Monthly Notes | Fitting Agents, Charlottesville Market Inventory Remains Low & A Quiz

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 January 2013.

The Monthly Notes category.


2014 plugs on … closed sales are down, housing inventory isn’t up as I’d thought it would be (but I still think it’s coming) and pending sales are down – and interest rates are projected to rise a little bit. Good fun. This month I am writing a little bit more about the market than I typically do, because I was curious about some things and thought you might be too. As always, thank you for reading and forwarding this note. There’s a bit about buyers and their questions, Nest and Google, and the evolution of the home, and real estate agents’ required skills, reviews and the value of this note. And a video question for you.


February Table of Contents 

– The Market

– Nest + Google

– The note’s value

– Are we a Good Fit? Will we work well together?

– The pain of asking for reviews

– Video quiz – what is this?

– Blog Roundup

 

The Market. January’s starting with a … question?

Every January starts with the predictive question – what’s the market going to do this year? And every year I say, I don’t know, but I’ll let you know in 18 months what the market does today.

Low inventory, low interest rates, and buyers wanting to buy …

So where are we?

Solely for Charlottesville + Albemarle:

Single family homes sales in January 2014 vs January 2013 – 58/67

Attached homes sales in January 2014 vs January 2013 – 18/21

Condo homes sales in January 2014 vs January 2013 – 11/10

And as I mentioned last month, that I thought we’d see more inventory in 2014 … 

Dammit, so I’m wrong (so far). 247 homes were listed in January 2013 and 180 were listed this January. 34 (18.9%) of those 180 went under contract in January and 46 (18.6%) of the 247 went under contract last January. I still think we’re going to see more this month come on the market. Anecdotally, the productive agents with whom I’m talking seem to have a lot of listings to activate this month and next.

 

Across the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) – Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson, in January, Year over Year for all products – inventory is up and sales are down (see PDF). For single family homes across the MSA: inventory up, sales down. For Albemarle: inventory up, sales down. For the City: same story.

And … for Charlottesville + Albemarle: 122 contracts in January this year versus 149 last year. Hmmm.

For Charlottesville + Albemarle: contracts in December + January were down 11%.

226 – contracts from 12/1/13-1/31/14

254 – contracts from 12/1/12-1/31/13

For the Charlottesville MSA (Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson): contracts were down 7%.

366 – contracts from 12/1/13-1/31/14

393 – contracts from 12/1/12-1/31/13

 

What does this data mean? To me, it means that if you’re buying, you may be able to be a little more aggressive. If you are selling, you still need to be well-prepared and well-priced.

And then this … as I’ve been so tardy in sending out this note (I am sorry), I checked to see what’s happening with new listings. Comparing the first 8 days of February of this year versus last – 111 new listings came on last 1-8 February versus 50 this 1-8 February. I’m utterly confused.

Nest (the thermostat & smoke detectors company) + Google = a step towards dominating the home. 

Blue Nest frontal view with white background

 

$3.2B. Google owns the internet (and our deepest thoughts and fears). They have their growing Chromecast, which allows streaming music and video to a TV, they have Android and now they are really and truly in the home – watching us even more. For those unfamiliar, Nest is (not just a great leader in the real estate world) a thermostat. A thermostat that watches you. And learns. And is beautiful. And tells Google when you wake up, when you go to sleep and when you leave. And it saves you money by learning your habits and automatically adjusting itself. We’re furthering our foray into this Brave New World.

Google’s massive entry into the home is one that is going to make being a real estate agent even more interesting: “Does this house have a Nest thermostat? If so, this offer is contingent on the buyer’s downloading and reviewing the thermostat’s history.” I wonder how many people will forget to change their Nest thermostat when they sell their homes? Nest makes smoke alarms too.

 

Further readingWhy Her Will Dominate UI Design Even More Than Minority Report & Every data point is sacred – My surprising lessons from one innocuous piece of data.

What’s the value of this note?

A real estate agent friend and I texted after I sent out last month’s note. He said “I’m not quite sure what value you get from it, or expect to, but I really like the note.” This got me thinking. I started this note not expecting anything other than wanting to rejuvenate my writing, deliver something valuable to whomever chooses to subscribe and read and hopefully generate some good one-on-one conversations and feedback. I’ve found that by not expecting much in return and focusing on delivering to others, I tend to get sufficient return. So far, so good. I still really enjoy writing and really hope you’re finding value here. (I’m always open to suggestions – just hit “reply”.)

Great Buyer Questions – How are we going to work together? Are we a good fit?

Choosing a buyer’s agent is a lot like dating. My wife has never particularly cared for that analogy, but it’s an accurate one. I have a lot of buyers who will contact me and ask if we can meet to see “if we’re a good fit” – something I truly appreciate, as not all buyers and agents are a good fit for each other. We spend a lot of time together and our relationship quickly goes from “Hi, my name is Jim and I’m a real estate agent” to “So … I see you have two kids and a dog. Are you going to have more? Is your job stable? How’s your work-life balance?” As I said, our professional relationship moves quickly.

But “how are we going to work together” is another question that I’m working to define – particularly for those who haven’t bought homes before and those who haven’t bought in a while. There’s more to the process than searching for homes on Zillow. 🙂

Listing homes is easily systematized, but representing buyer is less-so. Sure, I have my systems – automatic search, video tours for my buyers, basecamp to manage the transactions, but I realized in a recent buyer interview that I need to do better in defining and demonstrating how we’ll work together. I’m good at telling people how we work together, but I am working to improve showing.  What I don’t want to do is overwhelm buyers – there’s a lot that goes into this and the process of buying and the concept of making a possibly irrevocable life-altering decision is necessarily intimidating. My role: define, simplify, explain, protect where appropriate and above all, represent my clients.

 

Asking for Reviews – or, countering the one bad review.

I’ve written before how I don’t like asking for testimonials or reviews and I don’t particularly care for using them to market myself or my services. I keep two notes from clients in my murse because they help keep me focused and grounded on what I do – represent clients and their families. But.

Whenever I start researching a purchase, whether it’s a hata restaurant or a new car, I seek out reviews, as a first step. And I know my potential clients do too … and I never get a chance to defend myself. Despite my argument from a few months ago that the best agent reviews would be peer reviews, those will likely never happen, so I’m left with client reviews. I’m fairly confident my clients would respond positively, I’m also reluctant to use my clients’ kind words to “sell” … but I’m coming to terms with this new world. I’ve set up ZillowYelp & Google pages so folks can review me. Hopefully y’all will be willing to help.

 

What is this?

 

The Blogs

Last month was a busy one on RealCentralVA –

– Gary Albert with State Farm guest-posted some great answers to homebuyers’ questions

– Another reminder for buyers and sellers to be quiet on social media

– Matt Hodges wrote about Qualified Residential Mortgages

– Robert Foster showed a good way to determine if your foundation is moving

– Matt and I, in an annual tradition, did an hour of live radio that turned out to be quite a good conversation

– I posted a pic of polybutelyne plumbing

– The Wegmans grocery store is finally coming to Charlottesville

– I asked (and answered) the common question of “Why are homes in Charlottesville so much more expensive than (where I’m coming from)?!

 

RealCrozetVA –

– The Crozet Streetscape began

– I recapped the CCAC meeting

– It snowed

– I noted how Crozet is a very giving community

– I noted an innocuously remarkable experience at Sal’s and they got all sorts of Facebook love

– Tabor Street might close temporarily and route traffic through The Square.

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