Date Archives April 2013

Help Kickstart Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Education Coverage

I’ve long said that I’m better positioned to represent my clients’ best interests because of the knowledge and information that Charlottesville Tomorrow shares.

Now they’re asking for the community’s help to Kickstart their foray into covering the education side of the news.

Charlottesville Tomorrow has provided something extremely valuable – consistent reporting for many years. Here’s hoping they’re able to replicate this success in the school reporting arena.

Keep in mind – “Distance from Schools” and “Quality of Schools” are the two least-likely-to-compromise criteria for home buyers.

* Disclosure: I donated $50.

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Your Credit, CLUE Reports and Buying a House

You know your credit affects everything, right? Did you know that your house (and the one you’re trying to buy) has a credit report? You know there’s a database for everything, right?

Several years ago a real estate agent I know had a buyer who was closing on a home purchase in a couple days. He called his insurance company a few days prior to closing and said he needed insurance. But.The combination of his credit (not 800+ credit score) and the house’s credit resulted in his insurance policy costing many, many times what he was expecting (and budgeting for). He no longer qualified to buy the house and everyone found out a few days prior to closing.

Did you know that the Clue Report goes back five years into the history of a property. It is standard industry practice to purge losses over five years old“?

So: when the power went out for a week in last year’s derecho and the seller of the home you’re trying to buy filed a homeowner’s insurance claim for the $400 worth of groceries they’d just bought? That could affect the buyer’s ability to get affordable homeowners insurance.

In other words:

“Only information about property loss claims made against homeowner’s or automobile policies is included in the CLUE database. Information from the CLUE database plus your risk score make up the complete insurance risk profile. However, your credit history can play an important part in an insurance company’s judgment about your risk potential.”


When I’m putting together offers to Purchase when representing clients, I use an addendum (that has been a part of the standard Virginia Association of Realtors’ forms since at least February 2005) called the “Homeowners’ Insurance Addendum” (simple, right?). The most difficult part of this form is that most many Realtors in Charlottesville seem to have never seen this form – and many see it as an unnecessary, superfluous contingency . I don’t know why.

The form addendum is clear – it forces the buyer to ascertain within a short time period (similar to that of the home inspection contingency) that they can get affordable homeowners’ insurance – with a certain cap on the annual premium and the deductible.

Better to find out in the first two weeks if the homeowners insurance will be $4,000 per year instead of $700, right?

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Contested Albemarle County Elections – Good For Everybody

Local elections matter.

There are six seats on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors; at least two will be contested this year. Every race should always be contested, so thanks to those who are volunteering to run for seat that pay $14,542 per year.

Jack Jouett – retiring Dennis Rooker has anointed School Board Rep Diantha McKeel as his successor.

Samuel MillerLiz Palmer, board member for Albemarle County Service Authority, will be running against incumbent Duane Snow

Rio DistrictUrban and Environmental planner Brad Sheffield will run again incumbent Rodney Thomas.

To my eye, the announced races seem to be very much managed-growth (challengers) versus not-so-well-managed-growth (incumbents).

Pay attention, folks. Albemarle County is (and has been for years) at a crossroads. Think less of the “Austin or Aspen or Arlington ” debate and more of the “Loudoun County or Albemarle County” debate.

Get ready as well to follow the money at VPAP, the Virginia Public Access Project.

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Home Sales in Charlottesville Down, Contracts Up, Market Turning?

YOUR market will vary.

Even though this is what we believe to be an extremely accurate market report, it’s still a broad-brush report.

Mill Creek will have different inventory levels and absorption rates than will Old Trail, or the Gleason condos. As will different price points. i.e. – low absorption rate at $1 million + , high absorption rate in the $300k – $400k price point.

Dig in, get educated, ask questions, either in the comments below or email or call me anytime.

This is an example of how saying “sales are up” or “sales are down” doesn’t tell the whole picture.

For all residential sales year to date in the Charlottesville MSA:

Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® © 2013 LIST-IT-1.jpg

Very broad takeaways –

– Inventory levels across the MSA are up, sales are down.

– Quality inventory is anecdotally way down

– In some market segments, multiple offers are common place.

– New construction is going to be a huge market segment – for better or worse.

– Being prepared to act fast – whether as a buyer or seller – is crucial.

The full report is embedded below, or download it here.

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Retrofitting 250 West in Crozet?

The County of Albemarle (and City of Charlottesville for that matter) seem to have a “planning for traffic” plan in which they approve stuff and then, twenty years later, seem stunned that more houses and shopping brought more people and traffic … and then they (we) have to deal with said traffic and congestion.

Sunday’s Daily Progress’ editorial notes

U.S. 250 in the Crozet growth area needs to be retrofitted to accommodate the kind of traffic generated there — including pedestrian traffic.

But the issue goes deeper than that — all the way to the growth pattern that created the problem in the first place.

Within two years, two pedestrians have died near the Blue Ridge Shopping Center, on one side of the highway, and Clover Lawn Village, on the other.

These developments — along with nearby subdivisions — were approved to locate along the highway, which made a certain sense at the time by allowing traffic to take advantage of existing infrastructure.

But the growth then altered the highway usage. Traffic increased — especially vehicular traffic, but also pedestrian — and U.S. 250 went from being a through highway to serving as a local road.
The two uses are profoundly incompatible.

Here’s the thing – Albemarle County have encouraged the growth in Western Albemarle, yet they haven’t begun to address how to facilitate the moving of the people who will move there … and 250 West is likely to not be widened as it’s a Scenic Byway, advocated for by Scenic 250, “… a citizens organization dedicated to preserving the rural and scenic character of US Route 250 from Charlottesville to the western boundary of Albemarle County“.

What’s the solution? I honestly don’t yet know, but the status quo is untenable.

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Real Estate Licensing in Virginia does not Equate Competence

You know what leads to competence? Practice.

“… the Principles of Real Estate course doesn’t talk about completing a contract

Because … how often does a real estate agent write a contract, right? 🙂

Note: Principles of Real Estate is the course that all new real estate licensees in the Commonwealth of Virginia must take in order to get licensed.

From the Virginia Association of Realtors’ Commonwealth Magazine

Real Estate Education in Virginia-1.jpg

The only true education (in anything, really) is experience. I’ve talked about this, and sat on committees (for *years* – at both national and state Realtor levels) about “real estate professionalism” … and have since resigned myself to the ineffectiveness of the political system with respect to this issue.

The only reasonable solution is an apprenticeship program.

More hours won’t solve this.

To consumers: caveat emptor as there is no viable nor valid means by which to ascertain a real estate professional’s competence online without asking another competent professional his opinion of another.

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