Roy Sanborn - Be cool (for 7-20)

  • Published in Columns

We had 99 residential home sales in June in the 12 towns covered by this Lakes Region real estate market report. That's pretty good! The average sales price came in at $329,928 with a median price point of $203,000. Once again, 50 percent of the sales were at or below $200,000. Last June there were 92 transactions with an average sales price of $251,218. For the first six months of 2013 there have been 447 sales at an average of $279,082 compared to 412 sales in the first half of 2012 at a slightly higher averages sales price of $291,352. That's an 8 percent increase in total sales while the average price is down a little over 4 percent.
The dog days of summer are upon us with seemingly unrelenting high temperatures and humidity. If you are out looking for a new home, probably one of the most noticeable and welcoming features upon entering the front door is if there is air conditioning. On days like we have had this past week a.c. becomes a huge selling feature. That refreshing cold blast of air that greets you wasn't always as common as it is today.

You might not know it but the father of modern air conditioning was a man named Willis Carrier, or Willie to his friends. Despite the urban legend, air conditioning was not invented by LL Kool J. You might recognize the name Carrier as it is still one of the major manufacturers of a.c. units today. I think Willie also had something to do with Carrier pigeons, but that's another story. Anyway, Willie was able to perfect the production of cold air by compressing gases, somehow inexplicably changing the heat generated in the process to ice cold air. It seems like only air conditioning repair technicians understand this process and thus a whole service industry was created to fix a.c. units that invariably break down on the hottest day of the year. Here is a little history lesson on keeping cool.

Man has always sought relief from the heat. In prehistoric times, the cavemen got out of the sweltering heat of the mid day sun by heading down to their cave. Everyone knows that getting below ground into some dark hole is a cool place to be. The Neanderthal's gift to modern civilization, the man cave, is still a very cool place to go especially if it is in the basement. No a.c. is necessary down there, just a wide screen and a big old stuffed chair. Of course, an off shoot of the air conditioning technology, the kegerator, is a highly desirable component of staying cool in a man cave and something that adds immeasurable value to any home.

Way back in the second century, the Chinese invented a seven bladed, rotary, hand cranked fan which produced cool breezes for the members of the royal palace. In ancient Rome, the Emperor had mountains of snow trucked in (by donkey cart) from the high mountaintops and placed in his courtyard to keep things cool. That's not very cost effective way to do things but their government was not that much different than ours and, well, we know what happened there.

Air conditioning was kind of lost in the dark ages. Probably the coolest place back then was in the dungeons, but I suspect no one went there seeking comfort from a blistering heat wave. Visitors to the dungeons might have stayed cool for a while but then lost their heads over something entirely different.

For centuries, people have sought relief from the summer heat by going to cooler places like the mountains and the seacoast to take a dip in the water. The summer heat is actually responsible for the tourism industry here in the Lakes Region and elsewhere. Who doesn't have fond memories of lying awake in bed in a small rustic cabin on a sweltering summer evening listening to the frogs chirp and praying for a breeze? These days vacationers may be awake at night listening to a noisy a.c. unit but at least they are cool.

Shortly after the invention of electricity, the electric fan was invented by Schulyer Wheeler in 1886 at the age of 22. His middle name was Skaats. (That's true, look it up.) He obviously had too much time on his hands, but it was an all important step toward the development of the a.c. unit itself. Everyone knows you gotta have a fan inside that thing to get the cold air out.

The first attempts at building air conditioning systems utilized toxic and flammable gases like propane and ammonia as the refrigerant. Unfortunately, when the machine malfunctioned and leaked, the escaping gases were fatal to the heretofore cool occupants of the building. This was the origin of the phrase "Guns don't kill people, Air Conditioners do" was ever used.

Even the unionized Fan Workers of America could not halt the steady march toward being cool 24/7. Willie Carrier's invention of the first modern air conditioner in 1902 is his contribution to modern society and will never be forgotten as long as there are air conditioning repairmen. LL Kool J's contribution to society; not so much. The first window air conditioner was invented by Robert Sherman of Lynn, Massachusetts in 1945. Who said nothing good ever came out of Lynn?

So, if you are selling a home and have air conditioning make sure it is cranked up for each showing. If you don't have a.c. and this weather doesn't improve, go buy a window unit and be cool. Either that or try selling your home in December. Your choice...

Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 7/17/13. Roy Sanborn is a REALTORĀ® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.