March 2023 Note – Deer and the Small Town, Asking Clients Questions, Silence, and Value of Work

This month: the deer and the small town, asking questions of clients, silence and minimalism, and the value of showing work.

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This month: the deer and the small town, asking questions of clients, silence and minimalism, and the value of showing work.

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The Small Town Deer

Funny that my lead picture is one with deer; I truly didn’t plan that.

One day I was at the 3-way stop at the intersection with JPA Extended and Old Lynchburg. I was coming from the Wegmans side. There was a car at each other stop sign.

One deer ran across the road and jumped the chain link fence. The next one ran across the road, jumped, and ran smack into the fence. Stunned, it got up, shook itself off, and ran back the way it came, skimming across the hood of the car across from me.

I looked at the driver, shrugged my shoulders, and we proceeded to slowly cross paths. We stopped, and she asked if her car was okay. I said yes, looked in the passenger seat, and said, “Hi Paul!” to one of the best bike mechanics in town.

Charlottesville is a small town. The next time I was in the shop, he showed me on google maps that there is actually a deer crossing sign there, so the deer were right.

That’s two months in a row with a deer story. I’m sure I will have a third for next month.


Charlottesville Lookback

We used to be a small town.

We still are.

I was taking a video of a home listed by an unrepresented seller for an out-of-town buyer and started talking to the seller. We were talking about how different Belmont used to be, how much smaller it felt, and how much less busy than today, and how it used to have a very independent feel within the City of Charlottesville. A bit more into the conversation, we discovered that my mom listed a well-known Belmont home before this seller had purchased it.

Small town.

I was talking to clients the other day about their experience visiting open houses, and they recounted the same thing that I had noticed when I was holding an open house for one of my listings recently. They saw the same people at all the open houses. “All” being under seven houses, because we have such low inventory.

While talking to the people coming through my open house, I saw that they all recognized each other from the previous open houses. And I saw and heard something else: buyer fatigue and frustration.

This is an interesting market for buyers and agents. Hard for would-be sellers, too, who can’t move because they cannot find the next place.

We always find a way, but that way will always be longer, more complicated, and more expensive (and likely more emotional) than you’d see on HGTV, or your parents might have told you.


Asking the Right Questions

I ran into a client and we were talking about how happy they were living in the house I found for them. As with many buyers, they had a journey, and it ended with the right one.

He was telling me how they had been looking for so long, and became desperate to make something work that they had almost compromised on the wrong things, but that I had said they shouldn’t compromise in this case.

I rarely say things definitively (other than that a house is horrible) but I ask a lot of questions. Questions like, “Do you think you’ll be happy here?”

Helping buyer clients who tell me years later that they’re happy is always a good thing. (Now, if only some of you would sell.:) )

The Market

My thoughts are here; very little makes sense right now.


There is so much noise in this world.

Last month I mentioned the ChatGPT story and said I won’t write about this extraordinarily evolving technology came to me while riding my bike and being quiet. I was going to listen to a podcast about silence, but I turned it off and listened to the wind and the wheels. And then the Dead. And then gravel and silence again.

Finding space to appreciate silence is a thing that, along with finding community, is something that a lot of my clients seek, whether that’s silence in the neighborhood, the yard, or that one spot in the home that is theirs.



Referencing last month’s story about actually doing that thing instead of talking about doing that thing, a reader sent me a link to Joshua Becker along with this, and I thought it valuable to share:

“Joshua Becker defines minimalism as ‘the process of eliminating the non-essentials in your life so you can focus on the things that are important.’ It’s more than decluttering, although that is a big part of it. It’s not just decluttering physical things, but obligations, bad feelings, old grudges. Part of my personal master plan. My main goal, and all the smaller goals that will get me there. ”


Showing my work

When I do market analyses for sellers, I show my work. Why? Because that’s how I was taught. In 12th grade, it mattered.

Mrs. Miller was an amazing teacher. The short story:

I was not good at math; I never have been. But she taught me to show my work, and she’d take the time to walk me through equations (that’s what they were, right?) and show me at which step I’d screwed up, and she’d give me partial credit for the parts I did get right.

Years ago I sent a market analysis to clients, and they noticed that I had missed the hidden half-bath in the analysis. My revised analysis increased the price by about $20K, and ultimately we got it.

I showed my work, owned my mistake, and fixed the analysis. I’d like to think that the showing of the work makes me better, builds trust, and allows for the occasional display of humility and fallibility.

We all make mistakes.


What I’m Reading

What I’m Listening To


If you’ve made it this far, thanks!

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