“Over Greening” is a phrase I am publicly coining today. Not even Urban Dictionary has a pithy or perverse definition for this phrase and alas it’s up to me to bring it to the masses. It’s meant to be a play on the more well known Real Estate phrase “Over Improving.” As in, this home is over improved considering it’s location or size.
Along that vein, one must wonder can there be such a thing as over greening considering the mounting evidence of global warming and impending energy shortage? Can a home boasting 50-70% reduction in energy usage with a volume of sustainable upgrades offer a buyer or seller a sure a return on investment?
I have worked heavily in this niche for about 3 years now and have run in to more than a few builders who converted from ho-hum spec building to green building with the fervor of a Southern Choir on Sunday morning. I’ve seen the light right along with them and found myself caught up in the idea of reducing emissions and cleaning up the planet one house at a time. I have embraced their enthusiasm and championed their success.
I have also witnessed their struggle in trying to sell these homes. In some cases, at a 30% premium over comparable homes in their market and ultimately finding themselves lucky to turn little to no profit for their time and effort. Unfortunately, a declining market can bring out the skittish in even the most idealistic buyers and as one builder recently lamented to me, “we were about 5 years to early” it can prove to be a tough sell.
I listened in on a great webinar today hosted by The Green Resources Council about the EPA’s new Indoor Air Plus program (more to come on that). There were two bits of data that grabbed me from the session. One was a survey done by McGraw Hill of builders about how they define a green home. The number one answer was better constructed home in terms of quality of materials and workmanship. The same question was posed to consumers and the answer was a home with reduced energy costs and healthier indoor air quality.
I think the Ah Ha! moment from these survey answers is that there is some gap between builders and buyers in what they expect. In my humble opinion, in order for green building to succeed, it is necessary to understand the consumer’s expectations for a green home and strike balance between the benefits verses costs in achieving these better building standards. Much easier said than done but certainly a crucial part of the process for anyone looking to purchase or build a green home.
Realtors have an interesting roll in this balancing act because they can provide data on how these types of homes perform in their markets and what particular features seem to be gaining the most traction. I plan in my next post, to discuss the process of greening your MLS and how you can begin to build some hard data to provide to your clients that will hopefully aid them in building or purchasing green according to their unique market.
In the meantime dive in, think green but make sure you know how deep the pool is.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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