Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Don’t let the Green Grass Fool You – Part II

The “Shrinking Carbon Footprint of Metropolitan America,” (Click Here for the Full Report) by the Brookings Institution discusses the problems created by America’s growing carbon footprint. Says the report, “…Americans are driving more, building more, consuming more energy, and emitting more carbon. Rising energy prices, growing dependence on imported fuels, and accelerating global climate change make the nation’s growth patterns unsustainable…Metropolitan America is poised to play a leadership role in addressing these energy and environmental challenges.” The report also provides the carbon profile of 100 metropolitan areas. Interestingly, Lancaster City is one of those areas (See page 46). In the lineup, Lancaster comes in 29th (1 being the lowest output and 100 being the highest). The profile also breaks down the sources of carbon output. The findings? Lancaster comes in 2nd on auto emissions. Essentially, Lancastrians are getting out of their cars and walking. At number one, the only city with a lower auto emissions output is, population dense, New York.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Buying a House in Lancaster City Makes Sense

People used to choose living in Lancaster City because it was cool, then they did it because of the creative energy it inspired. Now, people are moving to and buying homes in Lancaster because, frankly, it just makes sense. The economic picture nationally is not a pretty one. And, while you can’t control what goes on in Washington and New York, you CAN control what happens to you right here, right now. Most advisors will tell you that now is not a good time to make a major purchase or to go take a dip in the suburban housing market. But Lancaster is different. It’s different because of all the great things it’s always offered while still being affordable. Think of it this way. What if someone offered you a four bedroom house for only $625 a month rent. Would you take it? What if that person agreed not to raise the rent for 30 years? Then would you take it? What if that person told you that if you stayed there for those 30 years, they would give you the house? Buying a house in Lancaster City for about $97,000 at 6.75% interest for 30 years is about that. Here is the bonus: if you take the offer you will burn less gas and walk more places. You will probably get more exercise and will spend less time idling in your car. More and more Americans will stop seeing their home primarily as a financial investment to be bought and sold like stocks and will start seeing it as a place to live and grow. And, there is no better place for that to happen than in Lancaster City.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You

The Sunday, February 10, 2008, issue of the New York Times containes an article which challenges the assumption that just because suburban neighborhoods have lots of green landscaping that they are “green.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, early on in the piece, the author lays it out with the assertion that suburbs are places “built to defy nature.”

The problem, according to the article, is about more than just light bulbs, “…In the end, the very things that make suburban life attractive — the lush lawns, spacious houses and three-car garages — also disproportionally contribute to global warming.” Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York city touts the differences in the average production of greenhouse gases for a New York resident (7.1 metric tons annually) to those of the average American (24.5 metric tons).

Weighing in, Thomas Sugrue, a professor of history and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania says “The very essence of the post-Second World War America suburb militates against ‘greening,’…Given the almost complete dependency of suburbanites on the car, it’s an uphill battle.”

All is not lost. The continuing urbanization of America will help to ease the production of greenhouse gases as more and more people move to cities like Lancaster and trade their daily automobile commute for a walk to the office.

Even the creation of higher density suburban developments help. TND's anyone?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

In Lancaster, 70 is the new 50

Lancaster, as it is turning out, is the place to be not only for young professionals and members of the creative class. It is also becoming something of a hot spot for empty nesters and retirees. Trends nationally have shown that the move to a retirement community as a model for your golden years is giving way to urban living. And, why not? Life expectancies are running way ahead of what they were when the idea of retirement homes took off. Seniors today don't want to be cloistered away from the bustle of activity, and are choosing to spend their retirement and semi-retirement years within easy distance of life's amenities without the regular maintenance of that huge lawn they used to have.

With this trend in mind, the Lancaster Downtowners formed to create a resource network for those wishing to retire in Lancaster City. Based on the model created in Boston's Beacon Hill, the downtowners have already gained considerable momentum and are now applying for 501 (c) (3) status. In addition to its other offerings, the Downtowners also operate a list serve allowing members to connect quickly with important information.

You don't have to be retired to join the downtowners. Increasing numbers of pre-retiree's are joining the bandwagon to see to it that the services they need when they do retire will be available. Check it out.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Traditional Neighborhood Developments (TND's)

Traditional Neighborhood Developments (TND's) are supposed to be the wave of the future. But like a lot of things in suburbia, the concept is meeting with some pretty stiff resistance – most recently in East Hempfield. And, as some have said, if people want to live in traditional neighborhoods, why don’t they live in places like Lancaster City? Interesting.

Lost amid the talk about this “new” concept is the fact that traditional neighborhood development is actually an old concept that has been forgotten in the last few decades. Lancaster city is a complex web of traditional neighborhoods that dates back more than 250 years . A bunch of TND’s glued together, if you will.

What makes traditional neighborhoods attractive has much less to do with the actual density of the housing than what the physical structure of such neighborhoods do for their residents. They provide places where human interactions create a social and commercial fabric that makes the community not only richer but more competitive.

It might be the fate of every suburb to oppose even the very things that will increase their viability. But, in a changing world, our lot is probably better cast in a city.

Friday, January 18, 2008

About First Time Homebuyers

It might be that the only truism about housing is that it will become increasingly expensive as time goes by - excepting short term fluctuations, of course. This is certainly true if you are a renter. But, it is also true if you are a potential homeowner waiting to buy. Few things are as important to the first-time homebuyer than affordability.

Data shows us that the most remaining affordable homes in the Lancaster area are in Lancaster City. The numbers also show that the city's stock of affordable homes is slowly disappearing as demand increases. That means buy now.

Of course, a house is far more than an investment. It's a place to live. And, there is great incentive to live in cities like Lancaster.
Employees of Downtown have discovered that living close-by means spending less time on the road and more time with family and friends. Retirees are discovering the joys of life within close walking distance of Lancaster's many amenities without the frustration of maintaining a large yard.

Others are moving to into Lancaster City and buying houses because living where you can walk to your destination means burning a lot less gasoline or simply because the city is "just the place to be."

If you need a boost in getting started with a good Realtor
, a listing of available homes or an agency that can help you find your way contact Lancaster City Living.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hmmm...City On Fire

When people used to use words like "on fire" or "exploding" to describe Lancaster City it wasn't a good thing. They were talking about problems the city was struggling with. This isn't the case anymore. Today when people use terms like that, they are talking about the massive amount of development (mostly commercial) that has taken place at break-neck speed. You'd think that all this would have a spill-over effect on the residential market. Well, the data says it has. Property values have increased and houses are spending less time on the market. What does this mean for potential buyers? I'll address that in my next post. But first, the numbers:

In 2000, the average house in the city sold for $59,968 and spent 96 days on the market. A chain of unbroken property value increases has continued from then until now with a 5.6% increase in 2001, 13.5% in 2002, 3.7% in 2003, 16.9% in 2004, 5.1% in 2005, 4.5% in 2006, and finally 5.3% in 2007. That's an annual average increase of about 7.8%. During the same period, the amount of time houses were spending on the market dropped from 96 days to about 45.

Lancaster City is probably the last bastion of affordability in Lancaster County and the window of opportunity to buy while it is affordable looks like it's closing.