Date Archives June 2013

Charlottesville is Brainy – For Everyone & For Those Under 35

water_st_maples [Explored 10/18/2012]

No, really, Charlottesville is the 15th brainiest metro area in the US.

From the Atlantic Cities article:

Lumosity data scientist Daniel Sternberg explains the prominence of college towns this way:

College towns tend to do well because education is correlated with cognitive performance. We’ve seen in our other research that those with advanced degrees tend to perform better cognitively throughout the lifespan. When we looked at some trends based on American Community Survey data, we found that the percentage of individuals within a metro area with advanced degrees, and the percentage of individuals within a CBSA pursuing advanced degrees were both strong predictors of the cognitive performance score for that metro area.

Not bad. The ancillary effects of the University of Virginia are well known, but this is the first time I’ve seen the Charlottesville area as being noted for the under-35 demographic – I’ll take that as a very good thing for the future of our area, should it be a reasonably accurate conclusion.

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Real Estate Prices and Interest Rates – National Real Estate News I’m Reading this Morning

Home prices seem to be rising in the Charlottesville MLS – keep in mind with this chart that it’s for the entire Charlottesville MLS.

Moving Median - Charlottesville MSA.jpg

Interest rates are rising, but let’s keep some perspective.


(thanks to Keith for the chart)

Here’s the thing – if you’re buying a home and you are confident you’ll be there for at least five to seven years (many of my clients now are looking at 15-20 year timelines), be aware of the potential for price drops, but also focus on what your total cost of ownership will be versus renting.

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What’s a Pocket Listing? And Why Should Consumers Care?

I’ve been a real estate agent in Charlottesville since 2001 and I’ve never seen this volume of pocket listings. Is it due to the ubiquity of the internet, the sellers’ market (for some segments) or both?* As a consumer, how does this matter to you?

Pocket listing: pocket /?päk?t/  listing /?listiNG/


A listing for a property that is held by an agent in his or her pocket, marketed quietly (but not surreptitiously), usually within his sphere or brokerage.

Quality homes for sale in some segments of the Charlottesville market remain in very high demand and seemingly equal low supply, and sales in some micro-market segments are up.

A brief look at inventory levels and sales in the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle, year-over-year –

Inventory Levels for Charlottesville and Albemarle

Some insight into what I’m seeing with respect to pocket listings in Charlottesville:

– I get at least one email every other day either marketing a pocket listing or seeking a specific home type for sale from an agent within my firm or from an agent from another brokerage
– I pitch a short-term pocket listing process to many of my seller clients when we deem it appropriate

– More and more, pocket listings – at least for a short period of time – make sense. In other words, they’re working.

I like how Steve Harney lays out some of the advantages and disadvantages of pocket listings.

Advantages to pocket listings that I tell my clients:

– Sellers can test the market – as in, if you put the house on the pocket market for $450,000 and initial feedback reveals that $425,000 is where the price should be, then we’re able to list the house in the MLS for $425k and the wider market doesn’t see that price reduction.

– Often, the seller doesn’t have to have the full “list of things that need to be done” completely finished – a room or two can be left unpainted or in-process – as the listing agent can vet and prep the agents showing the house during the pocket listing period.

– Don’t have to go through the full invasive experience of having your house shown. (selling a house usually sucks; it’s invasive, sellers need to keep the house spotless and it alters schedules remarkably). In other words, how does one quantify sanity and quality of life through the home sale process? I can see some sellers valuing not having to their home open to the public, as it were, at $10k, others $50k, some notsomuch. There is rarely a one-size-fits all answer.

– For the seller – this is an opportunity to test drive the selling process.

– For the buyer – they get access to a property that other buyers don’t.

Disadvantages –

– Seller doesn’t get full exposure to the market by not listing in the MLS. By not exposing the house to the entire market, the seller might realize a lower sales price.
– The MLS is a less accurate thing if the sales aren’t entered into the MLS – less accurate for searching for homes for sale as well as researching prices for comps and sold homes.

– This practice could be a means by which cooperative compensation’s usefulness is minimized.
– The risk for single agent dual agency may be greater. (only one party benefits in this situation – it’s not the client)

– Buyers – may pay a higher than market value as the market is so small and the demand is (artificially(?)) higher.

– More closed markets – some neighborhoods and price points seem to be more amenable to the pocket listing route – with seemingly few agents who have access to what’s going on in this sub-market.

So –  what’s a consumer to do?

– Buyer or seller – Understand the inefficiency of the market.
– When interviewing your buyer’s agent (you do that, right?) – ask how tapped into the quiet market they are.
– If you’re a seller – have the conversation with your prospective representative about single agent dual agency, and discuss what happens if the agent procures a buyer. (my answer: I’d either have the buyer be unrepresented or have send them to another competent agent)

– If you’re a buyer – determine what it is that you’re looking for. “I’m looking for a four bedroom home in Crozet or Brownsville between $450k and $500k on less than an acre” is a better email to send to agents than “I need a house in Albemarle that my clients will like” 🙂

The Virginia Association of Realtors‘ listing agreement speaks to advertising in part, highlighting how important it is for sellers and brokers to discuss how a property will be marketed. In short, marketing through the MLS is usually the best course of action.

5. (a) Unless otherwise provided herein, Owner hereby authorizes Broker to submit pertinent information concerning the listing of the Property (including information which may be provided on a separate form or document) to any Multiple Listing Service “MLS” serving the geographic area in which the Property is located of which Broker is a member to distribute such information to other Brokers, and to solicit the cooperation of other Brokers in securing a purchaser or purchasers for the Property.

c) Broker shall have the right to advertise the Property in commercially reasonable ways, and unless otherwise provided herein, shall have the right to place advertisements of the Property on the Internet® communications network and in any Internet Data Exchange program in which Broker participates.

(d) Owner authorizes the dissemination of Property/sales information to MLS participants, including electronic format, magazines and other media.

Note: not all brokers in Charlottesville participate in IDX.

For six different perspectives (not necessarily opposing, but different) –

The MLS debate and the end of real estate software (1000 Watt)
Pocket Listings and MLS Accuracy (Notorious R.O.B.)
Real Estate: Pocket Listings in a Tight Market (Calculated Risk)
Sellers can decide if – ‘pocket listing’ is right for them (Teresa Boardman)
– ‘Pocket Listings’ – What Do You Think? (KCM Blog)
Can I get a death watch for the MLS DeathWatch? (Todd Carpenter)

* I’m also wondering whether my awareness to this is due to the fact that I’m more tapped into the real estate community now than I was when I started; that’s likely part of the equation, but certainly not all.

** As a further aside, I’m always looking at data accuracy –

When searching for homes for sale in the 22932 zip code (Crozet):

Zillow shows 162 homes for sale – 144 by agent, 3 by owner, 14 new construction, 1 foreclosure (and I know it’s a small thing, but Zillow thinks 22932 = Free Union. 22932 = Crozet)
Trulia shows 153 homes for sale – with no breakdowns available
My site shows 138 homes for sale in 22932
Nest’s site shows 189 in Crozet (zip code isn’t an option)
– The Charlottesville MLS shows 139 active homes for sale

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What’s the Most Popular Home Price Point in Charlottesville and Albemarle?

At a lunch with yesterday, I was asked, “what’s the most popular price point in Albemarle?” My professional instinct said “between $350k and $450k” but as always, I wanted to back that up with actual data.

Looking solely at single family homes in Albemarle County, about 40% of the active inventory is between $300k and $650k.

Albemarle Single Family Active Homes for Sale

And the single family homes in Albemarle that have sold since the first of 2013, a greater percentage of the inventory has sold in the $300k – $650k price point than is active.

Albemarle Single Family Sold since 1 January 2013

(if you’re curious to search the Charlottesville MLS for single family homes for sale in Albemarle)

Great. That’s what’s for Sale and Sold in Albemarle County; let’s look at the home price distribution in the City of Charlottesville – nearly 60% of the active inventory is priced between $220k and $500k.

City of Charlottesville Single Family Active

Looking at the single family homes that have sold since the first of 2013 in the City of Charlottesville, I was a bit surprised to see the relatively lower price point distribution, but not that about 60% of the inventory had sold in that price point.

City of Charlottesville Single Family Sold

Look for yourself …

(if you’re curious to search the MLS for single family homes for sale in Charlottesville)

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Question – What Modern Homes Would Sell in Charlottesville?

What do you think?

I think there’s a real, untapped market for modern homes in Charlottesville. Latitude 38’s homes tend to look great and sell very well, for example.

I really like this home; this one, too. (not taking a photos from their site as I don’t have permission … despite it’s being “on the internet”).

The very first RoehrSchmitt Architecture creation, the Wall House is a 2,000 square foot urban infill home that was a great collaboration between the owners, architect and builder. The budget was tight and the expectations high, but working closely together the team was able to achieve the owners’ objectives in a crisp, modern package for less than $150 per square foot. The design is efficient and easily adaptable to other sites and contexts. We see it as a prototype for an affordable modern house on a typical urban lot – a loft with a yard.

As my research has evolved, I’ve finally found a reason to use Pinterest. Really. I’m saving my favorites both in Pinterest and Evernote, but Pinterest just offers a simple, efficient, clean way to save and display these homes.

I’m thinking a modern home like this would be more desirable …

… than something like this (although I am sure that this type of home would sell here – to the right buyer)

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The End of an Era – Arch’s Goes Self-Serve

I’m sure I’m late to the news …

A staple of Charlottesville, Arch’s frozen yogurt has evolved – “Just recently, Arch’s on Ivy Road closed and Arch’son the Corner and  Arch’s on Emmet St. renovated and converted operations to the newest craze in the frozen yogurt industry….”SELF SERVE”..

Arch's Charlottesville

As said on Twitter

Remember the popularity of TCBY in the ’80s and then all the copycats? Reminds me of how that fad came & went.


Berry Berry, Sweet Frogs, Bloop … here’s hoping the evolution continues.

As the HooK noted last month

… another New Jersey and New York-based eatery called Cups, yet another one of those self-serve yogurt places a la Sweet Frog and Bloop that have been capitalizing on the fro-yo fever over the last few years. Indeed, counting Arch’s, the home-grown frozen yogurt place with locations on Ivy Road, Emmet Street, and on the Corner (which recently went self-serve to keep up with the trend), as well as the soon-to-open Spoon and Berry at The Shops at Stonefield, there will be eight places in town to get the stuff, including Berry Berry on the Corner.

I’m not sad necessarily, but I do lament the loss of something that I perceive to make Charlottesville Charlottesville In high school, I spent way too much time at Arch’s before being local was cool.

As an aside:

1 – The new Google Maps isn’t yet updated with the new imagery showing the business that has replaced Arch’s
2 – The new Google Maps is amazing.

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