Blog Wayback – You’re Going about It all Wrong – Or How to Search for Homes in Charlottesville (Without a Realtor)

Blog Wayback Series Continued …

From March 2009:

You’re Going about It all Wrong – Or How to Search for Homes in Charlottesville (Without a Realtor)How do you search for homes? In Charlottesville or anywhere else?

I got a call recently from a buyer who was searching and found one of my listings. Unfortunately, the listing was actually under contract (and had been for a while). I first thanked her for telling me that one of my listings was inaccurately displayed on and asked how I could help.

She expressed her frustration – that she had been searching online for a home for a while; that whenever she found a home she was interested in, she would call the agent to go see it. Real estate search is fragmented, and it’s likely to be that way for a while. I’m frustrated, too. There is no credible aggregator of all the homes for sale – whether they be “marketed”
To which I said – “I think you’re going about this the wrong way.”

– First – pick an agent who will be able to guide you through the process (for instance, tell you where to search for homes online).

– When you call a sellers’ agent to show you the house, that agent is not representing your best interests – that agent is representing the seller and the sellers’ best interests.

How do you pick a good Buyer’s Agent – for you?

Once you have an agent who is able to guide you through the process, search well and search often.



How do I learn about how my clients and others are searching for homes? I ask. (I’m not afraid of either asking or saying “I don’t know”)

This is one of my clients’ search processes – and this is my public “thank you!” for sharing and allowing me to publish your work –

How do you search for homes in Charlottesville?

1. Your IDX site– Browse the map for affordable homes in places I want to live. Or, check the local MLS for new listings and then look on IDX to see if there is more information there.

2. Look up found home on City Assessment (Ed note: or Albemarle County or Fluvanna, etc.) website to find:

a. Tax Assessment price (editor’s note:In my opinion, assessed values have little to no correlation to what a property’s actual market value would be)

b. Who owns it? Does the owner live there? This often leads to another search on the City Assessment website for the owner’s name to see how many properties the owner has. Do the owners seem to be in good financial shape or have they made a lot of bad decisions (i.e. may need to get rid of the property to stay above water)?

c. Check for any inconsistencies in square ft, room numbers, etc between MLS listing and tax assessment. d. Look at picture to see how different the home looked a few years back (pics usually taken in 2002 or 2003). (ed note: this leads to a separate rant about Realtors stripping the MLS of photos of their listings when the listing expires/sells – this kills the accuracy and historical context of the MLS)e. Study transfer information to see when house was last sold, what it sold for, when it may have had work done, etc.

3. Use Google Maps to see what surrounds the house. Is the street tree-y? Industrial? How far is the nearest park? How far to downtown, UVA, etc? (ed note: check this out)

4. Google the street address + Charlottesville to get more information about the neighborhood. For example: Grove St. plus Charlottesville clued me into the Grove Square development (which I was unaware of because I’m new to C’ville). (ed note: don’t forget to visit Charlottesville Tomorrow for the most in-depth reporting on growth, development and politics in Charlottesville/Albemarle)

5. Google the complete address of the house to see if anyone has written anything about the house. Search the address of the house on Real C’ville Bubble blog to see if people have been blogging/laughing about the home’s asking price.

6. Lastly, physically drive or walk by the house the old-fashioned way.

For readers – what improvements would you like to see in the search process? What do you like about how you search for homes?

For Realtors – if you’re not using the MLS photo capacity – 50 pictures – you’re often doing your fellow Realtors, prospective buyers, and most importantly, your clients – a remarkable disservice.

For Sellers – do you check your home’s listing online to make sure your Realtor is putting sufficient pictures online? (I assume that the very first visitor to the listing online is going to be my client – and that they will tell me if they thing I’m doing something wrong. In fact, I ask for and encourage their feedback – it’s one of the ways I improve.

I’ll help you search – that’s why I provide what I perceive to be the best ways to search for homes here/here – but when you want representation, let me know.

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