Date Archives June 2013

Quick Question – Do You think Now is Time to Sell Your House?

If you’re thinking about selling your home (in Charlottesville) you might want to do so now-ish.

Because next year … interest rates are likely to be higher. Higher interest rates impact affordability. Simple, right?

Click through for some interesting commentary from Zillow’s CEO (note: the video and insight are useful for a macro perspective, but locally in Charlottesville, Zillow’s not accurate).

See also:

Freddie Mac: “Mortgage Rates on Six Week Streak Higher

Rising Rates Scare Borrowers Into Action

As Prices Rise, Banks Repossess More Homes

Redfin Bidding War Report Shows Home-Buying Competition Eased in May

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Location, Location, Efficiency of Home and Transportation?

Energy-Efficient Windows: Technologies for the Future

A bill to make energy efficient homes more marketable? Location efficiency when choosing where to live? Think about it – homeowners seem to be choosing to stay in one location for longer. This trend is leading more and more (at least my clients) to consider and choose more energy efficient homes (not just greenwashed). The longer one chooses to stay in a home – particularly a more efficient home – the more potential energy (read: dollars) savings, right?

A bill to improve the accuracy of mortgage underwriting used by Federal mortgage agencies by ensuring that energy costs are included in the underwriting process, to reduce the amount of energy consumed by homes, to facilitate the creation of energy efficiency retrofit and construction jobs, and for other purposes.

When I first looked at Senate Bill 1106 on Govtrack, the bill was purported to have a 2% chance of making it out of committee. That chance is now 1%. It’s premise is useful, and I encourage everyone to read it in its entirety, for no reason other than to see the valid points the authors make.

A few of the bill’s highlights (bolding mine):

â—¦ (4) the current test for loan affordability used by most covered agencies, commonly known as the `debt-to-income’ test, is inadequate because it does not take into account the expected energy cost savings for the homeowner of an energy efficient home; and

â—¦ (3) require a covered agency to include the value home buyers place on the energy efficiency of a house in tests used to compare the mortgage amount to home value, taking precautions to avoid double-counting and to support safe and sound lending.

• To the extent that a covered agency uses a test such as a debt-to-income test that includes certain regular expenses, such as hazard insurance and property taxes, the expected energy cost savings shall be included as an offset to these expenses. Energy costs to be assessed include the cost of electricity, natural gas, oil, and any other fuel regularly used to supply energy to the subject property.


• (c) Determination of Estimated Energy Savings-

â—¦ (1) AMOUNT OF ENERGY SAVINGS- The amount of estimated energy savings shall be determined by calculating the difference between the estimated energy costs for the average comparable houses, as determined in guidelines to be issued under subsection (a), and the estimated energy costs for the subject property based upon the energy efficiency report.

â—¦ (2) DURATION OF ENERGY SAVINGS- The duration of the estimated energy savings shall be based upon the estimated life of the applicable equipment, consistent with the rating system used to produce the energy efficiency report.

â—¦ (3) PRESENT VALUE OF ENERGY SAVINGS- The present value of the future savings shall be discounted using the average interest rate on conventional 30-year mortgages, in the manner directed by guidelines issued under subsection (a).

To my eye, the bill is useful, reasonable and rational. Thus, it’s probably not likely to get out of committee. That cynicism aside, what can buyers do when they want to be more locationally efficient?

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Seeking a Realtor in Bedford, Virginia

not quite clear on the concept

I’m wondering – if you’re looking for a real estate agent in a foreign town, how do you find one? I’m trying to help a client find a Realtor in Bedford, Virginia and frankly, it’s challenging. I’m looking on google, Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and I’m realizing how difficult this task is (and thinking of ways to solve this problem … more later)

I’m googling for whatever terms I can think of – realtor in …, real estate agent in …, seller’s agent in …, real estate blog in … looking at listings on, trulia, zillow and trying to figure out who uses professional photos, etc, and this is nearly an impossible task. Ratings sites aren’t what I’m looking for – I’m trying to figure out who I’d hire, and I know better than to trust ratings.

My google (as opposed to your google) has zillow, trulia and – and a few other national sites – as the top three results – which aren’t what I’m looking for. (and thanks, Google, for letting your results be less than helpful)

The agent webpages I’m finding are generic and replete with platitudes and hyperbole. I found one agent on Twitter, but every tweet was a link of some sort, rather than insight into who that person is.

I’ve never sent or received a client referral to or from a Realtor there so my knowledge base is limited. I have my interview questions I’d ask before referring a client, but don’t have a fellow professional to whom I can direct my questions.

What I’m looking for is – who are these people and why should I trust my clients’ best interests to them?

The quest continues. I won’t be defeated.

One thing I’ve determined: I need to seriously revamp my “about Jim” page.

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Getting Involved in Charlottesville and Albemarle

We all benefit when there is a more involved and informed populace – better solutions come to light and less legitimate kvetching and complaining takes place when people are aware and informed about the happening
of the (local) government.

I live in Crozet and try to be as informed as possible there. Local media (except for the Crozet Gazette) tend to not cover every meeting from start to finish – and often the most important nuggets of information come from asides in the meetings rather than agenda items. Charlottesville Tomorrow reports on nearly everything, but the reporting doesn’t capture the asides.

I knew I had to write this story when a client wrote this:

I’m eager to read your post on this — it’s difficult to volunteer with a child in tow, and too expensive to put a child into daycare on a regular basis in order to volunteer.

So, so true. I couldn’t attend any of these night-time meetings if my wife didn’t allow me the flexibility … I can’t see taking my little one to any of these meetings.

Click through to read some of the responses to the question of how (and why) to get involved in Charlottesville and Albemarle –

My question for you is – are you involved? How? Why?

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