Column: We Are the Solution

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I was hoping, by now, to have the Ultimate Answer to a critical question, namely: is there a way to predict (or at least suggest) when a major real estate market correction is imminent?

The answer has, to date, eluded my analytical rigor. But I am still looking. There are, fortunately, many other real estate questions on which I can opine that will not only give you a better understanding of the market here in South Florida, but will also (ideally) make you a better informed citizen of our community.

We now find the 2020 campaign for president in full swing. There are so many candidates already, the debate stage is going to look like Wilton Drive the night before one of those big LGBT cruises leaves port.

But here’s the thing. All these people – talented and sincere as they may be – are pushing “top-down” solutions to our problems. And yes, many situations do require that. But there’s also a risk in that – namely, that nothing gets done until there are the votes, until after the compromises, until after things make their way back down through the bureaucracy.

Here in South Florida, though, there are things we can do in a “bottom-up” manner to affect and improve our real estate market, our communities, and our lifestyle that are not contingent on shifting political winds. We don’t need to wait.

Among the hats I wear, I am on the Board of Directors of the U. Green Building Council South Florida region. We encourage sustainable building practices, improved use of resources, and creation of resilient communities – things that (in my opinion anyway) South Florida needs in spades. 

We don’t look at things and believe we are doomed – quite the contrary! In fact, I could argue that the summation of individual and community actions, bit by bit, can roll up to a vast regional and national impact, once a critical mass is achieved.

How would that work? Well consider three things we can do, starting right away, to work within the residential real estate ownership process to drive that sort of change:

1. What’s in your garage/carport? Around 80 percent of single family homes in Broward County have either a garage or a carport. How many of these have an electric car charging station? It would cost $1,000 or so to put one in if there’s already electric service. And we know the typical car trip in Broward is about three miles – perfect for an electric car.

This would be an easy – and green – property differentiator in a market gone a bit squishy. 

2. How old is that house? The typical single family home in Broward is 40 years old. At their time of construction, energy efficiency was not a prime consideration. But now the aging of the housing stock, and the understanding of impacts of electricity production on our environmentally fragile surroundings, presents opportunity for renovation and rehabilitation projects that would boost energy efficiency and improve sustainability – with a good economic return.

3. A flood zone?! Perhaps one day there will be a tech fix for sea level rise. However, to date Poseidon has not yielded to such efforts. Make it easy on yourself (or at least on your wallet). Avoid the flood zones. Let someone with a deeper pocket be on that risk.

What are some of your ideas? What can we do here, ourselves, regardless of what happens in DC, to use real estate to build a better and more resilient community?

James Oaksun, Florida's Real Estate Geek(SM), is Broker-Owner of New Realty Concepts in Oakland Park. In addition to having degrees from Dartmouth and Cornell, he is a Graduate of the Realtor Institute (GRI).


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