Friday, August 04, 2006

Recurring Themes

A few thoughts on two topics that have taken over the news lately:

The Drought / Water Conservation:

KERA has run a number of stories and commentaries about water conservation this week, including a story about a man who was fined by a local city for planting a native, drought-tolerant grass that happened to be taller than the 12" maximum allowed by city ordinance. The piece highlighted the fact that many local cities and neighborhoods have landscaping ordinances which discourage xeriscaping. It's time to rethink what our yards look like. Case and point, the KERA news story noted that on any given summer day, 80% of Flower Mound's water usage is for outdoor irrigation!

Deflating Housing Market:

The news has been a buzz with predictions of an imminent housing bust for the coasts, but the Mid-West and Texas are projected to buck the trend. The bad news is that our home prices didn't see the double-digit yearly appreciation investors have enjoyed in CA, FL, and NY over the past few years, but the payoff is that our homes will lose little or no value as the real estate bubble deflates.

My guess is that prices for new-build homes will see a decrease in the metroplex. New home inventories are at a peak and builders are going to have to make concessions to attract buyers as interest rates go up. If you've recently purchased a home in a neighborhood that is still building new homes, now is probably not a great time to sell. The builders will be offering better deals for homes built to spec than you can afford to match.

Pre-owned homes in Dallas proper seem to continue to gain value. There may be a leveling off of prices over the next year or two, but all signs point to Dallas as one of the next hot areas for real estate investment.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

West Elm's New Catalog

West Elm's new catalog is wonderful. The new products are classic and sophisticated without straying too far from the modern aesthetic. The main color palette is sky blue, chocolate brown, and cream with hints of silver, orange, and forest green. Especially good deals include a hexagonal wall shelf for $39, a step side table for $159, and a wood-frame upholstered daybed for $849 (price includes mattress and all accessories).