Saturday, December 29, 2007

Blog Anthology, Posts 166 - 180

My primary blog has moved to

Continuing the quick journey through my posts...

I delivered my October/November Market Update. I have changed over to including absorption rate for Gwinnett County, GA on the market reports. I also corrected numbers from August and September that changed in my source files. Look for the November/December report on next week.

In Making the change from Blogger to WordPress, I announced that I made the change... duh.

Rock Crawling and Realty is little more than a thinly veiled ploy to throw in some nice crawling footage. I did tie in the teamwork that goes into a smooth real estate transaction to the teamwork that goes into a successful course navigation in competition rock crawling.

Just about everyone in the real estate blogosphere has weighed in with their Thoughts on the Foreclosure Bailout. I'm no different. where I am different than half of the pundits is that I don't like it... the other half do. I tried to lay out a case clearly why this is a bad idea.

I was shocked (and dare I say horrified) when the National Association of REALTORS came out with their forecast for the market next year... and it agreed with my forecast. I have made no secret of my distrust of their numbers... Is a clear sky blue? If the NAR announced, I'd have to run out and check...

On a blog community that I participate in, a question was asked about green technology and unlimited budgets... It was in reference to Brad Pitt's Project Pink. I gave my top five in Project Pink... or Green.. or whatever... but I couldn't NOT think about the budget.

I decided to compare three different listing sources for accuracy and completeness. Who is the winner? MLS? Zillow? Trulia? Follow the link and find out in my unscientific survey.

I gave away some free Atlanta Thrashers hockey tickets... with a parking pass... free...

I posted up a couple of different gratuitous videos that were all about the fun.
Real estate is suffering as a market. There are all kinds of ways to spin the news, but a lot of people in the business say Let's just blame the media... or not. I don't think the media is really to blame. The have a place at the table, but there are a lot of places at the table, and plenty of blame to go around... if "blame" is deserved.

Warning... gratuitous hockey video. Actually, I was able to connect it to real estate. But, who can watch Ilya Kovalchuk highlights and not have fun... Hockey and real estate.

Finally, something with a picture in the post... Lane's Top Ten (or so) List is a compilation of car magazines that you may or may not have heard of. All of the magazines are loaded with top ten lists this time of year, so I just wanted to turn the tables a bit.

That brings us up to 180. I don't know if I'm going to wait a whole week for the next one, because I'm trying to catch up so that I can update this with the posts from only the previous week...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Blog Anthology, Posts 151 - 165

***Special Note*** I have moved my primary blog to I will post much less frequently on here, and those posts will primarily be these recaps pointing back to the other site. I'd like the thank everyone for reading this blog over the last few months. I enjoy writing it, and it is icing on the cake that others are reading it. The blogger platform has been very good for me, but I needed something a little different, that is why I have the address change. ***I look forward to seeing you on the other site.***

I have been quite happy with the change to WordPress. One of the great things is the level of control I can have over the presentation of the site. It is a lot of fun to try to make the site more user friendly, as well as deliver better content and entertainment. So, feel free to wander over and take a look.

On Thanksgiving morning, the whole family sat down to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Talk about a dis- appoint- ment... Each network seemed to use the entire parade as an excuse to promote their line-ups, rather than actually showing the parade. BTW, congrats to Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain for being selected to the big show.

Still being in the relax mode from Turkey day, the day before, I wrote a post outlining some websites that might be of interest to car people. Welding, shop tools, garage forums, and other enthusiast forums. So, you have a little time, and want to think about garages and garage stuff...

Since I was still in a holiday mode, I got to thinking about tradition. But it's a tradition... ties those thoughts about the way we've always done things back into real estate. I'm a non-traditional agent. It isn't just about technology, but also attitude.

The NAR released some information about housing starts from a third party. The info showed Housing Starts down slightly, but Multi-family are up... Not being one to just pass along the numbers, I also wanted to delve into the regional numbers and figure out what they mean.

Hockey, a three year old, and Twitter is not just about playing floor hockey with my kid, but also about Twitter as a business promotion platform. I'm pretty up-front that I don't "get" Twitter... although Terri Lussier did a great job of outlining how it can be useful over on Bloodhound Blog (a real estate industry blog).

Coming back from a Thrasher's game at Philips Arena in Atlanta, we drove by Fat Matt's Rib Shack. That got me thinking about Good bread, good meat... I just had to write about good southern food that is available around Atlanta, GA. Aside from a couple of BBQ venues, I also mentioned a couple of "meat and three" choices. Read up and eat up...

For years (decades!) we have been the holders of information, the gatekeepers. Real estate agents have always held that information like it was valuable... and, the information does have value. But, in the current age, the information is out there. I am perfectly willing to give away all of the information, and let people work with me because I provide value through helping them filter and translate that information. So, Free Milk... Get your Free Milk!!!

S&P released their survey of home values in different markets across the country. For the Atlanta region, House values UP!?! To find out exactly how much... read the blog. ;^ )

So, I a very willing to admit that I read other real estate agent blogs. It is good to know what others are saying, and to see what sort of reaction they are getting. And, when Jay Thompson had a post about a guy doing 219 mph in Phoenix... Unbelievable!! I had to grab the video and post it. (BTW, I did ask Jay if I could steal it...)

Around the times of the YouTube debates for the Republican candidates, I ran across this video there. I'd almost consider running to answer this question... Ignoring the odd coincidence of Democrat candidate staffers and supporters getting their questions onto the CNN sponsored debate, I wish this one would have made it... of course, no candidate would answer it the way it should have been answered. For the question and answer, follow the link...

Building a better website, part ZCXII is about me crashing my site and then needing several days to get it back online... I hate that I blew it up, but I love the result. Everything works better, and looks better. I'll take the lumps to deliver a better experience to my clients, readers and consumers.

I was having a hard time concentrating on real estate while I was trying to figure out how to fix that which I had broken. So, in Overkill... just about right... I talked a little about technology.

Almost at the end of the long, slow website crash, I tossed up a post explaining what I had managed to do, and how. I also posted a great video to illustrate the point of Just when you think you've got it beat... I try to talk about real estate... really, I do try. Occasionally, I do post about it.

I know... It's officially a rut! I had to talk about crashing the website just one more time. I'm tired of writing about this... I bet you are tired of reading about it...

Finally, a post that isn't about the website! Parkview High School in Lilburn, GA tossed me a little roadblock. Scholarship thwarted, but not abandoned was to let people know that I am still trying to find a way to make this happen. I'm still trying to figure out how to make this a reality. Here is a bonus... I am thinking of opening it to ANY high school senior in Gwinnett County. So, if you are one, or know one... let me know.

I hope that you find a post of interest. Hopefully I'll be back in here next week making another update. When I catch up, I'm going to try to make the updates for the previous week. And, if you need real estate in the Atlanta or Gwinnett County area of Georgia, drop into my website GarageHomesUSA and let me know. Of course, you can find my blog now at

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Blog Anthology, Posts 138 - 150

***Special Note*** I have moved my primary blog to I will post much less frequently on here, and those posts will primarily be these recaps pointing back to the other site. I'd like the thank everyone for reading this blog over the last few months. I enjoy writing it, and it is icing on the cake that others are reading it. The blogger platform has been very good for me, but I needed something a little different, that is why I have the address change. ***I look forward to seeing you on the other site.***

Once again, I have a little discrepancy in the numbers. This time, it’s because of the platform change and now there are actually numbers next to the list on the back end… I must have mis-counted previously. Hopefully that jazz is behind me.Garrett at Parkview/Brookwood game

The next post in the series was about one of the biggest football games of the year in south Gwinnett County. Football Night in America… ok, Lilburn, GA chronicled the experience of the Parkview v. Brookwood game. All of us had a great time, including the future student.

For a Saturday post, I decided to answer the question about What has been in the Lane stable… Cars I’ve owned. The list was long. Hopefully, as I scan more pictures, more of these will make their way onto the blog and website.

For one of my sellers, I put together a multi-unit open house. I co-ordinated 7 units being open in his condo with the listing agents of the other units. Of course I had to do as much promotion as possible, including my blog.

I figured out that I was Going to Vegas for the NAR Convention a couple of days before it started. So, I packed my bags and jumped on a plane to Las Vegas.

Bally's on the Las Vegas StripAnother lame post with I’m in Vegas.

Finally, I managed to deliver some real content. While at the convention, I learned about an exciting (ok, it’s exciting for those of us in the industry) different way to value homes and gauge the market. I announced my New pricing model while still in Las Vegas.

Because I had a great time in Las Vegas, I thought I would write a little bit about about my limited experience. If you are Thinking of visiting Las Vegas? it might be a good read.

My last Blog Anthology Post was next.

Just about everyone knows that we are in the midst of a water shortage here in Atlanta. The big question is Can we ease the water shortage? Everyone here is looking for the answer.

I like to write about my kid. So, he’s hit the “But that’s the way I want it to be” stage… related my three year old ignoring reality because it isn’t convenient, and other real estate agents doing the exact same thing. Come on folks. Be honest. Look at the numbers.

The Gwinnett County School system is looking at a major re-districting plan. I didn’t break it, but I did make sure that my readers would have the info.

Many real estate agents are trying to control the flow of information to the public. They don’t feel that people outside the industry should have unfettered access to listings and other information. In order to gain access to listings on THEIR websites, you have to tell them all about you. I announced my Open Property Search for Gwinnett County, GA and surrounding areas.

Finally… I still want people to tell me who they are. So, I announced the next day that you could Get 10% off at Lowe’s for telling me. I’ll still do it. you give me your real name, address and email, and i’ll mail you a certificate for 10% off at Lowe’s. I promise that I won’t spam the poo out of you, either. Not more than a couple of emails a month, and generally just one snail mail a month… or less. I just want to keep my name in front of you in case you decide to buy or sell a house… or know someone else that is looking to buy or sell a house.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

MLS? Zillow? Trulia?

I ran across a blog post by Jay Thompson regarding a story in the Wall Street Journal about on-line home searches. He noted that in his area the WSJ had it wrong. He researched the numbers for the local MLS, Trulia and Zillow. His findings were that Zillow only showed about 10-31% of the listings shown on the MLS, and that Trulia only had between 69-90%.

So, I decided that I should take a look at a few zones in Gwinnett County.

  • For 30087, I came up with 442 (FMLS), 457 (Zillow), and 482 (Trulia)

Hhmm… That seems odd. Reviewing 10 of the 33 pages of Trulia, I couldn’t find ANY FSBOs. How can they have more? Well, about 20% of the listings seem to have been sold or expired (and not relisted). I found a similar percentage on Zillow. This was based on a sampling. Furthermore, I found homes on FMLS that were not listed on either Trulia or Zillow. Trulia was a little more accurate.

  • Next up, 30043. 842 (FMLS), 467 (Zillow), and 447 (Trulia)

But wait… there are still expired listings from agents, and homes that have already sold but not been updated in the system. I am finding some interesting listings, too. For example, there is a $7.9M property on Zillow (make me move…) that isn’t on the MLS.

  • Finally, 30518… 576 (FMLS), 419 (Trulia), and 3673 (Zillow)

What? Ok, now I’m seeing something. Not one of the properties on the first page is in the MLS. Wow, they must have a lot of listings to peruse. Why would anyone use the MLS? Oh, wait… Several ARE in the MLS, just not in the ZIP code that I searched. All of the first page are listed in multiple ZIP codes on Zillow. So, how many houses are acually listed by Zillow in 30518? I don’t know, and I’m not going to wade through them to find out. But, if I were searching for a property in Buford, GA, I’d be a little annoyed that I had to wade through homes in Chamblee (15 miles and 45 minutes away), and Dallas (GA… but still over an hour away) to find houses that were actually in the area I was looking.

So, Lane, what do you think?

I think that Zillow sucks. I’ve done a previous post about their absolute lack of accuracy in their Zestimates in this area. Trulia is a much better choice here, but still not likely to give the latest up to date info, nor all of the options. FMLS is a better choice.

If you want to find a home in Gwinnett County, let me know. I can set you up on a search within FMLS that will go to a custom website… just for you. It’s called the Client Gateway.

Lane.Bailey on Yahoo IM

Or you can email me through my contact form at GarageHomesUSA (When I post my direct email, I get spammed. I apologize in advance for the extra step).

I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Project Pink... or Green... whatever

In response to janeAnne's post about What would you do if money were no object to build a dream green home, I had to expand to a full post.

Here is what I originally responded with in the comments of her post:

If money were no object... but taste was:

  • Active Solar water heating, and power generation.
  • Passive solar heating and cooling.
  • Xeriscaping.
  • Intelligent house systems to reduce energy usage.
  • Landscape design to reduce heating a cooling loads.

I know that there are more expensive technologies, but these could be incorporated into many current houses.

I followed up, answering questions with this comment:

janeAnne - I'm not a huge windmill in the neighborhood fan. I don't want to live under one, and I know that they will have a heavy NIMBY effect (Not In My BackYard).

On the other hand, active solar can be hidden in a house, no matter the style. I have heard of some roofing materials now that incorporate solar photo-voltaic cells and are almost indistinguishable from standard roofing.

Passive solar is an entire design philosophy, but things like sun-rooms and courtyards can be used to distribute air and light around the house. Overhangs can block heat during the summer, but allow solar heating in the winter.

Xeriscaping to save water... and make for a lower maintenance level... obvious choice. But, by using native plants, it can still be quite attractive. The overall landscaping can use little things like trees that block solar heat gain in the yard during the summer, but allow it during the winter. Blocking prevailing winds to allow the house to have a heat island is another option.

And, since I am a tool guy, what could be better than tools and technology turning things off and on, as well as optimizing everything to run more efficiently.

I had another response in the comments, but I'll refrain. So, without further ado, here is the expanded and explained list.

  • Active Solar water heating and power generation

It should probably say active solar power generation and water heating, but... I didn't write that. However, in the summer, the greatest power use is on days with the most sun. So, having solar cells to create electricity to power A/C would just make sense. During the winter, the clear days are also usually the coldest, but instead of electric heat, why not use solar heat gain to heat water, and then circulate the water for radiant heat? The hot water could also be used to preheat the hot water for the house. A boiler running on natural gas could heat the water in place of or in addition to the solar heating.

  • Passive solar heating and cooling

Unlike the first suggestion, this would require incorporation into the design of the home. Passive solar is a great way to heat a property in the winter in sunny areas. The basics are mass and glass. The sun shining into the area is used to heat mass. After the sun goes down, the mass continues to radiate the heat back into the house. Stone, brick, water and other materials with a lot of mass help to smooth the temperatures out. Think of a house with a two story greenhouse on the south side. In the greenhouse, the mass is situated to allow solar heating during the day. As the sun sets, additional insulating material covers the windows to reduce heat loss. The warmth from the sun-room is moved around the house.

During the summer, the light is blocked during the day, and the area is allowed to cool at night. The cool mass will help to lower the temperature in the house during the day. Appropriate overhangs can block the summer sun, but let the winter sun shine in as well.

  • Xeriscaping

Simply put, this is landscaping to reduce additional water needs. Often through the use of native plants, less maintenance and water is used.

  • Intelligent house systems to reduce energy usage

Most of us know that in a two story house, altering the HVAC vents from summer to winter will allow better distribution of air. Window treatments can be used as additional insulators. Operating heating, cooling and water heating systems only during times that they are being utilized also saves resources.

While none of these things are terribly difficult to accomplish, most of us don't fully utilize them because we don't think about it, or it isn't convenient. And, further efficiencies can be obtained from intelligent automation.

  • Landscape design to reduce heating a cooling loads

This has nothing to do with xeriscaping. Through using deciduous tress (with leaves that drop during the winter) the summer sun can be partially blocked from heating the home and yard, but during the winter, the rays of the sun will heat the home and yard. Shrubs and evergreens can be used to block winter winds that cool part of the exterior of the house. In warmer climates, using the right vegetation can reduce the heat island effect of driveways and sidewalks.

None of these things are huge, and all are possible right now for reasonable cost. I know that I didn't have to work with a budget, but oddly, I think that the biggest part of the benefits are available with simpler technologies. The exotic technologies may produce additional savings, but I don't think they are cost efficient... and in some cases I don't think they are attractive or practical.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Is a clear sky blue?

Sitting down this morning getting my Fox News fix, I noticed a release by the NAR that has me re-thinking a position I have taken...

Here is the link to the NAR news release. To summarize, the position the NAR takes is that housing will start to pick up in 2008. Existing home sales will rebound, although new homes will lag for another year.

Well, I've been saying this for a few months (go back and look at my Gwinnett Market Reports if you don't believe me). And so, when the NAR says the same think, I need to re-assess my position.

Why, you ask?

Because the NAR started calling the bottom of the market and the rebound before the decline was in full swing. And that really ticks me off. I don't have a problem with putting a good spin on things. We all do it, and sometimes we just need to in order to remind people about the other side of the coin. Whether it is a Buyer's Market or a Seller's Market, it is a crappy market for half of the people in a transaction...

But, it's one thing to put your best foot forward, and quite another to say that everything is always perfect. I run numbers for my market... and I make predictions based on those numbers. When I am wrong, I acknowledge it, and when the news just sucks, I say it. I don't try to speak out of both sides of my mouth just to make sure that I'm covered.

Right now, if the NAR announced that skies were blue, I'd run outside to check.

Keep in mind that I am not only a member of my association in order to have access to the MLS (we don't have to be), but rather, I am currently active in the association (until tomorrow's meeting, I am the chairman of the RPAC committee). No, I'm not being deposed... my tenure is coming to a scheduled end.

So, what do we do about it?

Of the 33.548 real estate agents on A/R... as of a moment ago... I'd bet that the vast majority are members of the NAR. I know that the majority are ticked at the NAR over one thing or another. But, I would bet there are about 50 that are actually active in their local association. I bet half don't even know who is President of their local association, much less the state association.

So, get involved. Make your voice heard [I have NO idea this post was going this way].

And, when the NAR issues these reports, grab some salt, and run your own numbers.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Thoughts on the Foreclosure Bailout

Everyone has weighed in with their opinions about the proposed government bailout of some of the 1.2 million people facing foreclosure... I guess I'll toss out my nickel (side thought... if everyone that has offered an opinion actually gave up the nickel, WE could bail out the people facing foreclosure...)

I don't like government bailouts.

I'm a libertarian (I haven't joined the party, so I'm not a Libertarian). I don't believe that government has a role in every part of our lives. I think that the US Constitution is the guideline for the structure of our laws... and the role the government is supposed to play.

Even after looking at the Constitution twice, I can't find where it says that people that make bad decisions... mistakes even... should be bailed out by the government. And, that is what we are dealing with here. Banks lowered their standards for giving away money (and that is what they were doing, largely, giving away money). And consumers took out loans that they really didn't have a plan to repay.

So, who are the real victims here?

Is it the banks that are getting stuck with absolutely crappy loan portfolios? No. They got exactly what they deserved when some of them were driven right out of business.

Is it the borrowers that bought $500,000 homes and thought that their payments would remain at $1600/mo. forever? Or maybe the people that refinanced and bought bass boats and Suburbans with their "equity? Maybe it's the investors that bought property with 125% loans and then tried to put in minimal effort for maximum return with a flip? No, nope, and nuh-uh. Again, they ignored the risks so that they could do what they wanted to do. Being able to get someone to finance them only served as justification that their desires were not out of line.

Is it the mortgage backed security buyers? It wasn't, until the government decided to change the terms of the securities they bought.

But what about the fraud and predatory lenders?

Even running rampantly, fraud only accounts for a small percentage of total loan volume. So, it isn't much different than the teacher making everyone put their heads down on the desk because one kid in the class shot a spitball. And, many of the "predatory lenders" aren't that predatory. Sure, it is fun to talk about greed (a term that is vaporous to define anyway) and taking advantage of people in precarious situations, but we need to also keep in mind that the risk/reward equation means that these borrowers presented a higher risk. As some states have found out, when they "clamp down on predatory lenders" and cap rates or otherwise try to control market forces, they end up limiting choices for the very people they are try to protect.

So, instead of writing sweeping legislation, it would be much more effective to enforce current laws against fraud.

So, where does that leave us?

It leaves us with the only real victims being the one group that isn't being protected. And those that made irresponsible decisions being rewarded for those decisions. Instead of finding the 60,000 loans that might actually involve fraud, and prosecuting the people responsible, the government is looking at "fixing" 1,200,000 loans. And, while "fixing" those loans, nullifying agreed upon contracts.

It is a bad precedent.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Rock Crawling and Realty

I am about to perform a feat of magic... I am going to combine two such different things, that you won't believe I was able to actually pull it off...

In the first corner, we have a real estate transaction. Just about every time a home changes hands, there are obstacles and challenges. Sometimes the challenges are small, perhaps even inconsequential. Other times, they may seem insurmountable. Sometimes, they really are. But, often, those seemingly insurmountable obstacles are just that... seemingly.

In the second corner we have Rock Crawling. In this sport, a team made up of a driver and spotter navigate their vehicle through the course with finesse, muscle, power and experience.

The driver has obvious responsibilities. It is the spotter that is more mysterious. The spotter guides, cajoles, motivates and offers advice. It is the spotter holding the rope that allows the driver to control the vehicle beyond where it would roll of lose traction otherwise.

C'mon Lane... wrap this up...

In a real estate transaction, we have buyers, sellers, real estate agents, lawyers, titles, inspectors, mortgage brokers and the house. Any of them may present the obstacles, and all must be navigated to complete the deal and close the sale.

And, like the driver and spotter in a competition rock crawling event, trust and communication work hand in hand with experience and ability.

I'd love your comments.

And yes, I am trying to lay out a case to get my business manager (also known as My Lovely Bride) to let me get a competition rock crawler for the business to sponsor... and for me to drive.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Making the change... from Blogger to WordPress

It is a big change for me.

I started seriously blogging back in June on Active Rain. In July I picked up Blogger (Blogspot). I wanted an outside platform that would be more configurable. But, everything was fine with Blogger. I changed the theme a bit to better fit with my personality and subject. All was ok.

However, as I delved deeper into what I wanted to accomplish (in regards to my real estate business), I decided that I needed to offer something more than I would be able to offer with a static website. So, I started researching options.

In steps Joomla. Joomla is a content management system. It is kind of a cross between a blog and a website, but as a blog... not so great. I created GarageHomesUSA. This was what I wanted a site to be. it had depth and organization and was very configurable. Most of my blog material found its way there.

Then came the meltdown.

I've chronicled it previously on the blog, but because i selected a version of Joomla that wasn't stable yet, and because my host had me on the same servers as a few years ago, I had to change serveres with my host. I decided as I was doing that, that one of my sites was not really fulfilling a purpose. was just kind of there.

In an "aha!" moment, I decided that the blog needed to be there. I could afford to lose that site to bring my blog "in-house" so to speak. And so, I again dived in to do some research. Opting for another open source application, I chose to run WordPress on my domain. Again, it could function almost as a website as it is another CMS (content management system). However, it is a great blog, but less than optimal for a full site.

So, over the last week, I have been running both the Blogger and LaneBailey site parallel to each other. I will continue to do so for a while. After a bit, I plan on just summarizing my posts from LaneBailey to the Blogger platform.

So, if you are my reader...

I'd love for you to visit LaneBailey and hang out in the shop with me.

As always, I'd LOVE your comments and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Market Update for Gwinnett County, October/November 2007

As I announced back in the middle of November, there is going to be a format change beginning this month. I will be including Absorbtion Rates in the market reports now. This will give a clearer picture of the direction of the market, as well as help bring a bit of focus to the rest of the numbers. I’m also going to be stressing the listed/solds percentage to help give a better picture of the market conditions.

I also have corrected number for both September and October. The preliminary numbers are in for November, but they don’t look right yet, so while I will mention them, I would like to remind you that they aren’t solid numbers.

Let’s start with some of the classic information that I have been including on these reports.

The New listings data shows that new listings for both October and November were up about 2% vs. last year, while September was down about 5%. I’d really like to see the listings vs. last year drop to the negative numbers, because there is simply too much inventory for the level of buyer activity I see. However, because the final numbers aren’t in for November, I expect to see a rise in listings… exactly the opposite of what I want to see.

Solds for September were down 43%!!! Those numbers are holding up to the corrections. I hope that it isn’t right, but I have to assume now that it is close. However, the October number rebounded significantly. Closings were down 18% vs. last year. That is the best showing (vs. the same month the previous year) since April. To moderate, though, October 2006 was a particularly crappy month. November is down by 65%, but I know that those numbers will change in the coming weeks, so we will be revisiting that. With the exception of the August to September number*, it is easy to see the correlation between pendings and solds from month to month. If the pattern holds, I expect to see the closed transactions down around 20% for November when all is said and done.

While the preliminary numbers came in for November, both October and September average prices were changed. Those numbers are (with change from last year): September, $229,428 (-0.8%) October, $226,820 (+1.5%) November, $238,548 (+2.3%). I expect to see the November average drop to be more inline with the other numbers… but I can’t begin to guess where it will fall.

Now, let’s talk about the new numbers.

The uglier number is the percentage of solds vs. new listings. Let me start by saying that I have been tracking this number since January, 2005. The highest percentage since then was 85% in December of 2005. For the last few months, that number has been hanging around the mid 30% range. This means that one house sells for every three that come on the market. August through November show the percentage of solds vs. new listings to be 37%, 32%, 32%, and 19%. The November number is ugly, but I think I will need to revise that to be inline with the other numbers when I see something that is more final.

The Absorption Rate is how long, given the current market conditions, it would take to sell the current market inventory… assuming that there were no more listings added. This number is used by all types of businesses to gauge market activity vs. inventory levels. I’m not going to go into the formulas, because I don’t want to tell me competitors everything… I calculate the numbers for the 12 month average, six month average and three month average. Comparing the numbers gives an indication of the market heating or cooling. A balanced market usually has about a six month supply. Because these numbers are based upon November information, I expect all of them to drop slightly, with the most visible drop to be the three month average.

The 12 month average is 11.3 months of supply. The six month average slows to a 12.2 month supply of homes, while the three month average shows a 17.3 month supply. Of course, the three month average is the most volatile, and I expect to see it dropping to around 14 months after the rest of the numbers are in. That still isn’t good, but it is a bit better.

What that tells me is that the market is still cooling a bit, but it is close to flattening. It isn’t plummeting. I don’t have as much depth with these numbers as I do with the other numbers I’ve collected. My MLS doesn’t offer the historical statistics that I need for this calculation like they do for the other calculations.

I am still looking to see the market turn around in the spring. Of course, we won’t know it has turned until it has started back up. The best deals will be had before the turn. After the turn, investors and other buyers will have already started to bid up properties.

*The August to September pending to closed sale anomaly was a direct result of the Sub-prime Mortgage Meltdown. Many buyers found themselves unable to close after being approved for loans. After that time, the numbers went back to a more normal percentage of pending sales that followed through to closing.

Thanks, and look forward to my next report during the first week of January. Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I know... it's officially a rut!

This is yet another technology post... and there are so many other things I want to blog about... but I just can't move past this until I get it out. I'll include a bonus for those few of you that stick it our for a few minutes.

It all starts out in

Another in the never ending series of posts about building a website... Part ZCXII

And then I carried it a little further with

Just when you think you got it licked...

Well... I am a couple of steps further.

I decided that since I had to go to all of the trouble to rebuild my web presence, I should upgrade. I had already gone pretty much over the edge with GarageHomesUSA, but LaneBailey was pretty boring. I mean really boring. But, hopefully, those that stumble on to this post soon won't see the site that the early readers see. Instead, they'll see the new site. I was thinking about my "other" blog, and had wanted to migrate to a WordPress platform on my own domain. ***BTW, this is the bonus. I haven't turned the name on yet, so you are getting a REAL sneak peak... if you are an early reader.***

This whole blogging thing is out of hand.

So, I am getting away from Blogger, and going to WordPress. I'm going to make one of my primary consumer interfaces into a blog. I'll keep the Blogger up for a while with regularly updated posts. Then, I will transform that platform into a anthology site.

I also got a new toy that I'll be getting set up in a few minutes... a Nikon Coolscan V. I have literally thousands of images to scan... and you can bet that some will be making it on to my blog. I have not really put as many pictures as I'd like into my posts, but much of that has been because I didn't want to run afoul anyone's copyright... and I knew that I had something floating around that would cover it...

So, enough technojunk from me...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Just when you think you've got it beat...

(I thought about naming this Adventures in Web Management Part 715)

So, last week I found a GREAT theme for my Joomla site, It is really cool out of the box, and it has a lot of room for mods that I wanted to do anyway. So, I figure...

I got it beat!

But then there was a little compatibility issue... I have been running version 1.5RC2. The new theme was written for RC3. I upgraded, and then I was sure...

I got it beat!

And then I notice (thank you Marchel and others) that the actual articles aren't showing up. I can see all of the front page and the teasers, but no real content. That sucked... After doing a bunch of digging, I find that the PHP version on my host's server is, and I need it to be version 5.something. I chat them up, and not only can I change, but it will be a little less money. So, I back up all of my data, and get the change ordered up. Everything is cool. Once again...

I got it beat!

And then I find that the zipped files (spelled a-l-l-o-f-m-y-c-o-n-t-e-n-t) are corrupted. Should I say that this is HUNDREDS of pages of content? I think not. I have EVERY SINGLE SHRED of it in other formats, but that will be a pain in the butt... So, I go to the back-up of my back-ups, and... (care to guess)

I got it beat!

Seriously. It's back online. But I'm not going to say I got it beat! because I don't want to see what happens as I start wiggling things around. That will happening for the next couple of days... between the other changes and migrations that are a result of this whole change-over. More on those changes later...

About the video...

Near my "happy place", Moab, UT, there is a trail called Hell's Revenge. Around 40% of the way through the trail, there is an optional side-route. Off of the optional route, there is a slight deviation. The side route goes to an overlook of the Colorado River across from Arches National Park. The deviation gets one to the same overlook, but ends with this little "hill." Keep in mind while watching that this climb is too steep to walk. I'm not kidding.

I was not there for this, but I can very much visualize how it happened. Please note the spotter. A few seconds before it all goes terribly wrong, he is pointing the other way. The driver (I assume) can't see him, and doesn't hear him.

The driver walked away, and the Jeep was driven off of the trail.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Overkill... Just about right...

I would say it is a Jeepguy thing, but it isn't.
  • Too much power is almost enough!
  • Tim Allen.
  • Dana 60s (from an F-350) under a lightweight Jeep.
  • V-8 Miata.
  • 53" tires. (when 44s just aren't enough)
  • 24" rims.
  • Gas-powered screwgun.
It is part of our genetics. It comes from the gasoline (and/or diesel) that runs in our veins. We want to be able to do what we want to do... without worry that we will have an issue. Or we just want to be able to set off car alarms when we tromp on the gas.

So, it isn't any different with tech geeks. I talked to a guy today that has a laptop that the rest of us won't get for 3 years. It isn't much bigger than a hardcover book. It has more computing power than a couple of average desktops. It even has more memory than my wife (at least 32 gigs). And you can't buy one, but if you did, it would cost as much as a car.

It would be the computing equivalent of cramming a Hemi into a minivan... and keeping the good looks of a sports sedan. Kind of BMW M5 meets Town & Country... with a touch of Ferrari F50 to splash in some color.
So, why am I talking about all of this?

I crashed my website. I am currently breaking out the gas powered screwdriver to see what I can make better... and a little groovier.

We'll what happens. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Building a better website, part ZCXII

I think I have done around 121,894 posts about building my website... Ok, maybe not, but it seems like it.

Friday night I crashed it. Bad. Like off-line for hours bad.

But, I learned (or was reminded about) a few things.

  • Always back up files before making changes. I did, and it saved me DAYS of rebuilding content.
  • Always know what you are going to do before taking it on. I didn't, and it took the site down for 6 frustrating hours.
  • Did I mention backing things up?
  • It might be helpful to have a "dummy site" that tests can be run on. That way, instead of crashing a live site, a private site can be crashed and no one will know.
  • Don't build your sitein front of the world (wide web).

On the last one, I know that I won't practice it. I have been working on this site for a couple of months. My target date is still a month away. But, there are several guests in the site almost any time I log in to do work. I mention on the front page that work is ongoing. I have also changed things on the site based on user input. I have several "evangelists" that spread the word about the site, and feel a sense of ownership because they know that I am using their feedback.

I have a dummy site, but nothing ever seems to go wrong there... I only have issues on the live site.

This isn't the first time I've blown my site up while "upgrading" something. It's funny, because when it happens I will get calls from friends and strangers telling me I am off-line. The last time was really funny. I was doing the upgrade at 10:00pm, and the site had been down about 15 minutes, and I got a phone call from California. It was followed by my HVAC guy. If one is going to blown up their primary marketing tool, it is at least nice to know that people notice.

So, Lane, what did you do?

I just upgraded from Joomla 1.5RC2 to Joomla 1.5RC3, and added a new theme. The new theme is going to get a lot of custom touches. Starting in January, it should become a magazine format. The theme designer has set this up to allow a LOT of customization. We'll find out how good the support is while I learn how to take advantage of it.

Since both the site, and the underlying architecture are still in Beta, expect that there will be more issues, and there will be more outages. Also expect to see design changes frequently as I learn my way around both. I know that many would counsel me to hire a webmaster to do all of this... and it would be much easier to farm it out... but, with the format that I am trying to build, it would be cost prohibitive to pay for monthly changes. I also like being able to alter the site immediately.

I am currently on Round 4 with the design of my new logo. Of course, the new logo will show up on the site as soon as it is finalized. The new theme will allow the logo to be placed on the site, and allow me to utilize a flash logo if I desire... and I desire.


I had this on my A/R blog, and now that I am moving it over here, I need to add... I wasn't done blowing it up. When I changed from RC2 to RC3, I ran into a php problem. The version on my host was too old... even though it was within the system requirements. So, I called the host and I am moving to a better server and will have a newer php version. In the mean time, I am off-line. All of the articles had disappeared, but they were still there. Hopefully the bug will go away in a short while.

Original Pink Pig in the backgroundWhat's with the pictures?

They have no business here, other than I promised Marlene I would post one of them after mentioning it in the comments of her blog. I couldn't very well write a whole post about my wife selecting and editing that picture for our Christmas Card, so I just thought I'd toss it in here as a bonus, along with the classic Pink Pig.

For those of you not familiar with the Pink Pig, it is an Atlanta tradition. Originally on the roof of the downtown Rich's store, it started making its Christmas runs in 1953. When Federated bought Rich's, and closed the downtown Atlanta store, the Pink Pig was modernized and moved to the Lenox Mall store. Federated then dropped the Rich's brand, and rebranded the stores as Macy's, but kept the Pink Pig tradition. My wife rode the original as a child, and now my son has been on it each year... even before he was actually born.

Don't worry, I'm sure there will be more about my new site as I relate trials, tribulations and victories while I build it out.

Buy a house from my wife's and my son's favorite "Pink Pig."

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I'd almost consider running to answer this question...

So, it's like this...

First, the video is only 27 seconds long, so feel free to watch.

Now, let me tackle the answer.

Jamie, there isn't a quick and easy answer to the question, but it looks like you think there should be from your video. But, let's look at the causes, and let's see if we can find some possible solutions.


  • The fed, trying to keep the economy rolling after the terror attacks of 9/11 kept rates low. Those low rates made a lot of people think about taking advantage of them to buy homes... lower rate, better payments.
  • Consumers decided to take advantage of that opportunity to not only buy houses, but to tap the equity in their homes while refinancing, since they could cash out, and keep the same payment.
  • Many of those consumers got greedy and wanted to get more than they really should have. Instead of getting another 30 year fixed when they refi'd, they chose to go after something wilder and instead of 5.25% for 30 years, they got an interest only ARM for 2.5%... and then bought a bass boat and a new Tahoe.
  • Buyers got the same kind of greedy. About the same time they figured out that they could get a $400,000 house with a real loan, they found out they could get a $600,000 home with a mortgage that they had no business being in. But, they wanted it and didn't care.
  • Other buyers also got greedy, but in a different way. They found out that they could get out of their apartment, and into a house without spending any money. They could buy a house with 100% financing. They didn't care about the terms... it was less than their rent.
  • Some mortgage brokers got greedy, too. They put people into whatever worked for the moment without regard to the future ability to repay. As soon as the loan closed, it was sold... so who cares.
  • Some agents got greedy as well. They actually suggested that buyers get something wild just to get a bigger commission.
  • Back to the fed... They raised rates in order to cool inflationary issues. Those "exotic mortgages" started to get pretty exotic...


  • Personal responsibility.

Do you really think that any of the above things should be fixed by the government? I mean really.

  • The fed was doing the right thing to respond to the financial needs of the country. Technicians may argue about whether it was too much, too little, too early or too late... but it was the right strategy.
  • Nothing wrong with refinancing for a better rate. Nothing wrong with taking out a little cash to make the house better.
  • When people start paying off credit cards things get a little gray. As we move into Tahoes, bass boats, and vacations, we are leaving gray and heading towards dark. Doing with an exotic mortgage product is just plain stupid.
  • Buying too much house because you just want to... and can find a mortgage product that will let you... just plain stupid.
  • As much as I like first time buyers, and want EVERYONE to own a home, some people just aren't ready. Not understanding what you are committing yourself to is... not responsible. (I won't say stupid, because first time buyers NEED a break, and they need the guidance of responsible professionals).
  • I think that loan originators that don't care about the future of those that they pawn off crappy, unsuitable products upon are crossing an ethical line. it isn't going from bad to good, either.
  • Agents... same thing.
  • Again, the fed did what they needed to do for the situation. Same arguments as the first point.

So, there is the answer to your question.

Now, on to your point that you didn't ask a question about...

Why has your neighbor's home been on the market for six months?

The price is wrong for the market, marketing, or condition. It isn't the same real estate climate as two years ago. The house needs to be priced where it belongs, not where they buyer hopes it will be. Perhaps they can't afford to sell it at the price it should be at. If so, maybe it is because they were covered above.

The short answer is that as President, I won't do much to "fix" this problem. I will, however, tell people that the government is not their Mommy, and they need to be responsible for their own actions. If there is a surgical way to make the actions of greedy mortgage originators and real estate agents illegal, I'll pursue it. But, as is often the case, broad legislation usually hurts more people than it helps.

Is that my whole minute?

Friday, November 30, 2007

219 mph in Phoenix... Unbelievable!!

If you think I could let this one go, you have another think... And it is coming as fast as this thing was going.

For the first "video in a blog" post I HAVE to put this one up. The only connection to real estate is that I found it posted on Jay Thompson's (The Phoenix Real Estate Guy) blog. If you are looking for real estate in Phoenix, give Jay a shout... or give me a shout and I'll send a referral. Jay is a fellow Active Rainer, as well as a good guy. I know he's going to find this, because I'm on his subscribed list...

So, without further ado, here is the video...

Now that you have seen a Lambo MP640 Murcielago going 219 mph on the streets of Phoenix, AZ, you can see that the video isn't that exciting. But, it is well put together.

Let me make several VERY strong statements.

  • This is not responsible behavior. It would not have taken much for this Michael Schumacher wannabe to have wiped out himself and several other people. It would not have been pretty.
  • There is NO time of the day or night that the roads around Atlanta are that empty. Especially in Gwinnett County.
  • There ARE places where this feat could be replicated during daylight hours with the police looking on and cheering.

Is the Silver State Challenge still going on? There used to be an event on public (but CLOSED!!!) roads in Nevada where regular people could run as fast as they dared over a course that had some seriously long and straight sections.

In summation, I think it is great that this guy took his quarter of a million dollars and is playing with it like it should be... but I'm not nuts about it being done on roads that other people (the ones that didn't sign the waiver) are driving on.

If you are one of this guy's car buddies... and you are in the Atlanta area, give me a call. I can find a house where you can hide this car until it is painted...


Thursday, November 29, 2007

House values UP!?!

What? Is this guy crazy? Take a look...

S&P Index Reveals Price Changes in 20 Markets
Prices of single-family homes in the third quarter fell 4.5 percent nationwide compared with a year ago.

It was the largest drop since the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index was begun in 1988.

“We are fast approaching the rate of price decline seen at the end of the 1990-1991 recession,” Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist at MFR, wrote in a research note. “The odds strongly favor blowing past this mark in coming months.”

Robert J. Shiller, chief economist at MacroMarkets and the founder of the index, says: “Most of the metro areas continue to show declining or decelerating returns on both an annual and monthly basis. All 20 metro areas were in decline in September over August. Even the five metro areas that still have positive annual growth rates – Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Portland, and Seattle – show continued deceleration in returns."

Here is the one-year change in the 20 metro areas included in the index:
  • Atlanta: 0.4 percent
  • Boston: -3.2 percent
  • Charlotte: 4.7 percent
  • Chicago: -2.5 percent
  • Cleveland: -4.0 percent
  • Dallas: 0.2 percent
  • Denver: -0.9 percent
  • Detroit: -9.6 percent
  • Las Vegas: -9 percent
  • Los Angeles: -7 percent
  • Miami: -10 percent
  • Minneapolis: -4.5 percent
  • New York: -3.6 percent
  • Phoenix: -8.8 percent
  • Portland: 2.2 percent
  • San Diego: -9.6 percent
  • San Francisco: -4.6 percent
  • Seattle: 4.7 percent
  • Tampa: -11.1 percent
  • Washington: -6.6 percent

Source: Standard & Poor’s (11/27/07)

Ok, the numbers aren't stellar. But, Please note that Atlanta is up 0.4% annually. I have been showing Gwinnett County to be even better than that. Obviously, real estate isn't crashing here, but as mentioned in the article, appreciation is slowing. I don't think it is going to slow much more on a year over year basis, but we always see a slowdown this time of the year.

It's still nice to know that we came in fifth of the twenty largest metro areas. It just goes to show that even in a weak market there are pockets of strength. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Also, look for my Gwinnett County Market report early next week.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Free Milk... Get your Free Milk!!!

I had an interesting conversation. it was interesting for many and varied reasons.

  • There were three people gathered in place that were familiar with my blog... and I was only one of them.
  • Only one of them was familiar with Active Rain... me again.
  • One of them was an honest to goodness consumer.
  • Nobody got punched... the Realtysaurus only pushed me a couple of times... ok, she didn't, but she wanted to.
  • The path of the conversation was VERY interesting.

So, let me elaborate.

Consumer: "You look familiar to me."

Lane: "I'm a REALTOR(R)."

C: "I think I've read your blog."

Lane: "Cool... I DO have a reader!!"

blah, blah, blah...

C: "So, how soon do you think real estate will turn around in Gwinnett County?"

L: "Tough to say, but I think that the momentum is turning now. Remember, we won't know it is turning until it has turned, since we can only look in a rear view mirror to see."

Realtysaurus: "I couldn't help but overhear you talking about real estate. I'm a REALTOR(R) here in Gwinnett County."



R: "You look familiar."

C: "I said the same thing. It's because I've read his blog."

R: "That's right... the garage guy."

C: "So, when do you think the market will turn in Gwinnett County?"

R: "Oh, Sugar, it never slowed here. We are great."

C: "Are those the talking points you got from the NAR?"


C: "I've seen the numbers on Lane's blog. There is no mistaking that there has been a slowdown. Is your research showing something different? Do you have a blog?"

R: "I don't believe in that blogging. It's giving away the milk for free. Why should someone call me if I give away all of the secrets on the internet?"

C: "Everything that you could possibly say is already out there. But, people might call because they see you really know th e market."

L: "Personally, I don't think I'm giving any real expertise away. If I see a TV show that talks about building a house, that doesn't mean I automatically have the skills."

R: "This isn't as tough as building a house."

C: "Really!?! It's easy work?"

L: "No. It just seems easy for us in the industry because we do it all of the time. Just like the contractors that build houses, it is second nature. But, the skills we employ, and the knowledge we have is far from second nature to those that aren't in the business every day."

C: "That makes sense. So, Realtysaurus, why is it you don't have a blog?"

R: "Why buy the cow if the milk is free? I don't think I should give away my knowledge to everyone on the internet thing... And it seems to techy for me. I have a website, though. it has all sorts of local information."

Now, let me point out a few things. The consumer was not someone that is in my target market. I would be glad to sell her a house, and her husband loves the idea of a 4 car garage, but they are not really car-centric. But, she stumbled across my blog while looking for something else. She found what she needed on my site, as well as some other info that interested her. She and her husband are not currently looking to buy a house, but in a couple of years they may downsize.

The conversation went on for a few minutes. The Realtysaurus excused herself... but not until mentioning things from my blog that lead me to believe that she read more than a few passing posts. She wasn't happy that I have given away so much "milk"... But, the fact remains that there is nothing we say that isn't being said by scores of outlets. If we don't supply the information, others will. And, it isn't the info that makes us valuable, it is the ability to act on it, interpret it, and maximize its potential. None of that comes from a webpage.

Woohoo. I have a couple of readers... ok, probably one less as of now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Good bread, good meat...

Every once in a while, I need to wander off on a tangent. Tonight, while driving back from the initial meeting for volunteers at the NHL All-Star Game, I drove by Fat Matt's Rib Shack (and let's not forget the Chicken Shack next door). So... I got to thinking about some of the great places I have been lucky enough to eat at here in Atlanta. I know it isn't about real estate, but we live here... and we have to eat... and if we are going to eat, we should eat well.

I guess I should start with Fat Matt's. This is a legendary stop in Atlanta. Aside from ribs that are known throughout the South, there is live blues seven nights a week. The last time I stopped in, there was a tour bus parked outside. As a blues neophyte, I couldn't tell you who the musician was, but one of my guests was just about beside himself that a legend would bring his bus up from New Orleans for a one night engagement in a rib joint. Don't let the look fool you... this place rocks... er blues... whatever.

The chicken next door is also quite amazing. That would be Fat Matt's Chicken Shack. No live blues (that I know of), but BBQ chicken for lunch is certainly a treat.

The next one on the list is actually gone now. For decades there was a place in Atlanta called Deacon Burton's Soul Food Grill. It was the very definition of Southern Cuisine. Deacon Burton passed away a few years ago, and there was a lot of drama involving the restaurant. Born of the drama is a place called Son's Place. I have not been there, but I hear it is across the street and has faithfully captured the experience. The reviews are good as well.

As long as we are on Southern foods, let's hit another BBQ place. This one is right around the corner from me. Spiced Right Bar-B-Q in Lilburn, GA. It is good sweet BBQ. Again, it isn't fancy, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. They have half a dozen different sauces, and they are all good. On my last visit, I enjoyed the brisket... and some pulled pork... and some chicken. Ok, I had some rolls, too.

Finally, not too far away is a DeKalb County tradition... but it's pretty close to Gwinnett County as well. Matthew's Cafeteria in Tucker is a favorite destination for locals at lunchtime. Like Son's Place, they are a "meat and three" place (for those that aren't familiar, that would be meat and three vegetables or sides). Swinging by around lunch, and the lot is plugged with police cars, while there is a steady stream of traffic from Cofer Bros. Lumber across the street.

If you are an Atlanta local, especially around Gwinnett County, I hope that you have a few new ideas for lunch or dinner in the next couple of weeks. If you don't live in Atlanta, drop in for a visit. Buy a house. I'll even take you to lunch...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hockey, a three year old and Twitter

So, I took a little break from working on the business to play hockey with my son. At three and a half, he has quite the slapshot. When he is accurate, that thing is pretty hard to stop. Especially when you consider that he is shooting with a plastic golf club (he doesn't care... so let's not make it an issue).

So I, with blown knee from walking 35 miles in Las Vegas, knelt down in the kitchen to block the goal/door... using a plastic putter... no pads. With his pitching wedge, he is pretty good at getting the "puck" off the floor a few inches. If he is aimed in the right area, and doesn't hit me, he has about a 40% success rate. He can slap that thing at me for hours... and with a my knee unblown, I can be targeted for about 30 minutes before I get bored.

Of course, I get to shoot back. He is quite good at defending his goal/door. He's figured out that the putter I use does not lend itself to lofting the "puck" to get it off the floor... so, when he sees that I will have a shot, he splays out on the floor, just like Kari Lehtonen (Goalie for the Thrashers). I can beat him back about 25% of the time, but my shots are pretty accurate, so I can usually beat him.

"Hello... Lane... We see the three year old, and the hockey portion of the post is evident... What about Twitter?"

So, let me tie Twitter in to this... What am I supposed to do with this little gadget? I have a Twitter account, and I spent a little while updating it, but I didn't see the point. Do people really want to sit around and vicariously live my life? Is it a target acquisition system for stalkers? Is someone going to track me down at the McDonald's Playplace to have me list their home because they saw my update my Twitter? Do I need to keep the score from the Big L/Little G hockey series on my Twitter?

The question is... is there a point?

I "get" MySpace and FaceBook and blogging and ActiveRain and Craigslist and so many other sites... but I don't "get" Twitter...

Help me?!?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Housing Starts down slightly, but Multi-Family are up...

So, what does that mean? First, let me toss out the original story.

Daily Real Estate News | November 21, 2007
Home Starts Up, Mostly Due to Multi-Family
U.S. home builders broke ground on more apartment buildings in October, driving housing starts up 3 percent to an unexpected seasonally adjusted rate of 1.229 million, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

But builders trimmed permits for future building projects by 6.6 percent. They also cut back 7.3 percent on single-family homes to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 884,000, the lowest level of single-family home building since the last recession in October of 1991.

The levels varied regionally. Home starts in the Northeast rose 8.5 percent overall, and starts of single-family homes rose 29.5 percent. Single-family starts in the Midwest were up 15.1 percent with the overall increase at 21.1 percent.

In the South, overall starts dropped 4.6 percent and single-family starts fell 19.5 percent. Starts in the West rose 5.8 percent overall but single-family home starts dropped 8.1 percent.

Source: Thomas Financial, Dennis Moore (11/20/07)
Here is the link to the story from the NAR.

Of course, I want to focus on the numbers for the South. Starts are down by 4.6%, but SFR (Single Family Residential) Starts are down by 19.5%. That tells me that MFR (Multi-Family Residential) is well up. Why would that be? Well, MFR is another way of saying rental property. So, if builders are getting more orders for rental properties, the buyers are confident that they will be able to fill those units. It also means that buyers are confident that they will be able to pay off those units with the tenants moving in to them.

I have previously mentioned that it was looking like rents were expected to increase faster than previously expected. The "Sub-Prime Mortgage Meltdown" would be the main reason. People that were on the edge of affording a home before the SPMM are out of the market now. That increases demand on rentals... until the supply catches up, the price will rise.

So, let me sum this up into a nice, neat package.
  • If you are a credit-worthy buyer, this might be a good time for you to exploit that. The market has a LOT of inventory, and deals are to be found.
  • If you aren't buying, look for rent to go up.
  • If you don't know if you are able to get credit, talk to a reputable mortgage broker. They can tell you if you are able to qualify for something, and what the terms will be.
  • Rates are still incredibly low.
I am a long way from saying that everyone needs to rush back in to the real estate market. If your credit is shaky, I would recommend you sit on the sidelines a while longer while fixing your credit and building up some cash. I would also still counsel you to talk with a mortgage broker. A good mortgage broker can tell you the real ways to increase your credit scores.

If you need any referrals to a good mortgage broker, feel free to contact me through my website.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

But it's a tradition...

Thanksgiving is a time that we look back over the year and think of all of the wonderful things that we have to be thankful for. It is also a time for us to enjoy being with our families. And, being with family always gets the wayback machine firing on all cylinders...

So, while I was talking with my Mother about Thanksgiving meals, a few interesting things came up... not the first time.

I have spent my adult life being less than traditional. My ex-wife and I used to host our "Orphan Thanksgiving" feast every year. We had all of our friends... and their friends... that didn't have other family in town over for the Thanksgiving meal. We had some pretty big crowds. In order to satisfy the numbers, we often had other things with the turkey... like hamburgers, hot dogs, and lasagna. We would have a lot of the traditional foods, but there were always some "bonus foods."

After we divorced, I kept that little tradition alive for a while. I had friends over, but we skipped the turkey altogether. Pizza was the most prevalent dish served. Of course, the grill was fired up on occasion as well. Nothing says Thanksgiving like a grilled hamburger or hot dog.

Fast forward to this Thanksgiving...

The rest of the extended family was out of town. So, my lovely wife, beautiful child and I sat down for a Thanksgiving meal of... breakfast burritos. Not even turkey sausage in the burritos.

Of course, once again, my Mother was convinced I had committed a sacrilege. But, this is the same woman that used to make 20 courses for Thanksgiving... half of which NOBODY would eat. All in the name or tradition. Nobody wanted the mincemeat pie... but she made it for decades. (She goes out to eat with my step-father now).

"So, Lane, does this have ANYTHING to do with real estate?"

Since you asked... yes, yes it does.

There are a lot of things that real estate agents do because they are traditional. I do some of them occasionally, too. We hold open houses, place newspaper ads, fax things to people, and talk about being number one in customer service in our ads.

But, those aren't always productive. Open houses don't sell houses. Newspaper ads are shown to be a weak draw for a property (at best). I am working to be paperless, since all of the faxes make more paperwaste than anyone outside of this business can imagine. And, "1 is NOT the loneliest number" anymore... every agent in the country is number 1.

But, that is the way many agents have always done business.

According to the NAR, about 4% of us blog. Despite attending the convention last week where EVERYONE was talking about blogging, I don't think more than 10% ever will. And that will take a decade.

Customer focused websites? Client focused marketing? Rare at best. As an industry, we have gotten in to the habit of putting ourselves at the center of our universe.

It's a tradition.

If you are looking for a non-traditional agent, one that isn't afraid to turn things upside-down for better results, let me know.


Friday, November 23, 2007

So, you have a little time and want to think about garages and garage stuff

Too much cool stuffLet's start the tour with The Garage Journal. It's a pretty cool site. Aside from a forum with discussion from members about all things related to garages, they also have feature stories about groovy tool guy stuff like small parts storage and mobile tool storage. There are also some links to other nifty sites. But, the main feature here is the forum.

Non-garage people might not be thrilled about in-depth discussion of garage HVAC, flooring or lighting, but if one is designing a new garage or remodeling an older one, the money that can be saved by taking advantage of the free expertise is amazing.

Another site worth a visit is the Ultimate Garage. This is a commercial site for Steve D'Gerolamo, a garage designer and consultant. Not only does he advertise the tools and equipment he likes, but he also showcases some of his projects... and his own VERY COOL garage. And, he either borrowed some seriously nifty hardware, or he is doing quite well in the garage designing biz.Patrick B laying a bead

If you are a little more hardcore. you might tackle the Tool, Shop, Equipment and Fabrication Forum. This is a bit more geared towards actually using that garage... to the hilt. Woodworking, metalworking, tools and miscellaneous garage talk are all on tap in the TSE&FF. The garage talk isn't nearly as in depth as The Garage Journal about garages, but TGJ can't hold a candle to the tool talk.

For something a little more specific, you might wander over the MillerWelds. They have a couple of forums dedicated to various interests, from motorsports to fabrication to welding projects. Of course the moderators favor the "blue brand", the reader-base are great at answering ALL sorts of questions about tweaking different welding and plasma cutting machines. I know I was able to get some great info about my plasma cutter... it is a blue one.

The final site on the post will be the most radical. It is a very specialized forum, geared specifically toward rock crawling. They talk about trail riding, as well as dunes... and even mud... but it is all about the rocks. Before I say what the site is (like the dramatic build-up? Don't read ahead!) there are two other things I want to mention. The first is that the language is rough. People are cussed out for asking stupid questions, and flamed. The other is that the biggest and best names in the off-road world zip on their nomex because they can learn from the members of this place. I have jokingly called it a post-doctoral degree in 4wheeling. But, it really is. There are folks on this board that know more about metallurgy and structural engineering than people teaching in darn good schools. So, when you are feeling cheeky, visit the Pirates of the Rubicon on the Pirate4x4 Forum.

When you are ready to buy the property with that ultimate garage, or where you can build what others have never even thought about (or maybe they have)... give me a call, or visit GarageHomesUSA.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving and parades...

Show the bandsI've been watching some of the NBC and CBS coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. My wife is a (semi)reformed band geek, so she wanted to see the parade. Also, since WCC (World's Cutest Child) likes parades, we had a triple reason to tune in (1 for the wife, and 2 for the kid).

So, we tuned in, looking forward to seeing some floats and some bands. But, what do we get? Broadway show tunes and promos for upcoming NBC shows... Maybe CBS will have some of the actual parade... Nope. Instead, the cast of CBS's Daytime programming just "drop by" for a chat... between musicians promoting their new albums.

Bring on the bandsSo, for both of the broadcasts of the parade, all they did was self-promote and show commercial acts. Stephenson High School from Stone Mountain got about 10 seconds on CBS. I think they got almost 20 seconds on NBC... just enough to say who they were... and hear a VERY short clip of music.

I think that both of these networks have forgotten what the parade is about. While one could certainly argue that it isn't a non-commercial event... sponsored and even owned by Macy's... it isn't PURELY a commercial event. It is a Holiday Event. Don't the kids that raised thousands of dollars to travel to the parade to perform, because they thought it would be an honor, deserve more than a passing mention on the way to professional performers that are their to promote their latest product?

One thing that was mentioned on CBS in their short mention of the Stephenson High School Marching Band is that the graduating Seniors have garnered $10,000,000 in musical scholarships for college. If they read the teleprompter right... all I can say is WOW! Congrats to the Stephenson High School Marching Band for getting to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade AND The Rose Parade.

Get 10% off at Lowe's!

If so, I have a deal for you.

Sign up for my email list, and I'll send you a 10% discount coupon for Lowe's.

It's that easy. Seriously. Ok, it does mean that you have to give me your address, and your real email address, but here is what I can promise in return...

  • I will NOT sell your information.
  • I will NOT give away your information (except to Lowe's for the discount coupon).
  • I will NOT trade your information.

This is what I plan to do once you give me your information:

  • I will send the discount coupon.
  • I will send occasional emails (I promise that I won't send anything more than a couple times a month... normally just once a month)
  • I will give you updates on big things happening on my website.
  • I will send you an occasional postcard or other piece of mail (again, once per month maximum).

Here is why I want to do this:

  • I want your business.
  • I want to keep my name in front of you, so that when you buy and/or sell a home in this area, you will think of me to assist you.
  • I want you to think of me for a referral if you know someone buying and/or selling a property in another area.
  • I want you to think of me if you know of someone else that is buying or selling a property here.

Here is what I ask:

  • Please be thinking of buying or selling a property in Gwinnett or the surrounding area in the next six months or so.
  • Consider me to be the real estate agent to help you with the transaction(s). This doesn't mean you are required to, it just means that you will give me a shot.
  • Please don't be represented by another agent.

And, if you think that is all I want to offer, please think again...

  • Client Gateway (for Buyers and Sellers)
  • New Methods
  • Performance history
  • Real Pricing (Absorption Rate Pricing Analysis - for Buyer and Sellers)
  • Appropriate Promotion (not just MLS and pray - for Sellers)
  • Access to the right Presentation (We'll get you staged and ready to sell - for Sellers)
I look forward to hearing from you. I'd love to give away a bunch of these certificates.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Open Property Search for Gwinnett County, GA and surrounding

I've gone and done it now... I opened up the search capability on my website. Search the MLS without having to register or give up your private information.Image Chef...

As long as there have been real estate agents, we have been gatekeepers of information. In the early days, agents and brokers held their own listings. They wouldn't even share them with other agents and brokers. Then, somebody figured out that other agents had listings, too... and they might be willing to all cooperate and share... and EVERYBODY would benefit. And so the Multiple Listing Service was born. It was real estate brokers in a specific area cooperating with each other and making all of their listings available to each other.

It was... "The Book." I can remember back in the 1980s (and the book goes back WAY before that) going to the agent's office to see "The Book." It was guarded, and seldom allowed out of the office. It was updated every week or three... depending on the market. But, agents guarded it like a treasure. The information was power...

And then came the listing computer. I remember this as well (no, I wasn't in the business. I was a buyer). One actually had to go to the office of the agent to look at "The Terminal." It was on an intranet, and tied into the MLS. Agents could only see it at the office, and there were still books, but the listings were updated daily, and somewhat searchable on "The Terminal." But, if a buyer wanted to have access to new listings, the agent had to pour over the machine each day or every few days to see what was updated. - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Then came "The Website." Soon, the listings were available via IDX (this is a data exchange where the listings are sent to all of the brokers that want them). Because the internet was still not widely adopted, and the information was prized, the only way to access "The Website" was through a broker's site... with a password... that one got by giving up their information.

Now, the information is out there. We all have it. I have it on one of my websites as an IDX feed.

When I surf, I hate putting in my private information. I want to be anonymous until I desire to give up my information. I assume that most web surfers are like me. So, I decided that I needed to give the same anonymity to my surfers that I want when I am out on the web. The Golden Rule and all that.

There was a little reluctance from some of those that were entrenched with the "control of information", but they have caved... Search away.

If you wish to give me your information, I'll be happy to put you on my email list. Or, you can get my RSS feed from my blog, confident that I am still in the dark as to your identity. If you want to look through my site and search the listings and then use another agent for the transaction, that's ok. I hope that you decide that I should represent you.


Oh yeah... You can do the search through ANY of my websites. LaneGetsResults, LaneBailey, GarageHomesUSA or directly.