Posts tagged 22901 homes for sale

Help Kickstart Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Education Coverage

I’ve long said that I’m better positioned to represent my clients’ best interests because of the knowledge and information that Charlottesville Tomorrow shares.

Now they’re asking for the community’s help to Kickstart their foray into covering the education side of the news.

Charlottesville Tomorrow has provided something extremely valuable – consistent reporting for many years. Here’s hoping they’re able to replicate this success in the school reporting arena.

Keep in mind – “Distance from Schools” and “Quality of Schools” are the two least-likely-to-compromise criteria for home buyers.

* Disclosure: I donated $50.

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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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Some Segments of the Charlottesville – Albemarle Market Have Turned

At least, after showing dozens of houses over the past few days and seeing many desired homes go under contract before my clients could get to them, this is my conclusion: Some segments of the Charlottesville – Albemarle real estate market have turned.

Not all. Maybe not most, but several, possibly even many micro-segments of the Charlottesville real estate market are seeing remarkably low, unhealthily low levels of inventory.

For example:*

In the Baker-Buter and Hollymead elementary school districts:

There are currently 36 single family homes under contract.

– 26 of those have continuous days on market of less than 30.

– 19 have continuous days on market of less than 7!

In Crozet and Brownsville elementary school districts:

There are currently 63 single family homes under contract.

– 44 of those have continuous days on market of less than 30.

– 36 have continuous days on market of less than 7!

In the City of Charlottesville:

– There are currently 69 homes listed as being under contract.

– 32 have continuous days on market of less than 30.

– 17 have continuous days on market of less than 7!

For Charlottesville + Albemarle:
– There are currently 323 homes under contract.- 121 have continuous days on market under 7. Holy. Cow.– But. 68 of those 323 homes have days on market of at least 180. YOUR market will vary.

What does this mean?

For buyers – get ready. Be prepared (to be frustrated as well as ready to move fast). Be pre approved. Identify your target micro market, and be ready to act quickly. Bidding wars are happening. Houses are going under contract in days rather than weeks. Scheduling showings on Monday for a Saturday showing is no longer an option.

For sellers – now could be the best time in 7 years for you to sell. But … you might not have a place to move into.

* Excluding new construction. If you want new construction in Charlottesville or Albemarle, it’s everywhere; you can get it.

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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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Low Housing Inventory Stinks – in Charlottesville – Albemarle

If you’re a buyer in the Charlottesville market, you know that right now, inventory is low. Quality inventory is lower. Depending on your market segment, much lower.

Be prepared to wait. And then, be prepared to move quickly when the right house comes on the market. Now is the time to start your education on and about the Charlottesville real estate market, so that when January comes, you’ll be ready. (Seriously; if you’re looking, ask me what the first steps are)

There are a lot of reasons for this low inventory, starting with time of year/seasonality of the market, number of transactions (broadly) are up – see the bottom of this post -, reduced foreclosures and a few other reasons, but I have a working theory on why we’re going to see this type of reduced inventory for a few years. Starting with an example that lends credibility to my hypothesis:

I was showing houses this weekend (I’m a real estate agent donchaknow) and we saw a house in Charlottesville.

Asking price is $550k, slightly reduced from its initial asking price nearly a year ago.

House sold in 1993 for $290k

Sold in 2001 for $380k

Sold in 2007 for $570k.

Worth (in my opinion) significantly less than what they paid in 2007.

Not many people have accrued ~ $50k – $100k to get out of a house. And this homeowner isn’t alone.

I propose that we still have a ways to go to get through the inventory of homes owned by those who still can’t afford to sell … and with the fact that getting a mortgage after foreclosure is easier than ever, the business decision of walking away still makes sense for some (many?)

In short, I think we’re going to see low levels of quality housing inventory – for homes that many buyers want to buy – at low levels for years to come. This low level is going to lead to some interesting trends I’m starting to see; more on this in another post.

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The First Seven Months of 2012 – Charlottesville Real Estate Market Update

The Questions:

– Can I sell my house in Charlottesville (area) right now?

– Should I buy a house in Charlottesville (area) right now?

Answer to both: It depends.

Buyers: If you need to live somewhere and know you’re going to be somewhere for at least 5-7 years, now might be a great time to buy … ** interest rates remain extremely low. But … there is a dearth of quality inventory on the market right now. I’m finding that buyers are searching for (much) longer timeframes, so that when the right house does come on the market, they are prepared. Start early; do your research and be prepared to move quickly when the right house comes on the market.

Sellers: If you need/want to sell, understand that buyers are still looking for quality and value … and that selling a home is work. (It’s hard work; I task my seller clients with loads of prep work) , but know this: unless your home is one that is priced and conditioned to sell in two weeks, be prepared to be patient. And to defend your price with data and facts, not emotions and expectations — neither buyers nor appraisers care about what you need/want to make or how much the house is worth to you.


Year over year:

(Inventory level = # of homes on the market)

Charlottesville – Inventory level is down nearly 20%, median price is up slightly to $255k – up about 7% (but still way below 2010)

Albemarle – Inventory level is down a bit, median price is up about 5%

Fluvanna – Inventory is down about 8%, as is the median price.

Greene – Inventory is down a little and the median price is up significantly – about 30% … keep in mind that this increase was based on 11 closed sales this July versus 19 the previous July.

Louisa – Inventory down about 23% while the median price down nearly 20%

Nelson – Always an inconsistent market due to the variety of product mix there … Inventory is down about 12% while median price is down 24%.


The takeaways from this month’s look at “what’s happening in the Charlottesville real estate market”:

1 – In some segments of the Charlottesville – Albemarle MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area), the buyers’ market looks like it’s over. Good houses that are priced well are moving … sometimes in a matter of days and occasionally with multiple offers. Inventory is down, some prices are up. (Low Inventory isn’t necessarily a sign of recovery though)

2 – Foreclosures and short sales are still out there, and are seemingly comprising a smaller portion of the market than we’ve seen over the past few years. But there are anecdotes everywhere – I almost showed a short sale in Albemarle in which the asking price is $450k … down from the initial asking price was $1.19 million … in 2008.

3 – I don’t feel like a complete fool saying that the recovery is near. I don’t know when “near” is, but I do know that “normal” is a moving and shifting target. “New normal” is an absurd term; today is normal. So is tomorrow. So is yesterday.

4 – Product mix shift – anecdotally, we’ve seen this coming, but we’re seeing more and more buyers are opting for single family detached homes as opposed to attached homes. Condo volume seems to be stabilizing … the condo buyer of today is more interested in the condo lifestyle (location, no maintenance or yard work) than we saw in the previous market*. What we’re also seeing is a demand for the condo lifestyle in single family homes; that solution doesn’t really exist yet, but there’s a market for it!

5 – Real estate market Data is but part of the conversation and analysis – experience and conversations with other experienced real estate agents matters tremendously. It might sound silly to in-lookers, but being able to tell that a property is great and will sell soon is crucial. Example: I showed a house on Saturday and told my buyer clients that I expected it to sell in the “next couple days” … then I heard Monday that the sellers got three offers. That insight comes from experience, not just looking at data. … and educating my buyers so that they are able to discern a well-priced, well-marketed home is one of my favorite things.

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Real Estate Representation (Finally) Evolves in Virginia

July 1 2012 will be a day that many buyers, sellers (and real estate agents, I’d wager) learn that the current world of real estate representation is (supposed to be) about representing clients’ best interests – not merely selling a home. That’s the day that the new real estate Agency law will take effect. While single agent dual agency isn’t outlawed, real estate agents are now legally bound to explain to potential clients the pitfalls of single agent dual agency – whereby the same agent “represents” both parties in a real estate transaction. And those pitfalls now how to be clearly spelled out so that most buyers and sellers will likely look at the agent advocating for getting both sides of a transaction with a raised eyebrow (at the least).

Long-time readers know that I have advocated for true client representation for years. Simply put: if you were getting a divorce (or some other potentially traumatic legal matter) – would you hire the same attorney to represent both parties? No. Same with buying a home; usually everything goes well and smoothly, but when it doesn’t – representation is more crucial than ever before. (bolding mine)

1. That following the commencement of dual agency or representation, the licensee cannot advise either party as to the terms to offer or accept in any offer or counteroffer; however, the licensee may have advised one party as to such terms prior to the commencement of dual agency or representation;

2. That the licensee cannot advise the buyer client as to the suitability of the property, its condition (other than to make any disclosures as required by law of any licensee representing a seller), and cannot advise either party as to what repairs of the property to make or request;

3. That the licensee cannot advise either party in any dispute that arises relating to the transaction;

4. That licensee may be acting without knowledge of the client’s needs, client’s knowledge of the market, or client’s capabilities in dealing with the intricacies of real estate transactions; and

5. That either party may engage another licensee at additional cost to represent their respective interests.

Put more succinctly, if a buyer and seller enter into a dual agency relationship:

1 – The agent can’t tell you about price, terms, etc, but may have already (and probably has) advised the opposing party
2 – The agent can’t tell you anything about the property that’s useful or isn’t something you don’t already know.
3 – The agent is an impartial advisor (rather than an advocate for one party)
4 – The agent doesn’t and can’t know anything about the clients wants or needs.
5 – Get another agent to get actual representation.

Single agent dual agency sounds really awesome, right?

Presented anecdotally:

Real estate transactions require septic inspections. If I’m asked if a buyer should open up a septic system and actually inspect the system, my answers are going to be, respectively:

Representing the buyer: Yes, absolutely.

Representing the seller: No, absolutely not.

“Representing” both parties: I don’t know; you should probably figure that out for yourself.

What are the benefits of using a buyer broker agreement?

I tend to use buyer broker agreements with all of my buyer clients fairly early on in our buyer client realtor relationships and this reason is this: first and foremost it lays out my fiduciary duties to my buyer clients. It’s three and a half or four pages of how I work with my clients. It also lays out my buyer clients’ responsibilities to me. We are making a contractual agreement to work with each other. It professionalizes the relationship as well. It lays out exactly how we’re going to work together.

The Richmond Association of Realtors is doing a pretty good job conveying this change (note to CAAR: Wordpress makes great websites) – What is a Buyer Broker Agreement?

They even have sample dual agency forms you can download.


I’m happy to talk about this stuff extensively, offline – I have so many examples I could share of how dual agency is bad, how I’ve handled situations where I’ve had to separate myself from long-time clients and concede many thousands of dollars – because it was the right thing to do – and detail many of the ways in which a single agent in a dual agency situation is working for herself and not the clients.

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