We have watched for days as details of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami unfold and we have been shocked at the calm nature of an entire nation despite total devastation. Last night on CNN however, one woman told a translator that people say she’s so lucky that she survived but given that her husband, children, home, neighborhood and country were gone, she wasn’t convinced that survival was the best thing that could happen to her.
The home I grew up in burnt down just before I left for college and there is a distinct emptiness and hopelessness you feel when you stand in front of everything you own after it has been reduced to rubble and stands before you in a pile of blackness.
Many Japanese don’t get the closure of seeing that pile, their homes have been swept out to sea along with their loved ones, leaving many to ask how rebuilding even begins. Houses are on top of schools and hospitals, buses are on top of those houses, debris blocks every street and it seems all to overwhelming as to where to begin.
The Red Cross and international military have arrived on the scene to help with the basic survival of the population as rolling blackouts continue, food and potable water are scarce, and evacuations continue with the threat of a possible failure of a nuclear reactor.
But what about rebuilding? What about the long haul? Feeding a population is critical, but what happens next? Several organizations will be staying in Japan to begin the rebuilding efforts like Architecture For Humanity (AFH) who has been working in disaster reconstruction for 12 years, having designed and constructed hundreds of schools, clinics, houses and other community facilities in areas like Haiti, India, Pakistan, Chile and even here at home in the US.
Today, AFH Executive Director Cameron Sinclair said, “On a grassroots level, the greatest impact we can make is to focus on specific small scale building projects for local community organizations. These ‘urban acupuncture’ projects create a ripple effect of social cohesion and change. As we raise more funds we will green light additional centers. It is our aim to raise $200,000 to build the first of these projects.”
Please consider giving to the following legitimate causes or to causes you are involved or familiar with:
- Architecture For Humanity
- Doctors Without Borders
- Salvation Army
- Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 (or to 30333 in Canada)
- Signalnoise is selling the now famous “Help Japan” poster (sold out but shipping again soon) and t-shirts with 100% of proceeds going to the Red Cross (he is a reputable designer, we trust his claims).
In related news, Verizon, AT&T and Vonage are offering free calls to Japan. Please pray for those in Japan, in other nations impacted by the earthquake, and those set out to help rebuild.
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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