There were two interesting news stories that came out about homes and the housing market over the past couple of days. The first one I had been saying to people around here for awhile, so I’m glad for the confirmation. It was reported that the number of houses that have been foreclosed upon is much higher than what’s being reported.

The problem is that so many houses have been foreclosed on while the banks have been under such duress that they haven’t had the time to list all the houses. Of course, it wouldn’t matter much, since the housing market is so bad that many of those houses aren’t going to be sold anyway. But, it gives the appearance of banks trying to “game” the market by keeping the houses already out there at a higher value than they might be if every house was listed, thereby flooding the market. It’s pretty much along the same lines as when I mentioned a couple of days ago when talking about technology’s bad day that unemployment figures we’re given are skewed also. This looks sneaky, but it’s probably not intentional at all.

The second story was just as intriguing, but for a different reason. There had been this trend going on where people were buying land or existing houses, tearing down the existing houses if they were there, and building these mansions that were termed “McMansions” in that space, which was suddenly throwing the housing markets prices off. People wanted big, which I can understand, but they were willing to squeeze it into smaller spaces and build upward. However, in the third quarter of 2008, suddenly the size of houses being built were averaging 200 square feet less, to around 2,420 square feet per house. Seems that people were more ready to buy houses that fit their needs, rather than their dreams.

That’s good and bad news at the same time. On one hand, building a house that fits ones needs is more economical, and in the long run less stressful on the homeowner. On the other, it shows that even those people with the means to build houses are looking at the facts and not trusting that things are going to get better, so they’re hedging their bets. And, of course, building more economical means those actually putting the houses together are making a little less money, which won’t help stimulate the economy as much, although they’re still making pretty good money.

One of my long term dreams is to build a bigger house than the one I have now. How big, I’m not sure, because I’m bad at measurements. However, I have a ranch now, and I want a bigger ranch. One thing I know is that I’d like to introduce some green elements into its construction, which seems to also fit the pattern of new home builders. According to this story from, ninety percent of those who participated in a Better Homes and Gardens survey said they’re planning to have energy-efficient heating and cooling systems in their next home and 31% plan to have geo-thermal heat. I know that I’m hoping to have solar panels, wind turbines, and a small greenhouse to help keep the house warm in the winter and cooler in the summer, as well as cut down on utility bills.

I still believe that it would be in the best interest of this country if there were at least a six month freeze on foreclosures across the country, especially since many banks are being bailed out. However, I don’t see it happening; after all, it doesn’t do much good to bail out the banks, tell them to figure out how to right themselves, then take away one of their options for helping to right themselves. But it would be the more humane thing to do.

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