Date Archives February 2013

Zillow + Google = Amazing Times Ahead

Google Now + Zillow. Big times ahead …

Almost every buyer with whom I work checks Zillow (and I have to tell them Z doesn’t have a direct MLS feed, so the data isn’t always accurate. They check zestimates in addition to property assessments because they’re looking for an objective valuation.

Almost every seller with whom I work checks their home’s zestimate to see how it measures up with their locality’s assessment and our market analysis. More often than not, the zestimate is wrong. But.

I feel like I was seeing the future in 2006 when I wrote this

Yet I have been wondering – what if Zillow’s reach becomes so great, their data become so vast and inclusive, that their Zestimates significantly impact what is fair market value? What if the purchasing and selling population refer to Zillow as the end-all, be-all estimator for their homes’ valuations? What if “close enough” is “good enough”? What if they become the de facto standard for home valuations?

And now this (pardon the pun):

Google Now gets you just the right information, before you even ask, and is the newest part of the Google Search app for devices running Android 4.1, Jelly Bean. If you’re in the market for a new home, Google Now can provide you with nearby real estate listings, powered by Zillow. Plus, while you’re attending an open house, Google Now will pull additional information about the home, including time on market, listing price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and year built.

If you haven’t used Google Now, you should. I have a Nexus 7 tablet and Google Now is sweet – intuitive, instinctive and always there.

Zillow may be on to something. From Forbes.

Gartner estimates that smartphones captured 44% of all mobile phone sales in the December 2012 quarter with Android smartphones taking 31% of all mobile phone shipments and iOS in second place at 9%. Android smartphones grew 88% year over year with iOS at 23%.

Android at times makes my iPhone 4S feel old.

Russ with Zillow said in 2011, in response to my challenging their advocating using zestimates in negotiations:

Additionally, I wanted to let you know we’ve removed language about using the Zestimate for negotiation. We really do want to be clear that it’s a starting point, and we could see how that confused the issue. Thanks for pointing that out.

We’re not to the point where zestimates replace market analyses – there are so many unzillowables that can’t be quantified by an algorithm – view, smells, neighbors, proximity to work, stuff, groceries, etc but the question that marginal real estate agents need to be asking themselves (that great ones have been asking themselves for years) is this:

Why should my client trust me more than Google/Zillow? (my answer to this question coming next week)

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City Walk is Moving A LOT of Dirt

I stopped by Beer Run this afternoon (those not in Charlottesville – it’s more than beer!) to pick up a gift and noticed that the City Walk apartments are well underway. That’s a lot of dirt.

Lots of dirt moving at City Walk

More about City Walk at Charlottesville Tomorrow (including the site plan).

The apartment boom that is currently underway is going to change the Charlottesville real estate landscape – significantly.

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Popeyes Chicken Coming to 29?

A Popeyes restaurant (I assume it’s Popeyes Chicken) is coming to 29.

Located between the existing Kentucky Fried Chicken and Raising Canes Chicken, Popeyes will be opening on one of the busiest, and often times most challenging parts, of 29 southbound.

I have been wondering for months what was going in that building, both for curiosity’s sake and as I have a personal connection to that building (it is the site of the former Century 21 Manley – where I started my real estate career).

This morning was the first time I was able to get into the space, as there is no traffic at 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning. 🙂

There’s also a “Bring Popeyes to Charlottesville” Facebook page. Who knew?

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Crozet’s Getting a Hotel

Looks like Crozet will be getting a hotel … in Old Trail.

If you’re curious, check out the state of the “Major Site Plan Amendment” at Albemarle County’s outstanding County View – Planning Application number is SDP201300011

This is an interesting development … Old Trail has been in a bit of flux for the past several months after new management took over, and it’s been quite challenging to advise buyer clients as to what the future of Old Trail is going to be … other than “it’s going to be a lot more dense, a lot busier, and they’ve no plans to address traffic (to be fair, the County doesn’t have any plans for traffic – here or anywhere)”. I don’t mean that to be a negative, but an honest statement … Old Trail is an outstanding neighborhood – one of the most walkable and popular neighborhoods in the region, but having a clear, defined plan would be helpful – both to new residents and existing ones.

It seems that their plans are taking shape.

Charlottesville (and the urban ring in Albemarle County) is poised to have a lot more hotels … but this is the first one in Crozet, and is a much-needed hotel. With the number of vineyards hosting weddings, tourists coming to town to hike and visit the many breweries in Crozet and Nelson County, I’m betting a 43 room hotel, assuming it’s a nice boutiquey thing, will do extremely well.

A boutique hotel had been planned/discussed for the Barnes Lumberyard, but after the bank bought the lumberyard back at foreclosure, I’m betting the only hotel Crozet sees is the one in Old Trail.

I’m working on figuring out a timeline for the site plan review, who’s building it and other details. But for now, I’m off to see a client about a house.

PROJECT: SDP2013-011 Old Trail Village Block 2B – Major Site Plan Amendment
PROPOSED: Request for major site plan amendment approval for a four story, 43 room hotel with a 1,000 square foot restaurant and associated parking.
…

LOCATION: At the corner of the intersection of Golf Drive and Claremont Lane, near The Lodge at Old Trail.

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Albemarle County Real Estate Tax Assessments are Out

Title edit: when I posted this this morning, assessments weren’t out. Now (3:45 7 February) I just received the press release from the County. Click through to read the whole thing. (but they’re still late 🙂 )

I don’t know that there’s a “must have these sent by X date” for the release of the Albemarle County real estate tax assessments, but over the past few years, Albemarle assessments have been released by the end of January.

In 2012, I noted the new assessments on 27 January; many (most) property values had declined. I’m thinking that 2013 is going to show a measured response – anywhere from 3% down to 1.5% up.

5 Reasons why real estate assessments matter:

1) The County bases their budget on property tax revenue.

2) The assessed value is the value upon which property owners pay taxes.

3) Buyers look at assessed values as a measure of market value … but really, it’s a point in the equation, but are neither a definitive point nor a necessarily accurate one.

4) Also – “Virginia, unlike some other states, by Statute requires localities to assess property at 100% of fair market value, based on an objective analysis of the property’s fair market value…”

5) Sellers look at assessed values and wonder if buyers will think that the assessment means their home is worth X (it doesn’t).

Curious – what’s the over/under for how assessments will come out?

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Your Neighbors Affect your Market Value – So Say Appraisers

This news may seem either common sense or unreasonable, depending on your position, but the fact is that neighbors affect market value.

“I’ve seen many situations where external factors, such as living near a bad neighbor, can lower home values by more than 5 to 10 percent,” said Appraisal Institute President Richard L. Borges II, MAI, SRA. “Homeowners should be aware of what is going on in their neighborhood and how others’ bad behaviors could affect their home’s value.”

I showed a house this afternoon in a nice little neighborhood – house was in good condition, great yard, manageable needed upgrades … but the guy on the four wheeler flying down the road, (I think the technical term is “whizzing”), the honda racing down the road … those folks are negatively impacting the value of the entire neighborhood, not just adjacent neighbors.

Buyers can paint and replace carpet … but replacing neighbors?

I’m no attorney, but this is an attorney describing what may constitute a public nuisance (and what neighbors may be able to do about it).

After minutes and minutes of googling, I can’t find how this case in Arizona was resolved, in which this was the subject of the case, “Do you have to disclose the fact that your neighbor is disruptive before selling your house?”

So … if you’re buying, visit the house and the area around the house several times before you buy.

* Thanks to VARBuzz for pointing out the appraisal article

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From the Rivanna to Rose Hill – Rounding up a few Charlottesville Tomorrow stories

When I say that I couldn’t represent my clients – buyers and sellers – without the reporting of Charlottesville Tomorrow, I mean it. The past seven days demonstrate that statement:

(Charlottesville City) Council takes first step in enacting stormwater fee – “The fee will bring in an additional $1.6 million each year in revenues that will be dedicated for stormwater replacement and repair.”

America’s infrastructure is crumbling, and Charlottesville (and Albemarle’s) infrastructures aren’t immune. This is a step (so long as it’s not a tax that never goes away) towards fixing our infrastructure.

Officials present unified vision for long range planning – “After an hour of presentations by local officials, the burning question was a simple one: How can pedestrians cross U.S. 29 in Albemarle County’s northern growth area?”

Asking this question is a start … doing something is an entirely different matter.

Changes in the works for Rose Hill Drive – “The proposals include buffers to protect cyclists from traffic, new street trees and narrower lanes.”

I’d wager that better multi-modal transportation options will be a net positive for property values and livability; this foresight and knowledge are beneficial to buyers moving to or within Charlottesville, residents and potential sellers.

River design competition winners announced – “The winning design, titled Sound Crater, celebrates Charlottesville’s music scene and establishes the Rivanna at the heart of it. “

Making the Rivanna a center part of the City would be a tremendous undertaking, but one that would make Charlottesville an eminently better place to live (if done right).

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