Tag Archives: 22932

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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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.

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July’s Monthly Note – Bicycling, The Market and Other Exclusive Insight

Plank Road

Once a month, I publish some of the best stuff I write. I talk about the market, the area, and provide insight that I don’t provide anywhere else – and I don’t publish the notes’ archives either – so this is a unique audience and note.

I’ll be publishing the July note tomorrow and some of the subjects I’ll probably be writing about are:

- The state of the Charlottesville real estate market
- Recapping June on RealCentralVA (and maybe RealCrozetVA) – I know that many don’t want to read ~15 posts a month, but one note a month is just right. :)
- How a Facebook post almost got out of hand (and how I couldn’t and haven’t figured out how to close comments on a Facebook post)
- Shifting to bicycling – reasons and consequences
- A buyer’s recounting of the process
- Hoodies followup

There are a few other things I’m debating including, and I strive to keep these notes efficient – no more and 5 topics and less than 1,000 or so words.

If you’re interested, I’d greatly appreciate your registering.

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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

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

Crozet’s Getting a Hotel

Looks like Crozet will be getting a hotel … in Old Trail.

If you’re curious, check out the state of the “Major Site Plan Amendment” at Albemarle County’s outstanding County View – Planning Application number is SDP201300011

This is an interesting development … Old Trail has been in a bit of flux for the past several months after new management took over, and it’s been quite challenging to advise buyer clients as to what the future of Old Trail is going to be … other than “it’s going to be a lot more dense, a lot busier, and they’ve no plans to address traffic (to be fair, the County doesn’t have any plans for traffic – here or anywhere)”. I don’t mean that to be a negative, but an honest statement … Old Trail is an outstanding neighborhood – one of the most walkable and popular neighborhoods in the region, but having a clear, defined plan would be helpful – both to new residents and existing ones.

It seems that their plans are taking shape.

Charlottesville (and the urban ring in Albemarle County) is poised to have a lot more hotels … but this is the first one in Crozet, and is a much-needed hotel. With the number of vineyards hosting weddings, tourists coming to town to hike and visit the many breweries in Crozet and Nelson County, I’m betting a 43 room hotel, assuming it’s a nice boutiquey thing, will do extremely well.

A boutique hotel had been planned/discussed for the Barnes Lumberyard, but after the bank bought the lumberyard back at foreclosure, I’m betting the only hotel Crozet sees is the one in Old Trail.

I’m working on figuring out a timeline for the site plan review, who’s building it and other details. But for now, I’m off to see a client about a house.

PROJECT: SDP2013-011 Old Trail Village Block 2B – Major Site Plan Amendment
PROPOSED: Request for major site plan amendment approval for a four story, 43 room hotel with a 1,000 square foot restaurant and associated parking.

LOCATION: At the corner of the intersection of Golf Drive and Claremont Lane, near The Lodge at Old Trail.

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

Another Call for Population Growth in Charlottesville and Albemarle



Source: http://virginialmi.com/report_center/community_profiles/5121016820.pdf

I’m still working my way through the new report produced by Advocates for a Sustainable Population (ASAP) in which they quantify the costs of growth (it’s a lot) and describe how adequately growth pays for itself (it doesn’t).

Growth is expensive, and costly – environmental, quality of life, general change – but what are the solutions? Other than more taxes, (a local income tax? Seriously?) specific solutions aren’t proposed. What exactly is an “informed population polic(y)”?

Keep in mind that this is the group that wants to limit populations (of Charlottesville and Albemarle).

You’ve heard of how Charlottesville used to be a (relatively) well-kept secret, and how as soon as someone moved here they’d want to close to the gates and keep others from moving in? The author of the study fits that mold; he moved here in 2007.

Personally, I’ve struggled with the growth of my hometown* for years and my internal struggles haven’t abated. Intelligent implementation of building, infrastructure, etc is crucial, but these are things that seemingly local (and state, and national) governments fail at implementing every day. What are the solution? I don’t know, but a cap on population seems short-sighted and more difficult to implement than building the Meadowcreek Parkway.

If you’re short on time, read ASAP’s 5 page Executive summary.

Update: Neil Williamson of the Free Enterprise Forum offers a strong rebuttal of the ASAP report.

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A New Way to Determine if You’ll Like the People in your New Neighborhood – Sitegeist

“Will I fit in” this neighborhood? – I’ve mentioned this twice in the past two years – once this year and once last year (and probably a time or two before in the past nearly eight years of writing here). Enter Sitegeist – a new app from the Sunlight Foundation.

What is it? Just a lot of what buyers are interested in when evaluating where to live (particularly when relocating to a new location). Now, in addition to telling buyer clients that I can’t tell them if there are kids in a neighborhood, that they should visit a location multiple times at various times before making an offerdownload Sitegeist.

I’m going to be testing the app over the next few days to verify its accuracy. After a few initial tests it seems pretty accurate – albeit a bit broad – it doesn’t seem to (at least in Crozet) pull neighborhood data, but zip code. (so far in my test)

Are there kids in this neighborhood?

Where are the Democrats and Republicans?

From their site:

Sitegeist is a mobile application that helps you to learn more about your surroundings in seconds. Drawing on publicly available information, the app presents solid data in a simple at-a-glance format to help you tap into the pulse of your location. From demographics about people and housing to the latest popular spots or weather, Sitegeist presents localized information visually so you can get back to enjoying the neighborhood. The application draws on free APIs such as the U.S. Census, Yelp! and others to showcase what’s possible with access to data.

And …

Some of the data you’ll learn about a location includes:
• Age Distribution
• Political Contributions
• Average Rent
• Popular Local Spots
• Recommended Restaurants
• How People Commute
• Record Temperatures
• Housing Units Over Time

Fascinating.
Update 3 January 2012: I asked them on Facebook:

“How localized is the data? Zip code? Is there a way to specify a radius?”

They answered:

Average rent is data collected by the US Census and is based on 2010 data for each census tract.

Each of the various data sources we use have slightly different geographic areas:

  • Census uses census tracts
  • Political contributions use ZIP codes
  • Everything else is based on a relevant geographic radius from the current location

We wanted to simplify the user experience by not bombarding folks with a bunch of geo errata, but this is something we’ve heard from a lot of people. We’ll be looking into ways to provide this information in a uncluttered, easy to understand way.

Thanks for your feedback and for using Sitegeist!

So … it’s good for very general information, but notosmuch for neighborhood information. Continue reading

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5 Points on School Redistricting and Uncertainty when Buying a Home in Albemarle

Albemarle County

Albemarle County is HUGE (PDF)

One of the first posts written here was about redistricting schools in Albemarle County; sadly I hadn’t yet mastered the art of proper out-linking, so the stories to which I pointed are mostly dead. Today’s story by Aaron Richardson in the Daily Progress * succinctly describes the current state of some Albemarle County schools: “School redistricting is a headache for everyone, yet Albemarle County is at it again, considering a shuffle for a second time in as many years.”

High-quality schools are one of the more-cited reasons my buyer clients use when choosing to move to the Charlottesville – Albemarle area. I hope this acclaim is justified and continues to be the case.

In talking to a potential incoming client last week, we naturally discussed Albemarle County schools as part of a wider ranging conversation about whether this is the right place for his family. He’s looking for a rural property preferably, but also wants his kids to go to elementary school … and prefers to have a reasonable-length bus ride. How does one define “reasonable-length” in this context?

There really is not much to add to the Albemarle County Schools redistricting conversation than this:

- Read this from last year – Albemarle County Schools’ Populations Are Growing. Unexpectedly. ?!

- If you want 100% certainty that your kids will go to X school, that school better be private.

- Get involved in the process and the conversation. Schools matter, to our kids’ lives, our lives, our property values

- The next meeting of the redistricting subcommittee is 27 November at Murray Elementary School.

- Always, always, always check your school district before you buy a home in Albemarle (or anywhere, really)


Some stories reflecting the ongoing uncertainty regarding some schools in Albemarle County:

Parents and neighbors in southern Albemarle County are getting more information about a plan to possibly shut down Yancey Elementary School in Esmont. NBC 29 – August 1 2012
- Scottsville tells its supervisor it feels like ‘the redheaded stepchild‘ – Daily Progress – July 26 2012

One thing is true, the Meriwether Lewis parents are perhaps the best organized and mobilized parents in the community. For those in the Crozet district, I’d love to hear what the School Board representative, Barbara Massie Mouly, thinks about this; I haven’t seen word one from her in the press or any kind of outreach to the public.

* I’m glad to consistency in reporting from the Daily Progress; Aaron Richardson also wrote about redistricting last year. Having consistent knowledge is crucial when knowing about and reporting on local issues.

PS – I’m working on a story about growth areas in Albemarle County and their impact on livability and certainly of lifestyle.

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Posted in Albemarle, Education, General Real Estate, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments