Monthly Notes | Neighborhoods, Nest Party and a Stable Market?


I’m going to be posting my previously-written monthly notes. Since starting these in early 2013, the only thing that I’ve lamented about the notes is the lack of search- and link-ability. I’ve written before that the blog is my pensieve, and, simply, I want to be able to link to these stories for my clients (and for me).

So, apologies for the cluttering of your feeds for the next few days (fixing formatting from the notes to the blog is time-consuming). This one is from February 2013.

The Monthly Notes category.

This month – Contrasting buyer experiences, neighborhoods, the Nest party and what happened on the blogs.

The Market

Note that these numbers are for Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Nelson. These high-level numbers indicate relative stability. Your micro market will vary. The numbers show stability; I feel the stability is unproven and shaky.

Single family homes – Not much to report; 149 sold this September versus 147 last September, with 1462 homes on the market this September and 1444 last. (PDF with data)

Attached homes – A different story. 50 sold this September vs 30 last. Inventory: 197 this year and 180 last. 23 of those sold this year were built this year – and all of these were built in Albemarle. Low maintenance + relatively urban location + good, new construction + fair pricing = attached home sales. (PDF with data)

Condos – Stabilizing. 19 sold this September, 17 last with 203 being on the market in both Septembers. Financing remains a challenge for some, but I know a couple local lenders who can usually provide good financing. (PDF with data)

Remember us, … the young broke couple that tried to buy a house last spring?

Well, we’ve spent a year paying down debt, getting a down payment saved, and obsessively researching the market. And, we got engaged (Woohoo!)

Anyways, just wanted to touch base with you and see if you are still interested in working with us to find our first home…’tis the season.

Needless to say, they are great people, great clients and are extremely happy in their new home. People like that reaffirm why I love what I do, and that what I do adds value.

Contrast that with this story of a buyer who is choosing to have what I expect will be a difficult process for the buyers, the sellers and sellers’ Realtor:

Another agent called asking me if I could show her listing to some out of town buyers who were:

– Moving to Charlottesville

– Driving to Charlottesville that day to see a few houses

– Clearly calling only the listing agents

– Didn’t know that this neighborhood existed.

– Wanted to see the house on very short notice.


I set the appointment with the seller and went to the house to meet these buyers at the appointed time. They arrived, small child and grandparents too. When I explained that I was there to open the door (they knew it would be me and not the listing agent) she responded, “well, we don’t need a buyers’ agent, don’t want to pay a commission and don’t want the seller to either.” To which I responded, “the agreement the seller has with the listing agent is a contract to which neither I nor you are a party, so you really don’t have the right to interfere in that contract.” She said, “ok, we’ll leave.”

I let them see the house (had it been my listing, I’d have said OK, locked the door and left) because it was in the best interest of the seller.

Look, to each their own. Some people need professional guidance, some don’t. Knowing – and choosing to accept – the difference is critical. But … if you’re moving to a new city and don’t know where the neighborhoods are … you probably need to hire someone to guide you. Guiding buyers – those relocating from within and from outside our area is one of the most meaningful and impactful things I do; I enjoy it and I know that I have provided (in)valuable services to many. But some are dedicated to doing things on their own – even if they’re not qualified (not all real estate agents are qualified either).

Neighborhoods, subdivisions, developments.

What makes a subdivision or development a neighborhood? To me, a neighborhood is comprised of people – preferably people who care about each other – while subdivisions and developments are comprised of houses, infrastructure and amenities. This year, I have had more prospective buyers tell me directly or indirectly that they want to “be part of something.” I attribute this want to be a combination of a couple things, lead in part by the recession and people re-recognizing the value of home. When I started in real estate in 2001, buyers’ horizons tended to be 3-5 years. Those horizons have shifted to a minimum of 7-10 years – or another form of measurement: their kids are currently in or starting elementary school and the parents want the kids to stay put until they finish high school. These buyers want neighborhoods  – and they’re defining that need without necessarily articulating it.

In other news … stay tuned for a new neighborhood that my partner and I are marketing – Lochlyn Hill.

Local Elections.

The salary for an Albemarle County Board of Supervisors member is about $15,000. As of 31 August, nearly $150,000 has been raised in the three races in Albemarle tracked by the Virginia Public Access Project. Does anyone else think this is a bit insane? I guess one consolation is that they’re raising less now than they did in 2007 … although those races seemed more contentious than the ones today. Local elections matter. State and federal politicians are as in touch with my and my family’s needs as politicians from the moon. But locally, you, we can call our local supervisors or city councilors and have a conversation. They might not do as you wish but generally they are accessible and will listen. So, if you’re voting this November, get educated.

The Nest Party.


We had our annual client appreciation party last month on the roof of the Water Street garage in Downtown Charlottesville. It was a blast. Thinking about the party this way – it’s a way to thank our clients for choosing to work with us. Think about it another way – the first year, we were in a tent on the side of our first office, had two kegs and each ended the night half full. This year we went through nearly 6 kegs.


As Jeff Bezos said:

If you have a party, are you holding the party for your guests, or [are] you holding the party for yourself? And sometimes people hold parties and they pretend it’s for their guests, but really they’re holding party for themself. (sic)”

I am proud of what we’ve built and am always happy to humbly thank my clients for coming to the party.


From the Blogs

RealCentralVA – The HooK, one of the two Charlottesville free weeklies, closed; this is a great loss for Charlottesville and for Charlottesville journalism. Apartments – lots of ’em – are coming to West Main Street in Charlottesville; the ramifications are significant. I looked at when houses in the Charlottesville area come on the market – the trend is as you’d expect, but the differences between 2012 and 2013 are quite interesting. And Google moved to take away my (and all website owners’) ability to see keyword searches. This sucks.

RealCrozetVA – September was a busy month in Crozet. 18 stories posted, crossed 1000 “likes” on the RealCrozetVA facebook page; I’m proud of the community that has built around these sites. I ran a survey on whether Crozet needs a hotel – great comments and responsesAlbemarle County might do away with ranking kids for colleges – a potentially bold move. I ran a survey wondering what should become of the old Crozet Library – nearly 250 responses gave renewed hope that people care (I’d wager less than a dozen have emailed the Board of Supervisors or will show up at public meetings though) and I Storify’ed the Crozet Community Advisory Council meeting – even if you’re not from the Crozet area, I’d encourage you to look at this and maybe do it for your community; I’ve heard from many people about how useful they find these stories & tweets.




(I’m finding value in paper and pen again)

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