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Houses by the pound

August was another banner month for residential home sales in the twelve communities covered by this report. There were 123 sales at an average price of $302,861. That's a pretty good number compared to just 93 sales last August even though the average is down from the $345,750 posted then. That brings the total of sales for the first eight months of the year to 679 at an average of $287,037 compared to 584 sales at an average of $296,262 for the same period in 2012.

As of January 1, 2014, the long awaited Fair Weight Housing Act will take effect. These federal consumer protection regulations are being implemented to ensure that home buyers can compare the costs of homes in an easy to understand format. Since the early days of home ownership, the general rule has been that heavier houses are worth more than lighter ones. One needs only to think back to their childhood and recall the story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf at the door trying to blow the place down. As you most likely recall, neither the straw home nor the custom built stick home stood up as well as to the elements as the heavier brick home. Weight matters.

Today, things are a little more complicated, but it is still a well known fact (at least for the most part) that the heavier homes are worth more and are better built. The one notable exception to that is of course the mud hut category which will be granted a waiver on these regulations. Stop and think about it a second and you'll understand the basic premise here. Every building material that goes into making a better and more desirable home adds significantly to the home's total weight. Things like granite or marble countertops, tile floors and baths, hardwood flooring, beamed ceilings, wall to ceiling fireplaces, plaster walls, indoor pools, home theaters, and Jacuzzi tubs all add weight and cost to any home.

The main thrust of the new regulations will be that all homeowners will be required to have unit price labels affixed to their homes in a prominent location showing their property's price per pound. You know, just like the supermarket. The location, weight, style, age, and price per pound of each home will then be entered into a national data base so consumers can compare costs in a given area or all over the country for that matter. These labels will be available through the newly created Residential Weight Watchers Board which will have at least one office in each community across the country.

Now, even though you may agree that this is a good bill, there are still a few kinks to work out and this will undoubtedly be a very expensive program to run. Unfortunately, the legislators did not read this massive 4,000 page bill before they passed it and people are just beginning to realize that there is not really a good system available to accurately weigh each house. Apple is currently working on an iPhone app but it may not be available for at least six months and unfortunately it won't work on Android Phones. They are still working on the infrared density measurement technology.

I did some research on line and found several web based companies that are also trying to provide solutions. A company called Movoto is working on a system to weigh houses using balloons, but they are having trouble with the standardization of the balloon size. For more info you can go to this website: http://www.movoto.com/blog/novelty-real-estate/balloons/ . Please note that the link has "novelty" in it, but this is no laughing matter.

Anyway, they have established a rough mathematical calculation for the weight of various homes that they will verify with the balloons once they get things a little more precise. For now you can use these figures to calculate the weight of your home:

200 pounds per square foot for a single-level home;
275 pounds per square foot for a two-level home; and
350 pounds per square foot for a three-level home.

They have established (inconclusively) that it takes 2,976,470,589 balloons to lift the White House and 500,800,000 balloons to lift the Playboy Mansion. There is some question over whether hot air would be used to lift the White House which might thrown off the calculations a bit.

Anyway, these new regulations will make it a lot easier for home buyers in the future if they can get the bugs worked out. Maybe, we should have just stuck the price per square foot? Nah! That would make too much sense...
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com 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 9/22/13. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

 
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