Tag Archives: 22902

July 2014′s Monthly Note – Triangles, Weather, Trails & the Market

Interested in reading only one email every month that incorporates market analysis, tangentially related real estate stories, and a summary of the better blog posts every month on RealCentralVA and RealCrozetVA? Two clicks and it's yours.
Posted in Monthly Notes | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Fry’s Springs Downzoning Proposed Again

The perils of zoning rear their heads in Fry's Springs.

The Charlottesville City Council has agreed to consider a request from the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association to study rezoning of three streets.

“Essentially, they are asking for the properties on Stribling, Crestmont and Shamrock to be downzoned,” said Jim Tolbert, director of the city’s Neighborhood Development Services.

Specifically, the neighborhood association has been asking for the city to change the zoning on all properties classified as R-2 to R-1S. Properties in R-2 can have up to two families, whereas R-1S allows only one. Accessory apartments could still exist, but only if the property owner lives on site.

In all, there are 213 properties in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood with R-2 zoning.

This is an interesting development, so to speak. On one hand, what's the harm in having the conversation about downzoning (besides staff time and resources)? The harm is that by contemplating downzoning, the City is discussing changing the property rights of owners.

R-2 and R-1S zoning presumably provide affordable housing options, and by eliminating this zoning the City would presumably be eliminating some affordable housing options ... but with all the apartments coming to West Main Street, maybe the City is ok with this.

Curious - do off-site owners have lesser rights than owner-occupants?

"Councilor Dede Smith, a Fry’s Spring resident, said that half of those owners do not live in Charlottesville."

If you're curious to see the City of Charlottesville's zoning map, start here (the West Main study that's there is interesting, too).


Posted in Charlottesville, Growth | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Monday Reading – 16 June 2014

- This should be required reading - 8 Surprise expenses for homeowners. Changing locks, pest control … in something as rare as a purple dinosaur eating a banana in the middle of a soccer stadium talking on a cell phone, many of the comments are useful.

- City of Charlottesville City Council will discuss Belmont Bridge and the Albemarle Planning Commission will discuss downtown Crozet’s possible renovation, among other big meetings.

- This part of the conceptual plan for West Main Street is absurd:

Another change that the street could see is the addition of elevated and protected bicycle lanes on both sides of the road. Providing bike lanes that are protected from on-street parking could help to reduce the number of bicycle accidents that have occurred along the road. “The bike lanes will probably mostly be used by people who are tootling along, a little slower, maybe have children on bikes, and it’s a safer environment,” said committee member Rachel Lloyd. “People who are really moving can go in the vehicular lanes.”
Instead of elevated bike lanes, why not protected ones? - There is so much to the pocket listing conversation; it's fascinating that Colorado's Real Estate Commission may be entering the fray. I wrote about pocket listings last year and earlier this year in my note. - Creepy. What data brokers know about you. One day soon, this will (openly) affect lending. - This is a really interesting conversation on "what businesses should come to Crozet?" I missed the opportunity to better define the question - what anchor industries should come to Crozet? but the discussion was great all the same. Lots and lots of Facebook comments, too. - With clients yesterday, we debated whether the folks who designed Stonefield were drunk or high. We concluded they were probably both.
Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville, General Real Estate | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

What is the value of a Greenway?

Bikes on a deck in Charlottesville

What is the value of a green way to a buyer in today's market?

Had an interesting conversation this morning in the Crozet Mudhouse with someone who was noting that the attitude shift toward greenways has shifted significantly in the past 10 years or so.

It used to be that real estate agents and developers and even buyers placed little to no value in having access to a means of passage that was not centered around an automobile.

Today, that attitude has shifted 180°.

Access to bike paths or suitable walking trails (for strollers) is an enormous asset. through my admittedly myopic view as seen through the eyes of my buyer clients who are seeking such access and proximity, and through the eyes of my seller clients who are advocating for the benefits of such access, I would say that the world has shifted in this respect.

In the Charlottesville Albemarle area my view is that the City of Charlottesville is fairly well poised to design and build more greenways and bike paths (hint: West Main). The County of Albemarle needs more will and more money. And they both need to work together to have the respective systems work together.

Worth noting is that the departments within the respective localities are filled with remarkable people doing remarkable work.

The market wants these things.

Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Few Homeowners Insurance Questions Answered

I like experts. My clients come to me seeking solutions and part of the solution is helping them assemble the right team to help throughout the process. Everyone needs homeowners’ insurance and I tend to recommend Gary - I’ve found him to be helpful, knowledgeable and willing to share knowledge. I asked him to answer a few questions that most (new) homebuyers have.

By Gary Albert with State Farm.

Q: What is the purpose of home insurance?

A: For many, your home is the most important investment you make. So it makes sense that you would

want to protect that investment through homeowners insurance. The fundamental basis of insurance is the transfer of risk from one person or entity to another. We make decisions daily about risk in our personal lives, and each of us have a different tolerance for retaining risk compared to our neighbors. As it relates to homeowner’s insurance, the premium we pay speaks to how much of this risk we are retaining versus how much we are transferring to the insurance company.

Q: Tell me more about deductibles.

A: When you file a claim, the homeowner is responsible for a predetermined part of the costs. This is called a deductible. As a general rule, a low deductible will result in higher premiums, and a higher deductible will result in lower premiums. There is no template rule of what deductible to carry. There are some that advocate for the lowest deductible available and some that lean toward the other end of the spectrum, looking for the higher deductible options. It’s best that you figure out what works best for your particular situation.

To help make this decision, consider your financial situation and personal emergency savings in the event of a large loss to your home.

Q: How are rates set? Do weather disasters in other parts of the country impact the rates we pay here in Virginia?

A: At State Farm, we use claims experience from the past several years to project the cost of future claims. The ratemaking process also factors in trends such as the costs for construction, medical payments and other variables.

Rates are based on each state's claims experience. This means premium dollars stay within the state and do not compensate for losses in other states. So a wildfire in California will not have an impact on our rates here in Virginia.

Q: What about homes that need some work? Is there anything from an insurance point of view you should know when buying a fixer-upper?

A: First, make sure you work with reputable contractors. Get quotes from a few licensed contractors to find the best deal. You also want to make sure the contractor has liability and workman’s compensation insurance to protect you if someone is injured on the job.

Once you are done fixing up the house, make sure you check in with your insurance agent to see if you need to change your coverage. The upgraded kitchen you added could increase the cost to rebuild if something were to happen, and you want to make sure you’re adequately covered.

What's a CLUE Report? How is it used in the home buying process?


Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, 7 year database of claim information. Only the owner or the insurer, or lender can access the information. This service is maintained by Lexis Nexis.

When considering making a purchase of a home, involve an insurance company early in the process to run this report. Some carriers may not do this upfront, so be sure to ask if this report is being run at the time of the quote. If there are prior losses on the property, the insurer (and prospective home buyer) will want to research the repairs and get ahead of any potential loss/insurability concerns. I recommend doing this before the home inspection.

Q: Anything else to add?

A: Insurance can be very personal. Meet with your insurance professional on a regular basis to make adjustments to your coverage as needed for updates, improvements, additions, and endorsement review. Our community has many local, reputable insurance agents. If you’re unsure of whom to speak with, ask your neighbor, good neighbors are usually good sources of information.

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

Looking Back at 6 Things in Charlottesville – #6 – Apartments

Crane at West Main Plaze in City of Charlottesville

In January I mentioned 6 things that we should watch in 2013 - inventory, home prices, distressed sales, confidence, buyer frustration and apartments. Being nearly September, I figured it a good time to look back at where these things stand. I'm going to be looking at these six things over the next few weeks. Starting with Apartments.

Apartments - there are going to be a lot more available in 2013 and 2014. A few of the new complexes: Arden Place (Rio Road), The Pavilion at North Grounds (Millmont/UVA), Stonefield Commons (Hydraulic & 29), The Reserve at Belvedere (Rio), the Plaza on West Main (UVA), City Walk (Downtown - more on the Coal Tower). As I said, a lot more apartments will be coming on the market soon.

City Walk is taking shape, the Plaza on West Main is moving fast, The Pavilion at North Grounds has people moving in (and presumably Sedona Taphouse is loving life), Arden Place and Stonefield Commons are leasing.

And …

Another 192 apartments will be coming to West Main Street directly across from the Plaza on West Main - called "The Standard" :

“We’re proposing a new multifamily apartment complex and we’re working now on a design that will cater to the surrounding uses of the university and the hospital,” said Jason Doornbos, vice president of development for Georgia-based Landmark Properties.

And …

Another 56 units are proposed for 10th and Market Streets Downtown:

In all, the developers have proposed 56 units and 20,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground and first floors. A structured parking garage with 100 spaces is also planned underneath the building.

Whew.

The ramifications for bringing all of these are apartments at pretty much the same time … staggering. The first few thoughts and questions that come to mind:

- To my mind, this is confirmation that the 0-5 Buyer is GONE. The buyer who would move to Charlottesville, buy and then sell in under 5 years: thing of the past. (really, read that story if you're interested in this trend)

- If you're looking to buy an investment property in the City, you would probably be advised to think about the competition against which you'll be renting.

- Transportation. I really hope these new developments actively promote bicycling and walking as opposed to being purely car-centric. Adding about 1,000 new apartment units in the City of Charlottesville will presumably add a commensurate number of vehicle/pedestrian/bicycle trips.

- Where are these people working? UVA? Startups? Restaurants?

- Will any be designated "affordable"? And whose definition of "affordable" applies?

- Parking. Each of the two new proposed developments above seem to have about a 2 to 1 ratio for spots to units; presumably the commercial development will use some of these spaces as well.

- Maybe this is a sign that we're in the midst of a more mobile economy

- Or maybe it's a reaction to the trend that driving isn't cool (if you're a millennial).

- Maybe it's a reaction to the forthcoming "renter nation" many have discussed for so long.

But really the number of new apartments in Charlottesville is a reaction to the better economy. Financing is available and developers are obviously confident that there is demand for these products - commercial and residential. Who is the market for these apartments? If it's not the "families" some in the City of Charlottesville would like to see, why are they approving them?

And finally, how do these all fit into the just-adopted Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan?

Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville, General Real Estate | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Paying More for Walkable Homes in Charlottesville?

That's the theory put forth by the Piedmont Environmental Council and reported on at Bacon's Rebellion.

The conclusions apparently found in their study of 120 homes aren't a surprise to readers of RealCentralVA (see links at the end of this post), but I wanted to differ with one of the conclusions with three points:

Many people continue to prefer living in the suburbs. But Werner’s divergent trend lines make it clear that supply-side of “walkable urbanism” housing is severely under-served.

-- With a reference to a story I wrote in January (and will be revisiting soon)

Apartments - there are going to be a lot more available in 2013 and 2014. A few of the new complexes: Arden Place (Rio Road), The Pavilion at North Grounds (Millmont/UVA), Stonefield Commons (Hydraulic & 29), The Reserve at Belvedere (Rio), the Plaza on West Main (UVA), City Walk (Downtown - more on the Coal Tower). As I said, a lot more apartments will be coming on the market soon.

-- And also point out that there are quite a few new construction neighborhoods in the City of Charlottesville that offer true walkability for those wiling to live that urban lifestyle (and can afford to do so).

-- And that buying a car just isn't a desired option for a lot of millennials; many of them want the urban lifestyle (and often that means renting rather than buying):
Economic realities: The costs of owning a car just keep increasing. A 2012 AAA study found the expense of having a car totaled $8,946 annually on average, nearly 2 percent more than the previous year. As transportation alternatives increase, the desire to own your own car diminishes. You've got I-Gocar sharing and Zipcar. I love Zipcar's slogan — it says it all for this generation: "The car for people who don't want one." There are also shared ride programs, company-provided transportation plans and the old reliables: biking and walking. The Gen Y stats (16- to 34-year-olds) are pretty impressive: Driving was down from 2001 to 2009 (23 percent), biking was up (24 percent) and walking was up (16 percent), according to the National Household Travel Survey.

Related reading:

- Where Are the Walkable Neighborhoods in Charlottesville/Albemarle? (2008)
- Charlottesville is the 3rd Most Walkable City in Virginia (2010)
- Choosing Where you Want to Live in Charlottesville – Walkability and Safety Top the List (2013)
- Walkability=Affordability= Profitability=Livability (2009)

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

Two Upcoming Bicycling Events in Charlottesville + a Thought about Community

Update 5 July 2013 -

One way to commit myself is by signing up for a 100 mile bicycling challenge. Which I just did. Feel like supporting the Boys and Girls Club? (Please click through to the bottom of this post.)

Charlottesville is known to be a great bicycling community … a community I'm just starting to discover.

Years ago someone described the Charlottesville community as being lots of circles that never touch - a not-quite-venn-diagram if you will.

Concentric Circles

Funny how these things work. Start a new sport, and a new community emerges. People I know and see in one community are people I'm starting to see in the bicycling community. There are lots of ways to connect to Charlottesville; biking is but another.

As my foray continues I'm starting to pay attention to the bicycling news and world and have found a couple challenges -

The Boys and Girls Club Challenge - 15 September 2013 - 25, 50, 75 and 100 mile options are available.

Gran Fondo Virginia - 8 September 2013 - 22, 52 and 104 mile challenges from which to choose.

So far, some of the best resources I've found as I start this new adventure:

Blue Ridge Cyclery - (where I bought my bike) at least three of my friends/clients either spoke highly of, and/or I've seen them wearing Blue Ridge Cyclery's jerseys.

Charlottesville Bike Club - I haven't interacted yet with these folks, but the information has proven useful

Strava and Mapmyride.com - sites/apps, both of which seem to have particular strengths I'm still discovering and exploring.

Bike Charlottesville - information and advocacy group

Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments