As a consumer and a businesswoman, I see hope. I see an opportunity to look beyond the current economic crisis and attempt to determine what would make a difference on a grassroots level. We need to introduce new products and systems into the marketplace that those who are laid off can wrap their interest in.
We need to begin to look beyond the past and towards the future. This is not a small task, as most are seeing family members so challenged with no end in sight. We cannot continue to put a band aid on reality.
Fact: Our economy is not coming back as some have stated. Little bits of success are not sustainable. We as consumers can attest to the fact that food prices, utility costs and cost of living for middle class America is going up, services are charging more and these business owners do not have a choice. These times are causing such chain effects and it is hurting everyone. The economic downturn was caused by real estate. This is what needs to be addressed. In fact, the sooner we begin, the faster we can all see an actual recovery.
I was licensed as a real estate broker in two states, in Florida and in Maryland. These were two different markets. Yet, there were similarities. I managed two offices in Florida. In Maryland I completed 400 real estate transactions with positive results. When you do this much business, you learn so much. You learn the priorities of your clients. You learn the joys as well as the pitfalls of the system of completing a sale and having a real estate appraiser qualify a sales price. As real estate professionals, we are involved in the inspection of property, families and friends of the home buyer and seller, we talk with title attorneys and introduce banking officials and those involved in mortgage financing into the mix.
The average real estate agent and consumer does not focus on who buys a loan and sends out a mortgage payment coupon. They just want to help the consumer buy a home and see a successful end result. Together these participants in total could represent close to 5 million. It would make sense to ask for input by these people on how to grow the economy again. In essence, ask the average Joe.
I urge all to not judge these industries by the sub prime fallout. Look at all of the professions and people that are involved in real estate transactions. This was not caused by only a few. Wasn't everyone just following a consumer's thirst for home ownership? Is this so wrong? I do know that being a good real estate agent, you must follow what your client wants. If you do not like a certain home, and your client does, you try your hardest to help them get that home. This just follows human nature. What we just saw is human nature run rampant. As long as it was going well, who wanted it to end? Let's all stop crying over spilled milk and help us all get back on our feet.
If we want to fix a problem, we need to get to the root of the problem. Would you agree there were two facets of the real estate transaction that were not being respected and have changed drastically? Number One is the actual piece of real estate we were to see escalating value is not happening. Number Two is the secure job that the lender needed to verify to buy that piece of real estate. Questions to ponder: Is this same piece of real estate actually showing the elevation in value perceived? Is the job the buyer had still secure? No, no and no.
So value needs to be addressed first and foremost. How do we get value back into real estate? Well, do you want to pay $1,500 to $2,000 a month for a townhome that we are finding is far from where the grocery store is? Are we finding that the indoor air quality in this home is not as healthy as we thought? We didn't think of additional monthly bills such as association fees, utilities and communication such as cable and Internet access, plus food and more. Why are my taxes higher on this piece of real estate than my neighbor's? Why is the house down the street selling for less than mine cost when we bought? I was told real estate went up in value...
My thought is, we need to immediately revive real estate as a purchase for value. We need to have real estate be a cost effective and healthy investment to maintain. We need to address real estate taxes becoming more in line with what our neighbors pay again. We need to have homeowners' insurance that will reward us if we have an energy-efficient property or one that may fight the weather challenges we all face across the nation. A policy that offers discounts for a property that is stronger and better built. Insurance rates should attract those who renovate or build for clients a more sustainable dwelling.
Education is a key to achieving these goals. We need to begin to support home energy audit and energy rating programs, such as what Austin, Texas and parts of California are doing. Raising the value in the minds of those who purchase a piece of real estate that what was once a sought-after investment. Following energy efficiency guidelines to make a piece of real estate more valuable will produce new sectors, with new professions and new jobs in these industries. This in turn will not only be adding to the workforce but will put people back to work.
About number two, the secure job that was what the lender needed to verify to buy that piece of real estate? Following energy efficiency guidelines to make a piece of real estate more valuable will produce new products needed, new systems, new job sectors, with new professions and new jobs in these industries. This in turn will not only be adding to the workforce but will put people back to work.
Kerry Mitchell is the founder and course developer of Green Real Estate Education, which is on target to educate more than 20,000 real estate professionals in going green by 2010. Mitchell established the recognized certification for the real estate industry, the GCREP.GL. She worked for 14 years as a licensed real estate broker in Maryland and Florida, where she now resides.
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