Date Archives June 2012

Landmark Hotel Sold, to be Finished. Hopefully

“The Dewberry”, neé the Landmark, was sold at auction yesterday for $6.5 million. Let’s hope he finishes his Charleston hotel quickly.

The Landmark Hotel in Charlottesville

As noted in the Daily Progress, it won’t be completed anytime soon.

Dewberry said the hotel, which will likely carry his name, won’t be quickly completed. His company is currently building a hotel in Charleston, S.C., out of a former federal building in the city’s downtown. … “We’ll start looking into what we need to do and what changes we can make and we’ll pull people into our huddle that we need to get things done,” he said. “We should have a working design and an idea of where we need to go in 12 months.”

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Good Job UVA – Your Impact is Remarkable

It’s hard to imagine UVA’s leadership doing a greater disservice to the University, the Charlottesville community and higher education.

Watching the disaster that is the ousting of UVA’s president will provide conversation, (social media) analysis, fallout and case studies for years to come. Rather than comment on what the ramifications are on the UVA community, the culture of education and how happy I am that my daughter is not going to UVA, here are a few select tweets that begin to describe the tragedy/fiasco/saga/lesson that is the UVA Board of Visitors:

I suspect that very soon, some faculty members will be putting their homes on the market.

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C’Mon, Apple. Real Estate Agents Need Property Boundaries

How will I show land without parcel boundaries on my phone?!

There’s been a lot of discussion about the new Apple maps, which will be replacing Google maps on the next iPhone.

apple maps

This isn’t enough to switch back to an Android device from my iPhone 4S, but it’s significant. In the nearly-three-years since Google integrated Albemarle County’s property boundaries as one of its layers, I’ve become quite dependent on this extremely useful feature.

Gizmodo did a nice side-by-side comparison of Google Maps vs Apple Maps, but they left out one thing that I use in my real estate practice multiple times a week – real estate parcels.

I saw some discussion about it last week in my Twitter stream, and asked for some help on Google+

Anyone with access to iOS 6 – can you tell me if the new apple maps have parcel boundaries as the google maps do? I need and use those to show property – in subdivisions and when showing raw land.

And thankfully got an answer pretty quickly from a friend.

Note the difference between these two photos? iOS5 has property parcel boundaries, while iOS6 doesn’t.

Google maps with parcels on iPhone 4s

Apple maps without parcels on iOS6

While I wouldn’t advise my client to accept these boundaries in lieu of a survey, they are usually accurate enough when walking land or lots, particularly when walking county/country properties where “natural” boundaries such as power or telephone poles aren’t visible.

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Charlottesville Condos – What are Floor Premiums?

What is a view worth? In a lot of ways, a view is unZillowable – how does one quantify a great view?

What is a “great view”? Mountains? Urban life? Both?

Charlottesville has quite a few condos; (for these purposes, we’re not talking about condo conversions which are occasionally challenged). While we obviously have neither the volume, scale, nor heights or prices of New York City real estate, we can draw parallels from their market and analyses.

Starting with the advice given by appraiser Jonathan Miller who explained to Brick Underground:

“how he correlates dollar figures to floor numbers.

“When it comes to floor level adjustments, we separate floor height and view into two separate amenities,” he says. “The floor level adjustment reflects the actual and perceived changes in natural light, street noise and security.”

The adjustment is bigger when comparing a second-floor apartment to a first-floor apartment.

Depending on market conditions, he says, “a typical adjustment might be 1% per floor before considering view differences. That’s 1% of the price of the unit you are comparing it to.”

So – higher is better. Lower is less better. 🙂

Candidly, I don’t think we have the market to allow for application of that type of analysis. For better or worse, the Charlottesville market is one in which “floor premiums per se don’t factor in as much as what the buyer is willing to pay and the seller is willing to accept. I always do a specific data analysis when evaluating condos, but ultimately if the buyer is seeking X and the seller will accept Y, data aside, a meeting of the minds likely won’t be found.

But, I still find the analysis provided by Noah Rosenblatt’s analysis at Urban Digs insightful and potentially applicable to the Charlottesville condo market.

There are two main elements in figuring out what kind of floor multiplier you should use when doing a comps analysis to what hopefully is a same-line sale (same footprint, different floor): TYPE OF CHANGE IN VIEW and AMOUNT OF GAP IN FLOORS.

TYPE OF CHANGE IN VIEW: When comparing two in-building same line comparable units we need to determine the level of change in the view quality. In other words, is there a drastic difference in the view or is there no difference in view? Lets take two hypothetical examples to explain this point:

What does this segment of the Charlottesville real estate market look like? A few examples:

The Waterhouse – still under construction, still not selling as far as I know. But they’re going to be getting another floor, so their floor premiums may go up – as may their prices. I’d wager that per-square-foot these are going to be the most expensive condos Charlottesville’s ever seen. (there’s likely a story or two to be written about this project)

The Gleason – Great condos in downtown Charlottesville, about two blocks off the Downtown Mall

The Barringer – Perhaps the best-located UVA condos.

The Holsinger – located right on the Downtown Mall, among the highest-priced condos in Charlottesville

I’ve represented a couple buyers in the Gleason and have taken a few photos while there.


Which view would you value more?

5th Floor 4th Floor

Hint: the first one is the 5th floor; the second is the 4th.

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This is why Hindsight is Important (in Real Estate)

It’s easy to use hindsight as a blunt force, but it’s important to note that we’re not going to know whether today’s real estate data reflects a/the sign of market recovery or a positive blip on the chart until we have the benefit of hindsight.

My advice: Be patient, ask questions, be confident, seek competent representation.

From the Speaking of Real Estate blog:

Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released its annual State of the Nation’s Housing report for 2012 and it very closely tracks comments made by NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun earlier this week at a CRE conference on what’s holding back the housing recovery.

The Harvard report, which always does a good job laying out in plain language what’s happening with the market, points to the increasingly strong market fundamentals and says home sales really could see serious improvement this year.

Sounds pretty ok, right?

And then I see @NickTimiraos from the WSJ tweet:

Harvard JCHS 2006: Fortunately, most homeowners have sizable equity stakes even if they can’t pay their mortgage

The Harvard report from 2006 says (in part):

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May 2012 Charlottesville Real Estate Market Report

Dig in. There’s some good news here.

Download the Nest Report for May 2012 here  or read it below.

Of the 189 homes that sold in the Charlottesville MSA since 1 April 2012 with CDOM of less than 30 days:

– the % of list to sell price was about 95%

Of the 213 homes that sold in the same timeframe with CDOM of at least 120 days:

– the % of list to sell price was about 94%.

That looks like price doesn’t matter … until one keeps in mind that in the previous wildly broad and potentially inaccurate perspective, the list to sell ratio data can be so easily skewed.

If you’re looking at the Charlottesville – Albemarle real estate market, focus on your market – your segment of the market. That $1.95 million dollar house above? It’s as relevant to the $245k attached home as the fishing report on Saturn is to whether I’ll catch a fish this weekend.

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Sellers – Don’t Have Stinky Houses, Take 2

After counting 12 of these in a vacant house I was showing last weekend, I thought re-visiting an old topic was timely.

If you’re selling your house, don’t do this.

Here are five reasons to avoid using air fresheners.

– Smelly things – plug-ins, air fresheners, etc are not good when you’re trying to sell your home.
– They don’t smell good.
– They make buyers question what you’re hiding.
– They detract from our ability to focus on the house because the smell is so overwhelming.
– They’re bad (from a “I’m trying to have my house present as well as possible perspective).

I wrote “Sellers don’t have Stinky Houses” several years ago, and if you’re curious to see how bad video was even a couple years ago, have a look.

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