Posts tagged charlalbemarle

Walkable Neighborhoods Have Happier Residents

Yeah, the info graphic below is for/from California, but the data points are universal.

Walkability = happiness.

And, because images aren’t searchable, the three points:

– Lose Weight! The average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs 6 to 10 pounds less than someone who lives in a car-dependent neighborhood .

– Save Money! Transportation is the second largest expense for American households, costing more than food, clothing, and health care.

– Connect! Studies show that for every 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute, time spent in community activities falls by 10%

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Western Bypass Contract Awarded – 29 to Get more Interesting

Western Bypass rendering Western Bypass rendering, courtesy Charlottesville Tomorrow


It seems that the Western Bypass may actually be built.

Charlottesville Tomorrow reports that the contract to build the Western Bypass has been awarded.

Is this the right road? Probably not. It needs to go farther up 29 North rather than dump into the middle of the growth area – you know, to actually bypass the mess – but it won’t, because of our region’s collective inability to do anything with infrastructure efficiency.

So, we’ll get a sort-of-bypass.

Lynchburg has been advocating for the Bypass for decades, but their representative fairly well sums up the state of affairs:

Lynchburg’s representative on the CTB said it was time to move forward with the contract. “This is the plan, this is as good as we got, [and] this is as good as it’s going to get,” said Mark Peake. “This is far from being a road to nowhere. This is a road from North Carolina to Washington, D.C.”

And so we move. Forward?

For background, see Charlottesville Tomorrow’s incomparable coverage:

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Western Bypass section.

The Western Bypass on Cvillepedia

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C’Mon, Apple. Real Estate Agents Need Property Boundaries

How will I show land without parcel boundaries on my phone?!

There’s been a lot of discussion about the new Apple maps, which will be replacing Google maps on the next iPhone.

apple maps

This isn’t enough to switch back to an Android device from my iPhone 4S, but it’s significant. In the nearly-three-years since Google integrated Albemarle County’s property boundaries as one of its layers, I’ve become quite dependent on this extremely useful feature.

Gizmodo did a nice side-by-side comparison of Google Maps vs Apple Maps, but they left out one thing that I use in my real estate practice multiple times a week – real estate parcels.

I saw some discussion about it last week in my Twitter stream, and asked for some help on Google+

Anyone with access to iOS 6 – can you tell me if the new apple maps have parcel boundaries as the google maps do? I need and use those to show property – in subdivisions and when showing raw land.

And thankfully got an answer pretty quickly from a friend.

Note the difference between these two photos? iOS5 has property parcel boundaries, while iOS6 doesn’t.

Google maps with parcels on iPhone 4s

Apple maps without parcels on iOS6

While I wouldn’t advise my client to accept these boundaries in lieu of a survey, they are usually accurate enough when walking land or lots, particularly when walking county/country properties where “natural” boundaries such as power or telephone poles aren’t visible.

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One Reason Why Real Estate Closings Are Being Delayed

“I had four closings last week, and three were delayed because of the banks.”

“I had three closings this week and they’re all screwed up because of the banks.”

“Our movers said that every single one of their moves was delayed because of the banks.”

These are just a few stories I’ve heard over the past month. Parts of the Charlottesville real estate market are picking up, but one aspect that is adding tremendous frustration to the process is the lending side of the equation.

There are a lot of variables that can affect a real estate closing, but there is one truism – don’t schedule your move for the day of, or the day after (and to be safe, wait at least two days) closing. In Charlottesville, you don’t get the keys until the transaction is recorded.

This is not personal; most of the lenders are really nice. The system right now could justifiably be construed as a disaster. The “system” being those people who touch the loans is a mess. From the lender to the processor to the underwriter to the closers, the system is screwy. So …

Be prepared. Be prepared to be patient, to answer more questions than ever before – from multiple years of tax returns to a copy of your college diploma – if the lenders ask for it, it’s not because they want to annoy you, it’s because that’s what the system tells them to do. If they ask for it three times – that’s a pretty clear indication that the system is broken; don’t fight it, just do it.

From The Perfect Loan File in Forbes: (read the whole thing)

It all comes down to your proof. If the lender asks for a specific document, give them exactly what they are asking for, not what “should be OK,” – because it won’t be. This is where the approval process tends to go off the rails, when the lender asks for specific documentation and the borrower supplies something else. Here, too, is where both sides get frustrated. So if the lender asks for a bank statement and there are 5 pages for that bank statement, send them all 5 pages, and not just the summary. If you send them the summary page and they ask again, don’t complain that the lender keeps asking for the same thing when you never sent it in the first place. This may sound elementary, but the vast majority of mortgage approval process woes stem from scenarios just like this.

Why are lenders being so much more redundantly, infuriatingly stringent? Because they need to be able to sell their loans on the secondary mortgage market (you know – Fannie and Freddie). Now that there is some risk associated with making loans, lenders are being overly cautious. Related: How to Explain the Mortgage Crisis to an 8th Grader.

Such is life. Knee-jerk reactions are human nature (see: HVCC). We’ll get through this, but for now, be prepared for frustration, and use a lender you trust; I greatly prefer local lenders (with one exception).

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Chloramines in Drinking Water – Debate Heating Up in Charlottesville and Albemarle

What’s a chloramine? You’d better find out. Charlottesville Tomorrow reports:

The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority will hold a public information session on June 21 regarding the proposed use of chloramines as a secondary water disinfectant in the urban water supply starting in 2014.

I’m just starting my research on chloramines and don’t know enough yet to make an informed decision (one of the reasons I’m writing this post – to force myself to read and research chloramines. I know my clients will be interested; drinking water contributes to quality of life, and “quality of life” is one of the most important reasons people move to and stay in Charlottesville-Albemarle.

The EPA says that chloramines are safe, unless you’re a fish or plumbing.

Other concerns with chloramines in drinking water

Chloramines, like chlorine, are toxic to fish and amphibians at levels used for drinking water. Unlike chlorine, chloramines do not rapidly dissipate on standing. Neither do they dissipate by boiling. Fish owners must neutralize or remove chloramines from water used in aquariums or ponds. Treatment products are readily available at aquarium supply stores. Chloramines react with certain types of rubber hoses and gaskets, such as those on washing machines and hot water heaters. Black or greasy particles may appear as these materials degrade. Replacement materials are commonly available at hardware and plumber supply stores.

What types of rubber hoses and gaskets?

Drinking water is relatively cheap in Charlottesville and Albemarle (pdf).

How much would these rates increase if they were to choose the carbon filtration system instead of adding chloramines?

Chlormines in Charlottesville’s drinking water are yet another reason to live in Crozet:

Starting in 2014, the RWSA intends to replace chlorine with chloramines as the second step in the water treatment process, a project with capital costs of $5 million. The water treatment plants in Crozet and Scottsville, however, are recommended to receive a carbon filtration system with continued use of chlorine.

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Short Sales Might be Getting Easier (maybe)

Short sales still comprise parts of the Charlottesville area real estate market; in some segments they are a greater percentage, in others they are nearly nonexistent. I’m sharing this information with you so that you can be as well informed as possible. Short sales remain an adventure – for buyers, sellers and their Realtors – and hopefully this settlement signals some progress.*

You may have heard about the $25 billion mortgage settlement … for a look at some of the critical numbers in the settlement, ProPublica has a great breakdown, including:

60-200: documents signed daily by different individual loan processors working for Bank of America, according to the government audit.

12-18 inches: height of the stacks of documents one Bank of America employee signed “without a review.”

$1 million: fine to be levied on the banks for each violation of the terms of the overall settlement, escalating to $5 million for repeat violations. (Exactly how fines will be tallied is still unclear.)

But did you know that the settlement ostensibly makes short sales, often the bane of existence who are fans of things happening in a timely fashion, logic, reason and accountability … better?

The NAR put together these takeaways from the mortgage settlement. As Sarah says, these may become helpful reality or they might be representative of another shiny unicorn that does nothing other than frustrate us — these are only for the top 5 banks, not all of the servicers, of which there are many.

1. Short Sale Timeline. The settlement contains short sale standards that are similar to the Treasury Department’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative, or HAFA, program. A number of these standards will improve the short sale process including making short sale requirements publicly available, development of co-op programs to evaluate short sales prior to marketing the home, and the implementation of a 30-day response requirement after receipt of all required information and third party consents.

2. No Dual Tracking. As part of the settlement, the five servicers will no longer be able to proceed with a foreclosure sale if a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure has been approved by all parties (first lien investor, junior lien holder, and mortgage insurer, as applicable) and proof of funds or financing has been provided to the servicer. Servicers will also face strict foreclosure referral guidelines if borrowers have requested a loan modification.

3. Single Point of Contact. NAR has long called on servicers to establish a single point of contact for borrowers. This provision will not only assist in maintaining consistency and coordination of loss mitigation options, but will reduce the amount of time agents and brokers spend discussing individual short sale files with new negotiators.

4. Establishment of Loan Portal. Though processes have recently improved, many members report that lost documents requiring multiple submissions continue to cause delays. The five servicers have agreed to consolidate information for borrowers by developing online loan portals that will provide borrowers with access to information, eligibility factors for loss mitigation programs, and inform borrowers of required documentation that is missing.

5. Strong Enforcement Mechanism. The success of a number of well-intentioned programs has been hampered by voluntary servicer participation and a seemingly lack of compliance oversight. The five national banks party to the settlement will be required to regularly report compliance to an independent, outside monitor that reports to state attorneys general. State attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Justice can seek redress if the banks don’t follow the settlement terms.

Sarah Stelmok in Fredericksburg’s excellent post on the new short sale guidelines spurred this post.

* I doubt it.

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