2020: the next housing crisis, resilient agents, and a horse in the living room
Even as we’re still recovering from the last housing collapse, economists are forecasting the next crisis. Their best guess: 2020, as aging Boomers start leaving their giant suburban single-family homes for retirement living. The problem is there aren’t enough families in the following generations to meet demand, either because of finances or preference.
BloombergBusinessWeek has an interesting story this week on the rise (and so far mostly non-success) of Redfin, Zillow and Trulia. In looking at the internet startups that promised disintermediation, hollowing out the home buying experience as others had with travel agents, stock brokers and car dealers, the authors find that people still rely on the traditional agent for the largest purchase of their lives.
How can you spice up your listing photos? How about a horse in your living room? A REALTOR in Virginia helping to sell a $5.99-million horse farm is using a picture taken several years ago for a coffee table book that features the a horse standing in the stable apartment living room. The image was picked up by the Huffington Post, helping to generate some interest on the property.
The Bipartisan Policy Center released its blueprint for reform of the housing market. One suggestion is the elimination of both Fannie and Freddie, replacing the GSEs with a backstop guarantee much like GinnieMae does for FHA and VA loans. Some commentators feel this spells the end of the fixed rate 30 year mortgage as we know it.
We were shocked and saddened to learn about the man who died when a sinkhole opened up under his home in Florida. We wondered if homeowners’ insurance covers sinkholes. According to the Florida Department of Financial Services, it depends on the extent of damage. Standard homeowners insurance is required by law to cover “catastrophic ground cover collapse” but to qualify to that level, the home must be so damaged that it’s condemned. Luckily separate more general sinkhole coverage is available as an add-0n. Wondering if there are sinkholes in your neighborhood? A new service from Floodinsight will tell you for a small fee. You can also contact the Florida Geological Survey.
Samsung is set to unveil it’s new Galaxy IV phone later this month. CNN reports that some are speculating that the phone will have scrolling controlled by the users eyes. When you reach the bottom of the screen the phone will sense it and start scrolling the page for you.
You want to start a garden, but you don’t have a clue what to do. SproutRobot can help you. Sign up for free, and SproutRobot will create a personalized planting plan and send you seeds to plant. If only I had a yard!
North Korea’s been in the news lately. The latest dictate from Pyongyang: the country announced 28 approved haircuts for men and women. Interestingly, the current leader’s coif didn’t make the list…
Holiday obligations, insurance, penny horders, and how to wrap a cat
Just because everyone is buying the boss a gift, pulling names off the giving tree, and organizing an office potluck for the holidays doesn’t mean you have to participate. While it’s probably not a wise career move to completely withdraw from office festivities, don’t feel bad about bowing out from some things. The Chicago Tribune gives some advice on how to gracefully decline office holiday obligations.
Well, if you do decide to go to the office holiday party, remember they can be a minefield of faux pas. Prepare yourself with some simple tips on how to survive the office party and come out clean.
And what if that holiday party continues on into your home, or the boss invites you over for some celebrating? Alcohol, ice and snow can combine into an accident waiting to happen. And I hate to say it, but what about theft? All of this is leading to: this is a good time of year to review your home insurance policy.
Google is investing in affordable housing near it’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA. But before you think, “Gee, how nice of them,” realize it’s a tax write-off.
Did you know it’s illegal to melt down old pennies for their copper? That’s not stopping people from hording them, waiting for the day pennies go out of circulation. ABC has an interesting article on some patient savers. It gives new meaning to “a penny saved is a penny earned.”
And it’s a little early for 2011 top ten lists, don’t you think? Regardless, Time has already put out their Top 10 Everything of 2011 master list.
And finally, how to wrap a cat for Christmas.
Vacation home moochers, the big 4 are preparing for battle, and holiday tech goodies
Don’t forget to change your clock back an hour in most parts of the US.
Buying a vacation home is a dream for many. Unfortunately having all your friends mooch off you is often the post-purchase reality. The Wall Street Journal explores how various owners go about negotiating hurt feelings, dirty towels and politely telling your neighbors that you’d love for them to visit you in Italy and here’s a list of nearby hotels to try.
Helicopter drones looking for work outside the military might do well to apply at their local real estate office for a job. Turns out they’re not just good for conducting unmanned aerial strikes against insurgents, drones can also be used to sell mansions, via in-depth tour videos made with cameras mounted to their frames.
Freddie Mac is losing money and will seek additional cash from the federal government.
It’s from last month, but Fast Company had a great article on the coming tech war of 2012 between the four big players in the industry: Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon. Each is moving into the others’ territory, each has the resources and vision to fight, each could transform the playing field significantly. It’s an interesting piece on how the world is changing and where we might be headed.
Is your life getting worse or better? The Washington Post has an interactive feature where you can compare how you think things are going vs others in your state vs cold hard facts. It can take a minute to figure out where you are located but then it’s pretty slick.
Remember when you had to pay for for a web browser? In October, Internet Explorer usage drops below 50%. What are people using instead? For many the answer is Chrome. Webmonkey has some great charts showing how quickly people adopt new versions of their favorite browser. Not surprisingly IE has the flattest adoption curve.
Turns out consumers have some pull. When the other big banks didn’t follow suit, Bank of America dropped plans to charge consumers a monthly debit-card fee.
The advantages of flexible tablet and smartphone displays are obvious: They’re more durable, and they pave the way for new input methods, such as bending the display to zoom. Pete Cashmore has the details of what to expect.
4 BR, 2 BA, 1 Ghost: What the Law Says About Selling Haunted Houses
Hoarders have another reason to get help: Being a hoarder could hinder the ability to get or keep homeowners insurance.
Fox News has a slideshow of some of this holiday season’s hottest tech toys for good girls and boys.
Pets are costly. If you thought your medical bills were high, what about those for that family member that isn’t covered by your insurance? The Wall Street Journal looks at skyrocketing pet medical bills.
From the Realtor Action Center:
Congress has passed an extension of the closing deadling for the Homebuyer Tax Credit, the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act (H.R. 5623). The extension applies only to transactions that have ratified contracts in place as of April 30, 2010, that have not yet closed. The legislation is designed to create a seamless extension; the new closing deadline for eligible transactions is now September 30, 2010. There will be no gap between June 30 and the date the President signs the bill into law.
NAR worked closely with Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to enact this important legislation. Extending the tax credit closing deadline will help provide additional stability to real estate markets across the nation.
Additionally, the Senate has passed the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 5569), an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program until September 30, 2010. This will allow transactions to move forward. The bill is retroactive and covers the lapse period from June 1, 2010, to the date of enactment of the extension. NAR members sent more than 250,000 letters to Members of Congress encouraging them to extend the program.