ASHI New England Newsletter Jan 2018  

Notes from the editor

It has now been eight months since the last newsletter (the April Fool’s issue) that almost got me fired (did you know it was only deemed publishable for the membership – not the affiliates. There were a number of non-renewals for our chapter shortly thereafter during renewal season but I’ve tried to argue with the Board that they weren’t doing this based on that newsletter. Anyhow, onward…


On the state of the real estate market…

As we all know, this real estate market in the last year has turned into a raving Sellers market.    Who would’ve thought? This has had some impact on our business – especially those near the Boston area, where people have been desperate to get their offer accepted. Most of the buyer’s agents I know have been telling people to get the inspection done, even if they agree to a ‘no negotiation’ clause but they tell me some buyers just don’t want anything to interfere with their dream of buying a home that will probably sell for half or less when the next crash hits. I’ve heard of buyers over-bidding (on a probably already overpriced home) by $50,000 just to get their “foot in the door” (as the real estate pundits like to advise). Not to take this too far, but its probably “foot in the door” and  …


I mean really, I feel bad for the buyers out there. What can really hurt today’s desperate buyers – other than the fact that they may be overpaying is that, when they agree to buy with no inspection – or other – contingency clauses, they are ‘locked in’: they can’t withdraw and get their money back if the inspection or other investigations reveal problems with the home after they have made their offer/financial death sentence. Anecdotally – and I can’t remember the details – I heard of one deal where the buyer walked after making  a no negotiation/no inspection offer and the seller kept the down payment.  Note: if you know of good stories please pass them on to me.


ASIDE: But I’m talking to the choir here, aren’t I? We all know that we God’s gift to the home buying public, right?


Another thing I don’t like about the Seller’s market is that it makes the sellers into jerks. I mean, you find something that would never ‘fly’ in a normal market, something that the seller would almost always correct – and they just stick the buyer with the cost. I’ve found termite infestations, leaking pipes, windows that crash down when you release the locks, systems where we are unsure if they are working - and you can probably add to the list - where the seller just said, more or less, ‘take it or leave it’. In most cases, the buyers simply have to take it. When I have gotten my buyers to walk on what I thought were almost ‘tear downs’, I find out that the seller then sold the home to someone else for $20,000 more. Who are these people???


So where will this end? Usually this type of market doesn’t end well, but I can’t see where we are in a repeat of 2007, where the whole run up was based on a giant fraud. Yes, if the economy continues to grow and metro Boston economy stays healthy, this could go on for while… or won’t.

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My Take

Has anyone every questioned the economics of heating with wood. Beyond the fact that you – or your wood supplier – have to massacre living creatures (yeah, read Peter Wohlleben’s bestseller, "The Hidden Life of Trees") so you can chop them up and throw them in a fire (are you feeling guilty yet), I have to inform you of the economics of the woodstove I had put in when we renovated the kitchen in our home a few years back (I say “we”: the only thing I was allowed to do was the demo work).

Anyhow, my wife got her island and banquet.  Brilliant me:  I got the woodstove. Here how that worked out economically:

Cost of stove $1500

Cost of installation : probably about $3000

Cost to redo heat shield three years later: $800

Cost of chimney sweep: $95

Cost of wood: I cut my own wood (or at least did). Probably about 80 hours a year cutting, hauling it off of the hillside in back, splitting (using neighbors splitter, otherwise add this cost). Anyhow, value of one wood cord each year if brought from dealer: $350 vs. probably $4000 a year if l value my time at $50,00/hour.

Cost of fixing chain saw this year: $149

Cost of chiropractor this fall, after health insurance: $90 (may be from lifting wood, maybe not)

Cost of chainsaw: $400 (brought in past but I will wear this out so must depreciate)

Cost of shed and rack now used to house wood: probably $3000.

Cost of negative feedback from wife: incalculable.

Besides this, does any one know how much time is involved with cleaning the thing out every day I use it, restocking the stove with wood I have to haul down from the shed behind my home.

Okay, on the plus side:

-        I save $350 a year in oil costs (100 gallons of oil saved).

-        I have back up heat should I lose power (I haven’t in ten years – ever since I brought a generator).

-        I can live under the illusion that I have a small iota of self sufficiency (did I tell you I was heavily influenced by the 1960’s back to the land movement?)

-        I can drive my car for about 3000 miles (or thereabouts) but am carbon neutral due to my use of wood offsetting my heating oil usage…

On balance, once you exclude the economics, it seems a wash….

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On the lighter side


All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.

OK, so what's the speed of dark?

How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked

Support bacteria - they're the only culture some people have.

When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.

Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.

Shin: a device for finding furniture in the dark.

Many people quit looking for work when they find a job.

I intend to live forever - so far, so good.

Join the Army, meet interesting people, kill them.

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