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Charlottesville Earthcraft Homes tour – and a brief riff on “is blogging advertising?”

EarthCraft standards and options are factored into every aspect of home building – site planning, building orientation, low-impact construction techniques and materials, energy efficiency – for a constant effort to lower the environmental impact of building an EarthCraft home and lower the energy costs and water usage for its future occupants. … … After a long conversation yesterday with an attorney, about real estate blogs and the perception by the Vir ginia Real Estate Board that any writing that could “induce business” is considered “advertising” … here is my disclosure .

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Earthcraft in Charlottesville

Charlottesville Tomorrow continues to provide quality information, this time a good six-minute video on EarthCraft homes in the Charlottesville area:If only we can move from building to 2300 square foot homes (or less) rather than 3,700 square feet (PDF) …  That the Blue Ridge Homebuilders have very actively jumped on board the “green building” movement.  I’ve said it before altruism will only go so far; as consumers show there is a demand, green will continue its move to mainstream.  If you can, take the time this weekend to take the 2007 EarthCraft Home tour around the Charlottesville/Albemarle area.

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We’ll all be Earthcraft soon

Friday, I met with some potential buyers who spoke to exactly what I foresee as being what is “next,” both from a want and a need perspective.A bit of research led me to this excellent interview with John Beldock, CEO of EcoBroker….  I don’t necessarily agree with the severity of all the comments, but there are some valid points regarding the speed with which homes have been built of late and the accompanying level of quality….  I said the other day in The HooK: “In the last several years, people had gotten away from the ‘buying smart’ mentality and were just buying,”Change that sentence around a bit – In the last several years, people had gotten away from the ‘builders smart’ mentality and were just building whatever they could, as fast as they could.Not surprisingly, none of the EarthCraft builders in Charlottesville market are “production” builders.  Waldo has collected a few useful links.Can homes with these offerings be built in a dense environment?What will Homeowners’ Associations’ response be to solar panels?Solar power is becoming more affordableA look at alternative energy and moreHow to green your heatingA lot of the green “trends” are simple common sense.

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Building a New Neighborhood in Charlottesville – Lochlyn Hill

Community. It’s amazing how many of my buyer clients identify “community” as one of the top three criteria they’re looking for. We’re aiming to build that in a new neighborhood in Charlottesville.

My clients have heard me talk about this “coming neighborhood” for about two years; now dirt is finally moving, roads are going in, utilities are being run and house plans are being finalized.

Lochlyn Hill is a new neighborhood in Charlottesville – 5 minutes to downtown Charlottesville by car, 15 minutes or so by bicycle, with only local (mostly small) builders, with the focus being community and building homes. We’re focusing on building homes – and community – instead of more homes, our goal is to authentically and organically build a neighborhood.

Curious? I’ve posted a FAQ below, but thought you might be surprised (I was) by the view at the entrance to the neighborhood.

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Home Sales in Charlottesville Down, Contracts Up, Market Turning?

YOUR market will vary.

Even though this is what we believe to be an extremely accurate market report, it’s still a broad-brush report.

Mill Creek will have different inventory levels and absorption rates than will Old Trail, or the Gleason condos. As will different price points. i.e. – low absorption rate at $1 million + , high absorption rate in the $300k – $400k price point.

Dig in, get educated, ask questions, either in the comments below or email or call me anytime.

This is an example of how saying “sales are up” or “sales are down” doesn’t tell the whole picture.

For all residential sales year to date in the Charlottesville MSA:

Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® © 2013 LIST-IT-1.jpg

Very broad takeaways –

– Inventory levels across the MSA are up, sales are down.

– Quality inventory is anecdotally way down

– In some market segments, multiple offers are common place.

– New construction is going to be a huge market segment – for better or worse.

– Being prepared to act fast – whether as a buyer or seller – is crucial.

The full report is embedded below, or download it here.

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New Construction in Charlottesville and Albemarle

In short – there’s lots of new construction in Charlottesville and Albemarle.

It’s been said that 2013 is the year of the return of the spec house; we’re seeing more new construction than we’ve seen in years. Buyers have more options, sellers have more competition.

Four important and relevant stories before we get started:

Why take a Buyer’s Agent to new construction?
Buying new construction without a Realtor? Read this first! (note: this builder is now no longer doing business in Charlottesville, but we have two national (and maybe a third on its way) builders now and many builders use their own contracts – caveat emptor – or: hire competent buyer representation!)
Charlottesville – A Healthy Housing Market (for New Construction) – With some Context

The most important home inspection in the new construction process

The evolution of the new construction market in Charlottesville* has been one where there were once dozens of homebuilders and now there are a handful. And that handful are building. A lot.

The ramifications of all of this construction are many. A few to start:

– Increased competition for existing homes
– Denuding of the landscape
– More choice for homebuyers
– The opportunity for homebuilders to differentiate themselves is more challenging than ever … if everyone offers granite and everyone offers hardiplank and everyone offers an open floor plan …
– Those seeking to purchase homes now with resale in mind (that should be all of you) need to keep at least two things in mind:
1) The siting of the house matters (location, location, location)
2) You’re likely to be competing against new construction for quite some time.
– Some of the neighborhoods on the map have 5-10 homes to be built (Evangeline for example), some have 10-50 (Dunlora Forest) and some have 100+ (Old Trail)

View New construction in Charlottesville in a larger map

Real estate is local – and I’m thinking that our area may be leading the charge in a return to new construction.

Mike Simonsen from Altos Research writes (read the whole post – he describes a lot of important topics and segments of the real estate recovery):

Since 2007, new housing starts have been anemic. The long-term average construction rates are about 1.5MM homes per year. In the last six years, we’ve averaged well under 1MM. And since 2009, the average is closer to 500,000. Meanwhile population and household formation keeps on trucking. The over-construction that happened in the bubble is a distant memory. See the chart to the right. Construction volume under the orange line are “undersupplied” conditions. The homebuilders imploded so profoundly after the bubble, that we haven’t had this few new homes being built since 1959.

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How Much Research do Buyers do On Adjacent Properties?

As I was pursuing the new listings in the Charlottesville MLS this morning and remarked on Twitter:

I see homes coming on the market and I wonder if buyers will know about adjacent developments coming that will affect them.

Three quick examples to make this point:

1: The Redfields neighborhood on the south east part of Charlottesville.

Redfields may be growing. Or not. But a Wegmans and Costco are coming nearby.

2: Montgomery Ridge in the northern part of Charlottesville.

Monticello United has just gained approval from Albemarle County to build a few soccer fields along Polo Grounds Road; this is great news for soccer players and families and perhaps not great news for those already suffer through long waits at the 29/Polo Ground stoplight.

3. Rio Heights, along the Rio Road

Lochlyn Hill on Rio Road, which looks like a cool neighborhood, is going to change the dynamics for the adjacent neighborhoods.

Three easy examples of forthcoming changes that buyers of homes in those areas need to be aware of … whose responsibility is it to inform the buyers so they can make educated, informed decisions about how they will want to live in five to ten years? Or what their neighborhood might look like to the next buyer?

Ultimately, a buyer needs to do his own due diligence; when working with my buyer clients, I tell them that I try my very best to know what’s happening and what might happen, but realistically, if they don’t own the land around them, it’s going to change.

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