Category Archives: General Real Estate

How do buyers find homes – interwebs or agents?

Me? I was somewhat surprised at how few found their new home via real estate agents ... but upon reflection, not really.

For years I've written and said that a good real estate agent's skillset is far, far more than having a login to the MLS and a lockbox key (although I'd argue that that's the primary skillset for at least half of licensed real estate agents).

A great real estate professional helps buyers (and sellers) put together puzzles, serves as a guide - a navigator of the market, and a filter and interpreter of the seemingly endless morass of purportedly relevant information available.  Searching for homes online is easy; ascertaining whether that home is the right one for you is often much more difficult.

Heck, in 2007, I wrote about 12 reasons to to use a Realtor.

With that preface, have some fun with the data the NAR just put out about where buyers find homes.

 

And for even more fun with data (and data display):

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The life of a community blog – RealCrozetVA

Community.

A friend wrote some time ago that part of finding success is to give a sh*t.

Giving a sh*t is hard. But it's rewarding and meaningful. This post? Not about real estate, other than that a tremendous component of "real estate" is community.

Just over nine years ago, I started RealCrozetVA with a simple goal -"to provide a forum for Crozet to (hopefully) discuss their thoughts about Crozet’s growth." At the time of the blog's inception, Crozet was smaller, Old Trail hadn't yet begun, the new Crozet Library was still being designed, and there was palpable concern, and questions, about what was happening.

In the past nine years, a lot has changed. Facebook and Twitter, for example, didn't exist. Now those channels have become major components of the RealCrozetVa communication voice. I've never spent the time to figure out a "strategy" per se, but some things are more appropriate for Facebook, some for Twitter, and I've started a "recently on facebook" category on the blog to archive the conversations there.

Two thoughts on the changing technology - 1) I wish I'd done a better job of archiving photos of Crozet. 2) One of the constants in this journey has been WordPress.

The Crozet Gazette launched a few years ago and has provided consistently great reporting, something I'm just not going to do.

Charlottesville Tomorrow started and is awesome.

I added a calendar component some time ago, but last year spent the money on a plugin that's made the calendar much, much more functional, enabling community members to add events on their own.

I'd love to be able to make some changes to the design (like add an "add to calendar" button) but that's likely to not ever happen by me.

But really? The "success" of RealCrozetVA is thanks to the community's involvement, their comments, likes, replies, etc.

Have I "gotten business" from RealCrozetVA? Maybe, but that's never, ever, been the goal. I occasionally write about the Crozet real estate market (46 posts in 9 years - about 3% of the time), merely as a reminder that I do happen to earn a living as a real estate agent.

One thing that is absolutely critical is Blue Ridge Internetworks who provide the hosting and support for RealCrozetVA for free. Thank you.  (I'd get their fiber to my house if I could)

I'm grateful for the community in which I live, and hope to continue writing about it for some time.

* I'm always looking for guest posters, though!

   
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What’s an Ello?

Ello. The newest, greatest social network that's hoping to supplant Facebook. I hope they succeed. But what is it? (what's this have to do with real estate? Not much, other than real estate is in part a social business, and ello is social.)

I'm still figuring Ello out, and it's a bit fun to be in the early days of something new and somewhat undefined. The loneliness there is a bit different from the loneliness I perceive on Google +; to me, Ello is new while G+ is tried and mostly failed.

But really, I signed up in order to further my lifelong battle to be thought of as Jim Duncan from Charlottesville rather than Jim Duncan the weatherman. 

Some thoughts I wrote on Ello the other day:

NB: My blog is in transition right now; the tag isn't working, so to read the rest, click here.

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October’s Note: Perspective, Oddities & Inspections

October's monthly note - realcentralva

 

The subscription-only monthly note from Jim Duncan/RealCentralVA - this month, the Charlottesville real estate market, perspective & thoughts on home inspections and the always-popular roundup of the previous month's best blog posts from RealCentralVA and RealCrozetVA.

Two clicks here and you'll have the note next week when it's published.

One change that I've made recently: I'm publishing the archives a few months after they're published. If you're curious, you can read 2013's notes, and I think I'm going to publish them all here on RealCentralVA in December. (me? I tend to print them to edit them)

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Wi-Fi Locks on Houses when you Miss a Payment?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/4609406128/in/photolist-82jpRs-a4vGmD-5TeJdy Wi-fi locks on houses when borrowers miss a payment can't be that far in the future, based on this NYTimes article:
Ms. Bolender was three days behind on her monthly car payment. Her lender, C.A.G. Acceptance of Mesa, Ariz., remotely activated a device in her car’s dashboard that prevented her car from starting. Before she could get back on the road, she had to pay more than $389, money she did not have that morning in March.

And for context, Zillow has a nice, digestible post (with pictures) in which they look at subprime mortgages' return:

Similarly, premiums charged to subprime borrowers remain higher than in 2011 and 2012, but have been mostly flat in recent months (chart below). For a 30-year fixed rate purchase mortgage, upper-tier subprime borrowers pay 70 more basis points while lower-tier subprime borrowers pay 120 more basis points.

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Student Loans’ Impact on Housing – Two Perspectives

I've written about student loans' impact on housing, notably its impact on the Charlottesville market, but these are two recent stories, each with its own take on student loans. (My short opinion: student loans are increasing for the same reason the housing bubble expanded ... we do remember what happened to that, right?)

The Wall Street Journal:

Higher levels of student debt will reduce U.S. home sales by around 8% this year, according to a report released Friday by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, an advisory firm. ... Higher debt burdens will defer home purchases for many borrowers while requiring others to buy a less expensive home in order to qualify for a loan or save for a down payment. The paper estimates that every $250 per month in student loan debt reduces borrowers’ purchasing power by $44,000, and since 2005, some 3.8 million additional households have at least $250 per month in student debt. Put differently, around 35% of households under age 40 have monthly student debt payments exceeding $250, up from 22% of households in 2005.

And The Onion:

Lamenting that she will spend the foreseeable future paying off her college expenses, local 23-year-old digital marketing assistant Ashley Orlinsky expressed concern Wednesday that her student loans will prevent her from ever owning an entirely different type of utterly crippling debt. “Realistically, it’ll take years or even decades to fully repay $50,000 of loans, which makes me worried that I’ll never qualify for a backbreaking mortgage on a house that I can in no way afford,” said Orlinsky, adding that with $350 in monthly student loan payments, she will likely struggle to even borrow money to purchase a new car that will destroy her credit rating and may one day be repossessed by the bank.

It's all about your perspective!

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Food for Thought about New Economies

Food for thought ...

A couple stories and trends that I'm trying to work through as they apply to real estate: Tesla and Uber/Lyft:

Tesla, the groundbreaking electric car company is slowly but surely breaking down archaic, consumer-unfriendly barriers to being able to sell their cars direct to consumers, and Tesla is in the midst of building a new infrastructure through which to distribute the fuel for their vehicles.

Uber/Lyft, brand new to Charlottesville, have seemingly led to a 65% decline in cab use in San Francisco.

The real estate world has its own parallels - real estate agents (some are middlemen, some are critical advisors), MLS (the infrastructure) and the shifting dynamics of ownership (do we really own our iPhones) and motivations to buy homes (see: millennials).

I'm not yet sure where the real estate world is evolving, but it's going to be different in 18 months than it is today.

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Photosphere and Hyperlapse – Two Interesting Tools

Google have released a new tool that further enables users (us) to help them map the world. Photosphere was just released for the iPhone (it's been available on Android for a while) and it's quite remarkable. I'm not sure just how useful it is, but it's mighty interesting. Photosphere will certainly help me detail for my out of town/country clients, but I don't know if it's any better than video, despite the higher resolution.

Curious? This is a photosphere I took of the new Lochlyn Hill neighborhood, currently under construction.

Hyperlapse by Instagram/Facebook is different, exciting - and differently useful. In comparison to the static, 360º images provided by the Photosphere app, Hyperlapse has been described as "a $15,000 Video Setup in Your Hand." I see great potential for Hyperlapse for telling stories - the stories that make a city, an area, a neighborhood, a street - compelling.

Interesting times, and with the new iPhones being released with seemingly infinitely more powerful processors, I think we'll be seeing an a lot more Hyperlapses and Photospheres.    

An example - Downtown Crozet is in the midst of Streetscaping right now ...

Posted in General Real Estate, Technology | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment