Rural Kudos Chair Pee | Monthly Note Archives, October 2019

This is for October 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). 

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I don’t often lead with a link, but I will this month. A few Charlottesville area hikes for kids. If you can, get outside. We live in an amazing place and life is short. Might as well take advantage while we can.

Kudos Retracted or Value of “I Don’t Know”

“I don’t know.” How hard is that to say? Easy, but also super difficult.I’m a huge fan of saying that I don’t know something, but I’ll find out. Or send the client to someone who does know.

I was talking to a potential new client who was looking for raw land to build a house. She said that the agent with whom they had been working (and they hadn’t signed a buyer broker agreement) had indicated that raw land wasn’t his forté, so they looked for someone else, researched me, and called.

I said, “Wow, kudos to him for being honest with you and telling you!  A lot of agents would have fumbled through the process.”

She said,”Oh, no, he didn’t tell us. My husband overheard him on the phone telling another agent how he didn’t know what he was doing, or what questions to ask.”

Kudos retracted! Come on now. “I don’t know” is not that hard.

A friend came to me recently and asked if I could represent family members in Madison County, a bit north of Charlottesville. I said no, as I’m no longer an expert there (I was 12-15 years ago), but I knew the right agent for them. I connected them and they successfully sold their house. Simple.

The Chair

That chair? Not my taste, nor my clients’, and frankly it wasn’t that comfortable. But it’s where I sat, playing with my clients’ kid while they talked about whatever they were talking about – life, how the house fit, how it didn’t, was it good, was it good enough, Was it not right.The chair was just right and so was the house. Knowing when to be present for, but not next to the client, while they figure themselves out – that’s a hard-learned skill.

Being quiet, listening, and interjecting when appropriate and necessary; I’m sure there’s a class for that, but I’ve not heard of it.  Some agents like to be part of every conversation, but (in my opinion) the best agent is a part of the relevant conversations and knows what’s relevant and what’s not.

We’re in a Recession. So what if we are? Or what if we aren’t?

It’s hard to know when the recession begins or ends until we have 18 months of hindsight. We’ll see.A recession doesn’t matter. People are going to need to buy homes. They’re going to need to sell homes. Life goes on.

I’ve told this story a half dozen times in the past two weeks to clients and to newer agents (apparently, I’m a “seasoned” agent), and I’ll tell it again.

I was at a luncheon with a local builder in the depths of the crash and was sitting next to an agent I respected, liked, and trusted. I asked her, “How’s the market?” She responded (those who know her would hear her used-to-be-a-teacher voice):

“Jim, the market is. I have buyers who need to buy and sellers who need to sell. I wake up every day and I need to help them. So the market is.”

It doesn’t matter if interest rates are 3.5% or 8.25% as they were when I bought my first home or 18% when my mom was selling real estate in the early 80s. Life happens. People need to move.

A recession is hard. Harder for some, less hard for others. And like a lot of things in life, it doesn’t matter. We keep moving.

I tried searching my blog for this story, knowing I’ve written it, but “the market is” is a phrase I’ve used more than a few times.

Micro Market Analysis: Rural Properties | Suggestions for other analyses? Please tell me!

via email:
If you are open to suggestions for articles about the market, how about taking a look at southern (or maybe rural) Albemarle County? When we were looking for a home, you seemed a little reluctant to show us properties down this way. You spoke of being on the plus or minus side of 20 minutes from family or Cville proper, in the context of convenience or commuting. Since we are retired, commuting is not an issue for us, and reminiscent of the old Waltons TV show, we plan our trips to the “big city” of Charlottesville. Anyway, just a random thought. Hope all is well with you and your family.

Maybe it’s because I spent the first 12 years of my life in the middle of nowhere, driving through fields and being driven to friends’ houses 20-30 minutes away. While I appreciate the value of rural, I think I more appreciate being closer to stuff. So do a lot of people.

I’m always open to suggestions and to opportunities to learn how to be better at what I do. I try to tell all of my clients that one of things I try to do well is to listen to them, and as this needs to be a great working relationship, if they think that I’m not listening, to please tell me. These folks did. And I listened. (there’s a reason I tell my clients that I try to listen, and if they feel I’m not hearing them, to please tell me. Most of my clients don’t need to be told that twice. Or once, even)

Let’s dig into rural 

UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center Study Shows Rural Populations are shrinking. Virginia’s population is expected to grow by more than 14% over the next 20 years, but the growth rate is slowing down. That’s partly because rural populations are shrinking.

Well, then. Rural populations are going to shrink, but let’s talk about the recent past in Charlottesville and Albemarle.

First, let’s define “rural.” No internet? Well and septic? More than 15 minutes to Target or Starbucks? To milk? Gravel roads? No cookie cutter neighborhoods? I’d look up how Weldon Cooper defines “rural” but I’ll say, it depends. For these purposes let’s say that rural is outside of the polygons I’ve drawn below, without public water or sewer, on at least 2.1 acres, within Albemarle County. I know. Rural in our area necessarily includes Louisa, Fluvanna, Greene, and Nelson, but I’m trying to be somewhat succinct to make a point that I’m not yet sure of. Shorter definition: about 15-20 minutes from an urban center.

Right now (15 October, late evening):

Active: 579. Excluding the polygons: 223 (39%)
Pending: 259. Excluding: 58 (24%)
Sold this year: 955 and 227. (24%)

But what about the trend? In 2019, those numbers were 1168 and 28624%, and in 2009, 667 and 143. 21%. Now, 2019 had a lot more new construction due to Albemarle County’s market and the growth areas.

This is longer than I intended, but I keep getting more curious.

Looking at Albemarle County’s site, it looks like 2018 had 16% of new construction in the rural areas and 20% in 2000.

This is a relevant political story on rural’s impact on national politics.


Teachers – when do they pee?When I was coaching soccer, my girls would drive me nuts. I loved them but was always exhausted after practice. I think about that when I think about teachers and how they do what they do every single day. I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of teachers over the years and I never cease to be amazed at their sanity, stamina, and dedication.

A friend has a theory that everyone in the Charlottesville – Albemarle area is connected by two degrees or fewer to someone in the education world. We all know a teacher or a spouse of a teacher or a student. Just something to think about if you’re lucky enough to have the freedom to go to the bathroom whenever you want during the day. Appreciate the little things, and thank the teachers.

What I’m Reading


We’ve put out a few outstanding podcasts at Nest’s Sweat the Details lately, and I’ve been able to restart RealPodVa after a summer hiatus. Please do listen; I bet you’ll find something interesting in each one. I’m particularly fond of the RealPodVA one we just put out with Allison Wrabel with the Daily Progress, and the last four of Sweat the Details are varied and really interesting.

Next month:
  • Less causticity
  • I’m sure I’ll think of something

Thanks for reading. If you like this, please forward to a friend. If you don’t, please unsubscribe.  I’m not kidding. I want this to be a valuable email to you.

– 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.

Smile even though it’s dark. Smiles can be heard. I heard this somewhere recently, and it resonated. Smiling matters. It’s amazing what one can hear and learn when one listens with the right ear, to the right people.
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