Work Predictions Legwork | December 2020 | Note from Jim

Archives of my subscription-only monthly notes. This is for December 2020. Interested in not waiting a few weeks to read it, and want it straight to your email? Subscribe here.   For the re-posts here on the blog, 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 Substack. If you’re interested, these are all the monthly notes I have written.

I started this note in February 2013 at the suggestion of a good friend; it’s fun to evolve the note a bit, yet still keep the focus on words and content, in a world so full of noise.

This month

  • 2021 predictions, sort of
  • How much work should we do on our house?
  • Doing legwork to a fast offer
  • Immigration?
  • What I’m reading and listening to


What’s January 2021 Going to Look Like?

Who knows? We didn’t see 2020 coming. I’m going to dig into 2021 projections in January a little bit, but notsomuch. We obviously don’t have December’s real estate stats, so I’m going to hold off on that. I’ll be much more comfortable and confident analyzing what happened last year than attempting to predict what is going to happen.

Years ago, I said I was going to stop trying to figure out what might happen, and focus on what is actually happening, with the best and most relevant data and information I could find.


Here are a few prediction posts I’m reading:



How Much Work Should We Do On Our House?

I have this conversation frequently with clients of all types:

  • Those who are thinking about buying and renovating to suit their wants and needs.
  • Those who have been in a house for years and are thinking about what they should do as they are planning to be there longer than they thought.
  • Those thinking about buying who are trying to get a sense as to how much things cost.

As I tell my clients, I’m not a contractor, merely an English major, have never done major renovations, but I’ve been doing this for a while, and I’m pretty good with estimates. (And still advise they get actual numbers from actual professionals.)

Do as much as you want or need to so that you’ll be happy (happier?) every morning when you make your coffee and when you come home from work (remember those days?) but not so much that you price your home out of the neighborhood. It’s okay to push the neighborhood a little bit, but if your house is worth $485K in a $475K neighborhood, maybe don’t spend $125K on those upgrades unless you plan to never sell.*

*The number of “last homes” that I’ve sold is countless. Life happens; plan for it if you can.


Photo credit to my wife. :)

Doing the legwork to get to a fast offer

It takes time, and a lot of itches scratched, to get to the point that a fast offer – a choice to spend a fair number of years in one place – can be reached quickly.

I can’t tell you the number of houses I’ve shown to buyer clients, that I know before we drive down the street, that they aren’t going to buy. It’s just not the right house — whether it’s the age, the layout, the build quality, yard, or location — but they don’t know that yet. We need to see these houses together; I need to ask them where the dog will go to the bathroom at 2am, or prompt the conversation about whether they want to be that far from the gym (remember when people went to gyms?), or … countless other questions.

But they need to see those houses, and have those conversations about why they don’t work, so that when that one comes on the market that is good enough, and better than everything else they’ve seen, they’re ready. Ready for me to say, “I know you’ve been here for 20 minutes, but I texted the other agent, and they have two offers, and I’m going to have to ask you to decide what to do in the next three hours.”

That legwork matters.

As an aside, there’s another reason to show houses that I think my clients aren’t going to buy; sometimes they surprise me and themselves.

What if … the American birth and immigration rates continue to decline?


We’re in for an interesting next few years. But really, every year is interesting. Housing depends on people. The population is growing. But what might the next few years bring, if immigration stays low, or drops further, and the COVID + Gen-whatever-the-kids-are-called baby bust persists?

I’m not an economist, but hear me out. If fewer people come to the US, and people have fewer babies, our population won’t grow as rapidly and housing demand would be lessened. That could actually be okay, as we have had a housing shortage for decades, and this could give our housing economy time to catch up.

Or … kids are expensive! More people with more disposable income may lead to higher prices. Or, this disposable income + ability to work from anywhere may lead to lower volume of home sales as these people aren’t tied to school districts.

Conclusion: I have no idea. I know that regardless of the market, I’m going to represent my clients however they need.


This struck me.

Kearney: If this was just going to be a one-year reduction and then births rebounded, I would be less worried about the demographic implications for the country. But given that fertility rates have already been steadily declining, you know, this points to the need for what are called pro-natalist policies: things that make it easier for couples to have and support children. Things like child care provision or subsidies, things like paid leave. You know, induce some people to have more kids.



A brief note

I hope you get to enjoy this time with your family; I know I’m going to do everything I can to appreciate our time.


And one last thing: Steak-umm

My wife recommended this to me some time ago, and believe it or not, the Steak-umm twitter account is one of the best accounts out there. Really.


What I’m Reading

What I’m listening

?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.

* Things I already miss about Tinyletter: Substack doesn’t have a word count, and I preferred Tinyletter’s ability to have it private and have people subscribe, vs. Substack’s “invite only” option. There are also a lot of things I like better about Substack as I learn it. Nothing is perfect; I hope this is better.

Anything worthwhile is worth fighting for. And never giving up.

One more thing.

I stood here with my wife a few days ago, and just marveled at how lucky we are to live in this world. Amidst the strife and angst of 2020, being able to share her space has been a wonderful thing.

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