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May 30th, 2008

post travel colds

The only one of us who seemed sick when we got back was T (ignoring the fact all of us had upset stomachs the day after), who, 2 days after our return, had a running nose. Alas, he has given it to me.

Real Estate: Wheeeee!

According to this Economist story:

http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?story_id=11465476

Shiller (of Case-Shiller) did a bigger series of the data that goes back a centuryish. Comparing recent housing declines to the 1930s indicates the current "downturn" is worse than back then (ETA: 1932 drop, specifically; Shiller has been plugging the "worse than the 30s" story for a month or more; this a new development in backing data) in nominal dollars, then goes on to make the following startling, but inobvious point: back then, deflation softened a nominal decline (in fact, you could decline in nominal dollars in the 1930s and increase in real dollars, but never mind that now). Because our current environment is, er, the opposite of deflationary, what's the word, oh, yeah! Inflationary, the real decline is much, much worse.

Watch it kids: that's a big step.

Real Estate: lead paint

The Boston Globe real estate blog (Real Estate Now) is often annoying, but equally often has really useful tidbits buried in the comments. This blog is a slog, but one that pays off occasionally. Today, I really hit pay dirt.

http://webapps.ehs.state.ma.us/Leadsafehomes/default.aspx

That's a Massachusetts website that lets you look up by address any property you like to see if it has a hazardous report (like, say, lead) associated with it. Lead paint hasn't been legal for 30 years, but maybe a quarter of the houses that otherwise meet our criteria are older than that and I'm in no hurry to completely eliminate that group of houses since I tend to prefer them aesthetically to newer ones and am prepared to do an energy audit to make sure I'm not buying a leaky sieve of a house that will cost a mint to heat and cool.

After doing a little digging on that site for houses that neighbor a house we really like (but don't like the price on), and noting another comment in that blog about the cost of lead abatement (not nearly as bad as I'd imagined -- looks like on the order of $10K or so), it seems reasonable to just include that on our list of shopping criteria.