Browsing Category Sellers

What’s On Your Book Shelves?

“I could live here! This could be my bookshelf!”

My clients didn’t buy that house. But they seriously considered it more than they would have otherwise, in large part due to the books on the shelves.

Buyers are seeking way to evaluate whether they will be happy/content/satisfied in a new place. Book help that evaluative process immensely. Kindles don’t help this process.

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Trying out a Matterport in Charlottesville

I’m trying something new; while I’m not the first in Charlottesville to try marketing a house via Matterport, I’m one of the first. Sometimes cutting edge is better than bleeding edge.

Thoughts on this Matterport walkthrough welcomed. The house is not quite ready for the market*, but will be soon. I’m not sold on the “dollhouse” view, but the walkthrough of the house definitely shows the layout. I thought the Matterport would be useful for this particular house as the layout is quite diverse. I like how you can see out the windows as well.

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Charlottesville Sellers – Take Pictures Now

This is why I advise my clients to take pictures of their houses in the fall.

A photo posted by Jim Duncan (@jimduncan) on

I’ve said for years that if you’re in the Charlottesville area and are thinking about selling your home in the Spring, you should be having pictures taken of your home Now. If you decide in the dead of winter and want exterior photos taken those pictures will be of a desolate landscape – and that doesn’t look so great to potential buyers.

Also, if you’re thinking about selling, now is the time to start truly learning the market, evaluating comps, and determining whom to hire to represent you.

If you have questions or would like a recommendation for a photographer (or a market analysis), please ask me.

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Photos and Floorplans – A Buyer’s Response to my Monthly Note



4949 Lake Tree Ln First Floor Plan

If the “open rate” for my monthly note is only 2% yet it generates this kind of response, I’ll be happy. I’ll lead with “thank you” to the reader who took a great deal of time to email me this response, and for the three stories her response has generated.

Part 1 of 3 …

This month I asked what you (consumers) would change about the real estate process.

A reader responded – (bolding mine)

I wish house listings included a floor plan, even if it were a rough, not-to-scale, sketch. We’d be able to understand better if a house would or would not work for us if we knew the relationships of the rooms to each other. If the agent/photographer is good, we can sometimes get this from the photos — if they are presented in a rational, spatial sequence, and include the transitions from one space to the next — but the quality of the photos is many times misleading (if they look good) or downright awful.

(It amazes me that owners allow their agents to post pictures that are dark, out of focus, include inadvertent selfies in mirrors, or show clutter and junk that could have been picked up and moved out of the field of the photo for 30 seconds.)

Look – providing floor plans isn’t a difficult task; it’s not inexpensive, but neither are houses.

I noted the advent of affordable floor plan technology in 2010. I hand sketch floor plans all the time – just Saturday I drew for a client a house I’d seen a few days’ prior. From memory on a piece of scrap paper, and it worked (maps are useful when combined with verbal descriptions). I don’t know my older daughter’s phone number (which she’s had for 5 years) but can typically recall the layout of a property I saw five years ago.

I’ve written many, many times (and so have my clients!) – since at least 2007 – about real estate photos. The only thing that will change poor photos being used is for consumers to demand more. I send the photos to my seller clients before using them on anything – I want to make sure they both approve and feel good about how we’re marketing their homes.

I’d love to be able to provide recent examples from the Charlottesville MLS of head-smashingly bad photos – photos so bad I wish I could call the seller and ask them what they’re thinking. In one example, I know the agent consistently takes bad photos, and the seller would have known that if they’d spent 30 seconds researching. That the seller permits these photos to be used is confounding, but there you go.

Floorplans – yes, they cost money. So do professional photographers. So do professional Realtors’ services.

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Sell Now or Wait Until Spring?

flowers have the funniest names

Should I try to sell now or wait until spring?

Therein lies the question as we enter the autumn and winter seasons in Charlottesville. This is the time of year when sellers planning to put their homes on the market in the spring start the process of getting their homes ready for the spring market.

Jonathan Miller pointed out a great article in a New York publication that neatly aggregates some very good responses to this question – “should I sell now or wait?” – all of which are summarized essentially by my default answer of “It Depends.”

Whether you sell now or wait depends on your goals, your flexibility, your timelines, your lives …

A few things to consider:

The market is seasonally slowing right now – fewer homes are coming on the market and fewer homes are going under contract. As a buyer this means less selection, as a seller this means less competition.

– If you decorate your home for the holidays, be prepared to re-take photos after the holidays … few things date a home’s time on market like Christmas photos.

– What’s the market like for your home right now? What’s it likely to be in January-March? What is your competition likely to be? Existing homes? New construction?

– Will the market for your home be stronger in the spring?

A few questions to ask yourself when debating whether to put your home on the market now or in the spring:

– If you sell now, where will you go?

– Where do you want to live?

– What happens if you can’t sell but find a place you want to purchase?

– What do you have to do to get your home ready for the market? Is it a short list or a long one?

– The holidays are by definition disruptive; are you willing to add “trying to sell a home” to the disruptions?

– Are you already looking for homes? Here’s a few tips to search smarter for homes in Charlottesville.

My thoughts

– Talk to a lender now, if you need one.

– Talk to a good real estate broker now to help you get a firm understanding of what your marketing strategy and price should look like

Above all, do what’s going to be most advantageous to you, while still maintaining a semblance of sanity. After all, we’re taking about your home; marketing and selling a home is by definition disruptive. Do what you can to minimize the stress and disruption.

Questions? Ask me . I’m doing quite a bit of consulting right now with sellers who are looking to put their homes on the market in Spring 2014.

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