Category Archives: General Real Estate
In February of this year, I wrote my first monthly note. I’d like to think that I’ve shared some useful knowledge and insight about the Charlottesville real estate market, the practice of real estate and other, tangential subjects. I know this – one of the most clicked-on parts has been the “blog recap” in which I summarize some of the better posts from RealCentralVA and RealCrozetVA. Above all, I’ve loved writing these notes and I hope I’ve been able to convey that through my writings. Aside from the writing, the best part has been the one-on-one interaction readers have shared – the format of the note is such there are no comments, but a lot of readers have chosen to reply to the note, and that’s enormously gratifying.
With that preface, the early outline of December’s note (lamentably, I suspect this will exceed my goal of no more than 1500 words)
- The market (I start all the notes with this)
- An interesting home inspector update
- A great builder anecdote
- Agent reviews (the current hubbub about AgentMatch) – determining the “best” real estate agent for you entails more than data.
- Life after being on the Realtor Board of Directors
- Brief recap of some of my favorite stories from this year’s notes
Part 2 of 2. Part 1 is here.
Continuing the “what is usual and customary” question and answer series …
What’s “normal” in the Charlottesville real estate market? It’s a question that’s asked of me by buyers coming from other markets (agents, too) and sellers who haven’t sold a house before (or for many years). Note: what you see on HGTV is not what is “usual and customary” in the Charlottesville market. (or any market on Planet Earth).
“Usual and customary” is always changing. Radon inspections weren’t usual and customary a couple years ago; now they are. Heck, buyer agency wasn’t usual and customary 15 years ago.
Q: — Who attends the home inspection? Appraisal? Termite/Radon inspections?
A: A buyer’s agent attends all of these, with the home inspection being far more important for them to be onsite than for the termite or radon inspections. Meeting the appraiser can be tricky – sometimes if the appraiser has a lockbox key and MLS access, we never get the call to schedule. I try to meet all appraisers onsite, as I like to pick their brains about what they’re seeing in the market as they see the market through a different lens than I do.
Q: Recording and possession. Is recording done the same day as closing? Are keys transferred when closing docs are signed or when transaction is recorded?
A: Usually recording and possession happens on the same day, although I advise my buyers to not have a moving truck on the front lawn the afternoon of closing … I’ve had this happen, something went wrong and many tears were shed, curse words flew, phone calls made and a few nights in a hotel for the buyer highlighted why I advise what I do. Frequently the keys are given to the buyer at closing, with strict instructions to not enter the property until recordation has occurred.
About a month ago I was contacted by Scott Riley, author of Homebuyer Nation, “where first time homebuyers hangout,” and he asked a question – “what is a unique piece of advice I give to my (first time) homebuyers.” While I shared Jeremy’s thought that I’d answer and never hear from him again, I answered. And then was surprised when I Scott sent me a link to the post. Then I was super-happy to see the other 31 contributors to the piece were almost all people from around the country that I’ve both heard of and think highly of (a hard thing to on the inter webs).
What I’m getting at is this – if you’re looking for some great tips for preparing for the home buying process, spend a few minutes looking through the questions at his post, 32 Home Buying Tips from Some of the World’s Most Popular Realtors. What I like best is that the advice given is useful – slow down, take your time, don’t fall in love, don’t buy too much house, use a local lender, use a full-time Realtor – all tips that are practical, applicable and frankly, good.
Part 1 of 2.
What’s “normal” in your market may not be (and probably isn’t) normal in the Charlottesville real estate market.
So what’s “normal” in the Charlottesville real estate market? It’s a question that’s asked of me by buyers coming from other markets (agents, too) and sellers who haven’t sold a house before (or for many years). Note: what you see on HGTV is not what is “usual and customary” in the Charlottesville market. (or any market on Planet Earth).
“Usual and customary” is always changing. Radon inspections weren’t “usual and customary” a couple years ago; now they are. Heck, buyer agency wasn’t usual and customary 15 years ago.
Tina, a colleague in the Nest Blacksburg office, asked a few questions and naturally I felt the answers would be well-served to be posted here, particularly for buyers moving to the Charlottesville area and for sellers who may be moving to other market and not have relevant experience selling a home in our market. Answers are mine.
Q: Do agents use a standard contract? If so, is it the VAR (Virginia Association of Realtors) contract, one provided by your Realtor Association, or a combination of both?
A: Most Realtors in the Charlottesville area use the VAR contract for almost all of our forms, including home inspection, radon etc. We tend to craft specific addenda as needed.
This is the type of place that makes Charlottesville a cool and great place to live – local food and people, beautiful space and wonderful service.
A friend alerted me to the new butchers on West Main the other day – JM Stock Provisions + Supply. Today I stopped in for some bacon, and had a great conversation with Matt and Alex, the proprietors. Genuine, nice guys who know what they’re doing. As Chip on Yelp said, “JM Stock is what a store should be.”
I’ll be back – for more bacon and more conversation to learn about what these guys do. Continue reading
Should I try to sell now or wait until spring?
Therein lies the question as we enter the autumn and winter seasons in Charlottesville. This is the time of year when sellers planning to put their homes on the market in the spring start the process of getting their homes ready for the spring market.
Jonathan Miller pointed out a great article in a New York publication that neatly aggregates some very good responses to this question – “should I sell now or wait?” – all of which are summarized essentially by my default answer of “It Depends.”
Whether you sell now or wait depends on your goals, your flexibility, your timelines, your lives …
A few things to consider:
- The market is seasonally slowing right now – fewer homes are coming on the market and fewer homes are going under contract. As a buyer this means less selection, as a seller this means less competition.
- If you decorate your home for the holidays, be prepared to re-take photos after the holidays … few things date a home’s time on market like Christmas photos.
- What’s the market like for your home right now? What’s it likely to be in January-March? What is your competition likely to be? Existing homes? New construction?
- Will the market for your home be stronger in the spring?
A few questions to ask yourself when debating whether to put your home on the market now or in the spring:
- If you sell now, where will you go?
- Where do you want to live?
- What happens if you can’t sell but find a place you want to purchase?
- What do you have to do to get your home ready for the market? Is it a short list or a long one?
- The holidays are by definition disruptive; are you willing to add “trying to sell a home” to the disruptions?
- Are you already looking for homes? Here’s a few tips to search smarter for homes in Charlottesville.
My thoughts -
- Talk to a lender now, if you need one.
- Talk to a good real estate broker now to help you get a firm understanding of what your marketing strategy and price should look like
Above all, do what’s going to be most advantageous to you, while still maintaining a semblance of sanity. After all, we’re taking about your home; marketing and selling a home is by definition disruptive. Do what you can to minimize the stress and disruption.
Questions? Ask me . I’m doing quite a bit of consulting right now with sellers who are looking to put their homes on the market in Spring 2014.
- Interesting ramifications of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion (or lack thereof) on the University of Virginia and medical Residencies – a typically strong component of the Charlottesville homeownership and rental markets. More at the Atlantic.
- Bike and pedestrian safety gets more attention in Charlottesville – Charlottesville Tomorrow
- Gonzaga Students Facing Expulsion for Legally Possessing Guns in Private University-Owned Apartments – I wonder if UVA has similar policies.
- New head of Greene County’s Economic Development – Greene continue to grow, become more self-sufficient and segmented from Charlottesville/Albemarle.
- Suburbia then and now (via reddit) — interestingly, I live in a similar type neighborhood and this is the first year I’ve contemplated buying a rake as this is the first year we’ve had leaves of any volume.
- This is a touch of silliness in the Waylands Grant neighborhood in Crozet. Apparently the one of the common areas – belongs to the bank is is liable to be sold. For houses. Hopefully the HOA is able to buy the land. Continue reading