Friday, March 23, 2012

The Wall Street Journal Features Albemarle County's Georgetown Farm: Listed at $17M in 2009, Now Asking $10.3M

It's a tough market everywhere for multi-million dollar properties, and while Charlottesville calls itself "A World-Class City," obviously we're not NYC (or even DC) and Albemarle County is not the pastoral equivalent of, say, The Hamptons.

Back in the good 'ole days, though, high-end properties traded faster and at more $$$.  Even in 2008, post-bubble but before the September collapse into The Great Recession, six $5M+ properties traded hands; July '08 saw a $14.5M prop, and August had 3 sales totaling $21.5M.

Slow Down
  • There are currently 22 properties on the market in Albemarle County listed from $5M to $16M.
  • In 2009 two props sold, a $6.6M, no DOM, and $7.2M, DOM 676.
  • In 2010 there was one $14.5M sale, DOM 784.  
  • In 2011 there were two sales: one at $9.1M, DOM 397, and one at $7.4M, no DOM recorded.
  • Caveat: there are also properties that never appear on the MLS which trade.
Georgetown Farm: Former Seagram's honcho Edgar M. Bronfman owns the place, and the 8,100 sq foot 5 bedroom, 8 bath house in Free Union, Albemarle County, VA listed  for $17M with 600+ acres in November, 2009, the depths of the Great Recession.  The price was reduced to $15M in October 2010.

It is now listed by local RE broker McLean Faulconer as either house plus 120 acres for $3.8M, or house plus 540 acres at $10.3M, with various other structures etc. added into the mix or negotiable.

In the WSJ article, RE agent Andrew Middleditch of McLean Faulconer calls the current price  "competitive." What does "competitive" mean at the high-end of the Charlottesville RE market?  Of the priciest properties in Albemarle County, many remain on the market for years, as indicated by the DOM of the solds listed above.

Georgetown Farm is a lovely place with beautiful views and fertile farmland.  Perhaps the WSJ article will be the marketing kick it needs to change hands.

More props that have been on the market for years:  The most famous example is the $16M foreclosed Albemarle House which started at the asking price of $100M.  But others catch the eye of locals:  Coran Capshaw's Seven Oaks is now $8+M, while "Keepers," rumored to belong to DMB himself, has been marketed to no avail.

Read "Open House: 1921 Georgetown Farm Road" in the WSJ.

The main house at Georgetown Farm:

Photo copyright McLean Faulconer via WSJ.

Monday, March 19, 2012

February 2012: Charlottesville Area Median Price For Single Family Homes Drops -32% Since 2010

Although there's been some chat about contracts rising, hard data shows that January 2012 completed sales stank.  Now the February Nest Realty Group report shows that for the Greater Charlottesville Area in February, completed sales rose because prices have declined; for the single family home, it's -32%, and for condos/townhouses, it's -14% since 2010.  That year, of course, was the height of the Homebuyer Tax Credit; this "gift" from the Federal Government propped up prices before it the scheme, and then led to a local sales collapse for the second part of 2010 and significant sales and price  weakness in 2011.

Details of February's pricing are in the graphic, below.  The entire Nest Report, which details individual counties as well as property types, is embedded below.  Click for larger image in new window.

Charlottesville Home Prices Drop At Faster Rate Than National Average
Nest Report Charlottesville: February 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Property Tax Assessments As Fantasy Valuation: "The Hook" Confirms Charlottesville Doesn't Include Short Sales and Foreclosures in Its Calculations

How's the Charlottesville real estate market?  As we just noted, prices here are declining much more than in Cities tracked by the most widely-watched national index.  Many owners are drowning in negative equity or effective negative equityBut you wouldn't know it from the tax assessments.

We've posted about why assessments mean so little to buyers (see also this) and have opined about it for the C-VILLE.   How the City of Charlottesville assessor counts a sale as "arm's length transaction" is all "subjective." 

As The Hook exposes,  a sale will be considered valid for tax assessment computation only if it benefits the City of Charlottesville coffers.   Unfortunately for current owners stuck with absurd valuations, the appeals deadline just passed.

The Shilling Show has examples of properties and their ridiculous valuations: Fleeced By the Barbour: Charlottesville's Annual Real Estate Taxation Swindle.

In the past, Albemarle County marked a foreclosures as "Invalid Sale" under "Type of Sale" on their public property records.  "Type of Sale" has disappeared off the website.  Is Albemarle County fudging just like Charlottesville?

Local v. National: Charlottesville Area Home Prices Decline Much More Than Cities Tracked By Case-Shiller Index

Good news for buyers.

Average Price Declines - Single Family (Detached) Houses

Case-Shiller Home Price Index
Standard and Poor's  national composite, the "leading measure of U.S. Home prices," fell by
  -4.0%  Q4 2011 over 2010
  -3.8% Q4 2011 over Q3 2011

City of Charlottesville
  -29.0% Q4 2011 over 2010
  -10.6% Q4 2011 over Q3 2011

Albemarle County
  -18.8%  Q4 2011 over 2010
  +2.5% Q4 2011 over Q3 2010

The Greater Charlottesville Area
  -18.0% from 2004 through end of 2011.
   -6.5% 2011 over 2010
   -2.5% 2010 over 2009
 -10.5% 2009 over 2008

This week saw the troubling news that the triple dip in national housing prices is here as the "leading measure of U.S. home prices," Standard and Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index, reported new post-bubble lows for all three metrics.

As RealCentralVA has pointed out, Case-Shiller doesn't track this market.   But as the most widely-reported price index in the nation it has a psychological impact on buyers everywhere, in addition to the ability to move this market, the stock market, government policy, and the mainstream media.

But the good news for local buyers is this: As reported by the CAAR, home prices in the Greater Charlottesville Area (which includes the surrounding counties), and specifically in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are showing bigger declines in average prices than the national index.  Of course, the prices are still much higher than the national average, but that's a different story than percentage declines.  Prices will remain higher here even when the Bubble has finished correcting.

And the price declines, even while putting many sellers in negative equity, are helping sales. Contracts for Jan/Feb '12 are up over '11 due to sellers getting realistic about pricing and  ongoing low (4%) mortgage rates.   

Spring Selling Season seems to be  looking up, though Jan '12 closed home sales (contracted in Nov/Dec '11) were lower than Jan '11.


18% Drop From Peak: Greater Charlottesville Average Prices, Detached Single Family Homes
Source: CAAR 2011 Year-End Report. Click on image for larger version.

Data below from Nest Realty Group Q4 Market Report

City of Charlottesville Average Prices

Albemarle County Average Prices

Case-Shiller Index: The "Triple Dip" in Home Prices

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chart: All the Housing "Recovery" Government Intervention Did Not Buy

The chart, below, comes from The "Housing Recovery" In One Index.  The chart's publication is coincident with the National Foreclosure Fraud Settlement, which will ultimately have little impact on housing.  See also Robert Shiller's A Bottom?  What Are They Thinking?  And Robert Reich lays out the crush housing is having on the middle class.

All of this is coincident with the release of the latest Case Shiller Home Price Index, which shows all 3 indexes at  new post-Bubble lows.  Click on image for larger version.

The End of An Era: Good-Bye Home Sweet Home As Asset or Investment

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich lays out the drag on "recovery" that is the housing sector, and how it impacts the dwindling Middle Class in America.  His analysis appears at the same time that the Case Shiller Home Price Index reports new post-bubble low prices and the 8th consecutive month of home price declines.