Date Archives November 2011

The Bubblers and the Brokers, Part 2

The Charlottesville Bubble Blog have posted Part Two of their series.

Michael Guthrie invited Greg Slater and me to be on his radio show this Saturday on WINA at 10am; we will be discussing our perspectives on the Charlottesville real estate market, what we’re seeing, challenges, things sellers need to do to prepare, steps for buyers to prepare to buy a house, the ongoing societal shift with respect to housing and so much more.

I’ll say this – there’s never enough time on radio.

Update 14 November 2011: The podcast is now up (pop-up window) and it’s a strong conversation, well worth listening to.

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HR 1746 – If you’re An International Buyer Looking to Purchase in a College Town

This might be the program for you if if you’re a wealthy foreigner who needs a Visa, if you buy a house (in Charlottesville) “worth” at least $500k, you can get a Visa.

1: Anything to stimulate investment in the US could be construed as a good thing.

2: Per usual Congress doesn’t understand reality; there is a distinct difference between appraisals and assessments.

3: The want Canadians to visit, too.

In order for the housing market to be allowed to find bottom and thus find its way to balance and recovery, the federal government needs to get out of the way. Let the market work. Stop trying to “fix it.” You can’t. You’re neither competent nor disinterested enough to make intelligent, rational decisions with respect to the housing market (or anything, really).

But … If this bill gets passed, I will gladly represent buyers who choose to take advantage of what it has to offer.

I couldn’t find much about this bill online, but this is one perspective – Misguided Schumer-Lee Bill Offers Visas for Foreign-Born Homebuyers

Read the whole bill – HR 1746 – on OpenCongress.

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Belevedere Neighborhood Maturing

I’ve always liked the Belvedere neighborhood; I think it’s a great place – great neighborhood, great location and well-designed energy efficient houses.

Charlottesville Tomorrow reports on how Belvedere is growing up and taking shape.

“The homes are built right by the sidewalk and you can talk to the neighbors when they walk by,” said Perpetua, who is retired and moved here from Pittsburgh. “It’s just a different kind of community.”
Another part of this urban vision is a “civic core,” modeled as a public square, which will include a community meeting space, a Montessori school and facilities for the Soccer Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle.

SOCA plans to locate its new headquarters in Belvedere and also has three separate parcels in the works for the neighborhood — a covered indoor field and training facility, a lit all-weather artificial turf field and four natural grass fields.

Bill Mueller, executive director of SOCA, said that final approval for the offices and indoor field in the first parcel was “imminent” and that SOCA would soon start a $4 million fundraising campaign for the facility.

Last night I had an extended conversation via the handy-dandy “Live Support” widget you see to the right with someone about the Belvedere neighborhood. We talked about a lot and I referenced a lot of stories. I thought recapturing those links would be helpful, both for me as a resource, and you as a reader (and prospective buyers)

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Links for 8 November 2011

To Fix Housing, See the Data – (NYTimes) – The case for principal write downs.

Would Higher Interest Rates boost the Housing Market? – (The Atlantic) –

Local Food: No Elitist Plot (NYTimes)

Making Sense of Home Price Data (Smart Money)

Making Sense: Market Reports all over the place (The HooK)

The Economics of City Mouse vs. Country Mouse – (Get Rich Slowly) – Charlottesville provides a good mix of both City (by our definition) and Country (which is easy enough to get to in under 15 -20 minutes. How you want to live will determine where you want to live.

Mind mapping my social networks – next map will be the flow of information.

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Biscuit Run – Now in Court

The Biscuit Run story, originally a large tract of land, then a planned huge development, now failed planned development and a planned State Park, gets another chapter.

This chapter begins … in court. Brendan Fitzgerald at C-Ville reports:

Forest Lodge LLC—a venture that includes developer and Virginia National Bank chairman Hunter Craig and Dave Matthews Band manager Coran Capshaw—have filed a civil case in Albemarle County Circuit Court to contest land preservation tax credits received after they sold Biscuit Run to the state.

This part is fascinating:

Forest Lodge’s Piedmont appraisal “estimated Biscuit Run to be sold out in 10 to 11 years…[at an annual rate of] approximately 300 units, 50 of which are affordable units.” The Salzman appraisal, in comparison, “estimated that it would take 16 years.”

I’m curious as to how they defined “units” – are they purely residential? Single family? Commercial? Apartments?

For some quick context during the apex and subsequent decline in Charlottesville and Albemarle:

From 1 January 2006 to 1 January 2008 there were 4528 transactions reported in the Charlottesville MLS. 791 were marked as being “new construction”*.

If they’re filing a civil case against the Commonwealth, hopefully all these secretive appraisals will be made public.

(I’ll take this opportunity to thank the C-Ville and The HooK for having the journalists who investigate these stories; without them, the public would likely know much, much less. (most) Bloggers can’t do what they do.)

Update 10 November 2011:

Hawes Spencer at the HooK continues his investigation into Biscuit Run – The flip that flopped: Biscuit Run men want $20 million more from taxpayers and Waldo at cvillenews notes succinctly states:

I’m something like $100k underwater on my mortgage. Here I was thinking that it was my duty to suck it up and live with, because it’s nobody’s fault but my own. Maybe that attitude is what’s keeping me from being a successful businessman.

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Elections 2011 – What’s on Your Ballot?

“Politicians are like diapers; they need to be changed often and for the same reason.” ― Mark Twain

We vote on Tuesday in what’s termed an “off-off election” meaning … fewer people vote, so your vote will matter more. Please vote.

Here are a few resources:

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Candidate information

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Charlottesville City Council Candidate information

– Unfortunately, Charlottesville Tomorrow doesn’t cover the other important races, but luckily The HooK offers snapshots of the various races, including Albemarle County School Board (I’m endorsing Ned Gallaway for this race), Soil and Conservation District (I like Lonnie Murray)

cvillenews gives a succinct rundown of which races are on the ballots. I’d clip a bit of Waldo’s post, but really, just read the whole thing.

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