John Cooke at Prudential received a fair bit of flack a few weeks ago for allowing himself to be quoted by another newspaper as saying the market was pretty darn bad. As John points out, he didn’t write the headline, he just told the truth but apparently there are those who think he, and all of us Realtors, should sugarcoat things. Bah. Our selling clients certainly can figure out what’s going on, because their houses aren’t selling, so who are we supposed to be keeping in the dark? Anyway, as of the end of February, according to John, we’re down 39% in units sold compared to last year. Worst hit segments are the $1,000,000-$1,500,000 range (-53%) and $2,000,000-$3,000,000 (-50%). $3,000,000-$4,000,000 held steady, but that category only sold 9 units; not enough to sustain the brokers in town. The over $5,000,000 houses dropped unit volume but average price soared from $6,346,000 to $10,595,625, so some folks must be enjoying themselves. The market is not dead: 30 single family houses went to contract the last 21 days; but, like the parrot in that Monty Python routine, it’s certainly resting.
Return to sender?
A couple of houses came back on the market last week after just recently being purchased. Buyer’s remorse is understandable but, so far as I can see, these owners did nothing to improve the houses during their brief ownership yet they’re asking millions of dollars more than they paid. That might have worked a few years ago but it’s not a great strategy in today’s market.
There ought to be a law?
I received a lengthy, well written email from a reader responding to my earlier posting on a considerate builder who took extraordinary steps to shield his neighbors from the effect of his construction. It seems that such builders are the exception, not the rule. My correspondent, a lawyer, said that, short of filing suit, there isn’t much to be done about goons who start work at zero hour in the morning, blast ledges, cut down trees, dump water onto adjoining land and so forth – the town is basically powerless, although it did send inspectors over to the site to remonstrate with the contractor. My reader thinks that we need stronger regulations to whack these guys. I am philosophically opposed to still more regulations and laws affecting how people can use and develop their property but if our current set of laws is being abused, maybe we do. If that happens, it will once again provide an example of bad people bringing down bad effects on the good – I don’t know whether there’s a contractors’ association operating in town but if there is, its members might want to talk things over with those who are abusing our relatively lax laws and tell them to cut it out.
A few weepy-eyed readers brought my attention to a story about Albatrosses on Midway Island choking on plastic and asked me if I wasn’t sorry to have said mean things about the effort to ban plastic shopping bags. No I’m not, and here’s why: the poor birds aren’t choking on plastic bags – they’re ingesting bits of plastic from the tons of other types of plastic stuff floating in our oceans – fishing nets, packaging, Bic lighters, you name it. My point about plastic bags is that it’s an easy thing to do that accomplishes nothing yet convinces shoppers that they’ve done something to save the planet while excusing them from taking any serious steps. Very similar to Australia turning off its lights for an hour (I myself turned on all our outdoor floodlights), Look – if you really want to go back to horse-drawn carts, early death and backbreaking labor, Cuba and Zimbabwe await you with open arms (please bring your capitalist earnings as a donation to the beloved leader). I myself prefer my water hot (On the other hand, maybe banning plastic bags is a good thing, if it spares us from shutting down our economy in order to free the Chinese to ruin the world by themselves. I have grave doubts about global warming, humanity’s role in it and our ability to affect it with 20 years of self-deprivation but, if we’re going to shut down the western world, I’d prefer to see us drag down Asia with us).