Friday, November 04, 2005

Technology and Real Estate

Technology has played a big role in streamlining the process of buying a house. But that's not what this article is about. It's not a subject that interests me. And I don't know too much about it.

Rather more interesting is understanding how technology has changed the desirability or suitability of a house. Actually I don't know too much about this either, but it's fun to think about.

Let's start with the well-known real estate joke. You know the one: What are the three most important things to know in buying real estate? Location, location, location.

But it's no joke. Location is important. And historically, technology has had a tremendous impact on this. Consider how a boon in shipbuilding encouraged sea-faring communities to flourish and allowed colonization of foreign shores. Advances in rail transportation enabled settlers to spread west across the USA. The invention of the gasoline engine and discovery of oil reserves led to whole communities founded near oil wells and refineries.

Our needs for water, food and a temperate climate can be met with technology. The better it is, the more adverse conditions we can overcome.

Today we see major cities such as San Francisco developing wireless Internet infrastructures. This is done as part of a revitalization effort. An Internet user might save about $1000 each year in such a place. A smart home buyer will assess the quality of his cell phone reception when shopping for a new home.

Think about the place you live in. What do you like about the dwelling or area? Perhaps it's near a major highway, railway or busline? Maybe you can listen to several cool radio stations that come in clearly. Or maybe you're like me, you just appreciate reliable electricity and telecommunications services. If so, you can thank technology.

Technology or its after effects can make a location less desirable, too. Pollution can shut down entire communities, as in the case of Love Canal. Pollution also takes the form of excess light and noise, which detract from quality of life. The fear of cancer from electromagnetic radiation discourages people from buying homes near high voltage power lines, which, along with cell phone towers, are an eyesore.

Are there things you don't like about the place you live in? Is it so hazy that you can't see the stars at night? Are your neighbors making lots of noise on Saturday mornings with their lawn mowers and leaf blowers? Are the roads too congested and do they have too many red traffic lights? You can blame all this on technology.

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