Thursday, January 10, 2008

How I Feel About Housing

What a difference a year makes.  It was at about this time last year where Sue and I began our first serious housing foray, looking at houses, going to a lot of Open Houses, talking with banks, brokers, mortgage agents, lawyers, etc.  We were that close to finding a house and making the jump.
 
But in the range we are looking and the areas we want to live the choices were pretty slim so it dragged on and on and then a funny thing happned.  The whole world began to change and I looked at my wife, sometime in April or May, and said to her that we need to stop and sit out the summer.  And as summer winded down, I said to her, we should sit out the rest of 2007 too. And we did and we completely cleared our books of any and all debt and meanwhile socked money away like crazy.
 
So here we are in the beginning of 2008, debt free with a decent down payment amount saved and now, looking at the listings of homes... it's almost shocking to see the difference in homes.  Last year, it was all these crappy run down 2 and 3 BR 1 Bath ranch homes and now, the amount of Bi-levels, Splits and Colonials with 3 and 4 and sometimes 5 bedrooms with 1.5 or 2 bathrooms in decent areas on decent lot sizes is amazing.  And the amount of homes that are simply vacant is noticable although I guess not surprising.
 
So anyway, these are the types of homes we want and watching the market the way we have and the almost obsessive interest I've had in reading about the economy, sub-prime mortgage crisis, recession fears, rising credit card debt and personal bankruptcy increase, the rising price of oil, resulting in the rising price of gas, which in turn causes an increasing rise in milk and foodstuffs costs, leads me to believe that there is a trememndous amount of more pain to be experienced in housing property values. 
 
Now, considering that in December there was an uptick in unemployment (which may not be a cause for alarm but we'll see), and all of the factors above... well, the downward movement in the value of homes simply has to continue and maybe continue big because people can't change how much they pay for gas, they have to buy food, Realtors have to eat too and so they need to sell homes and that means that the people who can buy, the people who are like my wife and I, who are sitting on the sidelines because we refuse to pay for a home at the prices in the market currently because all things remaining the same and living costs rising the way they are and salary only increasing slightly for inflation... well... the housing cost has to give simply because there is a ton of inventory on the market, few buyers and people will only pay what they can afford to pay and that is shrinking.
 
So what does it mean?  Well, what it means is that I'll be a tough negotiator in March April because there is the other reality:  We need to have a place to live and you can't sit on the sidelines indefinitely and time the market for the best deal because timing is bad too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Techie Nerd IE Object Fix Crap

For the past year and half, Microsoft Internet Explorer, both versions 6 and 7, have had this very annoying issue with controls embedded in <object> tags.  Apparently at some point in the past, Microsoft got sued for using someone else's code (shocker!) for Object handling, and whether they lost or settled, the result was the same for end users.  Microsoft issued a patch which one day and stuck in this "Click to activate control" nonsense, and as a web designer and power Internet user, I've found few things as annoying.
 
Before I get a shitload of responses about using Firefox or Opera instead (or Safari if the Mac gaylords respond), let me be clear that I don't use IE as my browser of choice at home.  I'm firmly in the Firefox camp.  But that said, for the purposes of my job, of which greater than 90% of users of our corporate website use IE, I have to use IE to make sure the site renders correctly and the other web designer here uses Firefox so we cover all of the browser inconsistencies easily during our testing.  One of us has to so it's me because he's too dead set against IE whereas I don't care as deeply even tho I find it preferable.
 
Anyway, this morning I was pretty much on my last straw with regards to this browser issue, not for a work related reason, but rather because of something I've done with greasetruck.org.
 
Well a little Google work turned up the following blog entry which is heavensent news for an IE user:
 
Microsift has issued a prerelease fix for IE which can be downloaded now assuming IE has been updated with some currently released security fixes.  I've gone through it this morning, making all the necessary updated and then downloading and installing the patch and it works like a champ.
 
So if you've suffered like I have with this silly thing for the 1.5 years then rejoice as it's now fixable in the browser instead of some javascript fix in the code.  If you don't care then realize that come April 2008, Microsoft will begin pushing it out automatically to end users.