Thursday, December 21, 2006

Auld Lang Syne or Old Lame Song?

Bad news begets bad news, right? So, what better way to ring in the New Year than with the year’s news?

I realize some of you still haven’t wrapped up your Christmas shopping yet, but truth be told, the New Year is nearly upon us. And with the champagne popping, Auld Lang Syne singing, and mistletoe smoochin’, comes all the inevitable top ten lists. Take for instance the Associated Press’ Top Ten Business Stories of 2006.

Like a tremendous rain cloud, the downturn of home sales hovered atop the list for economic headlines in 2006. This is old news to most; both the lame duck sales totals and the fact that the developments were the media’s go-to story of the year. However, with the year’s final numbers not completely crunched and the ever-inconsistent trends in the market, one begs the question of if the story is a story at all, or if it’s just more media blitz to keep the TVs glowing and newsprint spinning.

One things clear. The actual economic impact aside, homebuyers and sellers are obviously taking a psychological hit from all the ‘doom and gloom’ predictions coming out of the media. Whatever the final numbers come down to (and we all know that the boom couldn’t last forever), maybe the fact that anyone with CNN knows to lay low this year could be at least partially responsible for the downturn itself.

One way or the other, you can always bypass the media by finding smart, unbiased listings with our real estate website and idx tools and keep up-to-date with the twists and turns in the market with the premier Seattle real estate news.

Happy New Year. Hardly Old News.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Brief History of the World... of MLS - Part 1

Where to start? At the beginning, of course.

The real estate industry – and conversely the laws and systems that govern it – was born out of a necessity: how to claim and trade land. Like many of our government and civic systems, the predecessor of today’s real estate industry was born in medieval England.

After the Norman conquest of the British Isles in 1099, the newly crowned King William decreed that all the vast lands of England were his, and solely his, to do with what he willed. The feudal system was born. In this system, the King would divvy out parcels of land to the aristocracy over which they would rule for a time. These tenures of ownership were called ‘estates’ and the most common type was the ‘Fee Simple’ estate, whereby land rights were passed down through the same family over generations. This is the most important form of common law that came out of the feudal system and we still use its basic premise today.

Fast-forward a few years. The smoke is settling over a newly formed republic, a former colony of the British Empire with vast resources of land and oddly democratic tendencies. The first Americans built real estate laws right into the constitution, for in the 18th and 19th centuries, land was the primary source of wealth. By the 1880s the first loosely organized real estate agent organizations were developed and by 1900 well over a dozen real estate boards stood firmly in place. These boards helped organize, list, and catalogue land and building sales, but were still largely bureaucratic entities serving large businesses and the government.

In 1951 the ‘Photo Co-Op System’ revolutionized the real estate industry and made buying and selling homes much more convenient to the American public. Real estate and mortgage firms flourished and the agency system became a multi-billion (now trillion-) dollar industry. This was the predecessor to today’s MLS and was the jumping off point for technology like real estate website and idx tools.
Cue the dawning of a technological revolution and the merging of a thousand-year old real estate system with the emerging technology of computers and the Internet.

Drum roll; fade to black.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Market Giveth and the Market Taketh Away

I’ve discussed time and time again how the ‘doom and gloom’ perception of the so-called housing bust is way too simplified to be true. In all states of the market flux, there are investments to be made, and declining profits in one sector often mean high times in another.

Take for example the Renovation Boom that has come at the heels of low housing sales. Many homeowners who considered selling before the ‘bust’ are now turning their investments into further renovation and improvement of their homes. Seattle real estate news from several sources report an increase in remodeling expenditures across the country, even as sales fall. Over $115 billion more was spent in the first three-quarters of 2006 than in the same time period a year earlier. Architectural firms and construction companies are seeing a rise in public interest, particularly in higher end development, as opposed to basic structural renovation. With demand for this highly skilled companies peaking, the average backlog for national firms has reached almost six months!

New remodeling trends also reflect the changing economy. The hottest trends right now include renovation of older heating systems, insulation, and windows for newer, more energy-efficient technology. The rising prices of gas and increased traffic congestion have also prompted more home offices to be built.

Remodeling and renovation can often increase the value of a home by at least as much as the cost and will always promote appreciation. So, lesson learned: Hold tight, build right. For more information about current home listing software, be sure to check out our real estate website and idx tools.