Charlottesville Market, City Council, Self-Care, Pivideo | Monthly Note Archives

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 forever (because I own the blog, and I don’t own Tinyletter)


(January 2018)

Here we go, 2018.

2018’s Real Estate Market – Seek Out Competence 

If you’re thinking about buying or selling, or know someone who is, please email or text me.

There’s not much to say that I’ve not already said here, on the blog, or in person.

  • Inventory, particularly affordable inventory, remains low.
  • Parts of the Charlottesville market are extremely competitive.
  • This year is likely to be a hard one for buyers and potentially a good one for sellers. One of the benefits of having practiced real estate since 2001 is I can now say, “I’ve seen this before.”
  • If you’re thinking about buying or selling, best to start that process right now. (You can start by contacting me)
  •  Seek out competent representation who can advise unemotionally with context and experience. I said this this week when counseling someone looking to get into the business because it’s perceived as easy, “there is enormous value in begin able to say, “I’ve been through this before.”

Multiple offers, unclean houses, irrational sellers, hard to find comps, and frustrated buyers…

We are in the midst of a market that is producing a remarkable amount of new construction that is being snapped up because it’s what’s there. I’d argue that if a builder were to produce more architecturally diverse homes that were comparatively priced, buyers would choose those over the generic new homes. But the builders don’t have to offer such products. That’s the market we’re in.

Much as I hate to not produce original content for this note, what I wrote in 2015 and 2005 are particularly relevant.

I wrote in 2005:

“I heard the end of an interesting story on NPR this morning discussing the over-heated real estate markets nationwide. One couple was recalling how they had to decide to make an offer on a house within 30 minutes of visiting the house once and then had to offer tens of thousands of dollars over the asking price, all while waiving the home inspection.

This for a purchase of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Contrast this with purchasing a digital camera (Update: remember when people bought digital cameras? They don’t anymore).

When the subjects of the story bought their camera, they went through a similar process as I did. I researched diligently, compared Consumer Reports, checked online and at local stores for prices and so on. Purchasing a home, in a perfect world, would allow for a much more diligent process. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Fix the Sticky Door. A Tip For Sellers Prepping for the Market

We all have a sticky door. Fix it.That door that’s been sticking for the past seven years, and you live with it because that’s the way it’s always been? Go ahead and fix that.

Sellers: Pick up After your dog
Buyers/Agents: Check your feet

A long time ago, I was showing a house in the urban ring of Albemarle County. We went inside, then walked out back to check out the yard. We walked around the side, and back through the front door. I remember vividly the fear in my stomach when I looked down and saw that one of my clients had tracked fresh dog poop through the house.

I also vividly remember calling my mom (my real estate mentor) and asking what I should do. And I remember hanging up quickly, as I saw a carpet shampoo salesperson coming down the street going door-to-door, peddling his services.

Moral of the story: check your shoes, as a carpet cleaner probably isn’t going to be outside your front door when you need him.

Another story about poop – I was showing a house in a neighborhood with steep backyards. My buyers were trying to rationalize that they and their kids would probably play in the big, unfunctional, steep, fenced yard. I looked at the five-foot radius in which we were standing at the base of the deck stairs and observed, “If the dogs aren’t going down the hill to poop, will y’all go down the hill to play?”

They bought a better house with a better yard.



Will the behavior/chaos/turmoil/ of Charlottesville City Council affect buyers’ decisions about moving to, or staying in, the City of Charlottesville?

I wrote this sentence in a message to a friend:

Had someone ask me this week if I thought the new City Council was going to harm the real estate market. That’s the first time the Council’s been raised as a factor … normally it’s just the Nazis.

“Normally it’s just the Nazis.” That’s a sentence I just wrote. 2018 is turning out splendid.

Charlottesville has been quite a hotbed of late. I (Note: I hate acknowledging, much less writing about it, but this is our reality.)

It’s easy to dismiss the Nazis and white supremacists; good people condemn them. There aren’t “two sides” to this debate, and most of them aren’t from here. City Council is a different matter. The new Council members and new mayor represent a significant shift in the political tenor of the City of Charlottesville. What is that going to do to the City? Unknown, but I’d suppose that some results will be perceived as good, some will be perceived as bad, and we won’t know the true results for at least a couple years. Do people moving to the City of Charlottesville pay attention to this or care?

I’ve long advised buyers to evaluate the fiscal readiness of homeowners associations, and even the locality. I’d wager that folks are going to be evaluating the state of the City of Charlottesville.

A friend said recently on Twitter that to us, the events of last year are represented by a date, “August 12,” but to the world the events of last year are represented by a place, “Charlottesville,” akin to “Sandy Hook,” “San Bernardino,” and “Oklahoma City.”

I will do everything I can to ensure that we see the Nazi invasion as a date in history, and not representative of my home.

My blog is 13

Who knew that 13 years later, I’d still be writing and publishing on RealCentralVA? I’m not sure I ever looked beyond the next few posts when I started. Now, while I write less frequently on the blog, and much of my writing focus has shifted to the RealCrozetVA blog and to this monthly note, I can say with confidence that I don’t see ever getting rid of the blogs. Social media platforms come and go. I think that when I do my digital will, I’ll note some mechanism to keep the archives of each alive for many years after my death. Now, after having written for over a decade at each, a lot of information, and even some knowledge, is stored within those sites.

I know this: I will keep writing.

On that thought, TinyLetter (the service that powers this note) is going away in 2019.

We have no plans to make changes to TinyLetter in 2018. And we’ll let you know what to expect before we make any changes in the future.

In the long term, we do intend to integrate TinyLetter into MailChimp. Doing this will better enable us to support the product and its users. But we’re taking it slow because we want to get it right.
Publishing archives of these Tinyletters on my blog was the right decision.

Finding Friends, Self-Care & Self-Awareness

Can we find friends here?” is a question more of my buyer clients are explicitly asking. For my entire career, the acknowledged focus has been on the kids first, and parents second. That is still the case, but I’m finding more and more often (and I’m prompting this conversation as well) that the adults are expressing their desire and need to find and make friends and establish roots. That’s a good thing.

Everyone needs an anchor. I was talking to clients the other day about putting one of their houses on the market and the conversation shifted to riding bicycles. We ended up talking about the Crozet Cycling Club for longer than we did the timing and marketing of their house. After having ridden bicycles for nearly five years, and entering my third year with this club, I can say this with supreme confidence that everyone should find something that you can do with friends regularly that you involves an activity and conversation, whether it’s poker, bicycles, running, unicycling, whatever.

I know that every weekday at 6am I can ride my bicycle with friends for an hour. That is an invaluable thing.



Last month, I noted briefly that “”Pivoting to video” will continue to be unwise,” and a friend questioned me on that. Why do I think “pivoting to video” is unwise?

  • Because for a lot of people, pivoting means “doing only video.” Doing video in conjunction with creating valuable written content is a far better option than doing solely video.
  • Video is unskimmable. When a video pops up, I would much prefer skimming bullet points than watch a video,  unless I explicitly want to watch a video that I have sought out.
  • Until self-driving cars become a thing, people can’t multi-task with video. Texting and driving? Maybe. Listening to a podcast?* Yes.


What I’m Reading 


On the Blogs




*I might be doing a podcast. Interested? Would you listen? What would make you curious enough to listen?
— Jim

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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