Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pennsylvania residential sprinkler requirement; House Bill 377

Since January 1, 2011, all new houses built in Pennsylvania have been required to contain sprinkler systems. This requirement adds thousands of dollars to the cost of construction. The sprinkler requirement also creates potentially higher insurance costs for homeowners, as sprinklers that activate accidentally can create tremendous water damage within a home.

Pending now before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is House Bill 377. HB 377 would repeal the sprinkler requirement for new homes and would provide consumers with a choice at the time of the construction contract.

HB 377 is currently before the House Labor and Industry Committee and is expected to be reported out of committee shortly. A vote on the bill might occur in the full house as early as next week.
click here for an update.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fuel prices and real estate prices.

The major economic focus in the news recently has been the rise in oil and gasoline prices:
Benchmark crude for March delivery was up $6.35 a barrel, or 7.4 percent, at $92.55 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

"The Middle East will remain the market's focus today with moves in the oil price probably the best single indicator of the market's assessment of the wider implications of events there," said Adrian Foster, an analyst at Rabobank International.

Rising crude prices are a particular worry for investors as they reinforce fears of inflation and raw materials costs. They also stoke worries of a big drop in global demand levels, as experienced in previous oil price shocks in 1973-4, 1979 and 2008.

If you want to know how the fuel prices will affect real estate, look at historical information from the previous "oil price shocks" identified above. The real estate market may react in a similar fashion to those prior periods.

Even though Central Pennsylvania has historically been more stable than other parts of the country, the effects of the ongoing real estate downturn appear to be spreading:
Communities once believed to be immune to the housing crash are now seeing devastation in their cities. Seattle, Minneapolis and Atlanta are among these cities according to The New York Times.

Click here for earlier speculation as to the direction of real estate prices.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Luzerne County Housing Authority; Bedbugs

The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reported last month on a bedbug problem experienced by the Luzerne County Housing Authority:
Fagula said the authority nipped a slight bedbug problem in the bud. Exterminators eradicated the bloodsucking pests from three facilities and employees educated tenants on how to avoid future infestations.

“We tried to be a little proactive. Our maintenance superintendent Joe Grady found on the Internet a device you can place in the unit that attracts the bedbugs, something our guys can go around and check every week,” Fagula said, adding that the units cost about $1 each and the authority bought about 240.

“These are placed underneath the bed and, if there are bedbugs in there, they’ll be attracted to this device and get trapped in there and we can know right off the bat. So far, we’ve had good luck and good success. Three weeks ago, we put them in every unit in Lee Park and in every unit in Plymouth, and the results have come back and we haven’t found any bedbugs, so that’s a good sign,” Fagula said.

The bedbug products referenced by the maintenance supervisor are featured here.