Date Archives February 2012

SO Much More than a Hole in the Ground

“From the perspective of the rest of the world: one random hole in the ground. For our family on February 8, 2012: the greatest looking slice of earth we have ever seen!!!”

My client posted the above comment on the site I created to help them and us track the progress of their new home. Lots of people buy and build homes; to each

Over the past couple years, I have helped quite a few clients build new homes – it’s a fun, occasionally stressful and ultimately very rewarding process to see the finished product – both my clients and the house.

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What are the Negatives of Living in Charlottesville?

I don’t “sell” Charlottesville – I educate and inform my clients so that they can make the best decisions possible. Charlottesville is truly a great place to live; while I’ve been here for only 24 years, I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else.

With that preface, there are negatives about Charlottesville and while they’re all relative (traffic) I’d like to think there are solutions.

I’ve been having this conversation on Google+ and on Facebook in advance of posting here.

My answer to the question: Perhaps the single greatest negative with living in CharlAlbemarle is the collective inability of the City and County to implement plans – specifically for infrastructure. Their constant bickering, planning, fighting, planning, discussing, planning and then planning some more is remarkably irresponsible.

My other response was – when I have the free time, choosing what to do from the plethora of options – sporting events, theater, music, arts, etc. Seriously. There is so much to do that choosing how to fill my limited free time is challenging.

The responses have varied from lack of Implementation of infrastructure plans to bickering of the localities.

I said last year: When explaining the City/County relationship to relocating buyers, I often describe the governments as being akin to estranged husbands and wives who are sharing custody of the kids. Or as brothers and sisters who occasionally poke each other in the eye, just to see what will happen.

It’s true, and it’s pathetic. And ultimately detrimental to the quality of life.

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Calculated Risk calls the Bottom of the Real Estate Market

First there are two bottoms for housing. The first is for new home sales, housing starts and residential investment. The second bottom is for prices. Sometimes these bottoms can happen years apart.

For new home sales and housing starts, it appears the bottom is in, and I expect an increase in both starts and sales in 2012.

I place a great deal of credibility in Calculated Risk; I’ve learned a tremendous amount there over the years. I’m not certain the bottom is quite here in the Charlottesville area, but I’m inclined to think we’re close.

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How Much Does this House Cost? (To Run)

How much does this home cost to run? It’s become one of the most important question my buyer clients ask – and an answer that Sellers need to be prepared to answer.

In today’s market, much more so than the previous one(s), buyers are much more cognizant of the costs to operate a home.

Everyone can calculate the PITI payment – Principal + Interest + Taxes + Insurance

What’s not easily calculable by buyers is –

– How drafty is the house?

– What’s the natural gas bill?

– What’s the electric bill?

– What’s the water bill?

– Trash/recycling is a fairly fixed cost.

– Do the parents scrap over the thermostat?

– How much is my commute going to cost? (this is huge; many of my buyer clients are looking forward to the time when gas goes to $6/gallon )

If the mortgage is going to be $2500 per month, but the utilities are $900/month, I’m thinking that my clients may be disinclined to move forward with an offer – or they might knock $30k (or some other number) off the offer price.

I said late last year that I suspect 2012 will be the year when buyers start doing energy audits as part of the home inspection process – sellers need to be prepared for this component to the home selling process.

2015 update – I’ve not had more than a handful of people do energy audits, in large part because of the cost as well as due to the competitiveness of our market. Maybe 2016 …

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