Monthly Note Archives – May 2023

This month, a few different stories: a lawsuit that will change how real estate is practiced in the US, trails and connectivity, a question for you about a flyer, life stages, and a bit more.

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This month, a few different stories: a lawsuit that will change how real estate is practiced in the US, trails and connectivity, a question for you about a flyer, life stages, and a bit more.

Some of the topics I’ve been thinking about are human connectivity, urban design, walking and riding, social media, and how we interact with each other. Curious to hear your thoughts as I work on next month’s story about this.

The Charlottesville market — Little has changed. Low inventory, high interest rates, many homes continue to sell in a few days with multiple offers, and new construction is a bigger part of our active inventory than we’ve ever seen. More on this next month, after the debt ceiling fiasco has hopefully been (temporarily) solved.

Questions or comments? Please ask. 434-242-7140 or reply to this email.

This might be one of the favorite pictures I’ve taken #FromTheBicycle


I talked to a new client who is considering moving to Crozet. They are leaning towards Crozet rather than Ivy, because of the trails system, the walkability, and the connectivity. In Ivy, you have to drive everywhere to do anything.

Trails matter. Access matters. Non-autocentric transportation matters. Human interaction matters.


There was a house with a great view of the mountains.

The purchasers came to Charlottesville, found their lot, designed the house, sited the home, and went back to their home state.

This was before video tours. They did not have buyer representation.

They came back the week of closing to find that the home they had built, with the great mountain view, was flipped; the porch was on the east side of the home facing neighbors and the garage was on the west facing the mountains.

I represented them when they sold their home, ride by the house often, and think about that story every single time.

Trust, but verify. And have competent representation.


Which One is Better?

One is prettier, one is more information-heavy. I pragmatically lean towards the MLS flyer rather than the one with more photos and less information. If you pick up the flyer in the house, more photos seem superfluous.

As a buyer, which would you prefer? As a seller?


Many years ago, I represented clients when they sold their townhome At closing, I remember one said, “You have represented us at different stages of our life: when we moved here as young newlyweds with no kids and now we are leaving as doctors with two kids.”

Another conversation recently was with a friend who is discussing selling one house as their kids are closer to being out of high school,and moving now into a smaller house. They recognize that most of their lives are spent outside of their home, and while their home is important, proximity to their lives outside of the house has quickly become more important.

I try to share my life experiences with my clients to provide context to some of her questions, prompt them to ask different and perhaps better questions of themselves and each other, so that they can make the best decisions for themselves possible.

I’m finding myself now with more clients who are sandwiched between kids and parents, and I’m finding that few if any are prepared for the challenges and stresses that accompany this new stage. Helping aging parents is harder than parenting kids.

I don’t have any great advice here, other than to prepare for the expected, but somehow unexpected. And ask questions, lots of them.

twisted chain
It’s not supposed to look like this; glad I had friends who helped!

A Lawsuit that Matters

This lawsuit is probably not on your radar but it’s likely to change a lot about how real estate is practiced in the United States.

There is no good tl;dr for the spate of lawsuits facing some big brokerages and the National Association of Realtors, but the gist is this: Sellers paying buyer broker fees is potentially coming to an end, and competent buyers agents provide enormous value to the buyers. Agents who say they can “represent” the buyers for “free” will hopefully go out of business; nothing is free.

The time has come for buyer agents (me, about 50% of the time) to better articulate our value, and possibly alter how we are paid — hourly, retainer, percentage. Things are going to change, and as with any change, we don’t yet know exactly how.

Finding a home on Zillow or the MLS is less a part of what I do than is the rest of what I do — listening, questioning, helping buyer clients learn the area, the market, future growth plans, asking the questions that help them determine where they might want to have kids, negotiating the offer, recommending the right people, holding the transaction together, being their guide and advocate through the transaction. The list is long, and changes frequently. I’m going to have become better at articulating much earlier in the buyer client process.

It’s going to be fine, but the road ahead is likely to be bumpy.

The thing I advocated for in 2007 — divorcing the commissions — might come true.

Cooperation between Brokers need not go away. In fact, without cooperative compensation, the practice of real estate representation will be enhanced, as the perceived collusion between Realtors will be mitigated significantly. What needs to disappear is the inherent conflict of interest that comes from the Listing Broker paying the Buyer’s Agent. That is always a fun conversation with first-time homebuyers as well as more-savvy ones.

If nothing else, I’m going to renew my diligence with respect to buyer broker agreements earlier in the buyer relationship. (There’s more to the story that I’ll share with clients.)




What I’m Reading


What I’m Listening To

Ideas for the June note? I’d love to hear them! In the works for next month: Homeowners insurance addendum in today’s insurance market, solar panels and HOAs, and baby chasers.


— Jim

This Instagram video stuck with me: (bolding mine, and I’m guilty, too)

15 years ago, you go into any coffee shop in London, you’re standing in the queue, there might be five people in front of you. Fine, you’ll be looking around, you might bump into someone you know, might be daydreaming. Now what happens if you go into any coffee shop?

Everyone’s head down, stuck in their phone. You’re trying to catch up with your emails, just have a quick cheeky look on Instagram. I’m not criticizing anyone for doing that, but that comes at a cost. It means these little micro moments of downtime where your brain is trying to solve problems for you and process life, they’re being lost. If you’re constantly consuming content from outside, whatever it is, even good content, even nourishing content, if you are constantly consuming, you’re not allowing your own thoughts and emotions to come up.

This is one of the many reasons I love riding, and need the time on the bicycle – it’s one of the few times I’m not consuming.

Every month I seem to have this note ready to go for days and days, overthinking. And then I finally send it; one day, it might come easier. 🙂

Photo gallery, as eventually the Substack links will die or change.

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