Author Archives: Jim Duncan
This thread on Reddit the other day prompted a bit of a writing prompt … What are some questions that home buyers should be asking?
In my practice, I ask a lot of dumb questions - dumb questions in that I know that my clients (buyers and sellers) should be asking them, but often don’t know to ask them. So I ask for them … these are just some that came to me the other day. I think I’ll add to this post over time, but felt that these were some awfully useful questions. I pulled some of them from my 30+ Tips for First Time Homebuyers post that I wrote earlier this year.
Have a question? Have a favorite question you like to ask? I’d love to hear (and add) it. 434-242-7140 or email me.
My two cents:
• Is there a survey? Where are the property lines? Are there easements about which I should be aware?
• Is there an HOA? What are the dues? What have the dues done over the past 10 years? Is the HOA professionally managed? (9/10 professionally managed is better than managed by those who have this much free time)
• What's traffic like during rush hour? What's the commute like? (Always, always visit at different times of day/night the place you're considering)
• What's buyer agency? (if you visit an open house - there's a 99% chance that the agent hosting it is there to represent the seller ... not you)
• Should I use an attorney or title company? (in my market, using an attorney is usually the better option of the two)
• Should I rent first before I buy? (my advice: yes - rent in the area in which you're going to buy so that you can learn the area)
Unsurprisingly, Charlottesville’s City Council is expressing concerns about the size and scale of the just-opened Flats at West Village. The thing is huge (particularly from the back).
I’m curious to see how quickly the place gets leased out.
First things first - you can donate to the Boys and Girls Club here. I’d personally appreciate any donation you can muster. I rode this ride last year for the first time (accomplished 75 miles, aiming for 100 this time) and the cause is a tremendous one.
Join hundreds of regional and pro cyclists on September 14, 2014 as they take off from Old Trail Village in Crozet, Virginia. During the Challenge, you’ll course through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are 25, 50, 75 and 100-mile routes, and an 8-mile family fun ride. Riders are treated to a finish line party including lunch, local wine and beer, and live music. Over the past eight years, the Cycling Challenge has grown into Virginia’s premier fall cycling event.
2 - Why ride? How did it start?
Various avid cyclist in tandem with the Boys and Girls Club developed the event about 7 years ago as a way to get kids on bikes, teach them both training and life skills, and to raise funds for the whole club. This is one of the biggest fundraisers for BGC of Central VA each year.
3 - Who benefits?
All 1,800 of kids of BGC of Central VA
5 - How many riders?
We’re targeting 450 registered riders for 2014
6 - How does this compare to other regional rides?
This is a very well supported with Rest Stations (police, support cars,food, drink, etc). Great after party (food, drink, live band, pool)
7 - How can people help?
Get registered to ride on the website. Donate funds to a registered riders. Volunteer to help support event day. Volunteers are needed for event day registration/packet pickup, setup, food, support cars and aid stations, cleanup.
What’s your triangle?* The above is from a map on which I was drawing the Downtown Mall, Belmont and what is “walking distance” to Downtown and UVA for some clients.
I've found that many, if not most, of my clients have specific triangles - geofences of sorts - that guide their buying areas.
The top squiggle in the box is 29 North. The circle in the center circle is the City of Charlottesville. The two points of the triangle to the West represent home and school. Typically, my clients' lives (and my life too, when I'm playing dad/husband and not Realtor) lead them to at least three points on a daily basis, and determining these points is often challenging at best to do from afar, or quickly.
Much of what I do is knowing how and when to guide and my clients to see the value of these data points, as well as help them know what's around the corner. (“Did you know there's going to be a subdivision there?”)
Today, Google is tracking wherever your smartphone goes, and putting a neat red dot on a map to mark the occasion. You can find that map here. All you need to do is log in with the same account you use on your phone, and the record of everywhere you’ve been for the last day to month will erupt across your screen like chicken pox.
(I have location history turned off on my phone, otherwise I’d have used one of my own screenshots)So ... if you're moving to Charlottesville, take my advice to rent before you buy - turn on google's location history and use them to better understand your triangles. And once we’ve figured out the triangles and have a foundational understanding of the Charlottesville real estate market, we devise a path forward.
The stories of two Charlottesville/Albemarle arteries:29:
However, he unveiled a timetable that lists major milestones that must be met to ensure all the projects are completed by October 2017. “About a year from now, we’re going to have a set of plans for construction for Rio,” Shucet said. Plans to manage traffic and relocate utilities will be developed in the spring, Shucet said. The road and bridge designs will be reviewed by July, and the plans will be approved by August 2015, he said.West Main:
The loss of 30 street parking spaces on Charlottesville’s West Main Street in favor of marked bicycle lanes remains a key concern, members of a steering committee learned Wednesday. ... Though increased walkability may promise to bring foot traffic to local businesses, the loss of street parking in order to accommodate bicycle lanes failed to win the support of some business owners.I've yet to see (I probably haven't looked hard enough) to see any plans for how to better connect Charlottesville and Albemarle to each other in a bicycle-friendly way.
Since I started in real estate in 2001, the fear of being disintermediated, being rendered meaningless or obsolete has been a constant. I’ve chosen to not subscribe to that fear. And still don’t.
Zillow is buying Trulia. For $3.5 Billion. The Zestimate was $2 billion. (ba-dum-bum) Good for them - they're smart companies that execute well. Truzillia? Zillowia? ZillowTru? None. They’re going to remain two separate companies, drawing advertising from the same constituency as before. They’ll save money, but the ones paying likely won’t.
"We started Zillow as a media property, not a real-estate brokerage," said Spencer Rascoff, chief executive of Seattle-based Zillow. "We sell ads, not houses."
A few thoughts, as I truly think it's too early to draw any credible conclusions:
- One of my first questions was "why didn't Zillow buy Realtor.com?" - aside from the entangling relationship that Realtor.com's parent Move has with the National Association of Realtors, I'd argue that simply put, Trulia is a better site and business than Realtor.com. Simple.
- How is the consumer affected?
As a friend/client emailed me: ""Now only half of the sites will get the data wrong? ;-)”
Zillow and Trulia have fought and will continue to fight for accurate-enough-to-get-eyeballs data. Accurate enough because the casual consumer doesn’t seem to care about inaccurate data. Smart consumers are well-enough attuned to the market to know when to not trust what they see on Zillow - and when to vet said inaccuracy through the MLS.
Searching for homes will now be easier in some respects and harder in others. One big site to search, one big place on which to advertise.
Will Zillow and Trulia share data and data feeds? If so, good.
The consumer is going to feel even more empowered than they already do, and the savvy ones will acknowledge what Don Rumsfeld said many years ago - they don’t know what they don’t know. There is immense value in hiring a real estate guide, a person to whom you can direct your dumb questions, who’s going to prompt you to ask the questions you don’t know to ask, who’s going to listen and help assemble the right team for your real estate purchase or sale.
Discerning good information from bad is going to become an even more critical skill (that’s relevant for life, too - just because it’s on the Interwebs doesn’t make it true).
This house is listed for $249,900. It’s a great house near UVA and Fry Springs. But it’s certainly not listed for $75k.
When I make a mistake (it happens), I’m accountable. My clients (or the public) can call me. 434-242-7140.
When Zillow makes a mistake, who do you call?
I responded to the above text in 2 minutes; it’s been 18 hours and I’ve not yet heard from Zillow.
Would you trust the largest real estate advertising site in the country?