Monthly Note Archives | Compassionate Long Caustic Jacket | November 2019

Archives of my subscription-only monthly notes. This is for November 2019.  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 Bought a Jacket

Everything has a lifespan and my North Face shell is no longer waterproof. Having not bought such a jacket in 15 years, I started searching for a new one – Gore Tex or proprietary? Taped seams? Pit zips? Best use for skiing or urban or hiking?

Part one was knowing myself. I wear my Blundstones nearly every day, rather than my Vasque hiking boots, because they are functional and comfortable.

The next part was knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to make a decision without talking to someone, so I visited (I know, it hurt) a store – Great Outdoor Provisions (the old Blue Ridge Mountain Sports for longtime Charlottesville folks) – and had a great conversation with one of the employees there. She asked questions. She listened. She guided me away from the pure rain coats (I have one already) and towards the shells that best fit what I was looking for.

And then she left me on my own to try them on.

I got a great jacket that I could have bought online for the same price, and while I actually found it online a little bit cheaper, I’d done my research and made my buying decision locally. So I went back, thanked them for their time and expertise, and bought the jacket.

Looking for homes online is but part of the process; it’s wise to know oneself and seek out the right guidance.

A meme I saw somewhere: “Amazon isn’t going to sponsor your kids’ soccer teams.”


On Compassion

I had a recent experience that made me think. I was in court to testify against a person who had dangerously harassed my group of cyclists one morning.

I watched the number of people called up for various charges like reckless driving, who answered in the affirmative when the judge asked if it was true that they had no money, not a dime to their names.

For no good reason, I was surprised at the compassion the judge showed – listening and guiding away from perjury caused by ignorance rather than intent —  and it was a reminder of just how lucky many of us are.


Staying Longer

A friend emailed me:

You probably don’t need ideas for your next column / blog but here’s one that crossed my email today

13 years of homeownership

A new analysis from the real estate brokerage firm Redfin shows the typical homeowner in the United States now stays in their house for 13 years. That’s five years more than they did in 2010. This lack of movement, especially among aging baby boomers, has created inventory shortages and pushed up prices. According to Redfin and the housing data firm CoreLogic, Salt Lake City, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas are the cities with the longest median homeowner stays, all more than two decades. [Wall Street Journal]”

First, yes, I do need ideas. Always.

10 years ago, I wrote a story, “The Recession is Good for Communities.” People staying in their homes for longer is good for the neighborhoods, communities, schools … but not so good for the transactional side of the real estate market, meaning – there are fewer homes on the market to satisfy buyer demand, and the new construction homes that are coming to market tend to be far more expensive than many (most?) first time homebuyers can afford.

Without that first step on the ladder, the economy is going to look a bit different than we have come to expect.


From the BBC, describing a couple living in their respective parents’ houses in order to save more to buy a home:

“The path ahead of us is very daunting. We are laden with student debts, our incomes are not particularly high, our commuting costs are high, and house prices are becoming more and more disproportionate to incomes.”

Sounding boards.

Everyone needs them. I’ve been lucky and privileged to have some tremendous sounding boards around me.

Thank you. For those who don’t yet have them, find them; they are invaluable.

Best Stories

Looking back… Thinking I might take the time to go back over the last four years of writing this note, and pull out some of my favorite stories. Wondering if there will be any interest in that. Quite a few new subscribers in the last 18 months and I’m wondering how I’d determine “best.” Probably “the stories that interested me the most.” For the curious, these are all the notes I’ve written so far.

Western Ridge in Crozet

I came into this segment thinking I’d be able to show how home sales in a neighborhood with houses built between 2005 and 2010 or so had slowed down as people chose to stay in their homes. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

For those not in the area, Western Ridge is a desirable neighborhood to the west of Charlottesville with about 250 single family homes that has a great HOA (pool, trails, community events) and is a target for a lot of buyers. My lens shows that all the buyers I’ve represented there are still there.The data shows that home sales there have been between active and very active for the past 12 years. So much for my preconceived notion. (related: How many homes will come on the market in Albemarle that fit you?)

Less causticity

I’m less caustic than I was 10 years ago. And even less so than I was 25 years ago. Maybe it’s age, or resource allocation. In 2007 I wrote,

One of the finest compliments I have received this year was given to me by a buyer who came to me because of this blog. When we were discussing the market and my writings, he said, “You know, you probably offend some people.” And I’m OK with that.

I stand by that sentiment. I’ve gotten a touch more deft in how I present opinions, but couldn’t live with myself — and would have a more boring existence and less fun clients — if I kept all my opinions to myself.

What I’m Reading


Thank you. Thank you for reading, forwarding, responding. I try to write this note every month as if I’m writing it to only one person, and I hope you find it valuable.

— 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:

Take the time to notice the little things; you might be surprised what patience and little things yield. Bits and pieces of joy add up to become some of the best parts of life. And embrace the quiet when it comes.

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