Real Estate

Real estate sales for 2010 instead of 1980

Two years ago I started a post about the need for better ways of selling real estate. We were fresh off the real estate search. Having had several bad experiences trying to talk us into sub-prime mortgages and houses we couldn't afford I thought it was time for a change. Now two years later everything has changed and yet nothing has changed. Here's what I wrote at that time:

We've recently been on the real estate roller-coaster. Having had a "prime" loan and house for several years through the growth of the market we're cashing out at a decent time. The challenges of buying, however, are making me think a lot about the need for real reform in the way we buy and sell real estate. It isn't even so much the buying and selling exactly, though that needs help too, but it is the process of finding a place that really stinks.

Homebuyers should be wary of Energy Star claims

Anyone believing the real-estate hype these days is hearing that the market is turning around. Never mind the real indicators we'll skip that discussion for the moment.

Energy Star homes are built to have a more efficient "envelope" to help keep the house comfortable while using less energy. It is a part of the same program that rates appliances, computers etc. The process of getting a home qualified is pretty straight forward. Build to a standard, use the right materials and get the house inspected. The EPA has a nice description of the process and differences.

The problem is that just because a builder has a design that meets the specs doesn't mean it will really be very efficient. Sure if the standards are followed the envelope will be good. However, it doesn't mean the design is good. Take for example the house we're in now. To be clear it doesn't seem that this house actually was qualified with an inspection rather it's a design built to the standard.

Real Estate Bust

For Sale SignNary a day passes without some prognostication by our local realtor bloggers saying everything has turned around and the market is headed back up. What is most surprising about these is not that there are sales people who believe that they can still sell snake-oil but that there are sales people who haven't taken the time to understand that 2008 is not 2006 or 1989. Consumers are better informed and have access to more information than at any point in the past.

What is most surprising is that some of the very same folks who are trying to high-pressure customers into buying now are doing so online. In the very same environment that gives consumers access to the actual information about what is going on. Real estate sales people can say "the market is turning" till they are blue in their faces but we'll still know that the rate of foreclosures is increasing. We'll still see the new house each week that is bank owned on our streets.

CC&R's that are bad for the environment

Having looked at houses over the years I've seen some really bad CC&R's. But some go beyond being annoying to being downright harmful to the planet. Take for example this except from the Shamrock West website pointing out the most commonly violated CC&R's:

“Each home is REQUIRED to have a photo-sensitive pole light installed in the front yard within (10) feet of the property line, designed to switch on automatically at sunset and off at sunrise with a minimum bulb power of 40 watts.”

So not only does this contribute to unnecessary light pollution, but it wastes energy. Living in the next neighborhood over we don't have this silly rule. And the neighborhood is much nicer for it. Sadly most new development CC&R's I've looked at lately have these same clauses requiring residents to waste energy.

The second third of life

Cannondale F5Singing Phil Vassar's song Tim McGraw tells us:

I think I'll take a moment, celebrate my age
The ending of an era and the turning of a page
Now it's time to focus in on where I go from here
Lord have mercy on my next thirty years

I'm measuring not in 30-year spans but in a third of life spans. Having just put up the score card on the first third it is time to turn to the second third. My family was very nice and procured some long-desired toys that will help focus my next third on staying in better shape. The Cannondale parking area now has another member. Sadly, it is also the first Cannondale that I have owned which does not bear the "Made in USA" label. The last Cannondales I purchased came with a manual declaring their proud factory and a video telling the company's tale. Granted the video was a VHS tape which I would have to hunt for a way to play now days but it remains a sad marker on the changing of the times and I contributed to it. Cannondale and Trek among others do still make bikes in the USA but they are the higher end bikes.


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