Hiding Vultures, Get a HELOC, and Moving Reasons | Monthly Note Archives September 2023

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Happy almost October; it’s nearly the best time of the year in the Charlottesville area!

This month: two sentences about the market, why people move, a vulture vignette, and I finally comment on solar panels.

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The market

Not much has changed: Rates remain high, inventory IS down, transactions are down, days on market are up a bit, and I’m now helping seller clients prep for the spring market and helping buyer clients learn their market for the spring — and we’ll be fine eventually.

My question for you: What market stats are important to you?



Moving Reasons

I met with a buyer and her kids, who were around 11 and 13 years old. She was moving across the country for a new start and was evaluating places to live. One of her key criteria was that she wanted to move to a cool town that would be a great place for her to live with her kids, and so cool that her kids would want to return to be close to her when they graduated college.

Delicately, less bluntly, and effectively I told her, “Ma’am, that’s not how this works. You’re going to follow the kids, and probably the grandkids”.

I never heard from her again, but I gave her the right advice, even if it did take her two hours to disclose her reasons for moving, which I had discerned within thirty minutes.

The median distance moved by recent buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, was 50 miles, but many of those buyers moved much further from their previous home. One-quarter moved at least 470 miles to find their new home. This is a marked change from the years before the COVID-19 pandemic. From 1989 to 2021, the median distance moved was just 10 to 15 miles.

We talk about moving distances, and other things, in the most recent episode of Nest’s Sweat the Details. Objectively, I think it’s one of the best ones we’ve done.

Value of having parents nearby

One of my greatest recent achievements recently was keeping my grandsons alive for a few hours, solo, which my wife does it with ease. I also walked three miles with them in their nifty double stroller.

They’re at our house today.

I truly don’t know how people raise families in this world without familial suppor.t The savings that grandparents close by bring — time, financial, sanity — is immeasurable. I’ve represented people moving to be closer to grandkids, moving because they don’t have close-by infrastructure, and those looking for houses that offer multi-generational housing.

The housing inventory is not yet available to accommodate the shifting needs of today’s population, but hopefully a combination of renovating, retrofitting, and new construction will one day start to offer more solutions.



20+ years ago, we had been thinking about getting a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), as a just-in-case safety peace of mind.

Just as we got serious about it, I got laid off and realized we couldn’t get one.

Rates are higher now though, as we all know.

Rising interest rates haven’t just made homes less affordable; they have also influenced how existing mortgage holders interact with their home equity. In Q2 2023, only $39 billion was withdrawn via cash-out refinances and home equity loans, compared to $79 billion in Q1 2022—before interest rates began to ascend.

We did eventually get a HELOC, and still have one today. It’s a great safety net, something we could use whenever we renovate, and a nice thing to have. We won’t be – as the providers of my first HELOC had hoped by sending me an actual credit card(!) – using it as a credit machine.

And yes, I know rates are high right now; I’m recommending this as a backstop, not a shoe-buying tool!


There’s a What in the Crawlspace?

An actual text message to me from a listing agent before I showed the house (bolding mine):

Just a note: if your client visits the crawlspace, please make sure the door to be closed up tight before leaving. A wildlife specialist checked the crawlspace this past May and discovered a couple of cute baby vultures near the crawlspace / under the family office steps as we heard hissing sound. He recommended not to disturb the baby vultures as their mother can be very protective. It will take another month or so for the baby vultures to be able to fly, which is why the crawlspace water heater replacement job has been pushed back to late July. Thanks!

We didn’t go in the crawlspace.

Solar Panels

Years ago, solar panels fell under the “Huh?” category. Then, I had clients asking if they should put them on, as they were aesthetically unpleasing.

Now, we’re learning how to value solar panels on the residential resale end. We’re still figuring out the questions and the values, and these things take time.

I mentioned solar so many times here that someone invited me to coffee to provide a bit of an education on panels. Short takeaways: Solar is good, more prevalent and needed than ever and will continue to be so, and if the HOA docs don’t say in the founding documents that solar is restricted, the HOA cannot restrict solar panels.

And really, why would an HOA be so petty, un-neighborly, and short-sighted as to try to restrict panels?!



Happy Cooking with My Wife

Empty nesting continues. Little things are fun. We tried to do one of the cooking classes some time ago but that was shut down by Covid.

We made it this time, and it was a blast, even without the two half glasses of wine..

I highly, highly recommend making time to do one of these if you can. I’m doing my best to value each and every day.


Let’s have Coffee

I’m trying something new (actually, again, but new this year) — office hours, of sorts.

Want to talk about real estate? My family knows (laments) that I can talk about real estate forever. Have questions? Curious about what you need to do to get your house on the market in the Spring?

  • I’ll be at Praha Bohemian Bakery & Cafe in Crozet on 10 October from 9 to 11am.
  • Greenberry’s in Barracks Road on 17 October from 9 to 11am.
  • Starr Hill in Dairy Central from on 24 October from 4 to 6pm.

If you think about letting me know you’re coming, great! If you surprise me, also great.


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What I’m listening to

I see and know that I write about climate a lot; how could I not? I’m an inhabitant of this planet, and have kids and grandkids — I’d like life on Earth to be possible from a “can I live here” perspective, and also from a “can I afford to live here” perspective.

Next month: Why no county fair? Writing and AI, homeowners insurance, and quantify good buyer agents’ time.

I wish I knew what I was trying to remind myself of when I made the following note: “sometimes you learn by listening – — coming in hot on burton + yelling on harris.” I’ve had this here for weeks. I have no idea.




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