November 2015 Monthly Note |

Archives of my subscription-only monthly notes. The blog is more searchable. Interested in not waiting a few months to read it? Learn more here.   For these posts, I don’t do much formatting/changing as I’m more concerned about having the content here.


October is the best month in Charlottesville/Albemarle. Agree/disagree?

This month – recapping a recent radio show with a friend in which we talked all manner of real estate, politics, lending, growth in the Charlottesville area and more, things buyers and sellers need to doto prepare for 2016, what I’m reading and marketing across demographics.

First though – “Your blog posts aren’t as frequent”

A friend emailed me a few weeks ago, and he hit on something that’s been on my mind for several months. I’m not writing as much as I was a few years ago. A super-quick skim through the archives: June 2007 – 41 postsJune 2014 – 11 postsJune 2005 – 66! postsJune 2015 – 7 posts.

This isn’t quite intentional; I see it as the ebb and flow of a part of my life that has existed for nearly 11 years. Right now, it’s ebbing; it’ll flow again. I’m not fighting it.

The market

I’m a bit all over the board this month, as I’m looking at a few broad and a few specific data points. Short story – stability continues. Mostly. A few points that piqued my interest:

Are single family home sales up or down? Year to date in Albemarle County, sales are up about 6%, median price is down about $2K to $384,900. In the City of Charlottesville, sales are down about 4%; median price is up nearly $4K to $299,500. I’m calling this stable. Broadly.

New construction: up or down? Albemarle County year to date — from 125 closed single family to 148* and the City is up from 21 to 28.  I suspect this trend will continue and December’s going to reflect some significant increases in closed new construction transactions. I’ll address this in January’s note.

New Single Family Homes in Albemarle – 2015/2014
Median Price per foot – $175/$172
Median total finished square feet – 3,137 / 3,008

New in Charlottesville – 2015/2014
Median Price per foot – $188/$180
Median total finished square feet – 2,130/2,107

Growing home sizes is frustrating. Bigger isn’t always better.

2014 condo sales in Albemarle County;  2015 condo sales. (Question for you! — Is this useful?)

* All data pulled from the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors MLS and is accurate enough to draw reasonable conclusions.

Quick advice for buyers and sellers in 2016: Start NOW.

Homes start to come on the market in February. Closing usually takes ~ 60 days from Contract. Plan accordingly.

Sellers: Start cleaning and decluttering. Start detaching from your home. Start to see it as a product rather than your home. Start the list of projects that need to be done prior to marketing.

Buyers: Start learning, if you haven’t already, the neighborhoods that interest you – and more importantly, the ones that don’t. Nail down your relationships with your Realtors and lenders.

Marketing Across Demographics

I asked for story ideas on Twitter, and I liked this one  “The middle-aged squeeze. Biggest demo is 18-34. Then 64+. But the middle is typically strongest buyer. How do you market to all?”

What are real estate consumers looking for when seeking Realtor representation? A sampling of answers from consumers across all demographics (bolding mine) —

– We do not have prior experiences with realtors, but would be interested in a very transparent/up-front & honest relationship with whomever does help us find a home (real with expectations, explaining the smaller details, issues, etc.)

Communication. Advice. Availability. Comfortable coming to us with possible listings he thinks we would like, and being proactive in searching for listings for us.

– I like information, feedback and detail.  I do not like salesmanship.

Honest feedback on location, current market data, honest value assessment, good network of listings (pocket listings when inventory is tight), network of relevant contacts (inspector, contractor, etc),patience with kids at showings 🙂

The only commonality I target when I passively market to consumers is that I prefer my clients to be intelligent, introspective, willing to learn and trust, and, preferably, financially qualified. Everyone is looking for a home, whether it’s a home for themselves, their parents, their kids, or someone else (as an investor), and they’re looking for someone to help guide them and instill confidence and often comfort. That’s my role.

Younger folks (I’m nearly forty, so there’s a lot of them “younger folks”) and older folks – they almost all do the same thing before asking me for clarification/verification —

– Step One: The Google.
– Step Two: They ask their peers, their friends, their parents, their kids.
– Step Three: I’d like to think they ask me. But really, they Google the answers they just got.
– Step Four: They ask me. My goal is to be between Steps One and Two. I’m realistic

The radio.

I truly enjoy doing live radio with Matt Hodges, one of the local lenders I recommend to my clients. This past month, we did an hour on local radio and covered all sorts of topics. If you’re interested in the Charlottesville area real estate market, lending environment, whether Democrats or Republicans are better for the local market, and a whole lot more, please,spend an hour with us.

October’s Blog Roundup

RealCentralVA (9 stories)

Next Month:

– I’ll address Tina’s suggestion to talk about something (most) consumers likely don’t know; do you know what “behind the sign” means?
– Wrap up & Predictions
– I’m really going to try to publish by 10 December. Really.
Paving over paradise.

What I’m reading

A few slides from a recent energy efficiency talk I attended.
What ISIS Really wants Hint: It might not be what you think.
Regulations increase housing costs? Shocker.
5 Winter Home Improvement Projects for Less than $1,000 — eh, a few good ones here.

Thanks, All.

— Jim

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