Monday, November 23, 2009

Natural Gas prices linked to real estate litigation; Marcellus Shale

The consequences of the ongoing devaluation of the dollar are far reaching and hard to predict. One such consequence has been felt by Realtors attempting to sell raw land in rural areas of Pennsylvania (and other states).

As the government printing press weakens the dollar, prices of commodities, such as fuel, increase. We saw just such a skyrocketing price effect in 2008 with the price of gasoline (and other fuels). When fuel prices shot up, there were many casualties, such as the contracts between real estate sellers and their listing agents. Sellers that had previously signed listing contracts with Realtors to sell their raw land now found themselves with an opportunity. Natural gas prices had risen along with other fuel prices. These rising natural gas prices had made raw land more valuable in many parts of rural Pennsylvania. While this may have seemed to be a welcome surprise to many landowners, many of their properties had been previously listed for sale at pre-inflation prices.

The only way for some land owners to take advantage of the rising natural gas prices was to break their contracts with listing agents (or even sales contracts with buyers). Litigation between Realtors, owners and buyers often resulted.

Keep in mind that fuel prices rose, creating this situation, despite the discovery of 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in Pennsylvania and neighboring states (otherwise known as the Marcellus Shale) during roughly the same period as the general commodity price inflation.

Only when the dollar is being devalued at an alarming pace can commodity prices rise despite discovery of tremendous new supplies of said commodity. That same dollar devaluation that caused (1) natural gas prices to react unpredictably and (2) unforeseen litigation will continue to create unpredictable consequences for the economy as a whole, especially the real estate market.

Marcellus Shale - H/T

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