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Piedmont Real Estate Blog

How Virginians Think About Virginia

Sep. 23, 2011
Categorized in: Miscellaneous

I still can't figure out where this study or the underlying data comes from so don't make any big lifestyle changes based on this, but here's some information on how we feel about ourselves.

This survey asked people how they felt about their state in six areas: Natural Beauty, Things to Do, State Economy, Environmental Friendliness, Education and Medical Care. Here are the grades for Virginia:

  • Natural Beauty                      B
  • Things To Do                        B
  • State Economy                      C
  • Environmental Friendliness   D
  • Education                              C
  • Medical Care                         C

Overall, people seemed fairly pessimistic. That's not surprising given the overall economic gloom and doom we're all living with at the moment.

I do think Virginians were a little hard on themselves regarding the State Economy. While it may not feel this way (especially if your house is under water) our economy in northern Virginia actually looks pretty good compared to most of the country.

How would you grade us?

P.S. My home state of Minnesota fared pretty well!

Kojo Show Does Real Estate

Dec. 16, 2009
Categorized in: Local Market Conditions

I don't know of another local radio or TV personality who does a better job of keeping people informed about the local real estate market than Kojo Nnamdi on WAMU. He's had two shows in the last week that illustrate that point.

First he did a show on townhouses and rowhouses that was very interesting. Part of what I like about what Kojo does is that he does the big picture stuff. This piece looks about this important piece of the urban housing picture.

More recently he did a piece on the home buyer's tax credit. It's a more complex subject than most media reports would indicate and it's great that people have another place to go and ask questions. Some of the questions are as informative as the answers in helping me gauge how much people know and understand about the subject.

Take the time to listen to these shows. If you're not a regular listener to Kojo's show, you may become a fan!

Your Mortgage is Paid

Jun. 4, 2009
Categorized in: Buyers

A real estate firm in Ohio is offering clients a sweet deal. If you buy a home using their agents and their mortgage company, they will pay your mortgage for six months if you lose your job.

By now you've probably seen the car companies doing something like this. And, I know of some builders with similar programs. But I've yet to see a real estate firm try this.

In Ohio, this is not a small commitment. The unemployment rate in Ohio is one of the highest in the country and will likely continue to rise given the number of auto-related jobs in the state.

So, hats off to Real Living HER for taking this gamble! I'd love to see a local firm in Northern Virginia step up and try this. It's far less of a risk here and this market could definitely use a little more innovation! And, with 90%+ of the real estate agents locally telling you it's a great time to buy (for at least the last three years!) I'd love to see them put their money where their mouth is!

I don't know that someone who wasn't going to buy is now going to because of this offer. But if you're going to buy a house anyway, seems like you'd be crazy not to use this brokerage.

LATE UPDATE: My apologies to the local firms who have already stepped up and are offering similar programs! (Google let me down on this one!) Long & Foster and REMAX Regency (Warrenton & Manassas offices) are now offering this type of program. Kudos!

It's All Out There

Jan. 29, 2008
Categorized in: Sellers

This was in the Washington Post as part of a Q&A with one of the local REALTOR associations.

We are listing our Cascades townhouse next month and were wondering about pricing. We have lived there nine years and paid under $200K in 1999. This information is available to anyone accessing the Loudoun County Appraisal District Web site. Should we expect buyers to know this information and, if they do, should we also expect to get "low-balled" more than someone who doesn't have as much equity? Will we have to adjust our price/expectations accordingly?

I don't believe you need to be concerned with the public records and how much you purchased your home for nine years ago. The biggest issue is how big your mortgage is, and no one knows that but you and your bank. Contact a Realtor and have them do a comparative market analysis and take their advice on pricing your home to match your home type and area.

This was part of a longer article and many of the answers weren't particularly good. But this one in particular seemed worth commenting on.

First of all, you should always assume that buyers will have all publicly available information in their possession. Even if the buyers haven't thought to search out this information for themselves any decent real estate agent will be pulling the tax records and showing that information to their client. Sellers who assume they can hide some information from potential buyers are always asking for trouble. In the age of the internet, everybody knows or, at least, can know, everything!

Secondly, the buyers should not base their offer on what a seller bought the house for. Regardless of what you paid for this house, in a falling market, you are likely to get a low ball offer. The buyers know, and certainly their agent knows, that a year from now there's a good chance that the value of that home is less than it is now. It might not be worth a lot less. It's certainly possible we're near a bottom. But with that kind of uncertainty all buyers will lowball an offer and all sellers should expect to have to deal with that.

The other point I'd make here is that REALTOR associations should not have non-REALTORs answering these questions!

New Construction Rant

Jun. 24, 2006
Categorized in: New Construction

It's time to talk about buying new construction.  A large number of home buyers like new construction.  And, what's not to like?  Once you walk into one of those beautiful models, decorated impeccably nothing else ever looks quite as good!

But from my perspective it's never good news when a buyer says they want to buy new construction. My clients who buy new construction are most likely to end up unhappy with the transaction.  And since the vast majority of my business comes from referrals from satisfied clients that's very bad news for me.  Even worse from my perspective I'm less able to control almost any aspect of the transaction in new construction. That starts with a contract written by the builder to protect the builder's interest. That contract is different than the standard regional contract used in this area.

Many builders are very good at over promising and under delivering. My only way of controlling this is working to properly set my clients' expectations.  That means telling them to not take as gospel truth dates the builder gives them on when they will move into their new home. In the typical new construction purchase I deliver an awful lot of bad news! While it's part of my responsibilities to my client, like every other normal human being, I hate delivering bad news!

Buyers of new construction are buying it because it's new and they have the expectation of perfection when they walk into their newly completed home.  That's pretty much never the case. Let's face it, builders and the people who work for them are all human beings and fallible and I've never seen a completely perfect home from any builder. Some builders are very good at taking care of whatever problems arise.  But an astonishing number of them are not. Again, I've now got an unhappy client and very little control over satisfying them.

Part of my reluctance to sell new construction is no doubt due to the fact that I'm a control freak.  I know that repeat business and referrals depends on the quality of the experience of each and every client. In every transaction there are things I can't control.  But I work hard to minimize that and to implement quality control of everything else!

So, I'd be happy to help you buy your next home, even if it's new construction!  But, don't say you haven't been warned about the potential for a bumpy ride!

Piedmont Real Estate Blog

Blog by Julie Emery
Amissville, Virginia

An ongoing dialog on real estate news, opinion and trends in Northern Virginia and the greater Piedmont area. Julie is an Associate Broker at Frankly Real Estate Inc, 6304 Crossroads Circle, Ste 102, Falls Church, VA 22044


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