Service Micro Greenbrier Time | Monthly Note Archives

This is for September 2019. Archives of my subscription-only monthly notes. The blog is more searchable. Interested in not waiting a few months to read it? Subscribe 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). 

The Note

“My problems are other people’s dreams.” A friend of mine said that a few months ago, and it resonated.

A comment about last month’s note: Mutant-cricket jumping spiders. The number of responses from y’all was hilarious. Thank you.

“Older” Houses

Two or three years ago, I was showing a house built in 1993 and found myself referring to it as “an older house.” I texted my daughter, born in 1994, that I’d just referred to a house a year older than she was as an “older house,” and asked her how that made her feel. She responded with something like, “Why would you say that?!”

Kids are fun to mess with.

Houses of this vintage can be hard. Some of them were not built with the highest quality materials, nor were they built with an eye towards the future beyond the next few years, it seems. Things to look out for:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Age of the systems (HVAC, plumbing, roof)
  • Layout – Many of these homes were built before the advent of the open floor plan, so the layout may very well be less functional and efficient. (How many people use a dining room anymore?
  • More detailed questions for homes in the late 80s and early 90s – does it have quest plumbing? (Also, I miss blogs, but am glad I have mine.)

Here’s the thing about houses built in the early aughts (and beyond): They are likely to be in better locations and, closer to stuff than the newer houses and neighborhoods.

Location, location, location

In 1994, Cesare Marchetti, an Italian physicist, described an idea that has come to be known as the Marchetti Constant. In general, he declared, people have always been willing to commute for about a half-hour, one way, from their homes each day.

This principle has profound implications for urban life. The value of land is governed by its accessibility—which is to say, by the reasonable speed of transport to reach it.

Houses can be updated, but it’s really hard to move land.

Google Schedule Send is eliminating time.

  • Sometimes to mess with my Sarah, my assistant, I’ll schedule an email to her for 2:30 in the morning. She knows I’m not up working at 2:30, but little things are fun.
  • Or, stealing a trick from an attorney friend, I might schedule a few not-time-sensitive emails to go out at the end of a workday (assuming I had actual “work hours.”)
  • Email is hazardous; what if we could ban email on weekends? Me? I’d have fewer clients. 🙂
  • One of the nice things about email is that you knew when it was sent. It has a timestamp, after all. Now that that timestamp is potentially meaningless, surely there are some unintended consequences.

Still, try it, it’s fun. Not every email needs to be responded to within 30 seconds. Related: “The Cult of Overwork” podcast episode from the Basecamp folks; worth a listen.

Customer Service

Exceptional service is not rocket science. Whenever I run into an acquaintance who runs a couple of businesses that are in the customer service realm, we share experiences, and one common thread is that customer service is not hard; it’s actually quite a simple concept.

– Be nice.
– Care
– Show up.

Ultimately, it’s about the people. Choose well. Provide great tools. And give a sh*t. Simple.

Or in the words of Patrick Swayze in Road House, be nice.

Micro-Market Series – Greenbrier

The Greenbrier neighborhood is one of those mostly older parts of the City of Charlottesville that offers older houses, slightly larger lots, mature trees, and close proximity to schools and Greenbrier Park.

This is what I tend to think of when I think “Greenbrier” when searching for clients,

But this is what I search for, to keep it a bit broader. There’s no polygon, but those are the results for active and pending in the Greenbrier Elementary district. And refine from there. 

This is one of those areas that knowing the market and roads matters. I’d argue (successfully) that Angus Road (near the KFC & Best Buy) isn’t in Greenbrier, but it’s in Greenbrier Elementary District. Foxbrook definitely is, and has a way different feel than Kenwood. What you are looking for, and can afford, matters.

Right now (Sunday, 15 September, early evening):

  • There are 96 single family homes on the market in the City of Charlottesville. 79 under contract.
    • 21 on the market in the Greenbrier Elementary school district, from $265K to $650K. 12 under contract, from $175K to just over $1M, in the Lochlyn Hill neighborhood.
    • 36 have sold so far this year in Greenbrier, from $160K to $870K.
    • All of the new construction in the Greenbrier school district has been in the Lochlyn Hill neighborhood, so for the rest of this micro-market analysis, I’m going to pull them out (and all new construction in the City).
  • Going back to the start.
    • 84 active listings in the City. 38 under contract. 17 active in Greenbrier, and 4 under contract.
    • 272 have sold in the City this year (new are still not included). 29 in Greenbrier.
      • The newest of the 29 was an infill lot built in 2001; the oldest in 1900. The rest were built in the 50s and 60s, with 2 in the early 1970s.
      • Most of the solds have between 1,000 and 2,500 above grade square feet.

?Doing a micro market analysis on Greenbrier is tough. To do a true analysis, I’d need to pick one house as the subject, and analyze that house. Most of y’all aren’t active clients, so I won’t be doing that unless you ask.

Short summary: Greenbrier is a micro-market with a variety of houses, most of which are between $400K and $700K, and many if not most are going to need some updating to bring it to “modern” standards. All of them are going to be perfectly livable right now.

Have a suggestion for a micro-market for me to look at? Please ask. These are fun.

Related to the customer service topic, the value of working with the right professional

This text could have been sent to any of my colleagues at Nest, but it was sent to me.

You should talk about in broad terms how the expertise of a realtor, especially one long established and well connected to the community, goes far beyond the sale or purchase of a home and into problems owners have after the sale. Having gotten to know you, I have a feeling you’d do for all your clients what you’ve done for us over the past four years when we’ve had issues.

There’s the transaction, and then there’s the relationship that extends well beyond the transaction.

I tell my clients that until something cataclysmic happens, I’ll be here*. To advise a client to not put a metal roof on his house. (3 years after he bought.) To advise a client to not sell and buy, but to add on and stay. (10 years after.) To suggest luxury vinyl tile instead of carpet or hardwood. (7 years after.) To talk to an attorney about that thing the builder did poorly (4 years after.)

*Actually, I tell them I change my phone number 7 days after they close.

What I’m Reading

Next month

  • The chair


Thanks for reading. If you like this, please forward to a friend. If you don’t, please unsubscribe. 

– Jim

Jim on: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn RealCentralVA | Instagram

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

Last thing, for now: knowing the value of quiet is a hard-learned lesson and skill. Being quiet is often challenging, but rewarding.


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