Date Archives September 2011

Podcast of Yesterday’s Show on WINA

Listen to it here.

Links and such coming soon.

Here’s something to try – these are the stories I had open when I went into the studio – open a new browser window, and then click on this link; it’s to a bridge url created using the Tabulate! extension for Google Chrome.

We covered a lot of ground –

– The Western Bypass and its impact on the surrounding area and property value

– The segmentation of the area’s human settlement patterns

– Commuting patterns and our three great medical systems – UVA, Martha Jefferson and Augusta Medical Center

– Short sales and life decisions (humbly, I think I gave a good and thoughtful answer to this – choosing to do a short sale is about so much more than finances)

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Western Bypass – Same Plan, Twice as Expensive

From Charlottesville Tomorrow:

An unofficial estimate for construction of the Western Bypass is more than double the amount members of the Commonwealth Transportation Board were told by Virginia Department of Transportation officials in July before they voted to resume funding of the 6.2 mile highway.

Internal documents released under the Freedom of Information act reveal that VDOT engineers calculated a cost estimate of $436 million in late June, several weeks before CTB members voted to allocate $197 million to the project.

1 – Great analysis at cvillenews.
2 – Without the fine folks at Charlottesville Tomorrow, we likely wouldn’t know about this boondoggle.
3 – Wouldn’t it be cool if we’d devote federal funds to building American infrastructure rather than prisons in other countries?

Here’s the problem in a nutshell with infrastructure planning and implementation in Charlottesville and Albemarle:

Our localities are brilliant at planning. And studying. And planning. By the time they finish studying and planning, the plan is outdated, not viable and more expensive. And it’s time for another plan.

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Charlottesville’s A “Best Place to Live” – Again

Real Estate Market Statistics for Greater Charlottesville | RBI

Per Yahoo and Sperling’s “Best” list

Charlottesville enjoys clean air and water, and pleasant weather year-round, highlighted by especially beautiful fall foliage. Nearby Shenandoah National Park offers a wealth of recreation opportunities. Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, which strengthens the area’s healthy economy by providing steady jobs and a wealth of amenities and entertainment. Homes are not cheap (median home price $225,000), but the cost of living is manageable. The city’s low unemployment rate and significant recent job growth promise continued prosperity. As more and more people learn about this year’s best city, Charlottesville may find staying affordable and sprawl-free is its greatest challenge!

1 – The above reads like it was written in 2004, the year “Charlottesville” was rated the “best place to live in the USA“.

2 – “Median Home Price” – in the above story is likely inclusive of all home prices and types in all of Charlottesville.

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Title Insurance Woes – Southern Title Suspends New Policies

Southern Title suspends issuance of new policies (PDF)

Southern Title Insurance Corporation, a regional title underwriter based in Richmond, VA, announced that it would voluntarily suspend issuance of new title policies effective as of September 15, 2011 and will focus continuing efforts on the resolution of claims received on previously issued policies.

Despite a an influx of new agents, new market opportunities and a solid management team, Southern Title has continued to incur higher than normal claims arising from policies issued by now-cancelled agents in the years between 2005 and 2008. That situation, in conjunction with a substantial recent agent defalcation, made a suspension of operations the most prudent course of action.

Why did they close?

The reason for the closure: a former Southern Title agent in Texas who embezzled escrow funds, according to Brad Dantic, general counsel for Southern Title’s parent company, ALPS.

“We are working closely and voluntarily with the Virginia Bureau of Insurance to get our hands around what was an agent defalcation in the state of Texas that triggered substantial claims for Southern Title,” Dantic said.

So – higher claims and embezzlement. Bad combination.

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