Another app for your phone – this one opens your front door:
Read two articles – an excerpt from the first:
The pantry is super-sizing.
No longer just for storing potato chips and soup cans, the traditional kitchen closet is becoming bigger, more luxe and more multifunctional. Architects, contractors and real-estate agents say upscale homeowners are asking for walk-in rooms that serve as workspaces for everything from food prep to gift wrapping to bill-paying.
These new “super pantries” are becoming more common as American kitchens have become more open, merging with living rooms and family rooms—with kitchen islands serving as the entertainment hub of the home. Now, some homeowners are moving the clutter and clatter of kitchen activities behind the scenes, where they are less visible to guests.
“An open floor plan is great. But not all aspects of the kitchen are great to look at all the time,” says Peter Pfeiffer of Austin-based Barley & Pfeiffer Architects.
A report by the National Association of Home Builders last year showed 85% of respondents put a walk-in kitchen pantry on their “most wanted list,” with 31% saying it was an essential/must have” and 54% said it was “desirable.”
Last night we heard a proposal to raise the capital-gains tax. Can we cut to the chase and dive into reforming the tax code instead?
I don’t want to get into the politics of it, let’s leave that for other bloggers. Everyone can agree that some sort of tax reform is wanted and needed – and hopefully somebody will pull it off someday.
Realtors hear about it all the time, especially from the long-time owners of rental properties. The thought of paying a huge tax bill makes them immediately dismiss the idea of selling, because they know if their leave it to their heirs, the stepped-up basis will apply.
We shouldn’t have a tax code that influences real estate decisions. Tax reform should include a neutral stance on when you sell real estate – it should be taxed the same, whether you are dead or alive.
What about the MID, the mortgage-interest deduction? Let’s get rid of that too, and create a pure marketplace where people buy homes to live in, and raise a family, and not because they get a tax break.
If you have any other reason to buy a house – investment, etc. – then great, but tax benefits shouldn’t be one of those motivators, because they won’t apply to all citizens.
‘Oh Jim, now you’re asking for it. The NAR is going to punch your ticket and throw you out of the club for that kind of crazy talk.’
Yeah? The National Association of Realtors needs to play a bigger game. The millions they spend on lobbying could help champion tax reform, instead of sounding like a broken record on the MID.
Here are two articles discussing the topic:
1. This guys says that something has to give:
2. This guy points out how small the MID benefit really is:
I would agree that the business of selling homes hasn’t changed much. Internet technology has provided great assistance, but nobody has figured out how to replace realtors yet.
But outsiders think our industry is ripe for a change.
Here’s another start-up coming this summer:
Rabois’s startup was code-named HomeRun, and the seed for the idea was planted more than a decade ago, as VentureBeat reported in April.
“My friend [PayPal and Palantir cofounder] Peter Thiel suggested that I come up with an idea to innovate in residential real estate,” Rabois told VentureBeat in April. “It’s the largest part of the economy unaffected by the Internet. And that was definitely true then, and even with things like Trulia and Zillow, it’s fundamentally true today. But the process of [selling a home] hasn’t been transformed by technology.”
Now, that could change. OpenDoor will launch in July, its website promises.
The startup will “work with sellers directly to purchase home[s],” “work with local partners to rehab, maintain, and improve our portfolio of properties,” and “partner with local brokers and Realtors to market, list on [the multiple listing service], and resell to retail buyers and investors,” according to the site online now at opendoor.com.
That description sounds even more interesting than what Rabois told us originally. It shows that OpenDoor will do a lot more than just run a self-service website.
“We don’t have more information to add at this time,” Rabois wrote in an email to VentureBeat after this article was posted.
Their website (click HERE) promises to provide:
A transparent and simple sales process.
Full certainty on the price and close date.
Receive an instant offer online and funding in as soon as three days.
They expect that sellers will contact them, looking to sell their house for a small discount in order to close in a few days. The I-News said HERE that the discount would be less than 8%.
But sellers already think their home is worth at, or above, actual market value, so the 8% will sound more like a 10% to 15% discount to them. If there are sellers willing to dump and run, then guys like Tom Tarrant will be much more efficient in procuring the sale, because the folksy personal visit will be more effective than a website offer.
Even though it doesn’t sound like he has sold homes previously, the opendoor guy has confidence in his model:
“We have to value the home, sight unseen,” he said. “You can put in your address and we tell you what it’s worth instantly. And we’ll want to buy it from you for that price.”
Underneath the covers, HomeRun will analyze lots of data — some being proprietary, some not — to make an split-second calculation, with minimal human interaction. It’s “pretty complicated stuff,” Rabois said.
To do such work at scale would be vastly more complicated. So, at least initially, HomeRun will focus exclusively on the U.S..
“This can be a $10 billion to $100 billion [business] if we just do the U.S. correctly,” Rabois said. “I don’t want to get distracted. Focus is the most important thing for startups.”
They are going to determine what to pay for your house from a central command tower, pay out the cash in a few days, and then rehab and flip?
A better idea would be for a start-up to hire the best agents in town and create an exclusive marketplace.
The University of Southern California is testing a giant 3D printer that could be used to build a whole house in under 24 hours.
Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis has designed the giant robot that replaces construction workers with a nozzle on a gantry, this squirts out concrete and can quickly build a home according to a computer pattern. It is “basically scaling up 3D printing to the scale of building,” says Khoshnevis. The technology, known as Contour Crafting, could revolutionise the construction industry.
We’ve heard all the hubbub about higher mortgage rates having a negative effect on the real estate market. But the non-taper has caused rates to come back a bit – we are now down around 4.375% for 30-year conforming rates.
For those who had their heart set on having payments lower than what you get with a 4.375%, 30-year mortgage rate, then there are options available:
- Buyers can pay more points to lower their rate.
- Buyers can have the sellers buy down their rate.
- They can take an interest-only loan, instead of fixed-rate.
- Buy a cheaper house.
Or, in this cash-happy environment, they can borrow less:
The stir-up from higher rates might cause some changes in the buyer psychology, but the baseline problem hasn’t changed – there aren’t any great buys available, and even the decent buys are loaded with compromise.
We’ve wrapped up eight years of www.bubbleinfo.com! Thanks for participating, and most of all, thank you to those have become clients.
I do this to demonstrate my abilities, and want to help more people buy and sell homes. If you, or someone you know, is thinking of moving, I’d love to hear from you!
Let’s listen to real estate buyers and sellers talk about their experience:
Read the wrap-up of the first day at the RE connect:
A whole selection of consumer-feedback videos:
The first U.S. multi-family condo built of used shipping containers is slated to break ground in Detroit early next year.
Strong, durable and portable, shipping containers stack easily and link together like Legos. About 25 million of these 20-by-40 feet multicolored boxes move through U.S. container ports a year, hauling children’s toys, flat-screen TVs, computers, car parts, sneakers and sweaters.
But so much travel takes its toll, and eventually the containers wear out and are retired. That’s when architects and designers, especially those with a “green” bent, step in to turn these cast-off boxes into student housing in Amsterdam, artists’ studios, emergency shelters, health clinics, office buildings.
Despite an oft-reported glut of unused cargo containers lying idle around U.S. ports and ship yards – estimates have ranged from 700,000 to 2 million – the Intermodal Steel Building Units and Container Homes Association puts the number closer to 12,000, including what’s sold on Craigslist and eBay.
Joel Egan, co-founder of HyBrid Architecture in Seattle, which has built cottages and office buildings from shipping containers for close to a decade and coined the term “cargotecture” to describe this method of construction, warns that although containers can be bought for as little as $2,500, they shouldn’t be seen as a low-cost housing solution.
See more examples here:
Hat tip to daytrip for sending this along!
It is getting easier to investigate realtors on-line.
We’ve already seen that www.neighborcity.com allows you to research an agent’s recent sales history. The realtor-groups that pool all the team’s sales under one agent are still deceiving (Redfin and most top-producing agents), but at least you have some way of verifying that somebody has been successful in getting people to the finish line.
In a different twist, www.homelight.com allow you to search your preferred neighborhoods to find an agent, and then screen by price range, and agent characteristics too.
The data provided by both of these websites is less than 100% accurate – the actual sales counts fluctuate, and homelight says that one of the areas I work is Castle Park? But at least there is independent data available.
The best gauge of how an agent can help you is simply the number of closed sales – that verfies the agent’s skill and ability to successfully juggle all the wide-ranging variables encountered in each sale. An agent who sells at least 1-2 houses per month is nimble, and experienced in navigating this market.
The only common thing about agents is that each of us has gotten at least 70% correct on the state’s 150-question multiple-choice test. Other than that, you are left to believe what the agent tells you – unless you do some research on websites like these.