Sunday, December 11, 2011

November 2011: Contrasting Powhatan vs. Goochland County

Powhatan and Goochland County are interesting and a relevant part of the Richmond-area real estate market, as they are adjacent Western counties (Goochland is North of Powhatan) where local suburbanites often flock to when they are looking for larger lots and/or significant acreage, but still within a reasonable commute to employment, shopping and dining centers. Often, Goochland will get migrations from Henrico County and Richmond City, while Powhatan will get more transplants from Chesterfield. Goochland has the Westcreek business park with many significant corporations located there, including Capital One, and is also home to portions of the highly prestigious River Road corridor and the Hermitage Country Club. Powhatan on the other hand, has slightly less luxury homes but a broader depth of homes at all price ranges and generally is more upscale than say Amelia County(to the South).

The attached charts will really tell the tale of the November 2011 market in these areas. As always, if you have questions about this blog or want to know more, then simply call me at 804-307-2589, email me at or visit my webpage at!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Real Estate Battle of the River in Richmond: North vs. South (ie. Henrico vs. Chesterfield)

So, while Interstate 288 has somewhat changed the old Richmond dynamic of North of the River vs. South of the River (where many old time Richmonders from the West End wouldn't dare enter Chesterfield and/or had no need to for that matter and vice versa), I thought that I would examine the current market and how the 2 major suburban counties of the Richmond Metro area play out against each other. I plan on revisiting this topic at least 1 month per quarter, as 50% of the entire area's sales are typically within Chesterfield County.

A couple of observations from examining October's MLS data for these 2 counties:
1. Its easier to sell in Henrico in the $225k-700k range (46 DOM vs. 72/73 for Chesterfield), but easier to sell in Chesterfield in the $700-$1MM and 0-$100k ranges.
2. The inventory for both counties is about even until you hit $150k and then Chesterfield has about 50% more properties until you hit the $700k price point where they even back out again.
3. Selling homes even in this market in both counties in the $300-700k range is looking quite positive, much more so than I would have expected, with sold price averages over list price in Henrico from $300-1MM.

All in all, if you're a luxury seller in Henrico or Chesterfield, your odds of selling are actually pretty good, unless you have an ultra luxury home (over $1mm) and then its going to be really tough sledding.

Contact me if you'd like to take a deeper dive on any of the local Richmond-area metrics!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Real Buyers in Richmond? Q3's Latest Metrics

See this latest chart during the 3rd quarter of Real Buyers (a.k.a. closed sales) in the Greater Richmond Metro Area. You can see from the chart that the greatest number of sales were in the $150-225k price band. Contrary to many news reports, you can see that we're actually selling quite a few houses in the area. In fact, I'm running into Highest and Best on about 50% of my transactions right now - a nice October bump in business! Will it hold, we'll find out next month, but I'm optimistic given the historic low interest rate environment!

Once October closes, then I'll be charting Henrico vs. Chesterfield in the battle of North vs. South of the River for that individual month!

P.S. - Trick or treat, can you believe that I actually closed a $400,000 cash sale today on a horse farm out in Montpelier? I'm still trying to figure that one out, but it'll serve as quite a tasty Halloween treat!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Q3 - Richmond Marketing Report

Its been quite a while since my last post, mostly because its been a very busy and exceptional year for me as I've established my team (see the photo of The Wright Choice Richmond Realty Group to the left) and dived much deeper into REO listings.

That being said, I do plan on being a regular contributor going forward and thanks to Ralph Maggiore and Mary Anne Beauty for pushing me to continue to contribute!

I attended a Luxury Home Marketing class put on by Laurie Moore-Moore of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing in September at the Keller Williams Midlothian office. As part of that class, they discussed various report possibilities to understand the market at various price level bands. So, I've decided to implement this into my blog - I will be providing a quarterly report for the entire market and then additional monthly reports on various micro segments. The photo to the right is a chart showing the expireds versus the current listings in the area.

Any way, this shows the challenges our market is currently facing, especially in the higher price bands.

Thanks so much for keeping in touch and I look forward to tomorrow's post with another of the charts showing the Richmond-Area market real estate data for Q3. Next week, we'll have various charts showing Chesterfield vs Henrico October realty data.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 - The Year in Review

What a year its been for me during 2010 in my travels as a Realtor with Zip Realty...

So 2010 started off with a bang with a luxury sale on a new construction home in Bon Air and my having achieved Zip's President's Club award for the 1st time after a strong Q4 2009 where I had 12 closings. As the year progresses, I've been able to not only keep the President's club status for the entire year, but after 15 closings in Q2, I achieved the Gold status and maintained it going forward.

Then, I headed out to Los Angeles in May for REO University's annual conference and just missed getting a chance to watch Kobe and the Lakers play at Staples the night after we left. At this conference, I made the connection with Titanium Solutions and later become a Home Retention Consultant. The family took our annual June trip to Myrtle Beach along with my in-laws, after my wife and I had snuck away to Puerto Rico for a quick trip in April. Then, in September, for the first time, I went to the Five Star REO conference in Dallas and while there also visited Jerry's World (aka. Dallas Cowboys Stadium) for the game and heartbreaking loss to the Chicago Bears. Somewhere around this time, I got certified with the Default School for their RDCPro designation/certification.

Right before going to Five Star, I was fortunate enough to become approved as a new REO agent for Bank of America, after having just earned my 1st REO property for another firm. The roller coaster continued as I got a contract on that home and then lost the listing as it sold to another REO company. A stroke of luck though as that caused me to keep the listing with the new firm and am now approved with them as well (although as of writing this the home in question still hasn't closed due to seller-side title issues as a result of the sale).

Then a major change was announced in late October/early November with the Zip Realty changing their nationwide agent sales force from W2 employees to 1099 contractors. That change allowed me to start my new team, The Wright Choice (, and right now I have 2 other agents having joined the team and the future looks very bright for our group going forward, including the search for a marketing agent to augment our efforts and several listing agents. Along the way, I closed 45 transactions in a whirlwind year that went by really fast in a lot of ways.

I'd really like to thank my wife Aimee for putting up with all of the hours and helping to manage our household during this time. Additionally, I'd like to thank my District Director Ralph Maggiore for supporting my growth and my broker Vivian Stevenson for helping me save several transactions and watching my back-side. I really miss my old team, The Producers, that won several awards during the summer of 2010 and as a prize attended several Richmond Flying Squirrels together in the Bank of America box.

That being said, 2011 promises to hold many changes and realty stories-to-be, as well as hopefully a lot of production. While my goal for 2010 was to get my first REO and I achieved that, my goal for 2011 will be to achieve the following two things: 1) to conquer short sales on the listing side with at least 10 short sales closes & 2) to end 2011 with at least 4 agents on The Wright Choice and having closed as a team at least 50 transactions.

P.S. - I would be remiss in this analysis of 2010 if I didn't include my son, Brandon's rise to the rank of Wolf in Cub Scouts and his team's undefeated I-9 Flag Football Championship.

All in all, it was quite a memorable year and obviously I have a lot to be thankful for from this year, and to be hopeful for as we progress into the next (2011).

Friday, September 24, 2010 Introduces Transit Scores in Conjunction With New Green Survey

Press Release
Homebuyers' Interest in Green Home Features Increases With Energy Efficiency Cited as Top Priority Introduces Transit Scores in Conjunction With New Green Survey

EMERYVILLE, CA, Aug 17, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- More than half of all home shoppers report that green home features, from energy efficient appliances to solar panels, are an important part of their purchasing decision, though only one percent of home listings market these features to buyers, according to results of a national survey announced today by real estate brokerage ZipRealty ( (ZIPR 2.70, +0.17, +6.72%) .

The brokerage also announced that it is the first real estate company to integrate green-friendly Transit Score ratings into current home listings on its popular home-buying site, based on the popularity of the existing Walk Score feature, which scores the walkability of each listing.

"A growing number of home shoppers are seeking out homes that offer strong public transit options, high walkabilty scores and green features," said ZipRealty's Chief Home Hunter Leslie Tyler. "Showing Transit Score ratings for all home listings on our website gives our clients additional information about alternative transportation that they need before making an offer on a home."

New Survey Indicates Green Features as a Priority A recent survey of homebuyers registered on revealed that 55 percent of survey respondents rated a home's green features a "somewhat important" or "very important" part of their home hunt.

Other highlights from the survey include:

-- Homebuyers who view green features as a priority ranked them important
because they helped save money (49 percent), as well as allowed them
to do their part to help the environment (40 percent).
-- Other reasons homebuyers valued green features included
occupant/family health (37 percent), tax credit availability (12
percent) and the home's resale value (15 percent).
-- Although homebuyers overwhelmingly rated energy efficiency the most
important green feature in a home (89 percent), an additional survey
conducted by the brokerage of MLS-listed homes across the 35 markets
nationwide ZipRealty serves found that less than one percent of homes
on the market included the term in their description of the home.

See below for a list of the top five green features for homebuyers.

"Sellers are missing an opportunity to market their home effectively to a wide net of home shoppers," said Tyler. "Appealing to buyers can be as simple as highlighting appliances as energy-efficient, which many homeowners choose today to save money themselves. Our survey suggests that sellers of older homes could make inexpensive changes, like switching to energy efficient light bulbs or appliances, to help their home stand out from others."

Top Five Green Features for Homebuyers
Green Feature Percent of Buyers rating
"top" priority
Energy efficiency 89%
Water-saving devices 60
Solar power 33
Use of sustainable or environmentally-friendly 27
materials in home construction
Ease of recycling and/or composting 20

New Transit Score Ratings on In response to increasing buyer demand, ZipRealty also introduced the Transit Score feature as part of an updated website and logo revamp. Transit Score ratings rank a home on a 100-point scale based on its proximity to multiple public transportation options, allowing homebuyers to consider the amount of time and money they will spend commuting every day as part of their purchase decision.

ZipRealty is the first brokerage to feature the new Transit Score, an application developed by Seattle-based civic software company Front Seat. Homebuyers in most of the 35 markets ZipRealty serves will be able to locate Transit Scores along with Walk Scores (introduced in 2008), the relative "walkability" score for a home, under each listing's "Neighborhood Info" tab. Transit Score is calculated on the frequency, type of route (rail, bus, etc.), and the distance to the nearest stop on the route.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

GREEN Siding Options

Reprinted from, John Riha 9/2/09

Selecting green siding is a matter of weighing trade-offs in longevity, insulation, biodegradability, maintenance, and, in some cases, cost.

f you think you’ll pay a premium for selecting green siding for your home, think again. Many of the best sustainable choices are familiar materials that have been on the market for years. Some products are made with recycled materials and others have improved insulating qualities that add only a moderate increase in price. When choosing replacement siding, weigh the pros and cons of sustainability, thermal performance, and the cost of eco-friendly products.

Evaluate sustainability
When choosing siding, consider its sustainability. Sustainability is an estimate of how long a material will last; if the material can be recycled; if it contributes to health concerns; and if it’ll readily biodegrade in a landfill. Maintenance, too, is a key consideration. High-maintenance materials that require regular upkeep, such as repainting, and use additional resources and energy over their lifecycle, are less sustainable.

Improve energy performance
A siding replacement project offers an excellent opportunity to boost your home’s energy performance and make your house healthier. Adding a house wrap (which prevents water infiltration and air leaks) and rigid-foam insulation is one of the best ways to reduce energy consumption and protect your home from moisture condensation inside walls—a major source of mold problems—no matter what type of siding you choose.
Adding insulation increases R-value—a measure of insulation performance. A house with 3-1/2-inch stud walls filled with fiberglass insulation has an R-value of about R-12. Adding rigid foam and house wrap can boost insulating performance to between R-16 to R-20, reducing your annual energy costs 5% or more.

Costs of green
Siding replacement has proven value. A siding replacement project using foam-backed vinyl siding returns more than 80% of its initial cost at resale, according to Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report—one of the highest values in the annual survey.
Because many types of siding are extremely long-lasting, they can be considered green options, but without a premium price. However, improving thermal performance—and, therefore, boosting the siding’s greenness—with house wrap and rigid-foam insulation adds cost—about $1,800 for an average house, according to Fine Homebuilding magazine. Many green consumers feel that contributing to a healthier, sustainable environment is more important than higher initial costs.

House wrap
House wrap is a thin, tough, semi-permeable membrane that’s applied over the outside of wall sheathing and under the siding. It’s designed to block water and reduce air infiltration while allowing moisture vapor to pass through.
Sustainability: Extremely durable and long-lasting, this flexible, plastic material is recyclable.
Energy efficiency: Using house wrap, along with properly sealed joints at windows and doors, can reduce air infiltration and save on annual energy bills. Some varieties, such as DuPont’s Tyvek ThermaWrap and Low-E Housewrap from Environmentally Safe Products include heat-reflective layers that increase insulation performance by a factor of R-2.
Cost: 25 cents to 50 cents per sq. ft., installed
Rigid-foam sheathing
Rigid-foam sheathing is lightweight, easy to apply, and comes in a variety of thicknesses. Unlike fiberglass insulation, which fits between studs, sheathing blankets the entire exterior wall. It can be applied directly over existing wall materials, such as hardboard, stucco, and wood, providing a smooth substrate for new siding.

Sustainability: The manufacture of extruded polystyrene (XPS) sheathing is associated with the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which damage the ozone layer, although some manufacturers are researching CFC-free production methods. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam sheathing doesn’t produce CFCs and is considered environmentally friendly. EPS can be recycled but doesn’t degrade readily in landfills.

Energy efficiency: Insulating values of R-3 to R-7 per inch thickness.
Cost: 20 cents-$1 per sq. ft., depending on thickness and thermal performance.
Insulated vinyl siding
Insulated vinyl is similar to regular vinyl siding, except it includes a layer of EPS foam insulation. Its thickness makes it more rigid and easier to work with than regular vinyl.

Sustainability: Vinyl requires little maintenance and will last 30 to 50 years, but it’s made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a chemical compound that doesn’t degrade in landfills. During manufacturing, PVC produces byproducts that include dioxin. Vinyl siding can be recycled.
Energy efficiency: Adds approximately R-3 to walls
Cost: $3-$8 per sq. ft., installed; 15-30% more expensive than regular vinyl

Fiber-cement siding
Fiber-cement siding is a low-maintenance product made from sand, Portland cement, clay, and wood pulp fibers. It’s termite-proof, fire-resistant, and doesn’t rot.
Sustainability: Extremely durable and long-lasting, it’s available with low-maintenance finishes that last for decades. But fiber-cement carries high embedded energy—the energy necessary to fire the kilns that heat its raw materials. Any energy expended toward a material ads to its carbon footprint. The newest varieties are lighter and include more recycled material.
Energy efficiency: Negligible R-value, but its superior stability helps keep the building envelope free of cracks and caulk failures.
Cost: $5-$9 per sq. ft., installed

Unmatched beauty makes wood a premier choice for siding.
Sustainability: Although a precious natural resource, wood is a renewable product that can be recycled and readily degrades in landfills. To ensure the wood products you buy are harvested from sustainable, managed forests, look for certification stamps from the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and the SFI (Sustainable Forest Initiative). Wood siding is a high-maintenance siding that requires refinishing every two to five years.
Energy performance: Wood is a natural insulator, but as a siding it offers a minimal R-value of about R-1.
Cost: $6-$9 per sq. ft., installed

Traditional stucco is made from sand and Portland cement mixed with water to make a workable plaster. Modern stucco often includes epoxies to harden the material. It’s tough, durable, and resistant to insects and fire. Well-maintained stucco will last for the life of the house.
Sustainability: Eco-friendly varieties of stucco are made with an earth-and-lime mixture instead of Portland cement and epoxy, reducing the embedded energy and CO2 emissions associated with cement production. Painted stucco requires periodic touch-ups and repainting every 5-7 years.
Energy performance: Negligible thermal performance, but effective at reducing air infiltration while remaining permeable to moisture vapor.
Cost: $6-$9 per sq. ft., installed

Engineered wood
Engineered wood products are made from wood fibers, resins, and wax. They’re pressed in molds to create panels resembling real wood lap siding and shingles.
Sustainability: The high wood waste content of engineered siding boosts its sustainability factor. Engineered siding comes with baked-on factory finishes that reduce maintenance, but warranties of about 20 years are less than for other types. It easily biodegrades in landfills.
Energy performance: Negligible
Cost: About $2-$4 per sq. ft., installed

John Riha has written six books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. Heís been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. His standard 1968 suburban house has been an ongoing source of maintenance experiment.

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