Date Archives February 2012

Contracts in Charlottesville and Albemarle are up (February 2012)

The NAR released their Pending Sales report this morning.

As we know, national data doesn’t matter so much.

So, I looked at the homes put under contract in Charlottesville and Albemarle for the past few months.

Pendings in Charlottesville and Albemarle 2010 - 2011 - 2012

But … keep in mind that things are so very mixed. I’ve been showing homes in the $550k – $800k range for the past few days. Of the past five properties we’ve seen:

– One is a short sale

– One is a foreclosure

– Three are regular sales

* Data from the Charlottesville MLS

** “Right Now” is 27 February around 10:30. From Open Space. I’ll update the chart after February.

Updated on 3 March. Contracts in February 2012 in Charlottesville and Albemarle are up just over 68%.

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Riding my Bike from Downtown Charlottesville to Belvedere Neighborhood

It can be done. In under 20 minutes.

If the City of Charlottesville would finish their side of the Meadowcreek Parkway, the ride would be a bit faster and easier.

I rode my bike from Nest to the Belvedere neighborhood today because I wanted to:

1 – Be able to tell my clients/demonstrate it could be done
2 – Save gas
3 – Get exercise
4 – Enjoy the insanely beautiful if inconsistent weather we’ve had today.

Mission accomplished. In under 20 minutes.

Find more Bike Rides in Charlottesville, VA

Note to my wife: I wore my helmet.

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HGTV Doesn’t Mention “Mights as Well” or “While We’re Theres”

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a loooong time – about how HGTV tends to set unrealistic expectations for homeowners and potential homebuyers with respect to renovations, the process of renovations, assumptions involving finding trustworthy contractors, etc. etc. etc.

I was immensely pleased to read Megan McArdle’s recent story in The Atlantic detailing her kitchen renovation; it’s a (to me) fascinating account, both in the detail in the myths it dispels.

For starters

I don’t want to overpromise. This is not one of those $2,000 HGTV specials where, by the magic of not paying for labor, a couple gets a new-looking kitchen for practically no money. No one is going to walk into our kitchen and ask for the name of our designer. But it’s functional enough to contain me, my mother, and my sister all cooking at the same time, without bumping into each other, or piling every flat surface high with used bowls and pans. We have enough storage for everything. And it looks . . . basically okay. Intentional, even.

Good bones matter. Start with those.

As I tell my clients, try to account for the “mights as well” and the “while we’re theres” when you are dreaming about, discussing, planning and budgeting your remodels and project – those large and small.

For example, look at the kitchen – if you’re going to replace the dishwasher, you might as well replace the disposal with a higher horsepower one. If you’re going to redo the countertops, you might as well do that tile backsplash.

While you’ve opened the walls for that thing you wanted to do, while you’re there, why don’t you add some insulation?

And on. And on and on.

Watch HGTV for ideas to start from. But don’t use them as a guide to “reality;” “reality” costs more.

After you’re finished reading her account of her remodel, have a look at this Remodeling 2011-12 Cost vs. Value Report that details the projects on which you’re likely to recoup the most money.

– Replacing a garage door is likely to recoup 83.9% of your costs

– Adding a deck is likely to recoup 72.8% of your costs.

– A minor kitchen remodel  is likely to recoup 72.8% of your costs

– Remodeling a home office – do it if you will enjoy it; you’ll recoup only 45.8% of your costs

Keep in mind that the actual cost estimates are national ones; they’re not local to the Charlottesville area. (the roof costs seem remarkably high, for example).

I’m also coming around to believe that the ROI of energy efficiency improvements – foam insulation, higher-rated SEER HVAC, air sealing homes, passive homes – are likely to have a higher ROI than granite countertops and certain types of renovations. I’ll be trying to analyze this in the coming weeks.


Robert Hahn (robhahn) on Twitter.jpg

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Charlottesville People – Do you Care What the National Association of Realtors Say?

I know I’m a broken record. I get a tremendous amount of value from the National Association of Realtors – from their publications (On Common Ground is tremendous), to the lobbying they do to the information they share … but as far as home sales data and projections, I don’t understand why there is so much gnashing of teeth and complaining about the NAR’s projections and data. The NAR is a trade organization for Realtors. I’m not bashing the NAR, but I would like to see their analysis put in the appropriate context.

Understanding the Charlottesville area real estate market is a full-time job – representing buyers and sellers, analyzing the market, etc.; making sense of the nation’s housing market – I’d go so far as to say it’s impossible to do accurately or credibly.

For a brief summary of where we are in Charlottesville:

Nest’s January 2012 Real Estate Summary

Nest’s 2012 Annual Report

And the “Market Statistics” category in RealCentralVA. Or, better yet, if you have a question about the market, start your research looking at the broader market statistics and then, ask me.

To see the responses to the title question from those on Twitter, read the rest of the story.

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A Longer Western Bypass?

If nothing else, there might be something additional to study. Charlottesville Tomorrow reports: “A proposal to extend the planned Western Bypass of U.S. 29 further northward is among the potential concepts that will be presented this afternoon to the Metropolitan Planning Organization policy board for possible inclusion in the region’s long-range transportation plan.”

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