Date Archives February 2012

What you Browse & Buy Can be Used Against You

By “Used against you” I mean: How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did, a compelling (and compellingly succinct) analysis of the New York Times’ How Companies Learn Your Secrets.

If you use the internet or shop online or in stores, you owe it to yourself to read those two stories.

I have no doubt that the big real estate sites such as Zillow, Trulia,, Redfin are doing this type of deep analysis – and if you use Facebook, everything you do online is being tracked – but I’m curious as to what the triggers or specific data points are that demonstrate that a consumer is moving towards the buying or selling phase of life.

My guesses at which search queries are indicative of this shift –

– moving to (a specific location)
– buying a home in (Charlottesville)
– best schools in (Charlottesville)
– homes for sale close to (UVA)
– Best neighborhoods in (Charlottesville)

Those are obvious. I’m wondering if a sudden surge in purchases of Magic Erasers or Windex or storage facilities or which combinations of such purchases are indicative of a life stage shift …

And, the author’s suggestion to use cash to prevent companies from tracking you? That could make you a terrorist. (and if you have a cell phone, you’re being tracked anyway)

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Searching for homes in Charlottesville – Zillow, Trulia, MLS?

Not much has changed in the nearly four years since I first wrote about how to search for homes in Charlottesville.

I know consumers use these sites, but they tend to not be the most accurate if you’re looking for homes to see this weekend.

But if you’re looking for the most accurate listings and what I feel is the best, most user-friendly and functional home search tool in Charlottesville, I really and truly think that the search tool here at RealCentralVA is the best in the area.

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Monday Reads – 20 February 2012

Redfin Gets Traditional – I’ve long admired Redfin – their use of data and technology, their willingness to counter the status quo (and back it up) and their humility and willingness to shift to the market and realize that real estate is about more than data and technology.

… This technology won’t substitute for personal relationships, but personal relationships won’t substitute for technology either. A modern brokerage can’t compete without both, and without creating a new covenant between consumers and agents. The old model is broken in some ways, but it works in others. With Redfin 3.0, our humble hope is to give our customers the best of both.

How can builder confidence improve, single family starts increase sharply, and new home sales be unchanged?

Are gas prices affecting your decisions? (specifically your “Where should I live” decisions?)

Gas Price Historical Price Charts -
Thanks, GasBuddy.

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What are Your Favorite Bills in this Year’s General Assembly?

These are the bills I’m tracking on Richmond Sunlight – bill ranging from real estate licensing to the castle doctrine to eminent domain – and quite a few more.

The Charlottesville real estate market has gotten busier since the General Assembly’s session started so my time has been more limited (and this highlights why the only ones able to really influence legislation are the ones paid to do so).

As a consumer, agreeing to Single-Agent Dual Agency would take an awful lot of consideration and trust …

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The Mortgage Settlement is Upon Us

Understanding the Mortgage Settlement is above my pay grade; frankly the only ones who are likely to understand it are the ones writing it and pushing it forward. But shouldn’t they put the Mortgage Settlement in writing?

At least Virginia will be getting $479.6 billion from the settlement. And now, FHA will be bailed out. … at what point will the government just give a million dollars to every citizen? Wouldn’t that be easier?

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