Monthly Note – Values, Fair Housing, Talking to People | August 2018

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What are your values?

What are your core values? What do they mean? A friend told me recently that he’d been working on nailing down what his core values are – what does he really want to devote his time and energies to? One of his answers to this questions was “generosity.”

I’m working on my values, but think one of my answers is going to be “be nice and kind at any opportunity.” I wrote in April about the need to be kind.

Being nice isn’t hard. It’s quite simple. We would all do well to be nice more often.

Talking to People

Shooting the sh*t is a learned skill.

Being able to talk about the weather with a stranger is one of the best skills one can have and master, and one that can lead to serendipitious positive results.

I was talking to a vendor the other day, and we discussed relationships. Not personal ones, but professional ones. He said that I’m one of the few bigger-volumed agents who comes to those sorts of meetings; usually he sees team members.

While I do send my assistant sometimes (more on this next month), I like interacting with people, asking how they’re doing, family, etc. As importantly, I like asking questions and listening – vendors have an enormously valuable perspective on real estate; they see ebbs and flows of the market from a different angle. And, I genuinely like talking to the people I hire to help my clients.

Besides, people like to be listened to.

Bonus: just before I sent this note, I saw this on Reddit; I like it: When making conversation with someone you’ve just met, ask them what they’ve been listening to lately, rather than what their favorite kind of music is – it’s fresh in their mind and they won’t have to pick favorites on the spot.

Coming Soon and Fair Housing

Some MLS rules are silly. I think that I am supposed to input a listing into the MLS within 48 hours of signing the listing agreement. This is a dumb, unreasonable rule. From signing to activating, I need > 4 days. Assume I sign the listing on Thursday. Earliest I can get photographers onsite is Monday. Photos come back by Wednesday. Custom signs take 48 hours, so … Friday.

That’s a long timeframe, and I can squeeze a day or two out if need be. But … what about between signing and activating? Zillow has a “Coming Soon” category;  I tell other agents about new listings I have coming and send out “Coming Soon” email to Nest agents. What about sneak preview showings, with buyers with good agents getting an advantage over other buyers. Competitive advantage?

I used to allow showings prior to activating in the MLS, until about 6 or 9 months ago.

What if … an X race buyer buys the house before it hits the market, and a Y race never had a chance? Is that discrimination?

My answer: my license and livelihood aren’t worth the risk or the perception.

An integral part of clients’ lives

A friend said a few weeks ago, “it’s pretty cool; you’re a pretty integral part of a lot of people’s lives.”

He’s right. For better or worse, the advice and guidance I give to my clients can help to shape the rest of their lives, their kids’ lives, and more frequently now, their parents’ lives.

I remember this with every client I have the privilege to represent.

2019 Prep

It’s that time of year.

It’s nearly September, and if you’re thinking about putting your home on the market in the Spring, or if you’re aiming to be in the market to purchase a home in Charlottesville in 2019, now is the time to start those conversations.

2019 is going to be a different market than many have become accustomed to – rising interest rates, increasing inventory, increased population, possibly lower demand than in recent years. Different.

Every year I’ve practiced real estate has been different, interesting, not boring. The things that have proven constant:

  1. Life happens and people need to move.
  2. People buy and sell homes.
  3. Marketing matters.
  4. Brand matters, more now than almost any time in my nearing-20-year career.
  5. Representation matters; good, relevant, useful advice that is digestable is critical.
  6. The market evolves, ebbs, flows, and I try to figure it out for me, and for my clients.

Communicating During a Flood

Some time ago, when representing buyers who were under contract to purchase a home, I got a call from the sellers’ agent. Getting a phone call is never a good thing.

The house had flooded; a pipe on the second floor had been slowly leaking for sometime, until it wasn’t a slow leak. The sellers returned from a long weekend to a house with water everywhere except where it was supposed to be. Lesson #1 – Water is bad.

Lesson #2 – communication is key. Everything worked out – satisfied buyer and seller, in large part due to my clients’ sustained interest in the home, the sellers who wanted to sell, and did everything they could in order to make things work, the listing agent giving updates to me, and thus to my clients … all parties worked together and communicated to reach a mutually beneficial conclusion.

This happens often, but not as often as I would like.


From a client in the midst of a transaction one year where one party decided to take the petty path.

“Karma can () the guy over.”

Sometimes, acceptance and tossing the fate of the other to the winds of karma is the best approach.

From the Blogs

RealCentralVA – all about the market


What I’m Reading

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, despite my admonitions. 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.

Beaver Creek Reservoir in Crozet

We ride by Beaver Creek several times a week; each time, it’s different.
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