Date Archives June 2014

Prepping for Mid-Year 2014 Market Update

Looking briefly at the homes that have gone under contract in Albemarle and Charlottesville from 1 January to 30 June (June’s not yet over as of this writing) and if you do the math, you’ll see that this year’s market is (broadly) moving a bit faster than last year’s. I’m looking forward to digging into the numbers.

Halfway through 2014 and the market remains odd. Low inventory in some market segments, high inventory in others, houses hitting the market prior to hitting the MLS more often than I’ve ever seen, new construction prices increasing rapidly, new developments selling like crazy, and I’m starting to look at data to figure out what the market’s been doing.

Here’s a little bit of data looking at some price range statistics for Charlottesville and Albemarle so far this year – June 2014.

Questions, comments about the market? Let me know.

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Fry’s Springs Downzoning Proposed Again

The perils of zoning rear their heads in Fry’s Springs.

The Charlottesville City Council has agreed to consider a request from the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association to study rezoning of three streets.

“Essentially, they are asking for the properties on Stribling, Crestmont and Shamrock to be downzoned,” said Jim Tolbert, director of the city’s Neighborhood Development Services.

Specifically, the neighborhood association has been asking for the city to change the zoning on all properties classified as R-2 to R-1S. Properties in R-2 can have up to two families, whereas R-1S allows only one. Accessory apartments could still exist, but only if the property owner lives on site.

In all, there are 213 properties in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood with R-2 zoning.

This is an interesting development, so to speak. On one hand, what’s the harm in having the conversation about downzoning (besides staff time and resources)? The harm is that by contemplating downzoning, the City is discussing changing the property rights of owners.

R-2 and R-1S zoning presumably provide affordable housing options, and by eliminating this zoning the City would presumably be eliminating some affordable housing options … but with all the apartments coming to West Main Street, maybe the City is ok with this.

Curious – do off-site owners have lesser rights than owner-occupants?

“Councilor Dede Smith, a Fry’s Spring resident, said that half of those owners do not live in Charlottesville.”

If you’re curious to see the City of Charlottesville’s zoning map, start here (the West Main study that’s there is interesting, too).

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Charlottesville’s City Market Getting a Permanent Home

Charlottesville Tomorrow has the story.

Downtown will get a nearly year-round City Market and a taller downtown …

– at C-Ville, take a look at the proposed building (it’s huge).

The vote was met with applause Monday night after the council selected the Market Plaza proposal. Local builder Keith Woodard intends to purchase and redevelop a city-owned parking lot into a nine-story building that will have homes, offices and stores.

In context, this is a pretty fast decision for local government.

This is another reason to live close to Downtown Charlottesville … more walkable to more stuff typically = increased property values and higher quality of life.

Did they ever figure out what caused the City building to catch on fire in December?

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Monday Reading – 16 June 2014

This should be required reading8 Surprise expenses for homeowners. Changing locks, pest control … in something as rare as a purple dinosaur eating a banana in the middle of a soccer stadium talking on a cell phone, many of the comments are useful.

City of Charlottesville City Council will discuss Belmont Bridge and the Albemarle Planning Commission will discuss downtown Crozet’s possible renovation, among other big meetings.

– This part of the conceptual plan for West Main Street is absurd:

Another change that the street could see is the addition of elevated and protected bicycle lanes on both sides of the road. Providing bike lanes that are protected from on-street parking could help to reduce the number of bicycle accidents that have occurred along the road.

“The bike lanes will probably mostly be used by people who are tootling along, a little slower, maybe have children on bikes, and it’s a safer environment,” said committee member Rachel Lloyd. “People who are really moving can go in the vehicular lanes.”

Instead of elevated bike lanes, why not protected ones?

– There is so much to the pocket listing conversation; it’s fascinating that Colorado’s Real Estate Commission may be entering the fray. I wrote about pocket listings last year and earlier this year in my note.

– Creepy. What data brokers know about you. One day soon, this will (openly) affect lending.

– This is a really interesting conversation on “what businesses should come to Crozet?” I missed the opportunity to better define the question – what anchor industries should come to Crozet? but the discussion was great all the same. Lots and lots of Facebook comments, too.

– With clients yesterday, we debated whether the folks who designed Stonefield were drunk or high. We concluded they were probably both.

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Buying a House? Talk to Planners First

Things change. Especially so when it’s some else’s property. Spend some time at GIS sites and look at historical photos – everything changes.

The things I dream about … (or Zillow, or NestRealty or …) + Sitegeist + Charlottesville Tomorrow + Geocoded Locality Planning data ….

I’ve said for years that if you buy a house and are expecting that field (or house) across the way to stay that way you’d best buy it yourself.

In response to my note last month, I received this insightful email: (a few edits for clarity and bolding are mine)

I will say this about the questions “what it’s like to live here” as a planner I wish that the local realtors would tell potential buyers in the county (or City …) are those areas that are within the development area and those in the rural. It always amazes me when people get upset about development on an adjacent property when they moved to the development areas. It would be awesome if they were told, “this is the development area so see that nice forested property? It may be developed in the future.” Not sure if you are “allowed” to give that info, but I am always amazed by people who get angry that didn’t know they bought in a development area. I think it should be added to the MLS, so buyers ask the question of what does that mean.

I make sure my clients are as aware as possible about the risks posed by adjacent properties and what they need to do to educate and prepare themselves.

As far as the MLS having development-area information: the flaw is almost always the human. Whether a house is in the development area would have to be an automated or required field, as many Realtors inputting property data neglect to specify basic data points such as whether a property has high speed internet.

Better yet, wouldn’t it be cool if there was an app that pulled locality data from Albemarle County’s County View and stories from vetted local sources, such as, say, Charlottesville Tomorrow (and RealCentralVA)?

Charlottesville’s going to be changing MLS’ this year and now would be the time to do this. At the same time, how about making “hardwired internet – Yes/No?” Plus a speedtest required fields. Darn it.

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