Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gas Prices and Real Estate

So gas is going up again, thanks to the Middle East unrest and the - how do I say it - interests of the oil companies in their profit margin.

It has happened in the past, of course. I remember the long lines in the 70s, getting on the Thruway to buy gas so I could get to work. Driving away from gas stations because I was afraid I would run out of gas while waiting.

It's not that bad, now. Several years ago I was working with a client to buy a gas station, and I asked the owner about pricing around the time of Katrina. "Oh, we're all getting rich," he explained. Lovely, I thought.

But here we go again, and I thought I'd compile a few things that I predict will happen in the next several weeks.

I will receive an e-mail about how to stop the prices from rising. I already have, actually. This one involves not buying gas from Exxon or Mobil to force their prices downward and to start the trend. I don't now. I generally pick up gas when I'm over in Auburn because it's about 10 to 15 cents cheaper there at the Kwik-fill or Hess, and I can use my credit card that gives me another 1 to 3% off.

People who list their homes and happen to be closer to gas stations, groceries, and amenities will tout that proximity. I spoke with people last night who told me they would be listing soon and their house will sell because they are within half a mile of the mall. And since timing is everything - you know, I bet they do!

I remember years ago selling a home in Marcellus. The couple I was working with stood in front of a vacant lot with the builder. A woman walked by, carrying a bag of groceries from the local market, obviously on her way home from the store. My buyer just watched her progress, from the village end to her home down the way, and I knew then what she was thinking. "I can walk to the store. I want to walk to the store." They built their house.

Inevitably people will begin to think longer about living outside of the village, or in close proximity to the village. The drive down the lake to Borodino, for example, will feel longer and more expensive because of the higher price of gas. But the actual numbers tell the tale.

If it's seven miles to Borodino, or past Mandana on the west, and the drive is done twice a day, then an extra 28 miles will be driven. If this translates into mileage, then a car like my Scion will take an extra gallon of gas or another $5.00 (let's be high) per day. That's $150 more per month, $1800 per year. Just in gas alone, not counting wear and tear, etc. But if a home is assessed at $200,000 in Spafford or Skaneateles, then the rate is about 3% for taxes (rounding, rounding all the time). This is $6,000 per year.

If, however, the choice is made to be in the village, not only will the price of the house increase, but the village taxes will weigh in - so, let's say, $300,000 at 3% - already the increase over the town home is $3,000, not even adding the village tax. Of course there's the village electric, too, to offset the tax.....

Gas prices will increase and decrease, cars will be touted for their efficiency, and homes will be compared for proximity and their amenities... It's all in how you look at it, and where you really want to be! Thank goodness there are choices!