Date Archives June 2007

One Billion Dollars

Now that is sustainability.UVa is tax exempt, but if it had to pay, Charlottesville would have received $4.6 million and Albemarle County would have received $6.9 million in taxes.  The university’s foundation, on the other hand, paid $189,694 in property taxes to Charlottesville and $1.1 million to Albemarle County for holdings like the Boar’s Head Inn.  In 2005, the total value of taxable real estate owned or rented by faculty, staff and students at UVa was $3.3 billion — and UVa paid $23.3 million in property taxes divided almost equally between the city and county.The full study by the Weldon Cooper Center is here.Update: 7/1/2007: My favorite line from Bob Gibson’s article in the Daily Progress:UVa’s dollar clout is massive, as are its less measurable contributions to, and impacts on, the area.  Only Jefferson’s ghost and God are larger shapers of the area’s collective mind and spirit.

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Home Sales down in Charlottesville – expanded

I was going to wait until mid-June to run the numbers for the numbers for the Charlottesville-area real estate market, but it’s like someone put out a press release or something, as the same story is now seen across the local Charlottesville media….  And sales so far this year are down more than 7 percent when compared with the first five months of 2006.That drop is better than the statewide trend.  Across Virginia, May sales were down by 16 percent and year-to-date sales were down more than 10 percent.Two notes -1) Looking solely at Year over Year numbers conveys a sense of liquidity about the real estate market – something that was never intended to be.  Housing has always had intrinsic value as well – much more so than stocks or bonds.2) I broke condos out of the below numbers because the condo segment of the market has always been argued as providing an affordable sustainability to the market.In Albemarle, Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson, May 2007 – 339 homes sold, 40 of which were condos.May 2006 – 414 homes sold, 67 of which were condos.May 2005 – 409 homes sold, 41 of which were condos.May 2004 – 355 homes sold, 25 of which were condos.

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A case for transparent government in Albemarle

You need look no farther than the NGIC-Wendell Wood- BoS/Ken Boyd situation?…  Taxpayers deserve to hear from Mr. Boyd exactly what happened.Cvillenews has a nice roundup while Charlottesville Tomorrow has incomparable coverage.  From CvilleTomorrow:In addition, the Supervisors had discussions behind closed doors that, while legal, meant the public didn’t have the benefit of knowing the details of their past discussions leading up to the vote on the resolution.  Few dispute the enormous positive impact that NGIC has on our region.

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How a heat pump works

One of the most commons questions I get from those relocating from colder climates is – what’s the difference between a heat pump and a gas/oil furnace?  The short answer is that a gas furnace feels warm when you put your hand over the vent.  A longer, more passive aggressive answer is here.

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“Family Friendly” Fair housing questions Realtors cannot answer

I wrote a story in March that discusses the same issues as the NYTimes story yesterday.

The strict interpretation of fair-housing laws prohibits brokers from providing information about people that could be construed as discriminatory in any of 14 protected categories. The categories include familiar ones like race, religion, sex and disabilities and less well-known ones like familial status, marital status, citizenship and occupation. (ed. note: I honestly had no idea “occupation” was a protected class)

So a broker who says something like, “There are tons of little kids in this building ” it’s really family friendly – could be accused of specifically steering families to the building and driving people without children away from it.

Personally, when my family was looking for a new home, we wanted to know whether there were any kids in the neighborhood (this was a good thing for us), so I understand clients’ needs and wants, but unfortunately cannot offer guidance in this area. (hint: look for balls, bikes, swings and other “kid-friendly” stuff) People looking for a house/a neighborhood have to do what we did: drive around the neighborhood, talk to home owners who live there. That said, I’ve heard the argument that when working as a Buyer-Broker, I should have the freedom and leeway to guide my clients as they direct. One side of me leans towards the latter interpretation, but the more paranoid part of me acknowledges that the possibility of being sued or losing my license is not worth the risk.

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