Note from Jim – Owning it, and a hypothetical | December 2015

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Discussed: Note from Jim – Owning it, and a hypothetical | December 2015

Owning it, the market, a hypothetical, and a few other things tossed in. 2015 is almost over. Thank you. Thank you for reading, commenting, forwarding this note to friends. I truly appreciate the time you give me every month.

Owning it

The appraiser.

I got a panicked call recently from an appraiser who needed to get into a house “today;” as in, “in about an hour.” Normally, my first reaction would be “Really?” But here’s the thing – the appraiser forgot about the appraisal. And owned it. She led with, “I’m really sorry; this one slipped through the cracks, and I need to get this done today.”

Easy. I’ll help out almost anyone if they make a mistake, own it, and apologize.

Soccer – the ref.

The back and forth of my daughter’s last soccer game of the season was remarkable. We were down 2-0. We came back and tied the game and were driving on a fast break towards the goal when the referee stopped play for an offsides call. As he blew the whistle, he looked up and saw that there was a lone defender next to the goalie. He was wrong. He immediately owned it. He looked to the coaches, apologized, and restarted the game with a drop ball.First, it’s U12 rec soccer. No one’s losing a scholarship because of a blown call, but he also legitimately cost us an opportunity to win. But he owned it. I told my girls after the game that they had witnessed something they will likely never again see – not a ref making a mistake, but a ref making a mistake and admitting it. My girls had just seen a phenomenal life lesson, and I didn’t want them (or their parents) to forget that.

The agent

I’d love to share this one, but I won’t. In this one, the agent didn’t own the mistake, made excuses, and cost others more than a small sum of money. No one died and we moved on, but this is something that won’t be forgotten.Owning it is a critical life skill. I wish more humans would choose this path.

The Market – Comparing January through November of this year and last year.

Ah, real estate data. Too little isn’t enough. Too much is too much to adequately digest, and often isn’t meaningful or relevant. I’m going to look at a few points this month.We’re nearing the end of the year – and I’m sorting through my projections. This month, though, I’ll do a nearly-end-of-year wrap up.

Albemarle County – mostly stable

  • Single family home new listings : up 3% from 1562 in 2014 to 1609
  • Attached homes: flat – 454 in 2015 to 451 this year
  • Single family home closings: up from 929 to 996 in 2015
  • Attached homes: up from 338 to 356.
Median prices in Albemarle:
  • Single Family: $385K in 2015 vs $387K in 2014
  • Attached: $247K in 2015 vs $251K in 2014
  • Condos: $125K in 2015 vs $124K in 2014
  • Price per square foot for single family homes: $142 in 2015 vs $134 in 2014

City of Charlottesville – sales and inventory down

  • Single family home new listings : down from 539 in 2014 to 477 in 2015
  • Attached home new listings: down from 101 last year to 90 this year
  • Single family home closings: down from 363 in 2014 to 346 in 2015. I attribute this to both the lack of inventory and fewer homes being put into the MLS.
  • Attached homes: up from 54 to 61. Lots of new construction in this segment, too, notably Burnet Commons downtown and Lochlyn Hill in the urban ring.
Median prices in Charlottesville:
  • Single Family: $297K in 2015 vs $290K in 2014
  • Attached: $215K in 2015 vs $218K in 2014
  • Condos: $168K in 2015 vs $215K in 2014 — I attribute this to the inventory and product mix more than an overall statement on the condo segment.
  • Price per square foot for single family homes: $183 in 2015 vs $177 in 2014

And new construction. There’s lots more of this to come. In Albemarle County, (per MLS) there have been 21 more single family home closings than this time last year – 161 this vs 140 last – and a few less attached homes (6). In the City, 8 more single family homes have closed, and the percentage is greater than in the County – 30 this year vs 22 last and 13(!) attached homes have closed vs 4 last year.

When given the option and the location, a lot of buyers will opt for new construction; sellers need to recognize this. A lot of buyers have the option/discretion to pay more for the right house, particularly in the $500K+ price point … if you’re a seller thinking about entering that segment, make sure you have good advice.

Local lenders.

Starting with a bold statement made by a colleague: “Out of area lenders don’t care and are arrogant.” Acknowledging that painting with broad brushes is not always the best approach, I advise in no uncertain terms that working with local lenders is a best practice.As much as I would like to require my clients to work with local lenders, that’s impossible. All I can do is advise as strongly as possible that working with a local lender will better assure a smooth process, help to alleviate concerns held by the other side of the transaction, and provide a bit less uncertainty in a sometimes uncertain process.

Trust me. Really. I do know what I’m doing. And I know whom to trust to represent my clients.

Reporting another agent.

Hypothetically, another agent has done something wrong. No one was hurt because the other agent (me, in this case), was aware and sufficiently prepared and represented my clients. The actions of the other agent are such that a complaint to the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation is warranted. But. (I’ll get to it that in a moment)This is a case of a broker knowing of the infractions and choosing to not do anything about the agent’s actions. Money talks. So that’s no help.

Back to the but.  If I were to take this to DPOR, I’d be helping the profession and the public, but likely be doing irreparable harm to my ability to represent my future clients. Any offer I take would not be considered  by this agent; any listing I had would not be shown.

What to do other than protect my future clients and alert professional colleagues?


Bad blood between buyers and sellers.

Most transactions are amicable; a buyer wants to buy, a seller wants to sell, and the agents facilitate.Sometimes, bad blood develops. Between buyers and sellers, between agents, between buyers, sellers, and agents … these are the times that keeping the proverbial cool head and being able to see the “after the transaction” are critical.

Should you work with a newbie agent who’s a friend?

The easy answer to the question, “… is there something that a first time agent would lack that would make this a bad decision?”Yes – experience.

While they will clearly have your best interests at heart, they’re not likely to be competent (yet) to truly represent you, point out pitfalls or even know what the process is (how many closings/inspections have they attended?) In my state, the real estate classes don’t begin to prepare you to do anything other than pass the test.

If you are set on working with them, ask if they have a mentor or a broker who is actually overseeing/supervising them. One of the biggest advantages a new agent has is that you’re likely to get much more of their time/attention as you’re likely to be one of few clients with whom they’re working – and that’s a good thing.

Also, this is a great comment about working with friends.

Going behind the sign.

Consumers – Did you know that if a house is listed with another agent, I am not permitted to contact the seller directly on behalf of my buyer client?” As a Realtor, it’s not allowed.There are a few cases in which initiating this direct contact is defensibly permissible, but those are rare.

Early, early in my career, I did just this. A seller’s agent was astonishingly unresponsive, and my buyers wanted to submit an offer. I contacted the seller, then the broker. I may have done this in this wrong order – The broker nicely came to me, explained what I’d done that wasn’t quite the proper protocol, and explained why he was treating me as graciously as he was – he knew and respected my mom (then and now, a great Realtor). Darn parents. Glad we have them.

Blog Roundup

RealCrozetVA – 13 stories
RealCentralVA – 4 posts (wow; slow month on the blog)
A personal note to end the year – one of the best things I’ve done in a long time has been to organize the Crozet Cycling Club. It’s grown into a club that represents the best of what Charlottesville – Albemarle have to offer – great community, enjoying the place where we choose to live, and a camaraderie that make living here better.  For this, I’m thankful.

What I’m reading.

Have a happy rest of December.Questions? Call or email me anytime.
Email: or just reply to this email.

New contest: forward this to a friend and tell me, and I’ll make a donation to a Charlottesville charity. (I’ll donate regardless, but thought this might be a nice nudge)


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Jim Duncan, Nest Realty, 126 Garrett Street Suite D, Charlottesville, VA 22902. Licensed real estate agent in Commonwealth of VA.

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