Date Archives January 2013

City of Charlottesville Real Estate Assessments are Out – 2013 Edition

Charlottesville’s real estate assessments are down a bit in 2013; this is no surprise to anyone tracking the Charlottesville market. Every year brings the conversation about whether real estate assessments matter with respect to true market value … 2013 will be no different. I expect Albemarle County will be releasing their property assessments shortly. (they were out earlier than this last year) One of the biggest questions homeowners tend to have is this: is my assessment accurate? Should I challenge it?

NBC29 reports:

– Assessment for existing residential property declined in value by 2.44%.

– Assessments for existing commercial property increased in value by 6.25%.

– Combined existing residential and commercial property increased in value by .61%. When new construction & re-classification are added to the value of existing property the total value of property in the City increased by 1.35%. 

According to Charlottesville City Assessor Roosevelt Barbour, Jr., (RES), there was a decline in existing residential property values even though unit sales increased by 25%. The Assessor’s Office reviewed assessments and sales information within the City to determine the assessed value for tax year 2013. Reassessment notices will be mailed to all property owners on January 31, 2013. Virginia law requires cities to assess all properties annually.

Surely there is much more conversation to come about the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle real estate assessments, but in the meantime:

What do Real Estate Assessments Mean?

“Assessments are not a reflection of market value. They are a backward-looking assessment of what the market value may have been at the time the assessor looked at the house (most likely online, and not in person). The assessor may or may not know the condition of the property, the condition of the property’s neighbors, may not consider the traffic noise, crime stats, proximity of sexual offenders, level of inventory, smell of the neighborhood, etc. etc. etc. Assessments are why you pay taxes on.”

January 2012 – Real Estate Assessments in the Charlottesville area – Still Declining?

December 2007 – Assessments, property taxes and shifting market values in Albemarle County

Read More

Enjoy Charlottesville Today – We’re Healthy!

I was going to publish this next week, but seeing as how it’s supposed to be 73 degrees today, I thought today was appropriate.

Charlottesville is healthy. We knew that, right?

I was asked yesterday what I would tell someone who’s moving to Albemarle County; the reasons to move are many, but they all come under the heading of “it’s really just a great place to live.” One of those reasons is that there is so much to do –

From the hikes around Charlottesville to the variety of adult league sports ranging from soccer to lacrosse to softball … kickball …

If the Weldon Cooper Center’s data doesn’t do it for you, look at West Main Street on a Sunday morning:

Virginia Data | Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service - Albemarle County

Not only has Charlottesville been ranked as a healthy place in Virginia, Charlottesville’s been named as one of the healthiest places in the country a couple times – by the AARP in 2008 and Men’s Journal as one of the Healthiest Towns in 2010. (but really, lists are just that … now get out there and enjoy Charlottesville today! — I’ll be riding my bicycle to a home inspection today.

Read More

Charlottesville Loves its Restaurants

Charlottesville is the #14 most “Restaurant-Crazy” City.

I like that they qualify “Charlottesville” as “The Charlottesville area” by virtue of their noting that “Charlottesville” has a population of 204k.


Restaurants: 460

Restaurants Per 10,000 Residents: 22.8

I have my favorite restaurant(s) (Brookville, ahem) in Charlottesville … and many of their chefs are featured at Beyond the Flavor, (note their Kickstarter campaign).

The food in Charlottesville is remarkable, and helps to make living here pretty nice.

Read More

Buy or Sell (in Charlottesville)? It Depends

As with most things in real estate, the answer to “should I buy or sell or stay or rent” depends on your situation.

Last year I noted how my inbox was conflicted – one email said all was great, the other noted the grim, dark outlook around the corner.

I read a lot of news and opinion about the real estate marketnational, regional, local – as I tend to find reason between the extremes. Generally this reasoning leads to a similar conclusion of “it depends;” today is no different.

One story by folks I read frequently whom I tend to trust identifies 5 Reasons You Should List Your House TODAY! – with reasons ranging from high demand and low inventory to increased new construction to higher interest rates. All of these are true (the amount of new construction in Charlottesville coming online this year in Charlottesville and Albemarle is extraordinary).

Bolster the (all true) with Robert Shiller noting that (an opinion I share) that the optimism we’re seeing needs tempering. There are so many variables that will affect the Charlottesville market – product mix, the huge influx of new apartments complexes, infrastructure, interest rates, jobs – many of these are trending positive. Not to mention how the housing market touches so many facets of our economy.

So … I’m conflicted as well. The market in Charlottesville and Albemarle is picking up right now; what it does in five years is an unknown – all we can do is make the best decisions we can with the best data and facts available. Today.

My advice to my clients, whether they are buying or selling, (sounds silly, I know) starts with listening. Where are they now (in life, jobs, homes), where do they want to be (see previous notes) and where can they get realistically?

I strive every single day to do more for my clients than merely show up; anyone can do that.

Read More

Is Charlottesville Ready for Micro Spaces?

Is there enough to do in Charlottesville to justify living in so-called micro spaces?

Could you live in a 500 square foot condo? (would you buy or rent it?)

What is the future of (urban) housing?

I’ve written about tiny homes and efficient living before, particularly as they relate to the emerging trends of more urban living, a renewed focus on efficiency of life and resources and a limitation of physical real estate as urban areas become more populated. 400 square feet can be astonishingly functional.

Jeannine at Small and Chic Home poses the question from the perspective of someone who lives in a relatively small space (785 square feet) in Charlottesville. I can’t offer any more than she, as her skills at design and use of space far exceed anything I could offer.

… Charlottesville and Staunton were among the independent cities growing at a rate faster than the state since 2010

Charlottesville is growing fairly quickly, people want to live closer to stuff …

I wonder … what will the now-broken-ground City Walk offer? Small spaces? Highly pedestrian/biker friendly spaces?

City neighborhood planner Brian Haluska confirmed that the project will be a rental apartment community that will consist of four multi-family buildings that will hold 301 units and have one parking deck. …

“The road will take a lot of traffic off Carlton Road,” Haluska said, “and the path is a big positive in the pedestrian infrastructure in the city. A lot of pedestrians will now have a key path to downtown that will be safe and inviting.”

Previous designs called for at least one building to be nine stories tall, but that was scaled back. Haluska confirmed that each building will be three stories over a basement.

Does Charlottesville (City) have enough to do to make living in such small spaces valuable? Is the trade-off for less indoor living space for greater outside opportunities more balanced now?

Keep in mind that Albemarle County is projected to grow to 155k people by 2040 – from 102k today. (source: Weldon Cooper) and Charlottesville City is projected to to 49k people by 2040 – from 45k today. (source: Weldon Cooper)

Would you live in a tiny space in Charlottesville?

Read More

Walking – Biking – Driving Directions all-in-one

Brilliant. Want to know which is faster – walking, biking, driving? That’s easy enough to discern using Google Maps, but in a quest for efficiency, Michael Schade at the Mobility Lab has constructed the Side-by-Side Router:

Once you pick two end-points, the four modes’ routes are drawn with different colors. It’s been surprising to see how the routes vary depending on the mode. The program also gives you the total travel time and distance for each mode.

For example: there’s a house on the market on Park Street; it’s Walk Score is 68. To get from my office to that house, I’d say that bicycling is a better choice than driving. (click to see full size) Simple. Colorful. Brilliant.

Side-by-Side Router - Compare routes for driving, biking, walking, and transit

This is a fantastic research tool for homebuyers, sellers and folks moving to the Charlottesville area … keep in mind that the directions are likely mostly right as are the business listings … things change, and the best way to know if a route if truly walkable or bikeable is to walk or bike the routes you’d be doing.

(it’d be supercool if I could embed this map. 🙂 )

Read More

Why buy? Why rent? How to choose an ethical real estate agent or mortgage broker? – WNRN 1-20-13

Why buy? Why rent? How to choose an ethical real estate agent or mortgage broker? What is quality inventory? Richmond Sunlight, the General Assembly and real estate. And lots, lots more. An hour of live radio goes fast. Prepping for said show takes hours. What follows are some show notes, links, supporting stories and more. If you’re interested in buying or selling in the Charlottesville area in 2013, I sincerely think this would way to spend an hour of your time.

As always, we cover a lot of ground in an hour. I do apologize; I spent an hour this morning listening to the show, researching links, putting said links in chronological order, previewed the story and *poof* it disappeared. So this story is a bit less than intended.

Matt started the show by unexpectedly noting my inclusion on the Inman 100 list; I don’t often share my accomplishments, but this is a pretty significant one and I appreciated his mentioning it.

Perhaps my personal favorite parts are the (at 16:50) “how you say ‘wait, don’t buy that now'” when your incomes depend on sales? And then we touch on (24:30) how the consumer has a responsibility to vet the people they hire. (if you want the questions I provide my prospective clients, ask me).

Listen to the podcast at Charlottesville Podcast Network.

Read More