29 S Coalter St. Staunton – EXTERIOR CHANGES

Staunton’s Gospel Hill is getting a makeover! Quick photo-blog of the exterior changes on 29 S. Coalter Street.

Circa 1889, this home has been sitting vacant for years. It had originally been a single family, and then was turned multi over the years, and then over time it was simply abandoned.

The entire foundation had rotted out, and we needed to rebuild it before we could tackle anything else. We have now completed that lengthy and complicated process, and the interior framing is almost complete.

All of the windows have been rebuilt, the new standing seam metal roof has been installed (by Scott Goirgetti at L & L Roofing 540 280 2239,) and all of the shingles have been stripped – siding repaired as necessary.

In the next couple-few weeks she will be getting a brand new fresh-and-beautiful paint job.

Locals, keep an eye out for big curb improvements to curb appeal.

It’s happening now!


Hey Staunton! Show us your chickens!

After a tireless battle, Staunton residents got their wish. They worked hard, and earned the right to raise backyard chickens in town.

On August 28th, a majority of Staunton’s City Council voted to allow city residents to adopt back yard hens. While there are some restrictions (number of birds permitted, no roosters, must get a one-time $50 permit) this is fantastic news for those of us who have advocated for this change.

Read more about the proceedings here.

Several months ago, I submitted an editorial to the News Leader myself in support of allowing citizen-owned backyard hens. From a real estate standpoint, I see no drawbacks whatsoever. In fact, having a great deal of experience working in the Richmond and Charlottesville markets, where hens are legal already, I can say that backyard hens are of absolutely no detriment that I have ever seen or heard of. (If you are interested in that editorial piece, you will find it  here.)

A hearty congratulations to all of the proponents of this improvement, and their support of a movement that has the potential to increase the health of residents through fresh eggs, increase food sustainability locally, contribute to their own well being in a way that is measurable and interactive, and teach children that there are more creatures besides dogs and cats who can be loved and respected as members of the family. Love your hens!

If you would like to learn more about this effort, and about keeping backyard hens at home, please go to the Facebook Page Staunton City Backyard Hen Advocates.

It’s a thrilling move in the right direction, in my opinion. Huge thanks to all who participated.

Good show!


After a gazillion years in the works, and putting myself on the back burner over and over again, I finally finished the process of earning my CRS®. This is a designation offered by the Council of Residential Specialists, and only 3% of us have it. Kinda elite!

It’s like a graduate degree in real estate, and stats show that we sell (and earn) at least three times as much as other agents, and stay current on trends, tech, and the latest laws and education resources.

I have a tendency to put myself on hold, while running around handling everyone else’s stuff. That’s another reason why this is thrilling. I finished it up, and it’s just for the betterment of me! 

Hooray for important milestones! WOOT!

Michael Organ Honored in Surprise West Beverley Street Ceremony

On August 27th, 2015, Mayor Carolyn Dull, attended by Staunton City Council, dedicated a garden area and installed a sign in honor of Michael and the numerous contributions that he has made to the City Of Staunton.

Michael knew nothing of it. It was a complete surprise!

Bravo Michael! And Bravo to the City for a lovely ceremony and installation. And thanks to Terry Vosbein for capturing this moment on video.

What a beautiful place to live.

Michael Organ’s Dedication

Michael Organ Honored in Surprise West Beverley Street Ceremony


Staunton Dog Park in the final weeks of preparation. Help give it a name!

Hey Staunton, VA! Looks like our hard work for a Community Dog Park has paid off.

We are, indeed, getting one at Gypsy Hill Park, and we could not be more excited!

The City Of Staunton Department of Parks and Recreation is asking the Community to step up and offer some ideas as to what this canine play area should be named, and are running a contest for submissions.

Please see below, and send in your ideas.

With this installation, we think that Staunton will be the most perfect place in the world to live, work, and play.

And Rex and Vader say WOOF WOOF!


It doesn’t work like that.

A friend recently told me about a couple he was working with. The agent has procured an acceptable offer for the sellers, and they were under contract. Inspections went relatively fine, and they had moved past the home inspection contingency, sailing in for the port of settlement.

Then one day he got a call from those sellers. They were worried about the buyer’s financing. They had taken it upon themselves to construct all sorts of scenarios about what could possibly go wrong in the buyer’s world, and had decided that if the settlement did not happen on the exact day that it was stated in the contract they were going to change the terms and refuse to pay the closing cost concession that they had agreed to in the contract.

Wait – what?

My friend was pretty upset. What was he supposed to say to these folks? Folks who had decided that if things did not go exactly as outlined, they were going to change the rules on what they had already agreed to do. They thought they could just change the terms of the contract – like that.

He felt that they were serious, and he was worried.

I told him what to say. It’s something we need to say quite often. It’s very simple. “It doesn’t work like that.” It simply does not work like that!

“If the buyer’s team is doing their due diligence, there is nothing wrong here. We are not permitted to penalize them in that way – per contract. It doesn’t matter if you feel like it. We can’t. That’s it.”

And stop talking.

No, it does not work like that. You are under contract, and you do not get to change the rules mid-stream. Because you feel like it. Because you thought about it more later. Because you need something to flex about today.

Real estate has a process. It has systems. It has a flow and an order of operations. Your agent is there to guide you through all of the pieces of the process.

Your agent cannot change the process for you because you would like it to be a certain way. Because you saw something on TV. Because your friend’s mom’s friend told you that you can.

It just doesn’t work like that.

5502 Monacan Trail Rd Covesville, VA

5502 Monacan Trail Rd Covesville, VA

Stunning Queen Anne Victorian in highly sought-after Albemarle County. The McCormick House is available for your acquisition, and at a price that cannot be beat for what it offers and its proximity to Charlottesville, VA.

This 4 Bedroom, 2 Full bath Queen Anne Victorian dates back to the 1870s, and started out as a 2 over 2. Additions were begun in the 1890s, and designed over time by a woman named Irena McCormick, the lady of the manor.

Significant Historical information, including landscaping, is available about this one – and that is rare and wonderful! Ask Agent.

Lots of renovation has been done to this beauty, including new appliances and soapstone countertops, central air, and recent insulation.

Additional features include standing seam metal roof, attached gazebo, full country front porch, original heart pine flooring, french doors, built in cabinets and bookcases, claw foot tub, wainscoting and formal chair rail, stained glass windows, extensive landscaping, and fish pond – all on a half acre in Albemarle County school district.

Located @20 minutes South of Charlottesville.

For more information, please contact Exclusive Listing Agent

Shannon Harrington, REALTOR®
Certified Historic REALTOR® | RE/MAX Realty Specialists
355 Rio Rd West
Charlottesville, VA 22901

Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS®
Greater Augusta Association of REALTORS®
RE/MAX Executive Club

Mobile: 540 294 5005



I am licensed to sell Real Estate in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and I support Fair Housing.


Happy Birthday HAL!

Happy Birthday to our Grand Poobah, our fearless leader, our voice of reason, and the person who makes it all possible – Hal!

We love and appreciate you, Hal!. Thanks for all you do for Queen City Concepts, and for Historic Staunton, Virginia!

PIPELINES: An Open Letter to the Virginia Association of REALTORS®. And you.

I’m bummed. Really disappointed. Been thinking about this for a while, and I guess it’s just time to put it out there.

I believe that our REALTOR® Associations are coming up short, in particular the Virginia Association of REALTORS®.

How so?

In particular, relating with the idea of failing to fight for private property rights. In particular, relating to Dominion’s proposal to lay a pipeline through Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, through some of its most beautiful and well-preserved natural regions – the private property of your fellow Americans. Perhaps private property belonging to you.

Seems unreal, right? Don’t we work hard to get to a place where we can offer our families security, stability, ability to find freedom from the impositions of renting, and the space to create our own personal domains? Whether it’s in the city – urban and convenient , or in the country – sprawling and brimming with vegetation and wildlife, we are told our entire lives that The American Dream is one of the hoops for which to reach.

So what is going on here?

Well, Dominion Virginia Power has decided that Augusta and Nelson Counties have prime real estate on which to lay their pipe, without the consent of the receivers. In fact, there are quite a few very vocal receivers who are loudly saying NO, and standing up to the surveyors who are out there to determine whether or not snagging this land from private citizens is a good idea for Dominion. So far Dominion seems to think it’s an awesome idea.

There are several problems with this, though. Pipelines are not safe. They just aren’t.

They are known to leak, which can cause irreparable damage to the wells of property owners. As we know, once the well is poisoned, the land is just about worthless.

They explode. And the instances of explosion are not isolated. We all see that these explosions, bleeding out corrosive contaminants, are on the rise.

I recently went to a fact-finding meeting where Dominion spokespeople stood and gave their talk. Not only were they ill prepared to address basic questions, like real estate property values being affected, they seemed completely unfazed by the public’s concern that their proposed route was within exploding range of a public middle school. There was a palpable feel that Dominion reps were disconnectedly there to attempt to smooth feathers. Frankly, the arrogance was infuriating.

It’s a problem. It is a problem for people who have done what they were told to do, and now have a little slice of heaven of their own. And then here comes Dominion with its claim of right to use Eminent Domain in order to come in and dig on their land. By strict definition, Eminent Domain is supposed to be for public use, though. Not for corporate shareholders’ use. There is no public use here. This is not public use.

Dominion is saying that their proposal will create jobs, but many have said that those jobs will be for firefighters and environmental first responders. Evidence has shown us that this concern has merit.

In February of 2014, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson joined in on a lawsuit to prevent fracking near his 84 acre Texas ranch. So he likes the idea of gas lines and fracking, just not in his back yard.

This is a much bigger topic than I can write here, and the purpose of this essay is not to educate the public on the dangers of pipelines and then, potentially fracking – a topic which has been skirted by Dominion as to their future plans.

The purpose is to ask loudly and clearly, where are our REALTOR® associations speaking up for these homeowners? Where is VAR, stepping in to assist homeowners who are out there slugging it out for themselves? It clearly states on VAR’s home page that one of their missions is:

“Governmental Advocacy 
Your voice is heard by Virginia’s legislators through lobbying efforts that encourage laws that protect private property rights, limit government intrusion, and maintain an open marketplace, thus enhancing your ability to do business successfully.” 

So where are you, VAR? There is a huge grassroots lobbying effort happening here in Virginia, trying to protect homeowner/landowner rights from the Goliath of Dominion. And we hear absolutely nothing from your court. What’s going on here?

Law suits being filed in both directions, public hearings being held, articles being written in the newspapers and TV stories being done. And again, where is VAR?

This is the planet that we give to our kids, and we are failing big time when we choose to keep quiet about matters of such grave and irreversible importance. We need to be holding each other accountable to do what we say we do, and be who we say we are.

And when VAR says that they are on board to protect private property rights, it seems that this situation would qualify as an excellent opportunity. I imagine that folks among their ranks read the newspaper.

If we are looking to improve our public image, and that is what we say we want all the time, let us not just step in when a commission is to be made from our service with the public. Let us stand up as an entity who fights for the American Dream in the face of corporate bullying. Let us stand behind the brave homeowners who say No, they will not allow their wells to be poisoned without a fight. They will not tolerate the threat of losing everything they have worked for because Dominion got a wild hair to capitalize on our natural infrastructure.

Below is a very crude list of pipeline accidents since 2010, copied from the Wiki. It’s not the best source, and this list disclaims as not complete, but it is still pretty startling. I chose this source because of its ease of comprehension:

  • 2010 (September 9) At 6:11 PM, a PG&E 30-inch natural gas line exploded in San Bruno, California, killing 8. Eyewitnesses reported the initial blast “had a wall of fire more than 1,000 feet high”.[31]
  • 2010 (July 25) Crude oil pipeline ruptures near Marshall, Michigan, spilling over 840,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River [32][33]
  • 2012 (12 December) a 20-inch transmission line owned by NiSource Inc., parent of Columbia Gas, exploded, leveling 4 houses, between Sissonville and Pocatalico in Kanawha County, West Virginia (WV). When it blew, nobody at pipeline operator, Columbia Gas Transmission knew it. An 800′ section of I-77 was obliterated.[34][35] “The fire melted the interstate and it looked like lava, just boiling.” Later the West Virginia Public Service Commission released several pages of violations by Columbia Gas.[36] Forty families were “impacted” by the explosion.[37] The investigation cited “corrosion” as the cause of the blast.[34][38]
  • 2013 (29 March) ExxonMobil pipeline carrying Canadian Wabasca heavy crude from the Athabasca oil sands ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas, about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock. Approximately 12,000 barrels (1,900 m3) of oil mixed with water had been recovered by March 31. Twenty-two homes were evacuated.[1] The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified the leak as a major spill. A reported 5,000−7,000 barrels of crude were released.[39]
  • 2013 (20 August) Explosion of a natural gas pipeline near Kiowa southwest of Oklahoma City [40]
  • 2013 (8 October) Explosion of a natural gas pipeline near Rosston, Oklahoma.[41]
  • 2014 (Jan 25) A Trans Canada pipeline about 15 miles south of Winnipeg ruptured and exploded. The incident prompted the precautionary closure of two nearby pipelines. The pipelines supply the main source of natural gas to more than 100,000 Xcel Energy customers in eastern North Dakota, northwestern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.[42] The explosion happened near Otterburne, Manitoba, about 15 miles south of the provincial capital, Winnipeg. The area was evacuated as a precaution. No injuries were reported but the fire burned for more than 12 hours.[43]
  • 2014 (Feb) In Knifely, Adair County, Kentucky, a Columbia Gulf gas pipeline exploded at 1 a.m. flattening homes, burning barns, and causing one casualty. The 30-inch natural gas pipeline was about 100 feet from Highway 76 and buried 30 feet underground. When it exploded, large rocks and sections of pipeline flew into the air, leaving a 60-foot crater. Columbia Gulf, part of NiSource’s Columbia Pipeline Group, owns and operates more than 15,700 miles of natural gas pipelines, one of the largest underground storage systems in North America. The pipeline that exploded was carrying natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico to New York.[44]
  • 2014 (Feb 11) A Hiland gas pipeline exploded about six miles south of Tioga, North Dakota. Hiland was “blowing” hydrates, ice-like solids formed from a mixture of water and gas that can block pipeline flow, out of the pipeline.[45]
  • 2014 (Mar 14) A Northern Natural Gas Company pipeline erupted near the intersection of county roads 20 and O, about six miles north of Fremont, Nebraska. A company spokesman said, “In the summer you can tell if you’ve got a gas leak by vegetation, sometimes it dies in the ground.”[46]
  • 2014 (May 26) A Viking gas pipeline explosion near Warren, Minnesota was “hell on earth,” shaking the ground and shooting a fireball over 100 feet in the air. Roads within a two-mile radius were blocked off. Authorities suspected natural causes because there was still frost in the ground and the soil was wet.[42][47]

Please feel free to cite other reliable sources for this information in the comments section. I’d appreciate it.

With all of this happening related to pipelines, how must even the average layperson intuit that property values will move? I have had three people U-Turn out of Nelson County as ready, willing, and able purchasers since this idea hit the table. If we know that markets are dictated by supply and demand, this stands to lower property values considerably. I understand that other agents are experiencing the same.

A few more excellent resources  are the Facebook pages Virginians Against PipelinesFriends of Nelson, and Pledge of Resistance to the Dominion Pipeline.

Rex Tillerson (EXXON) does not want this going on in his back yard. But what about our back yards?

What about us? Really just astounding.

Come on VAR. Put your action where your statements are. Get visible and join the fight against corporate bullying to take our property rights. It’s never too late to start doing what you say you do.

Since You’re Gone

I’m no economist, but we seem to be doing much better financially right now than in seasons past. At least in the markets where I work. Spring has sprung early, and interest rates are incredibly low. There is some excellent inventory out there to choose from, and people are ready to make big changes.

It’s going to be a very active season in the real estate market, and I am certain of this. I know because I am already getting up before dawn to get all my work done before I head out for the day, and that usually doesn’t start until late March.


Your life has changed, and you have already moved from the home that you want to sell. Maybe your family has grown and you needed more square footage, so when you found the next place of your dreams you couldn’t pass it up. Or maybe your nest is empty and you grabbed that condo with views before you got your family home sold. Maybe you have met the love of your life and are getting married, already blending households. All this is great stuff!

Bottom line is that you are now excitedly settled into your new place before you have sold your previous one. You have moved on, and we are putting the space you called home for years on the market. Excellent!

Selling homes vacant has advantages. No pets around to complicate showings, no schedules of the residents to work around. It makes it really easy for agents with the ready, willing, and able Buyers to show your place at a moment’s notice. The more convenient, the better.

But what are potential Purchasers seeing when they go over? Let’s think about that for a sec.

You have bathrooms to clean in your new place. You have a lawn to mow and a walkway to sweep where you are now. All of the laundry moved with you, and weekends may be spent catching up on that – while your beloved former-abode gets little to no attention. Out of sight, out of mind.

This is a problem. It can also cost you money. Lots.

It’s a problem because, even though you have moved on, the first impression that potential buyers get is a lasting one. Your former home, the largest investment that you are ever likely to make, still needs you!

So if there has been a huge windstorm and there are sticks all over the yard that nobody has picked up, it raises the question of too many imposing trees, and what kind of shape they are in. Will they fall on the house? Scary!

If the toilets have not been cleaned lately and it shows, does that mean that the water from the well is “bad”?

How long have the gutters been that full? Does that mean that water is not getting properly directed and is ruining the foundation?

These may sound like no big deal, but they are basic reasons why a qualified Buyer might not even consider making an offer. They are potential concerns.

As Sellers, it is our job to remove these concerns from the Buyer’s mind so that all they see is how beautiful the space is, all of the things that you and your family loved about the home, and where they will put that antique buffet that they inherited from Grandma.

Lack of ongoing maintenance raises red flags, so don’t give up on the one that you left behind. Get on over there every week, two weeks at the longest. Sweep and dust as needed. Check out the yard. Does the mulch need to be touched up? How did the porch paint fare over winter? I will get you a full list when we talk.

And above all, please keep the utilities connected. The minute that they are off the house feels like a dank and barren wholesale property, worth tens of thousands less because the impression is that nobody cares, and that there are not real humans on the other end of the transaction.

More than once I have had a Seller lose focus on the home that they have loved and left, and it has left money on the table. Lots of it. It is so disappointing for them when that lightbulb goes off as to what happened, even though we were talking about these factors the whole time.

Life gets in the way if we let it. Let’s not let it! This is one of the greatest money-makers (or losers) of your life. We have to keep our eyes on the prize. I will help you, but I can’t do it alone.

So if you are selling, please understand that it ain’t over till it’s over. If you are unable to make it over to check on things, enlist a trusted friend. Hire a cleaning service and landscaper.

I can just about guarantee you that whatever you invest in making sure that things stay ready for showings will pay you back at the settlement table.

As always, get in touch if you want to chat. 540 294 5005 / shannon@shannonharrington.com