This Stupid Market, Caring, MOVE is a 4 Letter Word | Note from Jim

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 simply having the content here (because I own the blog, and not Tinyletter)

I don’t know why, but this time, when I copy-pasted the note from tinyletter, the pictures didn’t make it … if you’re curious, here’s the original note.

“You know what I love about Virginia, Daddy? You never know what the weather’s going to do.” – my younger daughter.

What’s happening in the Charlottesville area market? Depending on the segment, it’s 2005-hot.

Battening down the hatches now for all possibilities: disappointment and rebounding, or good news and schedule scurrying.

The above is from a client responding to the current state of the market in their particular market segment. The Charlottesville market can be infuriating – multiple offers, hard and fast response deadlines, escalation clauses, and tough negotiations.

Being prepared as a buyer (and seller) and having the right representation is critical.

The Market

It’s mid-February; it’s too early to make any reasonable conclusions about what the market is doing, but I’ll share some anecdotal points – 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.

I’m taking a different tack this month. Instead of looking at the broader market, I looked briefly at a few data points that interested me.

Looking at homes within 1.5 miles of my office in Downtown Charlottesville, I thought I might see the number of homes going under contract increasing year after year.
When my hypothesis didn’t pan out (each year, the percentage and number of home sales close to the city center would increase), I looked at this:

  • In 2005 in Charlottesville + Albemarle, there were 2,532 closed sales in the MLS – 17.8% (431) were within 1.5 miles of Downtown Charlottesville. Median price in 2005: $275K.
  • In 2015 in Charlottesville + Albemarle, there were 2,112 closed sales in the MLS – 17.8% (377) were within 1.5 miles of Downtown Charlottesville. Median price in 2015: $310K.

Looking solely at Contract written from 1 January to 10 February*

  • Albemarle Single Family – 109 in 2016 and 109 in 2015
  • Albemarle Attached homes – 40 in 2016 and 37 in 2015
  • Charlottesville Single Family – 30 in 2016 and 35 in 2015
  • Charlottesville Attached homes – 10 in 2016 and 4 in 2015

* Those numbers will change as Realtors put sales into the MLS.

But I just want to see the house!!

Or … want ? get.

Unrepresented buyer sees a house on Zillow/Trulia/ and calls the number that is most visible (often, that’s not the listing agent), leading to a buyer who is baffled and confused that the agent isn’t standing nearby ready to show the house. I spend money to advertise on Zillow; it’s a media site, designed to sell ads – to real estate agents.

I get it. Instant gratification takes too long. And real estate is more complicated than it should be. But know this: a competent agent is going to ask, “Are you currently working with any other Realtors?” before they meet you at a house.

Opening a lockbox is ultimately a minute part of the home buying process. Listening, advising, helping buyers ascertain whether the house is right for them tomorrow, in five years, in fifteen years. Determining infrastructure and growth challenges nearby or next door. Knowing what Quest plumbing is. Understanding buyers’ needs and wants and helping them on the decision path to figure out the next life stage choices… These are some of the things a good Realtor can (and should) do. “Can you open the lockbox right now?” – maybe.

Now … if I’m representing the Seller and I get that call? I’ll absolutely show the house as quickly as possible.

MOVE is a four-letter word

Move is, to many people (many of whom are my clients), a four-letter word, with similar negativity associated with other four-letter words, such as the ones that rhyme with truck and spit.

One of the roles I fill for many of my clients is to be the one who has done this before – whether that’s moving, moving with kid(s) and dog(s), moving twice to get that house, purging, prepping, working …and I set expectations bluntly up front.

Moving. Sucks.

But moving isn’t the end of the world, and yeah, it may be a painful few months, but after a year in the rearview mirror, the trauma of that move will hopefully have waned to the point of being a distant memory.

I Don’t Care About You

do care about my clients, but I care about their kidsmore. Here’s my explanation:

Years ago I had the humbling awareness of the gravity of the decisions my clients, with my guidance and advice, were making. One of my favorite parts of what I do (and one of the reasons that if I were to win the lottery big I’d still practice real estate) is helping clients buy a home and then representing them when they sell years later.

Often, in that time, kids happen and grow. The adults, as I say, tend to be reasonably intelligent and responsible people – tasked with making life decisions that will impact not only the rest of their lives but the lives of their kids as well. Their kids have no say in the matter and are entirely dependent on the “adults” making good decisions.

And that’s terrifying. For all of us. So I do care about you, I just recognize that the kids tend to matter more. Darn it.

After explaining my reasoning to a client recently, part of her response was

“Have a wonderful time coaching (soccer) today and thank you so much for taking the time to help me. Thank you for keeping my kids at the center of your attention!”

Yeah, that’s why I do what I do.

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Question for you: What’s your favorite place in Charlottesville? Mine right now: either the Mudhouse with my younger daughter or climbing Afton Mountain on my bicycle. Best answer gets a prize.

Have a great rest of the month, and if you have any questions about the Charlottesville area market, I’m always happy to talk. Really. Ask my family.

— Jim

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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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