April 2018 Monthly Note Archive – Be Kind

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)

Two misses in four years. Thank you for reading even in spite of my two misses.

If you like this note, please share with a friend!

Market. Slowing?

I’ll have more in July, after we have six months of data to analyze.

Quick thoughts for now:

  • New construction continues to hammer resales.
  • Check out the podcast for more.
  • Buy smart. If you think the house you’re buying is your 4-7 year house, pretend it’s your 8-15 year house. Would you still like it?
  • More people are choosing to not buy — for mobility needs, student loans, life stage shifting … and some just don’t want to buy a home.
  • The market’s not always going to be this way.

Mercedes vs Subaru

I was putting a sign in the yard of a new listing a few weeks ago, and a neighbor walking her dog stopped to chat. We talked about the house, neighborhood, Nest … and she noticed that I drive a Subaru. She said something that struck me, “You drive a Subaru! You could drive a Mercedes, but you drive a Subaru! My son drives one too!”I am a practical person, and I remember a conversation with a friend some time ago who is a Realtor and was considering a new car. She could likely afford any car she wanted, tested quite a few up and down the range from practical to luxury. My counsel to her was the same as to myself: drive something that reflects who you are and respects what your clients think of you.

For me, a Mercedes would reflect a showiness that my clients likely wouldn’t appreciate. Heck, I drove clients around in my old Honda Civic for years, and my clients appreciated my frugality!

Closing Gaps

$500 shouldn’t kill a deal; however, way too often, it does.Think about it – a $450K transaction killed by short-sighted pride.  I’ve written previously about the two stages of negotiations – first being price, terms, etc, and the second being the home inspection. The latter is the one that is most fraught with emotion, lines drawn in sand,* and buyers or sellers willing to go back to start over, go back to the beginning, all for a couple hundred bucks.You’d be amazed at how many times I or the other agent, or both, concede hundreds, and sometimes, thousands, of dollars, in order to close that gap. I don’t start conversations with clients about how, should things go sideways, this is a likely result, but it’s a common one. Simply, it’s the right thing to do.

*Funny thing about lines drawn in sand is that they are easily moved or erased.

Softball & Soccer


In the short list of “truly great things I’ve done in my life,” I put “coaching soccer” at the top. A client related this vignette to me a few years ago,
My dad coached me in softball. I remember that. (I don’t remember how much he worked.)
One of the biggest reasons I practice real estate is so that I can coach my girls in soccer. One kid’s gone and one will be moving on from soccer after this season. But I can say that the countless hours over 15+ years of coaching girls soccer have been some of the most exasperating and valuable hours of my life.When one of my girls says “hi coach” 10 years after I coached her, I know in that moment, that I’d made a positive contribution to the community.

If you have the opportunity to coach, do it. 

Three little words.

One of the best, and most powerful things my clients say to me is “I trust you.” In a world fomented with questions and mistrust around every corner, hearing these words is a gratifying win.Trust is a two-way thing. I have to trust that my clients are being honest with me, themselves, and each other. The client needs to trust me. I need to trust them.

I have had clients tell me about their previous great experiences, but more often, I hear the negative ones, such as, “I didn’t trust my realtor; they were just trying to get the sale.”  Most people participate in a residential real estate transaction every 5-10 years. A bad experience carries a helluva lot more weight than a good one.

Lockboxes and Access

A word of awareness for consumers. Realtors do subscribe to a Code of Ethics.  (bolding mine)

REALTORS® shall not undertake to provide specialized professional services concerning a type of property or service that is outside their field of competence unless they engage the assistance of one who is competent on such types of property or service, or unless the facts are fully disclosed to the client. Any persons engaged to provide such assistance shall be so identified to the client and their contribution to the assignment should be set forth.

I’d argue that while I’m licensed to practice real estate throughout the Commonwealth, I’d not be competent representing a buyer in Danville, or Fairfax. If I can’t put together an A-Team for my client, why would they hire me?

If your Realtor doesn’t have a lockbox key to open the lockbox at the house you’re going to see, asking about their competence in that particular geographical area might be a good idea.

What I’m Reading

Yeah, I’m reading and skimming a lot lately.

Questions, comments?

— Jim

Next month – Ignorance & ownership, a detailed market update, and maybe some projections for the remainder of 2018’s market.

Nest is now offering franchises. This note is explicitly not for real estate folks, but I know a few of you read this note anyway. If you’re reading, and you’re interested in talking about a Nest franchise, please reach out.

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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