July 2021 Monthly Note | Stuck Cooking Negotiating Death

Archives of my subscription-only monthly notes. This is for July 2021. 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.

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This month:

  • The market: What’s coming, last month doesn’t matter
  • Before they die
  • When to not negotiate
  • Magnolia tree
  • Cooking with family
  • Open rates
  • Stuck in a home 
Sunrise affected by distant fires

The market

Last month, last quarter, last week … they really don’t matter when you’re trying to figure out today if you need to buy or sell a house.

Next month: Predictions about the Charlottesville market. If you’re curious about last month’s market, I’ve put a few market reports here.If you’re curious about how you fit into this market, please ask me.


Ask Jim a Question

What to ask family before they die

Starting off on a sunny note: I was telling a client recently that every personal experience can inform my professional guidance. Getting married*, having kids (remember the story about baby crap?), dogs and life, moving, college, and parents getting old.

I don’t have any specific advice to offer other than, before things go sideways, have the logical conversations you need to have. Imagine if you couldn’t talk to that person, but needed to access their stuff. Passwords, logins, bank account, insurance contacts, etc. Write that stuff down. Know who to call. Have access to their email accounts and two factor authentication stuff.

Seriously. Have these discussions before you need to; life can come at you fast.

*Ask me about our awesome wedding. I’d have done nothing differently. I’m writing about this next month.

When to not negotiate

Knowing when to not negotiate is a hard and learned skill. I have countless examples of this lesson.

Sometimes, “winning” a negotiation leads to a far worse negotiation. Do you really need a licensed professional to pay $150 to replace a GFCI when the seller already did it himself? What do you lose when asking for something petty?

Answer: Good will between parties is valuable, and often invaluable. I’ve found that humans often want to do nice things for others; treating others in a petty way reduces that “be nice” incentive. Sometimes, the agents need to know when to get out of the way.

Dangerously down gravel (and fun)

The best time to plant a tree

I finally listened, and surprised my wife with a magnolia tree, her favorite.

  • I hope I can keep it alive.
  • I wish we’d done it when we bought the house nearly 20 years ago

Go plant a tree.

Stopping to help turtles #FromTheBicycle

So many cooks on the committee

I made an offer on a property that had been sitting vacant on the market for some time. Unrepresented seller. The deed listed two people.

I presented the offer and the seller said he would “take it to the committee.” I thought he was joking and was referring to his spouse, but rather than assume, I asked how many comprised the committee.

The (power of attorney) has three. The committee is the 13 family members who feel they have a stake in the well-being of the person for whom the house is being sold in order to provide long term healthcare for her.


This business of real estate is always about more than just marketing and selling real estate. I have said many times that what we do is help people make good life decisions, and there is always more to the story on the surface.

The house has been on the market for X days, priced at X in this neighborhood; the why matters. Why is completely irrelevant with respect to market value, but the sellers’ well-intentioned motivations absolutely matter.

This was a propane tank. I dug about two inches down to find the gauge

On note open rates

High open rates — the percentage of people who open this note — are cool. They stroke egos and they help people write more targeted content. But that’s about to change when Apple starts blocking tracking in emails.

Apple is about to change newsletters.

Newsletter advertising is hardly the data-hoarding beast a Facebook ad is, but it does rely heavily on one little tracker: the tiny tracking pixels embedded in many emails that tell the sender whether their email has been opened, and often by whom and how many times….

These images are the only way newsletter senders know if their emails are actually being opened. And that open rate is an important part of how newsletter publishers sell ads — as well as how they judge the relative success or failure of the email.


On another note, we were visiting a college with my daughter last week. The tour guide mentioned that “demonstrated interest” was one of the factors the college evaluated. Visiting was a form of demonstrated interest, as was “opening our emails.”

Blocking tracking is going to affect more than just newsletter open rates.



Within the past decade, I was working with a young buyer, maybe 23 or 24, who wanted to buy a home. We met a couple times, saw a couple houses. One day, she came to the office with her parents. I didn’t think she should buy, but I don’t make decisions.

I’ll never forget the look in her eyes though when her mom said, “Now honey, you understand that if you buy a house now, you’re stuck here for at least five years.” She emphasized “stuck.” And she was right. My client, who at that moment decided to not buy a home, made the right decision, as well as gave me a story to tell to future clients.

I suspect there are going to be quite a few Covid-era homebuyers with buyers remorse; I’ll do everything I can to ensure my clients make the best decisions they can.

What I’m reading
What I’m Listening To

(I would love any suggestions!)

Next Month

  • Do you want to live in a neighborhood where no one opens their doors?
  • Map showing the homebuyer journey – good: they could see how they loved where they ended; bad: they could see the one(s) that got away.
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