Real Estate Realities

People from all over the world want to live in this unique place. They search for just what they want, and the North Coast is IT. They research the market online for homes or land, downloaded pictures, watched video walk-throughs of homes, and obtained the pertinent information from the Multiple Listing Service on a website. They pull up Google Earth to visit the neighborhoods virtually. They even get directions to the properties from Map Quest so they can cruise prospects themselves. Then they ask the big questions, like “There is high speed Internet, isn’t there?”

The reality is that this is one of the first questions asked in today’s real estate market, and it is a determining factor in purchasing, according to Paul Clark of Century 21 Fort Bragg Realty. Another reality is that only about 20% of residences have broadband access in Mendocino County. If the Coast wants to attract homebuyers from urban areas accustomed to having high speed Internet as a normal part of their lives, most residences need to be equipped. If we want our young people to stay here, bring up families and contribute to the local economy, it is an integral part of their future. Many people want to enjoy living here and telecommute. With video conferencing online, one person can be in Fort Bragg meeting with another in the Bay Area, and dial up is not adequate. As Jim McCummings from Coast Realty says, “Those of us with country values do not wish to be kept in the dark ages.”

McCummings points out that many homebuyers use the Internet to research all sorts of information as they plan home building or remodeling – green building techniques, alternative power ideas, and new solutions for country living. “You can’t produce your own broadband like you can solar power,” he says. High speed Internet, or broadband, is now a basic amenity for living in this new technologically based world, an essential service that needs to be a public utility.

Another reality from Gibson is that “we would be out of business if we could not get online”. The Multiple Listing Service is all Internet-based and the agents are on it constantly with a need to process large files. Documents that used to have to be mailed or faxed now go instantly over the computer, saving valuable time, paper, and postage costs. Escrows can move very fast now thanks to this electronic service. But – “it all grinds to a halt” if an agent cannot connect online from home or on the road.

Clearly, the biggest reality is that the Coast needs to have this critical Internet infrastructure available to keep our economy healthy and home sales flourishing.

Written by Shirley Freriks on behalf of the Mendocino Coast Broadband Alliance – Your thoughts are welcome at http://www.mendocinocoastbroadband.org or PO Box 12, Albion 95410.

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