Another item to add to Daylight Savings Time changes… batteries and power cords

I’ve written a few articles about fire prevention one of them linked here: link with respect to a site that has lots of fire prevention tips. I’ve also written about the dangers of space heaters.

Today I want to write about the dangers of old, or overheating electrical cords, specifically, if you are using extension cords or multi-outlet cords in your home. We all do it. In fact, recently I updated all the outlet cords in our home office because we couldn’t remember how old the ones were that we were using. Plus, we upgraded some power surge protectors for those outlet cords that were being used for our office equipment like computers and printers.

What got me thinking about this post though was what I read as I was reviewing a condominium resale certificate for a client the other night. In two months of the Home Owner’s Association board meeting minutes were remarks about fires that had started in individual units over the course of about 6 months. This association only has 67 units and 2 units had experienced fires only a few months apart from each other. While that is a small percentage overall it is still scary that if either of these fires had gotten out of control many more units would have been affected. Granted, this is a building from 1992 so it should have a sprinkler system and hardwired smoke detectors and thankfully both fires were stopped within the units walls. But, what about those buildings that are grandfathered against these requirements? You can see where I’m going with this as we’ve all read stories of those kinds of buildings burning and people being hurt or killed.

It’s imperative that anyone using extension cords be careful and to check or replace them regularly.  Perhaps as Daylight Savings Time is a recommended time to change out the batteries in your smoke detectors perhaps it should also be the time to check your power cords around the house.

The Longest Season Ever – Spring Forward


How much is the market influenced by the fact that it stays light longer on weekdays? 

We all know it’s true that people tend to look at property more on weekends, unless it gets dark later on weekdays.  We all know the second and third quarters of each year are stronger than the first and last quarters.  But how much does that have to do with it getting dark earlier and staying light later?

Well, this is a good year to test that, as tonight is the beginning of daylight savings time.  For the first time in, I guess my life, we will turn our clocks forward, one hour, tonight, March 11, 2007.

Compare that to April 6 in 2003, April 4, in 2004, April 3 in 2005 and April 2 in 2006, and we are adding about 36 days to the real estate high season.  Will be interesting to see how the March 2007 stats compare to previous years.  I think they will be stronger due to DST being pushed earlier.

Maybe that will transcend into April.  Maybe sellers who would have listed May 1, will be able to spruce up the home’s exterior earlier this year, with a few hours of daylight after work each night, and get their homes listed a couple of weeks earlier than expected.

I’m just happy that the daffodils are in bloom, I see pink trees everywhere, and starting tomorrow…it will get dark later.  One of Seattle’s main claims to fame, is our long, long spring and summer days.  And this year, we will have even more of it!  Enjoy!

The Perfect Real Estate 2.0 Company

[photopress:timeYOU_big.jpg,thumb,alignright]If I had millions of dollars like Jim and Shirley Wilson now have (254M Powerball this week) I would create what I feel is a void in market today. I would take a Zillow like property evaluation tool and add a social networking back end to it. This was actually some of the conversations Dustin, Robbie and I had over a year ago when I was first introduced to RCG.

Anyway, what the market needs now is a valuation tool like Zillow that is enhanced by taking in to account neighborhoods, the particular street the house is on, the property’s zoning, the neighbors to your left and right and many many more. Zillow has added features to allow home owners to update their statistics for a closer estimate, but there is nothing out there that allows the brainchild behind Web 2.0’s success… YOU! (also a reason I feel the Web 2.0 bubble is far from bursting).

This would allow owners, neighbors and most importantly realtors to add comments to their communities, neighboring houses and their own house. I can only imagine how valuable this content would be to future home owners. Matter of a face, this would add some type of accountability to neighbors and home owners to be ‘good neighbors’. I guess this would be like a Better Business Bureau for home owners. I am sure all of the tenured agents out there have heard horror stories of their clients having troubles with a new home where the Form 17 disclosures could not provide any protection. This would be especially valuable in multi family communities.

[photopress:my_currency.jpg,thumb,alignleft]San Francisco’s my-currency launched today looking to tap in to this resource. John Cook’s blog talks about it as My Currency takes on Zillow which I understand, but I feel the underlying message here is putting the power in the people’s hand. It is easy for a site to put together stats that combines total square footage by numbers of beds/bath times a special area by area multiplier (I assume this is similar to the formula most of these sites use), but the does that mean someone will actually pay that price? If this were true, I would sell my house today for 200k more than I think it is worth because Zillow says so 🙂

Russ, NO! Please Say It Ain't SO!

[photopress:joe.jpg,full,alignright] One of the FEW rights of a buyer these days, is that they have 3 days to review the “Form 17” Seller Disclosure Form.

These forms are often sitting out at the homes when buyers view property, and often buyers pick them up at every single house. Recently the mls system has made these available online, so we can send them to our buyer clients, before they even see the property. A buyer could conceivably recieve 20 or more Seller Disclosure Forms, before even deciding on a property.

The first page of the Seller Disclosure Statement says in all caps: “You (buyer) have 3 days from the day seller or seller’s agent delivers this disclosure statement to you, to rescind the agreement.”

Some agents are suggesting, that every single buyer who has picked up a Seller Disclosure Form in a house, and now possibly weeks later makes an offer on that same property, has given away their 3 day right to review it! They had it in their hand weeks before they were even interested in making an offer, but the clock started ticking the day they picked one of these forms up while looking at property? Is that even remotely possible?

Please say it ain’t so! Otherwise get those darned things out of those houses and off the online access! What a TRAP! Please say it ain’t so…please. Russ, your thoughts MUCH appreciated. Seems to me that if a buyer has “3 days to rescind the agreement” that there has to in fact BE an agreement at the time of delivery!

How far is too far to commute?

[photopress:round_and_round.jpg,thumb,alignright] The most common question I get from people moving to Seattle regards their potential commute… The question typically follows this format:

“How far away from my work can I live and still have a reasonable commute?”

It doesn’t really matter whether the person is planning to work in Downtown Seattle, Downtown Bellevue, the Amazon Campus, or the Microsoft Campus, because a “reasonable commute” is different for each person.

Some people are willing to drive an hour to save money on a home (or be able to afford a home for that matter), while others want a commute that is less than 20 minutes. Across the country (and especially in the Seattle area), the farther you are willing to drive every day, the less you have to pay for a home.

Interestingly, my work as a transportation planning consultant has put me in contact with some very interesting resources. For example, I recently came across these five maps that were put together by the regional government (PSRC) that give a great indication of the average commute:

These maps are great if you know the area you are going to be working (say Downtown Bellevue) AND you know that you are willing to commute a specific distance (say 40 minutes) because then they can help you put a definitive boundary on your home search!

NOTE: These maps are created “topographical-style”. If you are new to this, imagine that the graphic is displaying a huge mountain centered on the point of interest (like Downtown Seattle). If you move anywhere within the first circle (the top of the mountain!), then your commute to Downtown Seattle would be less than 20 minutes. However, the farther out you live, the large the hill you have to climb to get to work. For example, if you were to move to Issaquah, then you could expect about a 40 minute commute to Downtown Seattle.

By the way, the maps are a little dated (they are based on 1997 data), but the commute patterns have not changed much in the last 8 years, so the trends are still pretty accurate.

The same regional model that was used to create this data also spits out data for future years! Wouldn’t it be great to have the same maps for future years (2010, 2020, etc.) so you could gauge how your commute might change? This can be done! And if there is sufficient interest, I’ll put something like this together!