This Market, Take 2. Blue Apron. Privacy. Pooping babies. | Note from Jim

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Discussed: March 2016 – Stupid Market, Pooping Babies, and Privacy

Last month I wrote, “Some houses in the City of Charlottesville and urban ring of Albemarle County are moving fast – often before they hit the open market (see: pocket listings), and this feels like last year’s market in a lot of ways.  Buyers: be ready. Sellers: don’t overshoot the market.”

This month, that holds true. We’re in the thick of it.This market is, in many segments, crazy. Feels-like-2005-and-2006-crazy. Crazy as in, I feel like I’ve been here before crazy.

A few weeks ago, I wrote four offers on a Wednesday. Cool, right? Meh.

Three of those offers were competitive situations, and my clients lost all three. “Lost” being relative. One of those situations, the winning Contract was a cash buyer. Who was an investor. Who went significantly over the asking price. I’ve not seen that combination since the “boom” market.

There is nothing my clients could have done.

This is a market where buyers make big mistakes. As a 15 year (holy cow) veteran of this market, I’ve seen remarkable windfalls and profound pain. I remember my clients’ pain more than I do the successes.

Buyers, if you’re thinking about buying a house, even a little bit, engage a buyers’ agent now. If you wait to make that first call to a Realtor on the morning you see that house you love, the only thing you’re going to get is a feeling of disappointment and lost opportunity. Please, be prepared.

The Market, Context.

There is no good way to track pocket listings and unrepresented sellers (although I’m pretty sure Zillow has figured this out). That said, to give some insight into what we’re seeing:

In Albemarle County from 1 January to 14 March

In 2015, 558 homes were listed from January 1 to March 14. 621 have been listed so far in 2016; more homes have come on the market this year, but it sure hasn’t felt like that. In 2015, 314 homes went under contract. 358 (12% more)have gone under contract in 2016.

Looking at how quickly homes have gone under contract: in that timeframe in 2015, 69 homes went under in under two days while 71 went under in 2016. I’ll call that flat (excepting pocket/pre-marketed listings).

In the City of Charlottesville from 1 January to 14 March

In 2015, 162 homes were listed in this time frame. 187 have been listed in 2016; a few more homes have come on the market this year than did last, although the bidding wars and escalation clauses would seem to belie that. In 2015, in this time period, 107 homes went under contract (21 in under 2 days). 119 (22 in under 2 days) have gone under contract in 2016 so far.

I wish there was a way to track the number of escalation clauses and offers submitted; I’d wager this year has seen *way* more than last year.


When a buyer makes an offer to purchase a home, a component of that offer is a personal check, the Earnest Money Deposit. Who sees that check? When I am representing a buyer, I sign Page 9 of the contract indicating that I have received the check. Frequently the listing agent will ask for a copy of the check. Why? Why expose my clients’ routing numbers unnecessarily? When I push back, and ask “why” their answer is “Because it’s our policy,” not, “Because the contract says so.” If it’s not in the contract, it doesn’t need to be disclosed, “policy” or not. And “Because we’ve always done it this way” isn’t a good enough answer.

Blue Apron

There are a lot of meal plans, or whatever they’re called, out there. We’ve been using Blue Apron and it has made cooking fun again. Many of you may be familiar with my younger daughter, “Small One” as I refer to her in most social media areas; for most of her life, her palate has rarely extended beyond macaroni and cheese, cereal, and chocolate milk.

A client offered a free week of this service, and I like free food, so I tried it. And we loved it. She and I cook two meals a week together, laid out in a beautiful and beautifully simple directions, and she’s tried more new things in that time – because she’s been cooking it – than she has in her entire life. What this service provides for us is time together successfully feeding ourselves, and I highly recommend it.

It was fun seeing a client who also subscribes to Blue Apron, and talking to them the next day. “Weren’t the smashed potatoes delicious?!” Shared experiences are cool.

Want a free week? Email me and I’ll share one of the two free meals I have left to share.

Lessons from VMI

I remember the day before Hell Week at VMI vaguely, but I remember Col. Royce Jones (RIP) talking to us, before we were even rats, explaining one thing to prepare us for what was to come. “The louder they are, the dumber they are.”  Those are some simple words that have served me exceedingly well in life. Being able to look beyond the person, to hear what they’re saying and not how they’re saying is one of those things I’m grateful I learned when I was 18 rather than 25, or 30, or never.

Babies Poop

I’m usually prepared. The kid who threw up in the back of my car – I had a plastic bag at the ready. The dishwasher leaked – I have a bandana.  Want to measure rooms? I have a tape measure. Client cries in the back seat because they couldn’t afford a house? I’ve got napkins.

I added diapers to my preparatory list many years ago. I was showing property for one of the first times to what is now a wonderful repeat client and friend. Her son had what they call a “blowout.” And she was all out of diapers. Small One had just aged out of diapers and I had one or two loitering about my car, so I gave it to my client.

We see people in so many moments of their lives – happiness, sadness, fear … and blowouts. Being prepared is part of the job.

From the Blogs



Also, RealCrozetVA has an Instagram … the multiple logins within the app has been a game changer.

What I’m reading

Questions? Comments? (you know … I’m a Realtor and do make a living representing buyers and sellers in the Charlottesville area)

— Jim

* A lot of you are new this month. Welcome, and thank you! A reminder from my my April 2014 note:

Agents, lenders, attorneys – don’t take offense, but this note is not for you. I sincerely appreciate your reading, your replies, etc. but this note is for clients, those moving to the area, and curious consumers. If I think of those of you in the real estate world, my focus and my writing will be in the wrong place. If you find value here, I’m thankful. What brought this on? Two great notes from readers, one who wrote, “Even though I am not a realtor and I have been in my home for almost 2 years, I still visit your website and read your notes” and another reader who took the time to answer my “why are you unsubscribing” email with “Thank you … I am unsubscribing since we are not going to relocate to the Charlottesville area. 

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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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