September 2016 Note – Slacking, Innovating, Coaching

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)

The Charlottesville Market, using Slack, coaching soccer, innovation in real estate.  Like this note? Forward it to a friend! 

Quick Charlottesville Market thoughts

I’ll be doing a full market insight next month, but for now, quick thoughts to accompany the following chart:
  • The Charlottesville City market remains smoking hot. There weren’t enough homes on the market in the City this year to satisfy buyer demand.
  • Albemarle County – parts are still crazy hot, particularly in the close-in and urban ring. Rural properties remain tougher to sell.
  • Central Virginia as a whole – stable-ish to appreciating – speaking broadly. Your micro-market may vary.
  • Interest rates remain stupid low. People can get loans. Local lenders remain infinitely preferable to internet non-local lenders.
  • Parts of the market feel bubble-y. Very very bubbley. Maybe that’s just me, having not fully recovered (I never will) from the crash, but I feel good about a lot of my buyers who weren’t able to buy this year.

Value and Innovation in Real Estate – Part 2

Had you read the July Note, you’d have read Part 1.

Part 2 starts with a Slack conversation with a client/friend

One thing we keep coming back to is why some rogue realtor doesn’t go around advertising that they’ll buy/sell for 2.9% instead of 3% and undercut everybody? Is it really just that everyone knows that is a race to the bottom so they don’t do it, or is there something else going on?
Yeah, it was a great and interesting conversation. I suspect we’ll continue it over beer.

Because. It’s always been done that way.

My quick thoughts on the pricing conversation
  • (Most) buyer agents don’t need to talk about/defend their value/cost – many/most times, the commission is offered through the MLS. Not many agents are going to offer to receive less than is being offered. (related blog post)
  • Rebutting the Realtor Rip-Off; from 2012, this is still relevant.
    • “Buyers’ agents have an incentive only to show their clients homes whose sellers offer them a standard 3% commission.”
      • Partly true. This is one of the reasons I negotiate my fee with my buyer clients first; I don’t want my fee to be determined by the opposing party – it’s not right and leads to suspicions of collusion.
  • A challenge with the way real estate compensation is done is that newbie (I was one once) agents are paid the same as experienced experts (I consider myself one-of-these-in-training).
  • Getting rid of Cooperative Compensation would be a start; but one reason this is the way it is is because of lending and regulatory guidelines. I won’t delve into this, other than to say, bureaucracy and turning a slow battleship.
    • So would buyers paying their hired representation out of pocket. That’s likely not going to happen.
Have you heard of HausThey’re aiming to disrupt how real estate is transacted with transparency and technology as their main weapons. I like their disclaimer:
Haus will not provide any real estate brokerage services or legal, financial, tax or accounting advice. Haus does not perform any due diligence or investigation, and does not make any warranties, regarding the Property or the parties.
Interesting. It took Zillow a few years to become the dominant marketing platform, too.

My unrefined thoughts on real estate practice (from a buyer agent point of view)

Some (a lot) of people recognize the value in hiring someone to help them manage a real estate transaction. There is a lot that goes into the process – the distilling of information, the figuring out what matters, what doesn’t, what questions to ask, when to ask, how to ask – of buyers, of spouses, of parents, of agents, of lenders – and there is not yet (that I know of) an AI engine that is able to properly assist a buyer through this process.

I have no problems or challenges at all detailing and defending my value to a buyer client who is seeking assistance. For those who come in with closed minds, and see agents as a necessary evil, I get that, and we probably wouldn’t be good fits to work together.

Will real estate practice be disrupted? Sure. Everything will. Will it happen tomorrow? I don’t think so. I think homeownership as we know it is more threatened than is “how is real estate transacted.” (somewhat related)


I mentioned a few notes ago about how I was starting to use Slack to communicate with a few people. Briefly: I love it. I wish more people in my world would use it, as it’s helped me channel my communication away from email for a particular high-volume communication channel.

Much like with the real estate innovation conversation above, getting people (younger and older) to see Slack as what it is – a great and efficient and powerful communication tool is a huge challenge. Because, for them, “but email works fine.”  Sigh.

SlackIt could kill email, if people would give it a chance. A Slack conversation with a friend: (bolding mine)

I think it is something that has to be used from the beginning. As much as I like our agents and team, we are not technologically inclined.

The best thing that has resonated with me was the guy who said that almost 100% of that email is external. That is so incredibly enticing and appealing.

And that is my goal. At least for my practice

Change is hard. People know and trust email, despite their cost of limitations about how invasive it is.

And I think that that could be a story I’m going to write this month. 🙂


Again with the coaching. Being a part of my kids’ lives – and the community.

I’m reflecting on recent conversations with my girls about holding tempers, negotiating with parents, testing in schools (and their worthlessness), interacting with friends, hearing stories about someone who’s pregnant (dear God, I hope it’s a teacher), being nice to teachers who “everybody” hates, and yeah, soccer, too.

Nearly 15 years of this stuff and, much as I know the girls don’t understand the sacrifice that volunteer coaching brings, I cherish this (frustrating, time-consuming, painful) time.

What I’m reading

The Blogs



Thanks for reading.

— Jim


Boys and Girls Club – I had this written, but as I’ve been slow to publish of late … feel free to donate money regardless. 🙂

In which I ask again for money. I don’t ask for much, but if you have a few dollars to spare, the Boys and Girls Club of  Charlottesville do tremendous work. You can give here. I’m riding in the Boys and Girls Club Challenge this coming weekend.

Jim on: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn Subscribe to RealCentralVA | Jim’s Instagram

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

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