Monthly Notes | Shifting – the Market, Life, Expectations

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 July 2013.

The Monthly Notes category.


It’s July.

Funny how the year has slipped to this point. The market was dead, crazy busy, slow, and now is showing signs of both life and the doldrums.

First, apologies. And a thank you .
Apology: to those who emailed me in response to last month’s note, thank you and I’m really sorry for not responding. I truly value your responses. I will be responding Tuesday and Wednesday.Thank you: to those who voted for me in the Best of Cville, thank you. I sincerely appreciate your taking the time.

There are a couple things I’m looking at right now, primarily interest rates and inventory, with new construction being a close 2nd tier factor. Buyers can qualify. Sellers can sell.


Here’s the thing –

I have concerns about this recovery. It might be my conditioned cynicism, but I think there may be a flattening in the future. Granted in the MSA 14% more contracts were written in June 2013 vs June 2012, but … Interest rates are spiking (really, historically, they’re not but our society is conditioned to have short-term memory) and buyers areabsolutely wavering in their decisions to buy. The huge wave of optimism we saw during the first part of 2013 may be waning. Or not. I’ll let you know definitively in 2015 when I have the clarity of hindsight.
But some quick numbers for the 2nd Quarter in the Charlottesville MSA:

– Condos – 35% fewer condos sold Quarter over Quarter – 78 vs 51. But, consider that last year’s Walker Square condos fire sale led to 22 sales vs 5 in this year’s 2nd Quarter. I expect values there to start to increase going forward. Price is everything.

– Attached homes – 30% more sold this 2nd Quarter over last year’s – 156 to 120. Of the 120 last year, 107 were in Charlottesville/Albemarle while a third (40) were marked in the MLS as new construction. Of the 156 that sold in 2013’s 2nd Quarter, 1/3 (56) were marked as new – the similar ratios are interesting to me, as interesting as the fact that 4 builders comprise most of the new construction.

– Single Family homes – the traditional bellwether of the market – in a word: sales are flat, which I’ll take when the alternative is declining. 578 last 2nd Quarter vs 583 this 2nd Quarter. New construction seems to (I trust the MLS about 83.874401% of the time) to comprise about 10% of the market. New home sales certainly feel like they’re a greater percentage of the market than 10% though – I would have thought they were closer to 20% of the market.

The #1 Question I ask Buyers to Ask Themselves:

Not “are we qualified” but Will you be happy here in 17 months? Why 17 months? It’s beyond the chaos of settling in and before the next phase of life tends to set in – just long enough to really know your commute, your grocery stores, coffee shops, running and biking routes. This is a question that usually leads to good and hard conversations – conversations that I facilitate when necessary, but usually we start the conversation and my clients continue the conversation later – in the car, on the phone, text, over dinner … So if you’re in the midst of the buying process (we’ve already talked, right? 🙂 ), ask yourself – “will I/we be happy here in 17 months?”


A life-shift

I’m shifting sports from soccer to bicycling. This is an extraordinarily difficult decision for me, and one I make as reluctantly as one can make such a decision. I alluded to this shift on my blog, but didn’t get into the why I’ve started bicycling. In short, after 30 years of playing soccer (and injuring myself) my knees and ankles have told me “no more.” I could probably have surgery on my knees, but the recovery time, the expense, the ordeal is too much to bear.
So bicycling is a new thing; while I’ve ridden for short commuting distances for years and talked with clients about biking in Charlottesville, riding for 20+ miles is a new thing, and I’m seeing a brand new community within Charlottesville – for now centered around the Strava bicycling app and Blue Ridge Cyclery, where I bought my bike – and at least three of my clients recommended. I’m excited to see a new part of Charlottesville – both the community and the countryside – and I’ve already heard from two people who moved to Albemarle in the past few years in large part due to the country roads we (still) have. (I’m also riding 100 miles in September)

IMG_5435 (1)


The soccer door is not yet closed; As my 9 year old told me when I told her I’d probably be giving up soccer, but still coaching her, “it’s ok daddy, you’ve stopped before. You can start again.” And I just might.


The Hoodie

For those of you who’ve read my struggles with how to deal with what I perceived to be a highly prejudicial remark from a fellow agent, I chose to let it go. I couldn’t see a way that my calling this agent out would benefit my future clients; I’m going to have to work with her again and I firmly believe my clients would suffer because of her feelings towards me. As in: if I were to present one of two offers to this agent, I have every confidence that my clients’ offer would be presented in a less favorable light because I had called her on her prejudice. Darn it.



I’m thinking that the best way to get people interested in their community is to talk about poop. On the RealCrozetVA facebook page, I posted after my daughters saw poop in the pool “If you cannot go to Crozet Pool without pooping in it, don’t go.” Over 3,000 people interacted with this post, lots of likes and comments … yet my posts asking for volunteers to live-tweet an important community meeting and the results of an interview with the new high school principal were met with about 400 and 900 interactions respectively. Poop matters, apparently.


On the blogs

RealCentralVA – I looked at which price points were the most popular in Charlottesville and Albemarleasked which modern homes would sell in the Charlottesville areatalked briefly about pocket listings and looked at bike jumps in bike lanes and an energy efficiency/housing bill in Congress.
RealCrozetVA – 10 Questions for the new high school principal (+ interesting comments), I’m holding a logo contest for the blog (and wish I’d gotten a few more entries).



Please read these two articles – “Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book” and the Rutherford Institute’s call on the General Assembly to investigate the ABC. I love my family, Charlottesville and Albemarle and real estate, but the freedoms we are losing are scaring me.


As always, I thank you for taking the time to read. If you think someone would find this note interesting, please do forward it to a friend.


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