Date Archives March 2012

But it’s Family! (or Why to Think Twice About Hiring your Family Realtor)

“I’d love to use you as a realtor, but my brother is a Realtor in another part of the state and to not use him would not make much sense for me. It makes viewing houses a bit more inconvenient, but it’s family!” or “She’s my sister; I have to use her!” “I didn’t need to look for representation; my uncle is a Realtor”

Could you/would you fire your aunt?

Candidly and respectfully, “he’s/she’s family” is one of the worst reasons to hire buyer representation I have heard.

Hiring someone to represent you in what is likely the largest financial transaction you’ll ever make warrants asking some questions other than, “what did you get me for Christmas last year?” (hint: here are quite a few questions to ask if you’re interviewing buyer or seller representation)

Buying and selling a home can be extremely emotional, sometimes volatile, and the process necessitates complete faith, trust and competence.

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Adding Up – Some Quick Walking to School Math


Full bike rack in Crozet

My daughter’s school had a “Walk to School day” a few weeks in which nearly 90% of the student body walked to school. My little one was interviewed by the local news; in response to the question, “why do you like to walk or ride bikes to school?” her answer was the one she and I talk about all the time –

“It saves gas, it’s better for the environment, we exercise and I get to spend time with my daddy”

For the past few years I’ve been trying to ride my bicycle around Charlottesville and Crozet because it’s healthy, it saves me gas money and “riding to work” is something more and more of my clients are seeking. (Young Americans aren’t buying cars anymore, and cars and their associated costs are expensive) Better to know first hand what the bicycle commute will be for my clients than not, right?

But this “riding a bike for errands and to school” has become more than I expected.

Baby steps matter. Think of this stuff in “times a million math”:

Distance from home to school and back: about 4 miles.

Done 75 times a year: 300 miles.

If 50 more kids at her school were to walk or ride bikes to school, and then at every other school in Albemarle and Charlottesville … we might be on to something. Perhaps evening a walking to school and saving gas revolution. 🙂

I was told yesterday that there are ~ 4,000 kids in Albemarle County high schools … I wonder how many of those live less than 2 miles from their respective schools and could walk or ride bikes given the opportunity.

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Tips for a New Homeowner in Charlottesville

Homeownership means, for better or worse, you never stop working on and protecting your home. The Charlottesville area can be a moist, humid environment with lots of stinkbugs, termites, bad ladybugs and more. This means constant vigilance concerning your home.

A client who will soon be a homeowner for the first time asked me for advice – what does he need to do once he owns the home? (I’m thisclose to recommending that folks do as I say and not as I do and get a home inspection every couple of years)

Naturally, I asked on Twitter and Google + (I’m not giving up on it quite yet) and got some useful and interesting responses from homeowners and real estate folks.

Before I go on, thank you to everyone who answered; I sincerely appreciate the responses and for your helping me help my client (and hopefully quite a few more)

Stephen provided the most comprehensive answer:

I heard homeowners should budget to spend ~2% of the house price in maintenance per year. May sound like a lot, but if you do the math and add it up over the last 5 years and two houses I’ve done: repave driveway, replace HVAC, septic pumping, minor pluming leak, replace dishwasher, replace switches, replace main water shutoff valve, repair drywall, repaint railings, clean gutters (didn’t have a big enough ladder), pest control … and that doesn’t even include costs of yard maintenance. And then there’s upgrades like: new fence, new wood stove, install garage door opener, new garbage disposal, new propane tank, replace fixtures and cabinet handles, new tv antenna… There may be more I’m forgetting…*

Jane offers simple and perfect advice: “Never. Never ignore water or damp inside the house.” (I’m bolding this one)

Jennifer said – “Get a ladder and some basic tools and clean your gutters”

Steve says on G+ – “Claim your home on Zillow. If the listing agent or previous homeowner provided a description and photos, those may not be relevant anymore. Plus, it puts the control back where it belongs. That, and buy some duct tape and WD40.”

This is an interesting response (Steve’s in California where Zillow may be more accurate) … In Charlottesville, Zillow’s accuracy is dubious at best, but I’m finding more and more of my clients are using Zillow, even if only for ancillary information. So … better to be prepared!

Jeremy says: “Changing air filters DOES make a difference”

Bobbi suggests: “Fireplace? Get it cleaned and inspected. and Free energy inspection via power company. Work with@LEAP_VA to correct. Simple changes to blinds/curtains help. Tax credits. and Service plan for HVAC system (relationship w/company goes a long way when crisis strikes). Same for pest control/termites.”

Scott suggests: “#1 – Get on your roof 2x a year just to see what’s going on up there. #2 – Unequivocally buy a home warranty.”

And Keith says: “Put aside 2% of asset value annually and you’ll never have a problem”

What tips do you have for new homeowners? Please leave them in the comments (or email me)

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Fluvanna’s Tax Rate is Going Up. Way Up

Fluvanna residents (and potential home buyers and sellers) – be prepared.

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors met Wednesday evening to discuss budget. After over an hour of public testimony, the supervisors voted 3-2 to approve a major increase to the advertised property tax increase.

The increase moves the current rate from 57 to 68 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

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