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What is the Best Time to Buy A New Home?

imgres What is the Best Time to Buy A New Home?

As Published in The Seattle Times/ New Homes Saturday

by Al Doyle

I bought my first home at age 18.  I needed to get the loan co-signed, most of my friends laughed at me, but this was without a doubt one of the best moves of my life.  Today, some 40+ years later, I’m renting for the first time in my life, and thinking a lot about when is the best time to buy a new home.  Every morning there is a new blog, a news story or an office conversation that speculates about the future of the housing industry.  Each expert attempts to top the next with stories varying in nature from The Apocalypse to Pollyanna.  Most of these pundits are focusing on the wrong point — the investment aspect of a new home.  Not until the early 2000s did investment become a major driver in home ownership.  It was a given that over time, owning a home would benefit a family nest egg, but new homes were not get-rich-quick schemes.  Today is no different.

Here are the generation-proven reasons for buying a new home.  A new home is a place to settle in and put down roots.  It’s a chance to make a commitment to a neighborhood and a community and build friends and contacts.  A new home gives a person or a family a sense of pride and wellbeing.  A new home, particularly today, is built to energy efficiency and sustainable standards that can save the owner tens of thousands of dollars in operating and maintenance costs over its lifetime.  A new home is something, unlike a rental, that can be personalized and decorated to reflect your tastes, your values and your entertaining style.  A new home, and making regular payments, not only build equity, but also can anchor a personal credit score, enabling other investments.  With a new home, your monthly cost can be fixed for the next thirty years (then go away when it’s paid off).  Often homebuyers learn that a new home can be paid for in full in less than 15 years with a little extra payment each month.   If you are renting a home or an apartment now, what direction do you think your rent payment is headed?  Historically rents rise, and with an increasing demand on the housing stock in the Northwest and limited new apartments under construction, a shortage of rental units could easily drive rents up faster than the cost of living.

For me, personally, the best reason to buy a new home, instead of renting or shopping for a resale home, is design.  New homes offer floor plans and features that are more exciting that ever.  Homebuilders, particularly in the Puget Sound market, are becoming quite innovative in their offerings.  Now more than ever, the selection is outstanding.  Depending on your stage of life you should be able to find the perfect match in the perfect neighborhood, from high rise condominiums in a downtown setting to cottages tucked along quaint tree-lined streets, to the family home with a big back yard and lots of neighbor kids to play with.

So, what is the best time to buy a new home? How about now?  I always start with the Saturday paper.

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Facebook is Not Free

facebook1 Facebook is Not Free

“Facebook is Free.” So is Twitter, your Blog and those incessant email blasts we send and receive.That “Free” thing is quite far from the truth, actually!Access to these services may be at no-charge, but using them correctly and effectively is far from free.

That is a good thing.

The typical consumer does not value FREE. We are attracted to free. We are enticed and tempted by free.For years consumer research has shown that the average consumer cares more about products and services they have to pay for than those they don’t invest in.So the fact that “Facebook” has a cost is a good thing.

What is the cost? It’s the cost of creating good content and management.An effective Facebook, Twitter, blog or other Social Media campaign requires commitment and investment.A company and its leadership must treat Social Media like any other communications investment. Put enough resources against the job to do it right, or don’t do it at all.The resources can be the management time needed to state some goals and scratch out a posting schedule on the back of a napkin.It can be the staff time needed to research and add posts.The time it takes to respond to friends, fans and customers.The resolve to promote your Social presence in other places such as on your website, business cards, email signature, literature and packaging.The costs may seem quite reasonable compared to a major advertising or public relations campaign, but when we know we’re making an investment, we’ll take much more care in making it pay off.That is a good thing.

There is also another cost that we often do not see. That is the cost to our audience. I am sure we all put a high value on our own time and attention.We hate meaningless interruptions and rude intrusions on our attention.Remember that when you post.Your friends, fans and customers are investing their precious time and attention in reading what you have to say. Say it well. Say it concisely and move on.

I hope that’s what I’ve done here.




We may be living in one of the greatest eras of opportunity in recent history.  It may look grim right now, and we have fond memories of the early 2000s, when sometimes all it took to win was just to show up.  But the good news is the current economy presents an opportunity to rethink and reinvent our industry.

If you want to make your mark from here on out, you’re going to have to put it all on the line: your finances, your intellect and your guts.

So, are there any risk-takers out there still with me?

Think hard about it.  We are part of an industry that is ripe for innovation. The recent market conditions have taken away the proverbial low hanging fruit, but the need for shelter will grow as we continue to have babies and keep our doors open to immigration.

What will it take?

If you’re an architect, is it time to design differently?  Will it be more sensible size designed to minimize impact on energy and environment going forward? Is it time to explore the creation of denser clusters, and perhaps introduce community in places you have never thought about community before?

If you’re a builder, is it time to get over stick built?  Does anyone want a “stick built” car?  Toaster?  Are you ready to rethink how you put a home together?  Push the envelope on efficiency. Open up new markets with amazing affordability.  Get local governments to get in on the game of creating more housing and less “mitigation”?

Can we learn to market more efficiently?  How long are we going to depend on the newspapers? Whine about how much we spend on monthly new home glossy magazines? And then complain about how poorly all of it works, while we come back for more of the same, year-after-year?

Today, Fusionhappens pushed the reset button.  We’ve moved ourselves back to the waterfront home where we began this adventure a number of years ago, co-located with our friends Mithun in Seattle Pier 56.

Business for Fusionhappens has actually been pretty good lately.

Why?  Because we’re finding new ways to help our clients reach their customers.  We’ve taken the plunge and made our investments in social media.  We are teaching our clients how to build websites that empower them to do their own updates. We’re creating new tools to track leads and to radically improve the Search Engine performance for our clients’ websites.  We’re finding new and more efficient ways to create marketing materials.  And we are insisting that everyone we work with (especially clients) adhere to the mantra “waste nothing; measure everything.”

Sorry that today’s blog is a commercial, but today is a big day for us as we settle in our new work space.

Please accept our invitation and our challenge to take what the market has handed us and make something truly new, fresh and IMPORTANT.

Lives are shaped in the homes we design, build and market. Let’s do more than our best.  Let’s do something new.


Pier 56
1201 Alaskan Way, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98101



Less Square Feet, More Imagination

April 14, 2009. We love optimism, based on realism. Today we’re in discussions with a group who believes in doing the right thing and doing things right. The focus is the buyer most home builders love to ignore. We believe there is a “sweet spot” in the market, and that is as well designed, green home priced for the first time buyers. Not just a bared-boned box or stripped down stock plan. The mantra for this new product needs to be “Less Square Feet, More Imagination. We’ll keep you posted.  (Yes, I know it should read “fewer square feet”.  Humor me while I parody David Miles.)

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Beware of Technogeeks

The Social Media discussions are heating up around the new home industry as our home and community building friends continue to look for more efficient ways to reach their customers. What worries us most are the possibilities of a misstep or two with do-it-yourself approaches or non-housing techno-geeks trying to speak the nuanced language of the home shopping experience. We know we are going to have to share what we’re learning with as many people as possible.

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St Patty’s Week

Enjoyed a pint at the Owl and Thistle (pre St. Patty’s Day) with our Fusionhappens’ friend Teresa Kenney. She’s one of the sharpest journalists in the market and a frequent collaborator.  We agreed that there is a swell of activity in the Social Media arena that can be good communications channel for saavy new home markets.  We are also amazed by some of the people from our pasts who have found each of us on Facebook.

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Another Nice Friday Chat

Bruce, Diana and I just had a great time with Dave Porter formerly the Countrywide maven in these parts. He’s on to some very exciting new ventures and we wish him the most success. His passion for Green in all aspects of the New Home industry from lending, to sales, to construction is inspiring. We remember when Dave worked with us on the Puget Sound Energy Built Green Idea Home at Issaquah Highlands. Back then, green was just another color. —Al

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Friday Coffee with John Spear

Had an interesting time with John Spear from Seattle Magazine. Core audience remaining stable, but housing ads in the you-know-what (Duh!). We’ve got some plans for a couple of cool inserts. Nothing to be gained by standing still!

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