Shaking Hot Tub Predictions | Monthly Note Archives | January 2020

Archives of my subscription-only monthly notes. This is for January 2020.  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). 


This is the fifth year, I think, of my writing this note. Thanks for reading. I hope you like it enough to share with a friend. If not, I’m okay with that too.

I’m not much on resolutions or milestones, except for my clients’ home anniversaries. My resolution: Keep having fun in this short life.

A friend recently commented that I’m one of the few people he knows who is happy doing what he does. It’s true; I like what I do.

I recently helped a client who was refinancing his house, and the appraisal had come in lower than expected. I had a bit more insight into the houses she was using as comps, in part because I had listed at least one of them, and I think I’d represented a buyer on another. Notably, this client is one who one day saw me showing houses with clients. He stopped his car to call out an affirmation that they were in good hands. 🙂

Back to the story. After the appraisal came back closer to the actual market value, my client emailed (shared with permission):

Your comps bumped our appraisal from $245k to $270k, which translates into a real difference for our family on the cash out. I know it was just a few minutes of your time, but it was a big, big deal to us.

In all of the ways I can say it, thank you.  You’re fortunate to work in a profession which can affect peoples’ lives in profound ways, and it’s obvious you have a deep, nuanced understanding of that.  Our family appreciates you being so generous with your time, expertise, and resources.

It’s been great working with you so far, and we’re looking forward to continuing the relationship in years to come.  Sorry to say you’re stuck with us.

There are no little deals; I’m grateful for my clients.

Predictions/2019 Summary

Short summary: The Charlottesville area real estate market was pretty good for most buyers and sellers. With my standard caveats that we won’t know what is currently happening until we have ~18 months of hindsight, a few thoughts:

  • First, the two questions most buyers and sellers have are: “Should/can I buy a house now?” and “Should/can I sell my house now and for how much?” I’m not going to pretend to answer those here, but…
  • If you want a copy of the just-released Nest Report, please respond to this note and I will email or snail mail you a copy or both.
  • For our Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of Charlottesville, Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa, Nelson:
    • Sales were up 2.2%, year over year, to 3,965 homes
    • Median price was up 2.6% to $315,000. Charlottesville was $354K. Albemarle was $375k
    • Price per square foot was up 2.45% to $167/foot

So what? Honestly, these broad numbers are, while not deceiving, not necessarily representative of whatever market you are evaluating. I know I’m repeating myself, but your micro market will vary. A brick resale near Darden Business School is going to have a different price and market trend than a rural property in Free Union, but they are both represented equally in these top-level numbers.

That said, what’s 2020 going to bring?

  • I’ll tell you in 2021. Kidding. 2020 is going to bring changes of all sorts, some we’re prepared for (that neighborhood coming in across the street they’ve been talking about for years). Some we’re not prepared for (that new development that’s been working for years you didn’t pay attention to). And some may be surprises to everyone but a few.
  • I suspect, barring something unknowable happening (another major terrorist attack, market crash, etc), the Charlottesville area market is going to plug along.
    • Prices will continue to rise, too much for some buyers and not enough for some sellers.
    • Buyers will continue to want to be “close to stuff,” whatever that stuff may be.
    • This is a hopeful prediction: Consumers will hire better representation that suits them. Choosing a competent agent who is going to be a good fit can be hard.
    • Sellers will have to prepare their homes better than ever; preparation is key (and don’t have stinky houses).

If you’re thinking about buying or selling, please email, text, or call me. 

Hot tub

Every productive agent with experience has bought a refrigerator. Or a stove. Or … you get the point. I bought a hot tub.

Early in my career, I bought a hot tub. Well, I gave my client $5,000 to be used for a new hot tub. In the Contract to Purchase, there’s a pre-printed area that includes fixtures – lights, built in ranges (note: built in is another story), plants, etc. We write in refrigerators, washers, dryers … and hot tubs.

I forgot the hot tub. When we went to the walk through, my buyer was insistent that she wanted the hot tub, it was a deciding factor in the purchase, and she wanted the hot tub.

I had screwed up, so I paid $5k for a hot tub.

That she never purchased.

Mistakes happen. Owning them is key.

Believe it or not, the hot tub conversation leads to a segment next month about part time agents.

Shaking hands

I don’t shake hands in the winter.  I don’t want to get sick, I don’t like being sick, and I don’t like being unable to work.

Several years ago, I was showing a house and my client and I were sitting on the couches, discussing how the house worked, didn’t work, benefits and negatives of the location, and we were there for a good hour plus. I vividly recall looking watching her; she had the sniffles and was unconsciously wiping her nose occasionally. She didn’t mean to share sniffles, but that would have been the result.

So I don’t shake hands in the winter. The response from the “offended” 90% of the time is either “That’s a great idea!” or “That makes sense; I’m actually sick right now.”

Future Nests

We are growing Nests. While this note is not for real estate people, I know some of this audience are, in fact, real estate people. If you’re interested in learning more about Nest franchises, please ask. And please subscribe to our podcast, Sweat the Details.

A locker, a tub, or dishwashers

Whether you’re building a new home or buying a resale, compromises will be made. Recently, a buyer was evaluating which would yield the greatest intrinsic return:

– Lockers with doors in the mudroom
– A tub in the master bedroom
– Two dishwashers in the kitchen

Assume each cost $3K; which would you choose?

What I’m reading

Part of how I start my mornings.


Last thing: I try to refrain from superlatives, they set up for disappointment. Never say never, but sometimes, letting a smidge of hope out of its compartment can yield surprisingly incredible things.

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