breath, so that’s what we’re doing. I’ll miss seeing my clients, but am working on smaller things to get us together.
What I’m Reading
Books. I’ve been listening to a few books via the Libby app. It’s free.
I have a backpack weakness; this is my newest one.
The housing crisis is not merely an American problem, it’s an Earth problem. “Inflated rents, high interest rates and lack of supply create European housing crisis”
ResiClub - the best thing I’ve paid to subscribe to in a while.
What I’m Listening To
Every single episode of Sean Tubbs’ Charlottesville Community Engagement. And almost every email, and absolutely every “Week Ahead.” No other journalist or organization is covering Charlottesville and Albemarle growth, development, politics as thoroughly as Sean. If you can, give him money. Same goes for Tammy Purcell in Louisa; that’s a secondary market for me, but she’s doing amazing work.
By the time you read this, my wife and I will be on a trip we’ve been meaning to do for 25 years. We’re doing it. Life is short, and there are no do-overs. Going to make the most of our time.
*that said, I have wonderful colleagues who will be here to help out my clients, if you need anything!