Date Archives January 2013

Real Estate Radio – WNRN on 20 January

If you’re feeling like the past month of real estate data releases hasn’t satiated your need for real estate information and analysis, you’re invited to listen to Matt Hodges and me this Sunday morning at 11am on WNRN radio. Whenever we do this, it’s a lot of fun – talking for an hour about real estate, mortgages, the market and often times quite a bit more generally leads to a useful and informative conversation.

If you’re local, tune in to 91.9. If you’re not local (or don’t have a radio) the interwebs have you covered.

We tend to prep for four hours’ worth of radio, talk for about and hour, and get through 20% of what we have available. Live radio is always a bit nerve-wracking as the conversation is largely unscripted, but the resulting hour podcast is something that:

1) Usually generates inspiration for at least five stories

2) I tend to refer to frequently as I typically learn something from all of the prepping and resulting conversation.

So … in prepping for the show, we’re tentatively planning on talking about:

– The Charlottesville real estate market (naturally) – how it’s doing, how it might do in 2013

– When buyers and sellers should start their respective processes. (now)

– Real estate assessments (they’re coming out very soon) and their impact on actual market value

– The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s recent rules (800 pages of them) and their potential impact on the market.

– Qualified Residential Mortgages (see above)

– New construction in Charlottesville

– Shadow inventory

– Redfields’ buying open space

– More quality inventory

Suggestions welcome.

After some more thought, I ‘m thinking we might talk about the coming Wegmans and Fresh Markets, energy efficiency in homes, realtor productivity … one of the best parts of these shows are the recap posts I write that afternoon or next morning, replete with links, research, supporting information and more.

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A Fourth Hotel is Coming to Charlottesville

Pretty soon, finding a hotel room in Charlottesville will be easy. Charlottesville Tomorrow reports that another hotel is planned for Charlottesville – this one where the Regal 4 (also known as the one behind K-Mart, or the one behind the long-gone Terrace Triple).

Keep in mind that this new hotel is very close (though not in the way apparently) to the proposed Hillsdale Drive Extended, assuming the funds stay put for the road, of course,

So … a Hyatt, a Hilton, a Residence Inn … and a Homewood Suites. That’s a lot of rooms.

I know it’s silly, but I wonder if anyone’s thought about the traffic impact in that area; Hydraulic/29/250 is often times a disaster.

* One year, the Landmark downtown will be finished, adding even more rooms.

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2012 is in the Past – Looking Forward at the 2013 Charlottesville Market

YearEnd_2012_NestReport_CharlottesvilleMSA.pdf (page 3 of 9).jpg

1 – Inventory is low – (good for sellers, not so good for buyers)

2 – Interest rates remain low

3 – Prices (in many market segments) have stopped dropping, and are largely increasing.

4 – Sales volume is up across the board

5 – As always, do your own, supporting due diligence; your market will vary.

Click through to read the full Nest Report.

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2013 Charlottesville Real Estate Market – 6 Things to Watch


Note: this was published yesterday on C-Ville.

The past few years in real estate have been brutal, fascinating, and educational. 2012 is behind us and the 2013 market is picking up in Charlottesville. There are a few things to pay attention to when you’re looking at the real estate market in Central Virginia this year. (“So whats” are at the end):

– Inventory remains a key conversation point – quality inventory that people actually want to buy – has been consistently lower in Charlottesville and Albemarle than we’ve seen in years. “Quality inventory” defined as a home that is well-priced, in great condition, desirable locations.

  • Home Prices* – Broadly speaking, if there is a glut of inventory fed by new construction and sellers who have been sitting on the sidelines for years, home prices will likely waver between stability and increasing. If good quality inventory comes and goes at a reasonable pace, home prices may rise, particularly as the market is fueled by ridiculously low interest rates.

  • Fewer distressed sales – As the market has continued to correct, banks have seemingly done a better job of selling off their inventory and facilitating short sales. Fewer distressed sales may lead to a more stable market. (Although, more homeowners may be distressed but unable to short sell and therefore unwilling to let their homes go to foreclosure).

  • More confidence in the market as unemployment stabilizes (underemployment is a different conversation). More stability is likely to mean more buyers

  • Frustration felt by buyers who are seeing prices rise (again). If prices do indeed start to rise again, many buyers will be kicking themselves for waiting. Some are predicting national home prices to rise by nearly 10% this year; if this happens (and I hope it doesn’t), expect to see more discussion about another bubble. But … if you’re confident you’re going to be in the Charlottesville area for the next 5-7 years, it might be worthwhile to have a conversation about buying a home.

  • Apartments – there are going to be a lot more available in 2013 and 2014. A few of the new complexes: Arden Place (Rio Road), The Pavilion at North Grounds (Millmont/UVA), Stonefield Commons (Hydraulic & 29), The Reserve at Belvedere (Rio), the Plaza on West Main (UVA), City Walk (Downtown – more on the Coal Tower). As I said, a lot more apartments will be coming on the market soon.

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Has That House Ever Been a Meth Lab?

If this bill in the General Assembly passes, home Sellers will have to disclose if a house has ever been used as a meth lab.

What would be as good if not better would be would be if a database existed where the public could search for meth lab houses … and then not buy them.

I’ve shown only one house that I thought might have been a meth lab … so far as I know this isn’t a huge problem in the Charlottesville area (although I’ve heard some neighboring regions have had significant issues).

The National Association of Realtors has a tremendous amount of information on meth labs, including these tips:

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Another Call for Population Growth in Charlottesville and Albemarle


I’m still working my way through the new report produced by Advocates for a Sustainable Population (ASAP) in which they quantify the costs of growth (it’s a lot) and describe how adequately growth pays for itself (it doesn’t).

Growth is expensive, and costly – environmental, quality of life, general change – but what are the solutions? Other than more taxes, (a local income tax? Seriously?) specific solutions aren’t proposed. What exactly is an “informed population polic(y)”?

Keep in mind that this is the group that wants to limit populations (of Charlottesville and Albemarle).

You’ve heard of how Charlottesville used to be a (relatively) well-kept secret, and how as soon as someone moved here they’d want to close to the gates and keep others from moving in? The author of the study fits that mold; he moved here in 2007.

Personally, I’ve struggled with the growth of my hometown* for years and my internal struggles haven’t abated. Intelligent implementation of building, infrastructure, etc is crucial, but these are things that seemingly local (and state, and national) governments fail at implementing every day. What are the solution? I don’t know, but a cap on population seems short-sighted and more difficult to implement than building the Meadowcreek Parkway.

If you’re short on time, read ASAP’s 5 page Executive summary.

Update: Neil Williamson of the Free Enterprise Forum offers a strong rebuttal of the ASAP report.

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