Humanity, Offers, and a Wrap | December 2018’s Note

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*Sorry about the lack of pictures. I’ve been sidelined due to injury from riding the bicycle outside. Part 1 below is partially a reference to that.

Looking back at the predictions I made about 2018, I was right on about 80% of them. Too bad the Landmark hotel is still a decrepit shell. In January, I’ll share a few predictions.

Year-end wrap

I posted an “End of Year wrap” on RealCentralVA, but the gist is this – 2018 was good in a lot of ways, and our market may have gotten too expensive. 2019 may see a moderating market, which will be good for some, less good for others, and may present opportunities to buyers who have been priced out of the market.
  • Buyers and sellers – choose the best representation you can. Ask questions of your potential agent. Ascertain if he/she is a good fit before you sign the contract to hire.
  • Be patient.
    • Buyers – Real estate is a deliberate process.
    • Sellers –  if your home doesn’t sell in a few days or weeks, that’s probably ok, regardless of what your experience was like 12 years ago, or what your brother/sister says from their perspective in Houston, or Seattle (those are vastly different markets than ours)
    • Agents – you aren’t my audience. If you’re reading this, represent your clients well, and be nice to each other. (And me!)
    • Read my year-end wrap here.

That time I made a mistake

Mistakes happen. Learning from them is key. My mom trained me how run comps, I still do run them for every listing or offer on which I advise clients. I usually do it old school – I search, refine, print, circle similarities and discrepancies, sometimes will run the numbers and conclusions by colleagues.Even when I run data, analyze, massage, vet with colleagues, I can be wrong. It happens.

I told clients that based on the data, my thoughts on the market, and where we were in the season, I thought their property was worth $450K. They disagreed, and told me they thought it was worth $475k. We had a great back and forth, ultimately I was wrong, and we went with their numbers. Darn if they weren’t right. We put it on the market and had a couple offers within three days. Closing price was over their asking price.

Being humble and ready to be proven wrong. I don’t mind being wrong. I don’t like it, but I’m not so arrogant as to be unable to admit when I’m wrong. As a colleague said, it doesn’t happen often, but it happens.

First Offer is (almost) Always the Best offer

There’s a saying in real estate that, “the first offer is always the best offer.” That’s been true every time that I can remember, whenever I’ve been the the buyer agent or the seller agent.

It’s easy for me, as the one whose money it’s not to say, “I think this is the best offer we’re going to get.” Any experienced agent knows that if you’re asking $600K and you get an offer of $580K after two months, if you don’t take that offer, the next conversation is going to be in a month about reducing the price —often  below that first offer.

There have been two occasions when the second offer has been better than the first. Over the course of, I think, seven years, the sellers in each instance were the same. I attribute that more to the sellers’ fate and luck than I do that of the market.

Deep Connections, Sharing Vulnerabilities

I’m not a transactional real estate broker. The way in which I practice real estate requires that I know my clients.

This remains one of my favorite examples of sharing. I vividly remember the time my client told me the name of their coming-in-3-weeks-baby before they’d told any of their family members. She swore me to secrecy.

I love technology, but some situations call for human contact and sharing.

I’m a private person, despite my public persona, but often, situations call for my sharing certain private things with clients in order to build and deepen the relationship so that they feel comfortable with me so that they tell me why they don’t like a house, or neighborhood, or street. Maybe their aged parents are in declining health, so there is a certain sense of urgency about finding a resale home with an in-law suite. Or they have a sick kid who requires in-home care. Or they’re getting a divorce and haven’t told anyone yet.  I share throughout our working relationship in part to build trust, because that’s what’s needed.

Life happens. As a client remarked to me some time ago, I tend to see clients in vulnerable states. I recognize that for the stated, transactional purpose, my clients don’t necessarily care about my life behind the transaction, but it’s important to show them that I am a human who does care and empathizes about and for them. I won’t share such things here, because I don’t know all of you.

If you want a transactional broker who’ll see you as a number, that’s cool. I like representing humans.

Don’t post anything on social media … and be careful about what you say.

A client/friend sent me this

Funny real estate story, along with your adage about don’t post things about your buying/selling a home on social media.

(My wife’s) cousin is selling a house … They have a camera doorbell that records. As someone was looking yesterday, as they left, the potential buyers paused on the porch as they were leaving and their realtor asked, “Should I take a picture of you all in front of the house?” That got recorded and emailed to (my wife’s) cousin. Definitely gives them an upper hand!

And … they got the contract.

I love when my clients listen and when they share things with me years after we’ve concluded our transaction.

Community, Connections, Humanity Matter – Part 1

Part 2 coming next month. A friend shared this with me and it’s incredibly relevant to society, and to real estate. From Psychology Today  (bolding is mine):

Humans, because of necessity, evolved into social beings.  Dependence on and cooperation with each other enhanced our ability to survive under harsh environmental circumstances.  Although the survival threats of these circumstances have lessened in today’s world, people continue to have a need to affiliate with others.  Indeed, the lack of such connections can lead to many problems, including loneliness.

In our advanced digital age, one of the prevalent concerns regarding the increasing emergence of loneliness is how we have become less caring of others.  At one time, our very survival depended on trusting and supportive relationships.  Fundamentally, it doesn’t matter how technologically sophisticated we become; emotional connectivity remains a core part of being human. We need each other–maybe not in the ways that characterized us evolutionarily, but for a need that remains essential for psychological survival

I’ve been thinking more about human connectivity as it relates to society and real estate. Humanity matters; I’ve become more aware of this since my bike wreck, as I’ve been unable to ride outdoors, and I’ve been unable to have the same camaraderie with my riding group. Who knew?


That picture above? It’s a zero-entry shower that’s not required now and hopefully won’t be for a number of years. Planning is good.

Never stop learning, or asking questions.

Great clients are curious clients. I’m lucky and privileged to know so many curious people; their questions make me better at what I do.

Taking on new clients

2018 was a pretty good year. I’d like 2019 to be as good or better. If you’re looking for representation, please call or email me. If you have a friend who is thinking about buying or selling, I’d appreciate your sending them my way. Great preference for nice people.

What I’m Reading

On The Blogs




As always, thank you for reading! (If you really like it, please forward to a friend)

— 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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