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RG03.2 housing bubble

January 14th, 2008 by dk

Scientists tell us the universe is expanding, but that can’t account for how much bigger Americans’ houses have gotten in the last 40 years. Our houses have more than doubled in size in the past generation, and that doesn’t even calculate the fact that most teenagers now have two houses to call home — one for dad and his new wife and another for mom and her new husband. Why have houses exploded in size? Because lenders forced down the fees charged by appraisers until it was no longer feasible (or even expected) for appraisers to anything more than a drive-by when calculating the value of a home. Instead, they have relied on “comps” that focus almost entirely on square footage — quantity, not quality — of comparable houses in the area and what they have recently sold for. Building quality and attention to detail are no way to get ahead in that sort of economy, until it stops working. Like now.

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  • 1 Jennymoose Jan 15, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    In the real world, real people pay real money for houses. Thus, even if all appraisers did is rely on “comps”, these “comps” are based on real sales data. Your explanation fails to address how the “comp” prices explain anything except that consumers willingly pay more for “quantity” than “quality”. Isn’t this really a lament that the foolish American consumer is suckered by “bigger is better” [why did ’59 Buicks outsell ’59 Renaults?], and doesn’t know what’s good for him or her?