Today’s hyperbolic statement comes from, ironically enough, that venerable hard news source – the Today Show.Â Normally, I watch CNBC and the wife watches NBC.Â Unfortunately, no Squawk Box on Saturdays.Â Lester Holt’s (I think that’s correct) teaser was – “Today’s housing market is the worst in history,” and then proceeded to tease a cell phone service that would help you sell your house….Â The worst in history?Â I don’t buy it.Â Not what it used to be?…Â Do your own due diligence; two-minute segments on network TV typically don’t provide the thorough analysis needed to assess the housing (or any) market.
This article from today’s Wall Street Journal (paid link) is direct, cogent and simple; simple in a good way.Â Finding an article in the big media about today’s changing market that provides good information that is not written from a fear-mongering frame of mind is rare….Â A few select quotes:Sellers are also being told to cut prices aggressively if their house isn’t moving — or risk chasing the market downward….Waterford Development Corp….Â If the price drops, the company says it will write the buyer a check for up to 15% of the original sales price, not including the value of any optional upgrades….Â says he has begun checking multiple-listing service data every week or two instead of once a quarter to see how recent sales compare with deals that closed three and six months ago. “Things can change…very quickly,” he says….Another approach is a personal plea.Â (She) encourages clients to court prospective buyers with a letter explaining the intangibles that make their home and neighborhood so appealing, such as the fact that the kids on the block trick-or-treat at Halloween together.Â During the height of the housing boom, some brokers were encouraging the same type of personal notes — but from buyers eager to get their bid accepted….My, how things have changed.Â I will still write letters presenting my buyers to the sellers (and perhaps now from my sellers to the buyers) – the business remains about people, hot market or not.While I read this article in print this evening, the Housing Bubble blog brings its spin to the conversation.
If you don’t speak up, no one will listen.As of today, about 300 surveys have been completed.Â The Albemarle County Development Review Survey has been out since 18 September.Â It is a survey designed to give the special Task Force and thereby the Board of Supervisors (BoS) input into the development process and the efficiencies/inefficiencies inherent in the process.Â Note: It’s not a referendum on growth!Â I have received emails from the Sierra Club, Free Enterprise Forum, Piedmont Environmental Council (if I recall), and a couple of on-the-ball readers.Â Not to mention Albemarle’s excellent A-Mail program.Seriously, take the survey.Â With about 84,000 residents, probably 75% of whom have internet access (~65,000 people) 300 responses (0.46%) is mighty paltry.Â That’s a pretty meager response rate for a populace that professes great concerns about the growth process.
Regarding the current special transportation session and wondering how these part-time legislators are able to wade their way through this labyrinthian morass, I am picking and choosing a few bills of interest:SB 5016: Failed regarding the NoVa regional transportation taxthe grantors tax is raised from $0.20 per $100 of value to $0.30 per $100 of the value of the real estate being recorded, with an additional local option grantors tax at a rate of $0.10 per $100 of the value of the real estate.Â SB 5013: Failed authorizing local governments to impose a local grantor’s tax at the rate of 30 cents for each $100 of value with the revenues to be used for local or regional transportation projects; Regarding 5013 and 5016: imposing such a narrow tax from which everybody will benefit is simply wrong.Â The grantor’s tax taxes only the seller of real estate.Â Believe it or not, everybody who uses our transportation system does not sell property every year.Â Finding a broad-based, sustainable tax targeted solely for transportation and out of the hands of greedy politicians must be the primary goal.I was in a meeting last week and the following point was made – the state is not the one who is sending the unfunded mandate to maintain and build road to the localities, it is the localities who are sending the unfunded mandate to the state through their continued approvals of developments that lack the supporting infrastructure.Â I remain unsure as to how I feel about this argument, but it was the first time I had heard that argument made; therefore I am curious.HB 5096: Prohibits taking additional streets into the state secondary highway system on or after January 1, 2007, unless they are within an area subject to control by a homeowners’ association.Alas:The House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee decided to defer action on land use legislation championed by House Speaker William J….Â The plan shall include quantifiable and achievable goals relating to congestion reduction and safety, transit and HOV usage, job/housing ratios, job and housing access to transit and pedestrian facilities, air quality, and/or per-capita vehicle miles traveled.Â The Board shall consider such goals in evaluating and selecting transportation improvements.Another layer of bureaucracy to ensure accountability.So far, 1.3% of proposed bills have been approved, after having been passed by both the House and the Senate.
I know, I know – it’s a relatively provocative headline, but I found the coincidence between these two headlines too much not to post.From the WSJ (Free link):MARTINSVILLE, Va.Â — Federal and state authorities are investigating allegations of an elaborate mortgage fraud involving about 100 people living in or near this small factory town who say they unwittingly took out loans to buy houses at inflated prices in Indiana.And from Charlottesville’s Craigslist:* Buy with an educated club of investors and avoid shady developers.* Purchase real estate property at a fraction of the said price using bulk discounts.* Contractually bar the developer from allotting your deposit to construction costs.I’m not saying (nor trying to imply/infer/whatever) that this “club” is a fraud.Â But beware of things that seem too good to be true.Â Real estate is always risky.Â Do your due diligence.
Digg-style.Â Realestatevoices launched today, a “Digg-style” social-networking news site that will aggregate and rank real estate news.Â Despite receiving the announcement email from Niki this morning, it has taken me this long to check it out.Â Joel Burslem’s post some time ago foreshadowed Realestatevoices’ arrival and now it’s a reality.Upon a quick glance, it seems similar in some ways to Original Signal, primarily due to its singular focus and simplicity of design.Separating the wheat from the chaff, rewarding good writing and breaking real estate news …Â what’s not to like?Â My one question – is there a shortcut I can add to the menu bar of Safari/Firefox to make submitting stories easier?Â It’s incredible that in such a relatively short time-frame, the real estate blogosphere has grown to such a magnitude that a site such as Realestatevoices is not only needed and welcomed, but viable.Â The speed with which Niki’s announcement email made its way to the blogs is a testament to the rapidly-evolving news cycle.