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June 23, 2006

Brainstorming with real estate innovators in Boston & beyond

Barcampboston1 The unconference movement has spawned a nationwide series of self-defining BarCamps, which in turn, are spawning other events and informal user groups.  For example, a handful of attendees at BarCampBoston have formed an informal network of Real Estate Innovators and hope to meet monthly as the sign-up poster above suggests.  If you're in Boston, join us tonight, Friday, June 23, 2006 at GeoMancers meeting at MIT to discuss what was hot at Where 2.0.  (Email RECafe@mac.com or call 617-661-4046 for details, or to participate in future Real Estate Innovators gatherings in New England.)  BostonPodCamp is tentatively proposed for later this summer, August 19-20th?, and BarCampManchester (NH) is also in the pipeline. 

Anyone interested in organizing a BarCamp in Yosemite or somewhere else in or near San Francisco for an open-ended unconference -- or a just a few conversations on hiking trails, around campfires, or in a bar -- AFTER Real Estate Connect SF 2006, July 26-28?

For those who don't know, Connect is the leading real estate technology conference hosted annually by Inman News in San Francisco (that this blogger has missed only over the past decade).  This is the first year they will be offering a Real Estate Software Developers Day.  If you can't wait for that event, there is a BarCamp in San Francisco this weekend, June 23-25, 2006, and like all BarCamps, be prepared to bring your own session topic or demo.

Can't make it to San Francisco?  It's fun to watch who signs up for local BarCamps (see Boston example), and how related wikis and blog posts spring up before, during, and after the event.  So keep an eye on BarCamp San Francisco for real estate related topics this weekend.  Anyone interested in organizing real estate sessions at BarCampEarth, a "simultaneous compendium of Barcamps around the world to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the first-ever BarCamp" August 25-27, 2006?

12:12 PM in Change Agents, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, Social Networking, Tech Trends | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 18, 2006

Homebuyers: Help map falling prices to protect yourself from overpaying in "overvalued" markets

The map may take a couple seconds to load.

UPDATE: Added wiki-version of national RealEstateBubbleMap.com. Contributors welcome.

A year after The Real Estate Cafe speculated about whether bloggers would help pop the real estate bubble, househunters turned citizen journalists now have the opportunity to use online maps to move past theories and debates, to document price reductions, pre-foreclosure notices, and properties selling for below their assessed value.  This map, for example, shows some of the largest recent savings in Greater Boston.  Interested in using Platial to create real estate bubble maps in "overpriced" housing markets across the nation? Here are three options: 

1.  Register to use Platial so you can add "Places" to the Boston regional map above.  It's easy to add a new property, post comments on an existing one, and upload photos to any Place whether it is yours or not.  Videos and audio clips can be embedded in the descriptions of the Places you add.  To republish this map on your website, click here and simply cut and paste the html. The map can be re-sized to fit any page layout.  Contributions from fellow bubble bloggers and their readers, particularly those in 71 cities called "extremely overvalued" by USA Today are welcome.  Want to correspond with each other and become bubble buddies?  Start by adding your comments to the Boston bubble map or this national map / wiki of overvalued housing markets.

2.  If you want us to do the work, send comments, corrections, or references to other properties asking or selling for (1) below their assessed value or (2) well below their original asking price to RECafe@mac.com.  Links, photos, videos, and audio clips are welcome, but addresses or intersections are required to map locations.

3.  Create your own local or regional map on Platial, and add or "grab" Places from other maps. Then let others add to or republish your map to create an informal, grassroots network of housing bubble maps.  Sound cool?  That's what others say about Platial: read Wired's article, or listen to a story about the site from NPR's All Things Considered.  Check out the repeated references to Platial and social networking with maps (watch video clip) at the Where 2.0 Conference News site this week. 

What's in it for you?  Post enough new places to your own map, and Platial will share advertising revenue.  Or simply use information others post to stay informed, protect yourself from overpaying for property, or negotiate a lower price by linking your offer to recent sales, price reductions, etc.  Maybe we can even get foundation money to create an initiative to help inform and protect homebuyers like you. 

Meanwhile, if you need a buyer agent in Greater Boston, The Real Estate Cafe would be delighted to serve you and rebate some or all our commission. If you are househunting outside Boston, we'd be delighted to refer you to an exclusive buyer agent -- perhaps one contributing to this map -- and rebate one-third of our referral fee (where allowed by law), and donate another third to the proposed Million Dollar March to help save lives or provide shelter subsidies for AIDS orphans.  With more than 15 million AIDS orphans worldwide, let's use today, Father's Day, to begin brainstorming about how to build a voluntary, nationwide campaign.

11:38 AM in "We" companies, ASAP: AIDS Shelter Alliance Partners, Bubble map, Foreclosures, Mapping, Market trends, Moblogging in Real Estate, Real Estate Bubble, Savings & Rebates | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 08, 2006

Homes selling for below assessed value in Greater Boston

Ohno_700 During the past three months, March through May 2006, another trend has emerged signaling the end of the housing boom in Greater Boston:  nearly one in four single family homes is selling for below assessed value, according to an analysis of sales in 27 of the most expensive cities & towns in Greater Boston conducted by The Real Estate Cafe. 

During the three month period, 921 single family homes sold across the 27 towns, including 216 sales below assessed value (see related map) identified in listing data from MLSPin.com.  According to an interview conducted with Lawrence Yun, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors earlier this year, "There's no solid data, but it's pretty much well known that the government assessment is nearly always below the market value." 

Preliminary data for May 2006, suggests that the number of homes selling below assessed value is rising, even though the percentage may be falling slightly.  During March 2006, 71 of the 275 single family homes in the surveyed towns sold for below assessed value.  That number fell to 61 in April when 257 homes sold across the 27 towns.  However, preliminary sales information from May 2006, show that 84 of 389 homes sold for below assessed value -- an increase of 23 sales or 38% over the previous month.

More important, the year-over-year change raises concerns.  During May 2005, only 23 of the 342 single family homes sales in the top 27 cities and towns surveyed sold for under their assessed value.  A year later, that percent tripled, rising from 7% to 22%; and the number of homes selling below assessed value nearly quadrupled, rising from 23 to 84 sales.

Opinions vary about whether the rise in homes selling for below assessed value signal a loss in housing value, distressed sellers, or town assessments which have overshot a changing housing market.  In coming days, weeks, and months, The Real Estate Cafe will take a closer look at those questions, and discuss which cities and towns are most impacted by this new trend, which towns are improving and which are getting worse.  We invite readers elsewhere to let us know if homes are selling for below their tax assessment in your communities, too, in Massachusetts and beyond.

If you're concerned about this emerging trend in Boston, check out these pull quotes from a newspaper article in Ohio entitled "Real Estate Bargains" published on April 30, 2006:

In one Akron neighborhood, 40 percent of the homes sold since January went for less than assessed value.

A nearly equal number of homes in Summit County sold for above and below assessed values in the first three months of the year...

Yun said it would be highly unusual for roughly the same number of homes to be selling below assessed value as above, but a three-month period isn't long enough to conclude that homes are losing value.

Still, the article concludes, "The bottom line is that in Summit County, buyers have a good chance of paying less than the assessed value for a house, depending on the neighborhood they are searching."  Will the same become the norm in some neighborhoods or communities in Greater Boston?  Don't laugh, LowellDeeds.com summarized 116 market transactions in April as follows:

... 87 sold for more than the assessed value while 29 sold for less. Of those selling for above the assessed value, the average sales price was $265,270 while the average assessment was $218,683, a difference of 48,822. Of those selling for below the assessed value, the average sales price was $249,036 while the average assessment was $310,479 (making the selling price $61,443 below the assessed value).

Here's the serious question, and it's no laughing matter:  If properties continue to sell below their assessed value, or worse, drop 10 to 20% in coming years, what impact will that have on the ability of local cities and towns across Massachusetts to finance municipal services, particularly those towns which rely heavily on property taxes?  We welcome your opinion as a comment below, or a recording on our listener line:  617-876-2117.

12:33 AM in Price trends, Real Estate Bubble | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack