Out on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle WA, a lovely Eco-Craftsman was recently up on the market. That's a lovely part of the country and a great place to be green.
The materials used in the construction and finish of the Eco-House were chosen to create a beautiful home that is environmentally friendly, low-maintenance, allergy safe and will last for generations.
The house's web site is full of beautiful pictures of the house and its architecture. I wouldn't mind living there for sure. Alas, it's too late for me or you to stake your claim on this one. It sold for $720,000. But the architect appears to be in the process of building at least one more similar home. (via Hewn and Hammered)
If someday we're all going to look back and laugh at the outrageous housing market bubble that was the late 90s and early 00s, then this house in Cupertino will be the punch line -- $764,900 for 827 sq ft.
This probably won't shock anyone who has been actively watching the housing market, but the Housing Bubble has popped, the air is escaping the balloon. But a bubble is not a perfect metaphor for this situation. It's more like an avalanche waiting to happen that has finally reached its tipping point.
Signs of a slowing market have been everywhere for the last few months. More homes on the market for longer, no bidding wars for homes, a lack of long lines at the new home lotteries. Those were the tea leaves and everyone reading them saw the future when investors decided it was time to cut out of the market while they still could.
That time is now. According to this story at CNN, Flippers are backing out of new home purchases all over the country. They'd rather lose a $5000 deposit then be forced to sell the home at a loss or not be able to sell it at all.
That means new home construction will seriously slow down as home builders will need to clear that back inventory. It means that more homes will be coming on the market quickly as investors who are sitting on already built houses will want to move them quickly. It means that resale homes will have to lower their prices to beat those offered by home builders and flippers fleeing the market.
I have no idea of how far this avalanche of price adjustments will drop. It could be 5-10% or it could be 50%. Anything under 25% is really just an adjustment for the unnatural gains in home prices over the last 3-5 years. When you approaching 50% however, you're talking a possible economic slowdown.
This is going to be interesting to watch for sure.
Debuting today on the Internet is a new website that aims to take a chunk of power away from the Real Estate Agent monopoly. Zillow is a real estate value estimation machine. Use it to find home values, track the value of your existing home, or see values in the surrounding neighborhood. How much is that childhood home worth now? You can find now out.
I ran a few tests on the software using addresses from my past. What I found was mostly decent information, but one property didn't show a sale from a year ago. They also use a fairly wide value range in their estimates. So the guess work really isn't taken out of the equation. Home sellers and buyers will still be left wondering if they've set the right price. It's just easier to get the available comparision reports now. Where was Zillow a month ago when I was getting ready to make an offer on a property.
Will this website, and ones like it, result in a reduction of business for Realtors? Possibly. It certainly might result in a cut of commission for them. The whole home selling and buying machine needs to be rethought. Someone with the right ideas and the ability to implement them could make a big difference. I don't think Zillow is that site, but it's a step in the right direction.
The hardest part of buying a new house is the period of uncertainty between signing a deal and closing escrow. It's like Schrodinger's Cat, you know that a healthy home loan application went into the box, but while the box is closed the home loan exists in both states, filled and denied, until the experiment is over and the results are revealed. Ours will be a short escrow, twenty days, I can't imagine what those with 90 day escrows must endure.
I am really quite happy with the process. We went with the same company that held our mortgage in Las Vegas. We got locked into our rate exactly one day before the rates jumped 3/8's of a percent. Now we just sit back and wait for the appraisial and survey to come in. Then snap the house is ours. (yes my fingers were crossed when typing that.)
The home itself is in a nice part of the Hunter's Creek development in south Orange County. It was built in 1997 and is one street down from some of the nicest homes in the community. My commute to and from work and the Disney property are 5-10 minutes shorter (although we must now pay a toll to get to Disney).
I look forward to showing y'all pictures of the house. You'll see before, during, and after shots as we plan to redo the flooring, rearrange a closet, and totally redo the kitchen. Wish us luck with that.
It will be nice to be home owners again... I'll now be switching back to the side that hopes there is no housing market crash. Just call me Johnny Damon.
We're back actively looking in the market for a home. This involves long hours of sitting in front of the computer searching through MLS listings for homes that fit our criteria (especially those that aren't searchable (such as a having a nice kitchen)), are geographically in the area we want to live, and are in our price range. It's loads of fun, let me tell you.
We have two nice and knowledgable realtors, whose site I'll link to in a few days. However, as a potential home buyer I remain skeptical of folks who will only make money if they sell me something. I still feel more comfortable doing much of the legwork myself and will err on the side of caution in any decision. I need a realtor to let me into houses and then walk me through the legal and procedural steps of buying the one I like. I'm sure this makes their job easier, in that they don't have to do the legwork, but more difficult in that they might end up showing me more houses than they would the average buyer.
We had a list of 8 houses we wanted to see this weekend. Only 2 would let us in without a pre-approval letter from our mortgage company in the price range they have listed on the MLS. Those are the two we saw. One was an 18-year old rundown mess that an investor was just trying to flip. It was priced a little high for the existing market and would have to be seriously discounted for the remodelling work it would take to make this a livable home. So that's a no go.
The other house was 4-years old, is a current rental property, and had a great layout. It did have some issues with details where the builder just didn't seem to care what the house looked like or how it functioned. It needed repainting inside and out, and a few maintenance details taken care of, but overall, if the price was 10-15% lower than what it is listed for, we would likely make an offer.
The Orlando resale home market appears to have made its adjustment. Price per square foot continues to rise slowly, but many homes are still about 10-15% too high in that area based on previous sales in their community. These are the homeowners who just placed their home on the market for 120-180 days to see if they could get their asking price and will have to rethink their strategy once the contracted listing window is over.
I feel our best bet is to find a home that has been on the market for a long time, is likely investor owned, and is willing to sell at the avg price per square foot in their area, not the top price per square foot. Now, how do you find those? I guess that's what a realtor is for.
With the Housing Market leveling off and mortgage rates still at incredibly low levels is now the time to get in one last refinance on your mortgage? It might be according to this article. The Fed looks like it will continue to raise short-term interest rates and banks won't be able to hold down the cost of a mortgage for much longer. So if you're looking to get some equity out of the recent price inflation or just want to lower those monthly payments one more time. It's time to act.
Google hasn't been just a search engine for a long time. In addition to Gmail (which I use), Orkut (friend of a friend software), Picasa (photo organization), and Froogle (online shopping index), they've been upgrading their Maps feature like crazy. Recently they've added the ability to view a map or a satellite view and opened the API (to help programmers) which resulted in at least one amazing hack.
The other amazing thing has shown up on Flickr after inspiration from Matt H. (of Metafilter fame). MemoryMaps (flickr pool) show marked up versions of personal history such as childhood neighborhoods and famous places. You might want to do your own.
Before I started The Home Blog, I had been maintaining Home4Sale, an attempt to sell my house with the aid of blogging. Although the traffic was mostly slow and I didn't get a single lead from the blog, the experience was good and I think there is real potential to use a weblog as part of the home selling process.
Annie is trying to sell her Bungalow with the aid of a blog. But she's missing a few important details here. First off there is no indication as to where this home is. No MLS number, etc. She has also not included any photos of the house or the neighborhood. Finally, there is no sense of personality of the house and the neighborhood it is located in. Links to local schools, stores, restaurants, etc are all easy to do and crucial to helping sell your property to a new owner.
I wish Annie luck, but would like to see more from her and others in the blogosphere.
Note: the Home4Sale website will disappear now that our house has been sold. I tried to get Typepad.com to allow me to park the domain or set a forward on it, but it was a no go unless I continued to pay a monthly fee. Something I don't think is reasonable for a dead weblog.