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?