3 First Steps in My Ideal Day to start the Buyer Journey in Charlottesville

The first time meeting in Charlottesville with new to me buyer clients, I like to try to accomplish a lot.

The pandemic changed things. How I work with buyer clients is one of the bigger things that has changed. What used to be anywhere from two to six hours in the car together has evolved to a more strategic and efficient use of everyone’s time.

As I tell my clients, there’s “Jim’s ideal,” and “reality.” The pendulum swings.

On to my ideal.*

1 – Coffee.

And a map.

We get coffee, and talk. About representation, value, the area, what’s around corners, needs, wants, expectations, when homes come on the market, how many homes may come on that fit. And listen.

Maps are important.


2 – Drive.

We’ve done some homework prior to our meeting, so I/we have a sense as to where they might be looking, but we use the conversation to put together a driving tour for the buyers to do.

The things missed doing this this way?

  • Listening. I don’t get to hear reactions, questions, and the buyers sharing their thoughts as we go. That means that the time I do spend with them is even more important.
  • Sharing what’s happening. I feel that it’s my responsibility representing my clients to know more than they do, read more than they do, and prompt them to ask different questions than they might have otherwise. This is one of the reasons that I read and write as much as I do on RealCentralVA, RealCrozetVA, and my Note — I reference each of these countless times during our working relationship.

Things that are better?

  • Buyers feel the drive. While I’d love to be able to show houses to my clients with us on bicycles (I have done this in the past), it’s not typically feasible. Driving from potential home area to work to school is much better felt when you’re the one driving rather than being driven, often while looking at your phone from the passenger seat.
  • Buyers can explore a bit. Sometimes the right place may not be the one defined.
  • You can take breaks when you want to. Bathroom, lunch, stretch, etc.

3 – Debrief and Plan for Next

After a half day or day of driving and exploring, we get together to talk about what you found, what you didn’t find, what areas or neighborhoods you think you liked, and more importantly, which areas or neighborhoods you think you didn’t like.

And why. “Why” is important.

And then we might see some houses, if there is a house or three that you want to see. This part depends on whether this is a “can we/should we move to the Charlottesville – Albemarle area?” trip or a “we have accepted jobs, and need to be in place by 15 June” trip.

There’s More

Obviously, I’m truncating the process and timeline; there’s a lot more. Curious or interested? Ask me.

What Questions do you have?


*The most ideal path for those coming in cold is to rent first, and then buy. That doesn’t work for everyone, although those clients of mine who have chosen this path are always happier for having taken this path.

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