Date Archives April 2013

Seeking Normalcy in the Charlottesville – Albemarle Real Estate Market

Numbers matter. Today is the new normal when evaluating the Charlottesville real estate market. Last year’s market matters (as do the previous years) but what truly matters to buyers and sellers is what today’s market is.

Some context – the number of homes (single family, attached, condo) sold – in the first quarter – in Charlottesville and Albemarle since 1999:

# of sold homes in Charlottesville Albemarle

For this story, I’m not looking at Fluvanna, Greene, Nelson, Louisa as their growth seems to have started a bit after Charlottesville’s and Albemarle’s did, respectively. Right now, I’m seeking consistent volume in the real estate market.

Single family homes are the traditional marker of the market, for the sake of consistency. Attached homes have exploded in popularity (we’ll be looking at new construction numbers next week) in the past 5-7 years.

For anyone looking to buy a home in the Charlottesville-Albemarle markets right now, five key points to be aware of are:

Quality inventory is in high demand, low supply. Of the 550 homes (all types) in the MSA that went under contract in 1st Quarter 2013, 276 had days on market of less than 30, 214 had days on market of less than 14, 129 had days on market of less than 3! (57 had days on market of at least 300)

Overall inventory is up (surprised, right? Me too)

– Quality, well-priced homes are selling – fast. Often with multiple offers (I’ve written several escalation clauses in the past few weeks, if you can believe it)

– Being prepared – both as a buyer and seller – is crucial. Know the market; hire a quality real estate agent, prepare your house effectively.

– Be patient. If you’re a buyer looking in particular segments, you might have to lose at least one house in the process. I know it sucks. But there will be another house.

Single Family Homes - Albemarle County - 1st Quarter

Single Family Homes - City of Charlottesville - 1st Quarter

If you’re interested in the actual numbers, click through to see the rest of the story.

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Charlottesville’s and Albemarle’s Comprehensive Plans

Land use (for many) is boring and is the task of other people. But … if you live in (or are thinking about living in) the Charlottesville or Albemarle areas, you should be paying at least some attention to the Comprehensive Planning Processes of the County of Albemarle and City of Charlottesville. This stuff matters.

I haven’t reviewed the respective Comprehensive Plans, but the one thing that I think would be a crucial component would be how each locality plans to cooperate and collaborate with the other – particularly on infrastructure. Our locality’s inability to plan effectively and more importantly – implement and execute (at all) – are damaging to the community, real estate values and quality of life. 40 years ago, the Meadowcreek Parkway was a logical road (from what I’ve been told); today, notsomuch. But it’s the best that could be done apparently.

Naturally, Charlottesville Tomorrow reports on both.

The City of Charlottesville’s Comp Plan:

After two years of review and more than 60 meetings, the Charlottesville Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Tuesday on the document that will help shape land use decisions through 2018 and beyond.


The plan also includes an analysis of the city’s ability for future growth. There are currently around 10,000 potential residential units that could be built by-right, though only 800 of those would be in the city’s lower-density neighborhoods.


Haluska also said that the city is running out of vacant land for new residential development, so new homes will likely be built on sites that will have to be redeveloped.

And the County of Albemarle’s Comp Plan:

“[In the 2007 version] we had five sections in the Comprehensive Plan and they were kind of unbalanced,” county principal planner Elaine Echols said. “Those sections were created at different times and they each start with the growth management policy.”

“[In the current draft] we’ve pulled these sections together into one single document and moved the growth management policy [to the beginning of the plan],” Echols added, noting that these changes should decrease repetition and increase ease of use.

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Trusting Zillow, Trulia,, etc

Public Service Announcement:

I hate to pick on Zillow, Trulia or (frankly, I’m surprised by

1: If you’re looking for a house in Charlottesville to see today, use a site that is trusted as having a current, local feed from the Charlottesville MLS.

RealCentralVA’s search

Nest’s search

– The local Realtor Association’s site.

2: Maybe the big sites aren’t picking up the “Contingent” status as “Under Contract” – maybe they’re waiting for “Pending”

3: Two doesn’t really matter. The data’s not right.

4: Ultimately, bad data might not matter to consumers; they’re still going to use the big sites.

5: Seeing the house still being listed on all the other sites leads to confusion, mistrust and frustration – on behalf of everyone involved.

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April’s Monthly Note

I love writing this blog; I have for the past eight years. This year, I’ve started writing a monthly note, or essay, to a few of you. The first month, there were a few, the second month, a handful, I’m hoping April a few more of you will choose to subscribe. I try to keep these notes brief – usually about 1,000 words or so (no, it’s not an email with just a picture … but if it was just one picture, it’d probably be something from the Charlottesville flickr pool )

This month’s outline looks like I’ll be addressing a couple things –

– Evaluating the A-Team

– The impact one agent can have on the entire real estate industry

– A brief market update (summary: It’s weird and inconsistent)

– The value of emotional detachment in real estate (and some of the associated challenges)

– I’m going to pull one or more things out of my story file.

If you’re so inclined, I’d really appreciate your choosing to subscribe and read.

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The Eastern Connector will be Studied. Again

There really ought to be a simple public display of how much money has been spent on transportation studies that result in nothing but recommendations for more studies.

Sean Tubbs writes that the Metropolitan Planning Organization is planning to study the Eastern Connector again:

Officials first want consultants to evaluate potential obstacles that could undermine public support.

Like … the complete unfeasibility of such a project? Would that undermine public support?

A bit of background

What if the Meadowcreek Parkway didn’t exist? (in the comments)
Political Problems on Pantops

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