Tim Merrick–Fall 2015 Newsletter

Contributed by Tim Merrick

Mason with  Mason with the UVA Football Center, Jacson Matteo and QB, Matt Johns last week on a hospital visit to the Pediatric Cancer Center

Mason with Mason with the UVA Football Center, Jacson Matteo and QB, Matt Johns last week on a hospital visit to the Pediatric Cancer Center

Although it is rare that that I ask for your financial help, this is an appropriate exception. Our office colleague, Leigh Ann Hensley and her husband Greg have one young son, a wonderful and beautiful little three year old named Mason. He had been feeling poorly off and on for the past couple of weeks, so Greg and Leigh Ann took him to the doctor for a checkup to see what was wrong. His white blood count was off. When they took him to UVA for further diagnosis, they discovered Mason has Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Mason is your typical energetic, fun loving little boy, and this news has devastated his family and all of us. Mason underwent surgery a few days ago and has started chemo therapy.

His treatment is going to be expensive, so all of us are trying to help them out financially. We are having a fund-raiser for them this coming Friday November 6 at the Massie’s Mill Ruritan Hall, with a silent auction in hopes of raising some money for his treatment. I ask you to send whatever you can to help fund his recovery to: Mason Hensley Recovery Fund c/o Wintergreen Real Estate Co. P.O. Box 747, Wintergreen, VA. 22958. Although the Hensleys have insurance, Leigh Ann and Greg will still need financial support. Your donation will be deposited directly to the recovery account at the UVA Credit Union. Please note on your check that it is for Mason’s benefit and recovery. I will personally send you a thank you letter which you can have for the end of the year taxes. Many, many thanks and blessings for your thoughtfulness and generosity.

The Pipeline

As you have seen in recent communications, the proposed pipeline is still planned to come through the only entrance to Wintergreen. I am told it will come under the BR Parkway north of Reeds Gap and under Rt. 664 below the entrance of the resort and then up Fortunes Mountain. The tunnel will be about a mile long and will house a 42 inch gas pipe. One of the members of the Nelson Co. Board of Supervisors said that all construction will occur to the west of the western tunnel entrance, meaning less disruption to the entrance of Wintergreen since construction material will be removed on the other side of the mountain. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation floating around and there also seems to be dissention among the groups fighting the proposed pipeline. I am not sure what is true, but there is great passion everywhere. It is interesting however that the official application Dominion Resources is submitting to FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) states in one of the reports within the application that Dominion Resources does not have a contingency plan if the underground drilling under the parkway cannot be done. Dominion wants the application approved based on current projections. Should they find that the tunneling cannot be done then they only have to revise the approved application, leaving the door open for Dominion to come across the George Washington National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail if needed. Dominion expects to start work by December of 2016.

I assume you have seen the recent plans and maps just released from The Wintergreen Nature Foundation and others. Read their recent emails, as they contain important information. I have not seen any other location proposed at this point, however several groups such as Friends of Wintergreen, Friends of Nelson and others are working hard and raising money to discourage the current route. Support their efforts. You should have been sent all the recent emailed information but if you need more details, contact me and I will share what I am told.

We need to convince them and FERC to find a better route. Dominion Resources is going to build the pipeline because there is so much money to be made and there is political support for the route. It will be devastating on many levels if the pipeline is allowed to proceed as planned.

Real Estate Sales Statistics

Sales are up for this past quarter.

Mountain and Stoney Creek Sales
Mountain Sales
2014 Year To Date 2015 Year To Date
28 HousesPrice range $211,000 to $1,350,000 38 HousesPrice range $150,000-$1,350,000
41 CondosPrice range $34,000 to $389,900 64 CondosPrice range $55,000 to $327,500
1 TownhouseWestwood 4BR $290,000 2 TownhousesWestwood $143,000 (foreclosure)

Trillium Place $288,000

Stoney Creek Sales
2014 Year To Date 2015 Year To Date
12 HousesPrice range $229,000 to $681,000 13 HousesPrice range $336,000 to $625,000
Mountain and Stoney Creek Pending (Under Contract) Sales
Mountain Houses 7 under contract ranging in price $215,000 to $549,000
Mountain Condos 9 under contract ranging in price $49,500 to $225,900
Stoney Creek Homes 7 under contract ranging in price $209,900 to $619,900

 

With the sales pending, the numbers are up considerably in regard to houses and condos this year over last year.

Lot sales are down on the mountain. Eighteen lots sold in January-October 2014 and only 10 so far this year with one pending sale. In Stoney Creek, 2 lot sales are pending and there have been 6 sales so far this year as compared to 12 last year from January to October.

Four of the six jurisdictions within our MLS experienced year-over-year sales gains in Q3, led by a 37.3% increase in Louisa and a 24.7% jump in Fluvanna. Nelson (+15.7%) and Albemarle (+4.9%) also saw more Q3 sales than 2014. Nelson’s 59 sales had a median price of $270,000, declining 6.9%, or $20,000, from last year’s level for the previous quarter, according to the C.A.A.R. MLS.

Sales are improving in spite of the uncertainty about the pipeline and the new owners.

New Resort Ownership

We have heard nothing from the new owners of Wintergreen since they bought the resort in February. However, Mark Fischer from the Wintergreen Pacific Group will speak after the annual WPOA property owners meeting on Saturday, November 14th. The annual WPOA meeting starts at 1000 AM. Plan to attend and ask questions. Positive news will help the sales effort of all the companies working in the Wintergreen market. A new commitment to improve Wintergreen makes a compelling story for new prospects as well as owners.

The Sales Process Explained

Almost every person we meet who are looking for property at Wintergreen or in this part of Virginia goes through three buying stages. Whether they’re aging and looking to retire in our area, or hoping to find the perfect second home to enjoy with their families and friends, or just maturing in their tastes and looking for a larger or smaller home, each potential client goes through a cycle.

That cycle puts buyers into three categories: 1. The buyers who are starting out and are truly just looking. 2. The ones who have decided they are definitely going to do something, but haven’t decided what or where yet. 3. The ones who have a clear idea of what they want, including their price range and other requirements. Our job as salespeople is to recognize those cycles and guide them and help them achieve their goals.

In Stage One buyers are just thinking of making a change. We must win their trust and business by taking on the role of adviser and asking them questions that move them forward mentally and psychologically. But, it is crucial that we make sure they are well educated and completely understand the relative values within our community and the surrounding rural areas.

In Stage Two, buyers have decided to make a change. They’ve made a commitment to buy something. They don’t know exactly what they want, but they do know they want something. Our job is now is to help them narrow the choices.

In Stage Three, our customers come to the realization of knowing what they want — their price range, the features they want, and an idea of the location and of the type of property and/or floor plan that meets their needs. They are definitively in the market and ready to buy. Sometimes this process takes a few hours and sometimes years and even decades. I have seen all those situations over the past 40 years at Wintergreen.

All of this takes time and we must ask the right questions to understand the buyers’ needs or wants. When agents aren’t aware of what their potential buyers are thinking, they are wasting their own time and wasting the time of the potential buyers as well, and they have wasted the opportunity to help with the sale. On the other hand, when agents find out which stage buyers are in and react to their needs and educate them within that specific stage, there is a much better chance the prospect will purchase.  Price is the last consideration in the early stages. Prospects haven’t even decided whether or not they need or want a change. They are gathering information. Buyers don’t need to hear a lot of specifics about a property but need to first understand the how their lives will improve if they make a change. In stage three, they understand that a change will improve their lives. They already know the motivations and that’s why they came to our area and Wintergreen.

The reason I explain this is that the buying process takes time. It’s important for us to spend time with buyers in all stages of the buying process. Often sellers will expect an immediate response from someone looking at their house and it may be the buyer’s first visit. If we as agents are willing to commit the time and energy, we will have a healthy pipeline of prospects as potential clients moving through the various stages. It all helps absorb the substantial inventory of homes, condos and lots we have for sale. There are currently 110 homes, 83 condos, 15 townhouses for sale on the mountain, with 19 houses for sale in Stoney Creek. We have years of inventory so pricing a home or condo is critically important if it is to be competitive.

Golf Ball Hunting

Since Judy and I moved to Stoney Creek last fall, I have been trying to teach our Jack Russell, Maxine, the art and science of golf ball hunting. It has become a great form of exercise for us. While Max pretends she is the deadly Canine Ninja Squirrel Assassin, I walk along the edges of the fairways in search of the elusive once hit Titleist Pro V or other top brands. If you have not priced a dozen Titleist Balls lately you will discover golf balls have gotten expensive so it is worth the quick look even when playing a casual round late in the afternoon when no one else is out playing But, I have found it is still much harder part is trying to find your own ball after you have hit the classic banana slice or a duck hook. Most players are too upset with the shot where the ball might have gone than concentrating on where it did go. Finding another good golf ball is never a consolation for losing the one you just hit but, at least after submitting to the penalty, finding a brand new top brand ball somehow eases the pain. If you are looking in a strange area, be careful. Yes, I am talking about snakes and even bees.  I am not afraid of snakes or bees but if I suspect an area where there might be a Copperhead or a Rattlesnake or there is poor visibility, I whistle a merry tune and keep walking.  The best time for finding balls on the mountain is early and mid-October. They really stand out amid the dying ferns. Anytime in mid-October is good for the valley courses before all the leaves come down and again I like to look again in early spring.

I saw an article in Triangle Golf Today recently while playing in Pinehurst a couple of weeks ago and will pass on these tips in addition to my own:

  • If there is trouble to the right of the first hole, always look there. Players beginning their round generally are not adequately warmed up so they do not rotate and the tendency is for the ball flight to go to the right. Most folks won’t look for them because there are probably other foursomes behind them waiting to tee off.
  • If you are looking to the left, most of the balls will be closer to the fairway because hooks generally come in at lower angles and get stopped by the brush. Slices will come in higher and will generally be deeper in the woods.
  • Balls tend to be grouped when lost. If you find one ball there will probably be others since the area probably has not been searched. Another suggestion is to look at the fairway from within the woods and not the reverse. Look from dark to light. Vegetation grows toward the sunlight and it blocks your view when looking outside in.
  • Learn where balls are lost on your home course. Chances are it is where you lose yours. Skip the places where rarely land and concentrate on the hot spots. Creeks are gold. Golfers think their ball went in the water and let them go, but sometimes they get hung up on the bank. When looking in a creek look at it from different angles so reflection does not block your view.
  • Pace is important. Don’t rush and get careless. Concentrate and be positive and alert. No need to “walkover” good balls because you are in a rush or are not focused. Visualize seeing a ball everywhere you look. If you anticipate finding a ball and it is there, you will see it even if only a few dimples are visible. The ball will literally jump out at you. If your imagination and concentration are focused, you will not walk past any balls.
  • The last rule is really about attitude. If you find trash, pick it up and put it in your bag. Don’t trample the vegetation, throw deadfall into the woods; leave the course better than you found it.

Finally, if you are hunting and see a golfer lose a ball, throw it to him. Most golfers are not anxious to discuss a bad shot so I just call out and pitch them their ball, or sometimes in addition a new one I just found.  I like to think they would do the same for me.

In Closing

Not much more to report this fall but I hope to see you at the annual WPOA meeting or around the valley or mountain this fall. Stop by and see us on Bellflower and if you have friends thinking about Wintergreen please think of me and drop me a note.

All the best,

Tim

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