Tag Archives: Albemarle
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 )
How should the citizenry pay for the schools?
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.
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.”
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
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:
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.”
It’s always great to hear NAR’s chief economist talk. He’s in a tough spot – he’s a great economist. But he’s the Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors – the trade association for Realtors*. Part of his job is to be both an honest economist and to spin the research positively for Realtors. That said, he’s infinitely better than his predecessor. I’m inclined to follow up on our lunch from a couple years ago to see how, if at all, his perspective has changed. That said …
A few takeaways -
- Rents and renters are rising
- Interest rates are likely to rise this year – he says to 5.3%
- Home sales are up (nationally)
- Home prices nationally have risen 20% (way to fast/high in my opinion)
(results from my running data)
For Charlottesville-Albemarle, contracts were down 11%:
226 – from 12/1/13-1/31/14 – number of homes went under contract in the Charlottesville MLS
254 – from 12/1/12-1/31/13
For Charlottesville MSA (Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson), contracts were down 7%:
366 – from 12/1/13-1/31/14 – number of homes went under contract in the Charlottesville MLS
393 – from 12/1/12-1/31/13 –
One of the most striking things I heard him say was this:
Woah. National # from Lawrence Yun – home prices are up 20%; income is up 4%.
— Jim Duncan (@JimDuncan) February 6, 2014
Some (many?) parts of the Charlottesville area market are doing better, but if you were about to have a day like I’m about to have, you’d know that there remains a lot of pain and suffering – financial, personal and psychological – in our market.
Click through to see the slides from Dr. Yun’s presentation. Continue reading
I’ll defer to these folks’ story about why they moved to Charlottesville. Of particular note is that “finding jobs” is #6, behind wanting to buy a house with at least a little bit of land, proximity to the mountains … this is a common thing – choosing Charlottesville and finding jobs later. Or choosing Charlottesville and keeping the jobs you have and telecommuting.
It’s a great story worth a few minutes’ read.
In the “something cool coming to Downtown Charlottesville” category …
If the number of times this story was shared and discussed on Facebook is any indication of success, the new movie theater on the Downtown Mall is poised for tremendous success.
The Downtown theater, that just successfully drove the Vinegar Hill theater out of business, will now be an art house theater with a bar and restaurant.
Regal Cinema’s movie theater monopoly in Charlottesville has ended, and the new kid on the block is planning to serve up something sure to have local cinephiles salivating: a Downtown theater that offers upscale food and cocktails along with indie film fare.
He said the movies the new theater will show will be in line with the mostly indie fare currently screening at the Downtown Regal—which will continue to be the tenant in the space for the immediate future—but he also plans to show some more mainstream films.
Patience is recommended though.
The first step is getting approval from the city’s Board of Architectural Review for a new facade. He’ll present initial plans to the BAR on February 18, but he’s aware it might take awhile to get the O.K.
As it turns out, when my small one and I went to the UVA Women’s soccer tournament in December, we had an occasion to try what I perceive (and hope) this new theater will be.
At an old school theater in Raleigh. Drinking a Lagunitas. Why doesn't Charlottesville have such a movie theater? Other than "home"?
— Jim Duncan (@JimDuncan) December 8, 2013
Hmmm … this isn’t good. I wonder how they define “Charlottesville” – is it “Charlottesville, the City of,” or “Charlottesville = Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson”?
9. Charlottesville, VA
> 2013 GMP change: -2.2% (tied-7th worst)
> Change in employment: -1.9% (tied-5th worst)
> Projected 2014 GMP change: 2.3% (tied-144th best)
> Unemployment rate: 4.6% (32nd lowest)
Charlottesville’s economy contracted by 2.2% in 2013 after failing to grow in 2012. This year, however, may be relatively strong for the area. Employment is projected to rise by 1.4%, while GMP is expected to grow by 2.3%. While these figures aren’t strong relative to the U.S. overall, they are a step in the right direction. Despite the two consecutive years of a shrinking economy, the area’s unemployment rate of 4.6% is considerably lower than many other metro areas. Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, a major employer in the area.
This does track with some of the sentiments I have observed, if not the data. I’m thinking that the study authors mean at least “Charlottesville + Albemarle” as much of the University of Virginia is in Albemarle.