Most Recent Entries

How’s the Weather in Charlottesville? (thanks, Charlottesville Meteorologists)

It’s snowing again, so I figured today was a good day to post my “thanks to Charlottesville meteorologists story.” I’ve found an awful lot of value in my Charlottesville Media Twitter list – it’s the first place I go to check on news in the Charlottesville area, and notably this year, the weather. Recently I realized just how valuable Twitter-friendly meteorologists can be. NBC29 is active on Twitter, but not to the degree as Newsplex’s weather folks.

So, thanks, Charlottesville weather people. For those not in the Charlottesville area and considering moving here, you might find value in following this list to get a sense of Charlottesville weather and news – it’s currently comprised of 43 accounts, and I think it’s up to date (it’s not uncommon for reporters to start in Charlottesville and move after a year or two). Continue reading

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March 2014 Note – Coaching Soccer, Market Update, Client Thoughts

I’m aiming to publish by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Curious or interested in reading some stuff I’ll likely never publish elsewhere? Too many posts in a month and you want just one email a month in which I recap some of the better stories from the previous month? Two clicks and you can subscribe.

March-2014-monthly-note.jpg

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Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville, General Real Estate, Shameless Self Promotion | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Quick Look at Crozet (and Albemarle) Real Estate Assessments

I was curious about what assessments were doing in Crozet so I did a quick look. If you’re curious about background, context and methodology, please read the full post at RealCrozetVA.

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Posted in General Real Estate | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How to Pay for Albemarle County Schools?

It costs nearly $12,000 per year to educate a kid in Albemarle County Schools. This year, the County Schools are facing a proposed funding gap of nearly $7 million and the cry from many parents, administrators and citizens has been to “fully fund the schools. (including emails from the schools’ email distribution newsgroups).”

Rather than repeat myself, this is a story I wrote three years ago and it’s still relevant. Schools matter for housing values. Period. People move to the Charlottesville area all the time for the schools. Schools. Matter. (this is as good a time as any to remind folks to check your school district before you write an offer to purchase a home )

But …

How should the citizenry pay for the schools?

Would people support an Adequate Public Facilities legislation?

A schools tax?

Asking for “more!” without referencing the “how?” in my opinion diminishes the argument.

* note: one of my kids graduated from Western Albemarle schools and one is currently enrolled.

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Posted in Albemarle, Education, Politics | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

What’s Affecting the Charlottesville Market? Student Loans, New Construction & Employment

As with some stories I post here, I’m posting for two reasons. First, I want to educate and inform those who read (thank you) and second, I refer to my blog all the time – and it’s much easier to google my blog than my brain. For now.

I’ve been looking at some national trends lately and how they affect home buyers and sellers. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, has been very candid lately. (he also noted a few years ago that there were too many Realtors)

Hearing this story on NPR yesterday was timely, as the two economists echoed what I’ve been thinking for the past few weeks:

Lawrence Yun has been crunching numbers too. He’s chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. He says for the last six months, fewer than 30% of all home sales were to first time buyers.

“And this is historic lows,” he says. “Typically it should be about 40% to 45%. And I believe the key reasoning is that many of the younger households, they are saddled with student debt.”

Which makes it harder to qualify for a mortgage.

But before we wag the finger at student loans, there may be a twin culprit. Rohit Chopra is the student loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He says student loan burdens are rising much faster than wages.

“Real wages when adjusted for inflation have actually been flat for new college graduates for about the past ten years. So young people have more debt but are earning the same or less income,” he says.

From what I’ve seen in my real estate practice, the home buying cycle is slowing down. First time homebuyers are now buying at later stages in life. As noted a couple years ago, the 0-5 Buyer is Gone. And right now,

First time homebuyers, when they do choose to buy, are buying at later points of their lives – once they’ve established themselves in their careers* and found their mates if they so choose, and have determined that their lives – kids on the way, jobs … have or represent some sort of stability.

Many of these first-timers have either seen their friends and families decimated by the housing market or have experienced it themselves in selling or trying to sell – either normal transactions, short sales or foreclosures.

As I noted in my monthly note, so far I (and others) have been wrong about the inventory coming to the market in the Charlottesville area. March and April should prove telling. If more quality, well-priced homes don’t come on the market in those months, I suspect that we’re going to see reduced home sales for the entire year. Keep in mind that “new normal” is another way of saying “today.”

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Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville, Market statistics | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Will the Western Bypass Ever be Built?

Who knows if and when the Western Bypass will be built? Know this – lots of people will show up to comment on it. Again.

A vote on the resolution could follow the hearing, set to begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the County Office Building’s Lane Auditorium. That session is expected to stretch into the night and generate huge turnout, the latest turn in the enduring saga of the Western Bypass of U.S. 29.

I asked years ago a question about the Meadowcreek (John Warner) Parkway that could (and should, in a reasonable world) be asked of the Western Bypass – How would they design the Western Bypass today, with today’s human settlement and development patterns in place?

The answer is that the road would likely be a very different solution. Because implementing infrastructure solutions in the Charlottesville – Albemarle region takes a minimum of 30-50 years, plans should change, but they won’t.

I know this -

- The proponents aren’t going to give up just because the road is a flawed design. Terminating at Forest Lakes is the wrong terminus – it was probably the right location 30 years ago, but now it should dump traffic north of the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport, probably north of the UVA North Fork Research Park and really should terminate in Greene County. Those necessary changes aren’t going to happen.

- The opponents are accused of using flawed data as are the proponents, whenever these arguments arise. They don’t want the bypass and disregard the studies saying that the Western Bypass will save time.

- I just wish there was unbiased data and analysis by which the citizens could make informed decisions. I also wish that unicorns were real and

Charlottesville Tomorrow has the most comprehensive coverage of the Western Bypass, including the proposed route(s). Check out their CvillePedia page on the Western Bypass too.

UpdateInteresting analysis and commentary comes to us today from the C-Ville. Continue reading

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Charlottesville City Police Ticketing Bicyclists

Police officers in the City of Charlottesville have doubled in the past two years the number of tickets they have issued to bicyclists, Charlottesville Tomorrow reports.

First thoughts:

- Good. As a bicycle advocate and rider, seeing cyclists cutting in and out of traffic, on and off sidewalks, blowing through red lights, etc. makes it harder for the law-abiding cyclists.

- Really? The number of times I’ve watched a car badly blow through a red light while a police officer sits there watching the offense is itself almost criminal.

- Bad. Points on a driver’s license because of these infractions? Don’t you have to have a license in order to get points on said license?

- Good. Maybe this will serve as a discussion point for educating the police, cyclists and drivers.

- Is there something in the Code of Virginia for distracted pedestrians? Maybe they could target UVA students on the Corner; they’re dangerous, too.

Maybe the City can add this discussion point to their newest $50k study on creating and integrating “complete streets.” (it would be awfully nice to have this discussion include how to traverse City/County lines rather than myopically looking solely at each locality’s needs.)

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Posted in Charlottesville, Politics, Transportation | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Low Housing Inventory Continues in Charlottesville and Albemarle

If you look solely at the numbers, it looks like housing inventory is up. Not so.

I’ve been thinking for months that we’d be seeing more housing inventory on the market by now. It’s not yet here.

Comparing the first 9 days of February of this year versus last – 116 new listings came on last 1-9 February versus 50 this 1-9 February.

For the MSA (Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson) – 84 this 1-9 February and 210 last 1-9 February.

I’m confused. I know this: I have buyers who are looking for homes to to, and we can’t find them. I get emails frequently from buyers’ agents who are looking for homes for their buyers, and they can’t find them.

If you’re interested, here’s a bit more data:

- The Sales and Inventory report for Charlottesville and Albemarle

- The Sales and Inventory report for the Charlottesville MSA

Update 18 February 2014: this is not merely a Charlottesville – Albemarle MSA trend. Redfin’s post today is outstanding.

Redfin agents say the downturn in demand is uneven. “The picture-perfect homes are selling just as fast as last year, often drawing a dozen or more offers,” according to Redfin Washington, D.C. agent Philip Gvinter. “But now the undesirable properties that would have sold in a few months last year aren’t selling at all. The biggest change is in between, with the sort-of-desirable homes. Last year, these homes got multiple offers and sold quickly. Now, they are getting only one offer during the first week, sometimes having to reduce their price, and the home is taking three to six weeks to sell.”

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Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville, General Real Estate, Greene, Louisa, Market statistics, Nelson | Tagged , , | 5 Comments