Thursday, October 16, 2008

Charlottesville - Albemarle Real Estate, October, 2008 - A Buyer's Market? Prices Dropping?

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House?

The good news: We recently learned, thanks to The Mortgage Buzz, that mortgages are available. And 85% of them are now backed by the Federal Government.

Right now in our area, there's nearly 15 months inventory of unsold houses, which is much more than the national number of about 11 months. More properties come on the market every day.

Here's the bad news: The Charlottesville / Albemarle Housing Bubble persists. One reason it persists is because we have CAAR (Charlottesville Albemarle Association of Realtors') CEO Dave Phillips' lock on local media. Phillips is neither an economist nor a Realtor. Nevertheless, he's often quoted by the media. This "Spokesmodel," as one commenter termed him, opined a few weeks ago that "The turmoil on Wall Street will not affect Charlottesville’s housing market," Phillips said. “Unless you’re in the financial business, it’s not going to affect you,” he said.

These statements caused anger, derision, and scorn on this blog, the REALCentralVA blog, and in the Comments section following the story in the Daily Progress. Phillips attempted to explain his position in the above-linked post.

In the comments following the post, readers wondered, If the Housing Bubble had "burst" in 2006, and sales were slowing here, and everywhere, Why Do Housing Prices Keep Rising in This Area?

An October 13 Daily Progress article addresses this issue. The article is about "affordable housing"--housing for those who live below the median income level and need assistance to buy--but the statistics pertain to the local market. The Council for Community and Economic Research has a "Cost of Living Index." The ACCRA Cost of Living Index showed that for the Charlottesville Metropolitan Statistical Area — which includes the city and the counties of Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson — the cost of living was 8.5 percent higher than the national average during the second quarter of 2008. The most recent estimates from the U.S. Census, from 2005, showed that 23.7 percent of Charlottesville’s population was living in poverty.

Using the DP's numbers, the local real estate market’s median sales price through September was $281,000, down 1.7 percent from last year’s median price of $285,935. Median sales prices in the year 2000 were $150,000.

That's a $131,000.00 or 87% increase in eight years. This would only happen in a housing bubble.

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House?

We're in a worldwide financial crisis and the US Stock market had a slo-mo crash, having dropped 20% in one week. It's so bad out there that the Government is going to flood banks with cash.

Still, on Monday, the Market had the best day ever; but today, Wednesday, October 15, the Dow was down 733 points on wide concerns that the economy will continue to worsen for some time to come. A statement by Fed Chair Ben Bernanke was dark.

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House?

Locally, Governor Kaine has announced statewide budget cuts to account for the coming $2.5 billion deficit. Here in the C'ville area, unemployment is at a six-year high, and the City and County are facing budget deficits due in part to lower property tax revenues from declining house values. UVa is cutting its budget by $10.6 Million and has lost nearly $200 Million in endowment investments duing July and August. Area consumers are cutting retail spending, and a local builder Church Hill Homes has gone under.

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House?

Home prices, both nationally and locally, will continue to decline for months to come, according to JP Morgan analysts, the Case-Shiller Index, and leading economists--nationally and world-wide. Prices will continue to decline well into 2009, according to economists.

And The Wall Street Journal recently reported that one in six home mortgageholders is under water-- owes more than the house is worth.

But here's the big question: How much are prices declining in the Charlottesville area?

We see prices out in the Counties going down.
But in the City? Often, it's still Kool Aid time. Do a quick check of new listings for houses for sale--and whether you check daily or weekly, you'll see the same thing. Click backward on this blog and you'll find examples. Even during the month of September and into October, there are houses that have come on the market that are 30%, 50%, 100%, 200% more than when they last sold in 2004 or 2005. This would only happen in a housing bubble.

The DP also reports: "Though housing prices have declined in the area because of the national crisis, city officials said homes that cost around $250,000 are still out of reach for many residents. The U.S. Department of Commerce reported last month that the average price of a new home nationwide sold in August dropped by a record amount, 11.8 percent, to $263,900, compared with the July average of $299,100. The median price was also down, falling 5.5 percent to $221,900." Note that the difference between the national and local medians is about $60K.

But HERE'S AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT of the local bubble: What you get around here for the median v. what you get in other areas is extremely different. Here, for $220K you can buy an 800 sq ft. "cottage." Just an hour south, and for even less, you can buy a house (scroll down to see the comparison in the post).

In the comments section after Monday's post about mortgages, there were questions about mortgage assessments, including:

1. "What measures are in place to come up with decent comps for the appraisals?"

"If things were over priced 2-3 years ago what does an appraiser do now for lending standards? How are they seeing things differently?"

If the "comps" were inflated--houses that have already sold that are used as comparables for houses entering the market--then chances are, the new listing is going to still have bubble pricing.

So Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House?

It could be, if:

* You love the house.

* You plan to stay in the house for 7+ years.

* You're not buying the house primarily as a way to make a profit.

* You realize that the Asking Price is just that: A Question.

The Seller is asking You, the Buyer, if you'll cough it up. You, the buyer, since you have cash or the ability to get a mortgage, have the answer to that first question.

The initial answer, IOHO, is "No."

Your real "Answer" should be lower than "The Question" posed by the Asking Price.

But how much lower?

This is the question of the moment. How much lower should your offer be, and based on what?

Based on the fact that local sellers keep inflating prices? That what goes up must come down? That there's so much inventory available? That there are fewer qualified buyers now than ever before? That the country is in a recession? That there is--still--a global credit crisis? That you don't want to be one-in-six under water? That you have the power? What percentage lower? 10%? 20%? 30%?

It's a Buyer's Market.

This is the Real Question: What did the seller pay for the house, and what's a reasonable profit? Remember that between 1.5% (typical) and 5% (high) annual increase would be made on a sale in a non-bubble economy. So what's a "reasonable" profit?

It's not what was made during the bubble, IOHO. It's another number.

It's almost the year 2009. Regime change, of whatever stripe, is days away. Everything is Different now...and will be for a long time to come.


Anonymous said...

Prices are the biggest problem in this area. Have some of them come down recently? Yes. Is it enough to be within reach for most homebuyers? Definitely not.
There was a home listed two weeks ago that was purchased last year, had some upgrades done,and is now on the market for $248000 more than it was purchased for previously. I know this house because my husband and I looked at it last year when it was for sale. We liked the house, but felt that the $400000+ price tag was too high even then. Now- forget about it.
I think what needs to happen here is that buyers need to go on some sort of strike, and just keep refusing to purchase in the city until people get real about pricing. They can say all they want about value, but it's just not there anymore. I also don't really care about some sob story of needing to make a certain amount of profit from a sale. A lot of these sellers purchased their homes, which were overvalued at that point, and paid an absurd amount for them, and now they expect buyers here to take a hit. It's time to come back to reality.

Anonymous said...

I agree that when buying a home you have to answer the questions mentioned in this posting. I also agree that there is almost always negotiating room on the sellers' asking price. There have been a couple of stats recently that may show prices have gotten to a point where buyers may want to think about purchasing. the first is inventory of homes on the market was less in the 3rd quarter than it was in the 2nd. that is the first time that has happened in some time. The other is that as many homes sold in September of '09 as they did in September of "08. Again, something that hasn't happened in probably over a year. the other thing buyers should be watching is interest rates. they have gone up as much as a 1/2% (currently 6.5% FHA) in the last week or so. Should they come down to around 6% again pre-election, it may be awhile before you see them this low again.

Anonymous said...

cville realtor,

there's "less" inventory?

it would take nearly 15 MONTHS to sell off the inventory in the Cville metropolitan service area.

that's almost FOUR MONTHS LONGER than it would take to sell off the national supply.

nobody needs to worry about inventory around here, even in the city. there are always people coming and going.

and in albemarle county, which in many cases is one street away from the "city" in terms of addresses, with much lower taxes, sales are down by around 35% since last year.

inventory isn't the problem.

the high prices are.

anon is right. buyers should just say no.

Anonymous said...

15 months of inventory.

Let's assume it all sells over the next 15 months.

Let's assume, for simplicity's sake, that equal amounts sell each month.

the "average" house would then be on the market for

(365 + 120)/2 = 242 days.

So, the current stat at of average DOM of 143 days is way off (b/c of relistings).

But, think about it: 8 months to sell a house (!)

I personally don't think we will have to go on strike. All those folks who cannot wait 8 months to sell their houses will have to drop their prices. and those who can wait will be undercut by those who can't.

check so far 68 houses have sold in first 16 days of Oct. At that rate, 131 will sell in Oct. That's a 40+ percent drop from last year, which was a 40 percent drop from the year before... get the picture?

realtor-dude above tells us "sales in Sept same as last year!" like it's some amazing turnaround.

Try this instead. For the first 9 months of 08, sales are down

25% YOY from 07.
29% YOY from 06.
40% YOY from 05.

no turnaround here. Looks like sales volume decreases are actually accelerating. woo hoo!

Get the point? if it took sales that were so much higher in those years to sustain those prices, what happens when the buyers dry up? Price follows sales volume. Always.

Anonymous said...

like it matters if mortgage rates go up?

prices will need to come even more *down* in order for anybody to think buying a house in this area is reasonable.

and is "now" a good time to buy?

it's a good time to buy in this area if you just got in from Mars.

Anonymous said...

we were looking for a house this past summer because basically it was "time to buy" which is to say we'd hit a certain age, certain career milestones, had a baby, planned a second, and it seemed like we should invest in the house.

guess what? it's no investment around here. especially not for lots of the places listed between 280K-450K, the "starter" homes. at the low end of the spectrum are two bedrooms trying to pretend that they're three with ugly kitchens and old appliances and carpet that should never have been laid in the first place.

at the upper end is new construction eyesores (and you can pay one or two hundred thousand more for bigger of the same) jampacked in places that were vacant lots for decades for good reason.

investment? not in a house in this area. its a black hole. and the stock market? no thanks. just a good old savings account then eventually a money market when the markets stabilize for more than three days at a time.

a house around here is not an investment. way way too much available for rent. everything is negotiable except for home prices that blew up during the bubble.

renting is going to be chepaer than buying for some time to come. especially now that lots of the unsold houses are for rent.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1, I just went and searched for that house on the MLS. Thanks for mentioning it! WTH? What could they possibly have done to equal a $250K increase?

Then I read the "Did CAAR CEO...Mean the Fundamentals Are Strong" linked in this post so I could see what people had to say about pricing in the comments. This is a perfect example! And Cville realtor was over there arguing about price.

I've got to hand it to you Cville realtor, you really believe in what you're doing!

But you know what? It seems pretty obvious that a realtor convinced these particular sellers that they could get the additional $250K out of this house after just one year! The nation was already in a 'credit crunch' by August 2007. These people are optimistic of course, but they also have a 'professional' telling them that their house is 'worth' this kind of high asking! Don't bother responding that we don't know what was done to this house. Yes we do. We know that whatever it is it's really not equivalent to $250K.

And I'm sure these sellers like many in this area have been told that Cville is an 'insulated market'! All my friends who bought houses in the past five years always adds this line on when asked the price.

Curious person: Do you mind if I ask how much you paid?

Homeowner: Well, it was $500,000, which migh seem like a lot except that Cville is an insulated market. We'll be able to sell for more when we need to move!

btw I read today that nationwide 30 year mortgages are 6.75

Anonymous said...

If you read what I wrote, I said, "there are signs that things may be turning" not that they have turned around. I did not say that we don't have an inventory problem, I said for the 1st time in a long time the inventory is decreased vs increased. I also found it interesting that solds equalled last year's September. I didn't say that made for a good market, just that it happened for the 1st time in awhile. We will have to see if that trend continues as things change pretty quickly these days. I mean, look at the original post written yesterday. It mentions a huge drop in the market and by the end of the day it had gained 400 points. I have said and will continue to say, Pricing homes reasonably means getting them sold. Trying to exagerate the price means a long time on the market. I have written before and continue to recommend to Realtors that they walk away from sellers who insist on listing their home at a price that won't get it sold.

Anonymous said...


Don't get angry. If the house is too expensive for you, don't buy it. That is the only recourse you have.

If the buyer needs to sell, they will lower the price. If they can't afford to sell at a lower price and can no longer afford mortgage payments, the bank will eventually take the home and sell at a lower price. If the seller doesn't need to sell, then it will sit there at a high price.

There are plenty of nice places you can afford to rent. Be content to wait and save and not get convinced by your spouse to do anything stupid.

Anonymous said...

eh, all i can say is pateience, people. it's bad everywhere. charlottesville might be fine right this second, but it's going down like everywhere else.

now is NOT a good time to buy unless you have cash to flush.

i really think patience will be rewarded in 2009-10. then there will be reasonable buys.

Nobel winner Paul Krugman in todays column calls the stock market manic-depressive, then goes on to say

"Just this week, we learned that retail sales have fallen off a cliff, and so has industrial production. Unemployment claims are at steep-recession levels, and the Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index is falling at the fastest pace in almost 20 years. All signs point to an economic slump that will be nasty, brutish — and long."

are we an insulated market? nah. not anymore. nobody's immune.

Anonymous said...

And now for something completely different -- from the front page of today's Wash. Post:

Freewheeling American capitalism may be falling out of fashion on Wall Street, but in the western suburbs of Northern Virginia, it is driving one of the greatest home-buying sprees the region has ever seen.

The epicenter of the boom is Prince William County, where enterprising investors are scavenging the wreckage of the housing bust at a furious pace. Last month, 1,116 homes were sold in the county, a 235 percent increase from the same period last year and more than in any other September on record, according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.

The buying frenzy is the silver lining of a staggering decline in home values. With banks choking on a glut of empty, foreclosed properties, the median sale price for detached single-family houses in Prince William plunged 41 percent in the past year, from $405,000 to $239,900. In September, 118 homes in the county sold for less than $100,000, and many foreclosed townhouses sold for less than $70,000. One three-bedroom Manassas townhouse recently sold for $43,500, even though it was assessed at $273,100 in 2007.

"Prince William County is a fire sale," said Joey Remondino, a "ridiculously busy" real estate agent with StoneHouse Realty in Manassas. "People are looking for amazing deals, and I'm writing offers as fast as I can," he said.

Nowhere else in the region has the drop in prices and surge in sales been so extreme. Home buying in the county gained momentum over the summer but shot upward last month, when more detached single-family homes were sold in Prince William (579) than in Fairfax County (541), which has three times as many houses.

Sales of detached single-family houses in Fairfax County were up 71 percent last month from September 2007 and the median price was down 24 percent. In Loudoun County, sales were up 47 percent and the median sale price declined 17 percent. The housing markets in Arlington County and Alexandria were generally more stable.

Anonymous said...

from wash post:

"Nowhere else in the region has the drop in prices and surge in sales been so extreme."

so true. and nowhere else in the region have prices surged to such a ridiculous level as here.

The Office of Fed Housing Enterprise Oversight rated this area overpvalued by 29% four years ago...and it has continued to rise.

Been waiting for the bubble blog to have a post about 503 Rialto and 766 Belmont...two "cottages" that have laughable price tags. Laughable even though they'll sell. the belmont place went for 100K in 2004. is now on the market north of 300K. a 200% increase in four years. for what? some paint? its tiny. and Rialto went for 300+ in 2005. now the asking is sanely 15K higher than current seller paid. good luck to them.

Mark said...

"and the stock market? no thanks. just a good old savings account then eventually a money market when the markets stabilize for more than three days at a time."
What an incredibly shortsighted sentiment! The stock market is down- way down- as it was from 2000-2002, the early 1990s, the early 1980s, and many more times during our cyclical economic history. Each time, it has come back.
It is ignorant to expect the stock market to always go down- just as ignorant as it is to expect it to perpetually go up.
Anyone selling stocks now is a sucker. You should be buying now. Great companies like GE (ask Warren Buffett about GE) and Microsoft are being dragged down by the tide of over-reaction and perspective-less despair, and thus are trading at incredible discounts. GE's dividend is around 6% at its current price (way better than your savings account).
Good God, people, go to Yahoo Finance and look at a historical chart. The long-term trend for stocks is upward. I know a lot of people may think these times are "different" (in an opposite yet similar manner, people thought housing was "different" as a foolproof investment and Charlottesville is a "protected market"). In every case, this time it is not different!
Over the long-term, STOCKS ALWAYS GO UP. The next year or two might be tough but eventually things will be better.
I'm talking about stocks here, not house prices.

Anonymous said...

100% agree with mark. if you have retirement account in stock, and a long enough window to withstand some more losses or slow returns, don't withdraw. and if you have an extra 10, 20 100K to buy stock right now and leave it for a number of years, you'll profit.
problem for a lot of people right now is no spare income. or that "extra" uninvested income is needed for the house downpayment. but even a small stock investment can do well.
warren buffet is investing his own money separate from berkshire hathaway holdings. this means a lot. but you have to buy soon b/c lots of people will take his advice and the price will rise.

Anonymous said...

Prices have been dropping in Charlottesville. We have covered that for the past several CAAR Market reports. Median price does not mean much because it is only an indication of what is selling. Less condos are selling than previous years, so the median price naturally goes up. As we point out, this DOES NOT mean prices are going up. Here is the text from our mid-year report:
"You should not compare a change (or lack of change) in the median price of homes that sold with an actual increase or decrease in home prices. The median prices listed below are the middle of the market of properties that sold. Simply put, this is an indication of what buyers were willing to pay and is not a true reflection of individual home prices. It is probably safe to assume that a steady, year-to-year increase in the median price is a good sign, but it does not necessarily mean prices are up and vice versa if the median price decreases."

We also point out that the best (although not completely accurate) indication that prices have/are coming down is the average price per square foot. That figure has trended down for the past 4 quarters.

We also point out in our market reports that inventory is and has been the biggest problem for the past 18 months. Sometimes I wonder if you guys and gals really read the stuff we publish. It seems you'd rather take cheap shots based on a DP article that failed to include the context of the presentation. I do love the "spokesmodel" title - it makes me feel pretty :-)

Anonymous said...

Dave, your facts are appreciated, but your cheerleading is resented as it appears you are only helping to perpetuate the bubble pricing that is rampant in this area. Sellers are angry because they still think (and are being led to believe) their homes are worth more than they really are. Buyers are frustrated as they remain shut out of what appears to be an artificially high, manipulated market.

As other posters have said, at some point, something has to give in this situation and it would be far better for the air to come out of the balloon gradually, rather than all at once. As the local spokesperson, everyone would be better served if you would produce more data without the spin and let the market take care of itself.

Anonymous said...

as the average citizen and renter waiting for this market to achieve some level of reality so we can buy without feeling like we sacrificed the first born, i have to tell you, mr. phillips, that i long ago stopped reading the narrative in the CAAR reports; they are, as above commenter points out, full of "cheerleading" and spin, detached from the lives of most people except those who happen to be part of the realtors association: there were no quotes from that report in this post, nor from any other realtors reports; i look at the published numbers locally, but i also know that they're headed downward, so i don't really need the optimistic chant.

additionally, since the bubble blog started pointing out the short term (3-5 yr) price and percentage increases ( in detached homes, i don't think they have ever done a condo) i've been looking at the CAAR listings and comparing them with the sale histories provided by the city/county. the trend in high asking prices continues, and this is due to Realtors, not to sellers; sellers hire realtors to advise them and they're getting advice to list bubble asking prices; i looked up the three examples mentioned in these comments; the sale histories are emblematic of a bubble; and there are a number of other properties currently listed for sale that fall into 30,50,80,100, 200% price increase over a 3-5 year period.

Anonymous said...

re: this - "the trend in high asking prices continues, and this is due to Realtors, not to sellers; sellers hire realtors to advise them and they're getting advice to list bubble asking prices

This is not necessarily true. A lot of Sellers are unable to take less on the sale of their homes because they don't have $5k, $15k, $25k ... to bring to the table.

If I meet with a seller and my advice is $235k-$250k, but they purchased for $260k two years ago and they "have to put it on for" $285k, my options, as a Realtor are -

1) take the overpriced listing and know that I am basically wasting my time, the Seller's time and cluttering up the market
2) Walk away, knowing full well that another Realtor will take the overpriced listing in the hopes of capturing at least one buyer for another property from the listing's marketing (there is nothing wrong with the earning a buyer part of this).

More Realtors need to walk away from overpriced listings, but many won't in the hope that someone *may* buy it.

PS - I've noted condos many times -

Anonymous said...

So these sellers (and their listing agents) are all fishing for uninformed idiots to bail them out of their overpriced properties? An agent must really be desperate to play along with this game.

Jim, what percentage of the current listings do you think fall into the category of "I have to put it on for ___ because I owe this much"? And how much does the agent typically have to shell out to maintain and reasonably publicize a listing?

I can tell you, there is no way I would ever consider using any agent to represent me as a buyer if I see that they are overpricing and not moving their sellers' listings! Who needs help like that?

Anonymous said...

I was the first anonymous poster here, and I have to defend Jim a bit. We have friends who purchased in town 4 years ago and paid a crazy sum for their house. They were under the impression that they would be staying in town for a number of years, so this made sense. 2 months ago the husband found out that his job was being transferred, and they were going to have to move, or try to find work closer to DC for him and commute to it. With these gas issues right now? No way. They paid $435000 for a house that had previously been purchase the year before for $220000.
They are now saying they need to price their house at at least $450000 to recoup for upgrades. Is the house worth it? Not in my opinion, but they have to list and they insist that they won't/can't price it lower. What does a realtor do here? Tell them to rent. Which is the conclusion they arrived at after reading this blog and Jim's. The good realtors are out there, you just have to do your due diligence.

Anonymous said...

i can understand sellers who "need to make" x amount pressuring an agent to list at a certain point; these aren't the sellers i'm talking about. these people are in a sad sorry situation and likely to take a loss.
so what about those who don't 'need' to make x to cover what they paid? isn't it the realtor who gives the seller info on how to price the property?
and isn't it the realtor who therefore is the one saying that it's 'reasonable' to price a property 30,50 80, 100,200% higher in a matter of three-five years?
if it's the seller's idea, the realtor isn't telling the seller 'no,' when it's the realtor who knows the market 'better' than the seller: so how do we account for this kind of pricing?

And last anonymous, do you have any insight into how much your friends were educated about the market when they paid such a bubble price? how many years were they planning on staying here so that a 100% increase in the house's 'price' after one year was acceptable to them? or were they new to the area and just led to believe that this is the way things "are" in Charlottesville? and/or were they believing the idea that property only increases in value?

Mark said...

Hey, this is garbage, blaming realtors for high asking prices.
It's the other side of the same coin that blames loan officers for stupid greedy consumers getting loans for houses they can't afford.
I am not in either of the aforementioned industries, I am just a keen observor of real estate and politics. I have been in the military for 14 years, and we have this saying: "Nobody put a gun to your head (and made you join the Army, in its usual usage). The same applied here. I don't care if you are so stupid couldn't even pass your GED- if it seemed too good to be true that this $400k house could be had on your $30k salary, you should have listened to that little voice.
I find it so disheartening that both parties have thrown personal responsibility out the window in their campaigning.
I sucked it up and rented in two different towns when I found I couldn't afford a house, which made for some incoveniences and unfulfilled desires for me and my family. When I could afford it, I bought a house in two towns. I didn't blame anyone for my plight at the time, although now it would be pretty easy to blame the greedy bastards that have caused housing to be unaffordable over the past seven years.
So I have less than zero sympathy for greedy consumers. Nor do I have sympathy for greedy lenders or realtors, but unlike our "leaders" and the majority of the public I refuse to let the consumers off the hook.
There have been a couple of those unrealistically priced houses on my street, that less reputable realty agents/agencies chose to list. One of them sold in two weeks, proving the Greater Fool Theory. The rest are sitting there giving Dave Phillips something to downplay and obfuscate every quarter (it's the guy's job, cut him some slack).
As for Jim Duncan, get off his back- Jim got me a post-bubble 2010 price on my house this past winter- worth his 3% and then some. That's the kind of agent you want- the rare breed who will not push you either way. We toured houses for several months and wrote several (low) offers before we found a willing seller.
There are agents out there who aren't qualified to give you advice buying lunch, much less a house--but again, it is on you the consumer to do your due diligence. Please don't practice the new American Way of blaming someone else for an individual's decision. Nobody put a gun to your head.
And...(in Ali G voice) lot best listen to the words of my man, Warren greedy when others are fearful...

Anonymous said...

Waiting it out,
I have to agree that my friends did not seem that educated to us, but that's our opinion. We have refused to purchase in this market for the last 7 years. They kept telling us that they wanted to get into the market before they were priced out of it entirely. They are also from California, and didn't experience the sticker shock that we did. I'm not saying what they did was prudent, but they are definitely pretty stuck right now.
We wish the best for them because they are friends of ours, but we certainly don't envy anyone who purchased here in the last 5 years or so. Ouch.
I also entirely agree with you about the sellers who don't have a dealbreaking situation. Many of them are still pricing staggeringly high for heaven knows what reason. There is a house listed for $839000 on MLS in Charlottesville, and it's beautiful, but I find it hard to swallow that price. Do sellers not realize that all of us potential buyers are aware of how to research a property on the city tax site? Crazy.