Emma Chisset?

Emma Chisset? Or, in English, how much is it?

Estimating the asking price before putting a house on the market must be one of the hardest things to do. An interested observer might tell you what they reckon your house would sell for but it costs them nothing to say that so their opinion may be as valuable as what it cost them to say it.

Getting estimates from real estate agents is a good idea. The seller will still not know if the agent is underestimating and hoping for a quick sale so the agent gets a high income/effort ratio. Or maybe the agent is overestimating in the hope that the seller is optimistic and lists with the overestimating agent.

In the end the only estimate with real credibility is one where the person making the estimate is prepared to hand over a large sum of money if the seller agrees with the estimate. The only valid estimate of the price of a house is an offer.

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2 myths about mudbricks

Myth 1 – Mudbricks are good insulation.

As it turns out, they are not. A 300mm thick mudbrick wall will have an insulating R-value of about 0.6 which compares unfavourably with standard insulating materials which commonly have R-values of 2 or 3. Have a look at a report by CSIRO on the insulating properties of rammed earth walls where mudbrick also gets a mention (http://www.csiro.au/files/mediarelease/mr2000/RammedEarth.htm).

The thermal property of mudbrick which can be used to advantage is its thermal mass. So if the mudbrick is used to construct internal walls or if it’s the inner layer of an insulated external wall then the thermal mass can be managed to keep the building cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The important thing is that it needs to be managed which is not difficult if the management strategy was part of the building design.

Myth 2 – Building with mudbrick is hard work.

As it turns out, it’s not. The time-consuming and/or challenging parts of building a mudbrick house are the roof, the floor, the doors and windows. Making the bricks and laying them is relatively quick and easy. You’ve probably got to try it yourself to believe it though.

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The Importance of Strategy

In May 2006 I sold the property and in doing so realised I’d made a mistake of not having developed a good sales strategy. Selling a house is partly business and partly personal. The personal side went well because I felt like I’d chosen really good people to hand over the keys to. What I didn’t do before putting the house on the market was to think about all the possible ways the sale could proceed. For instance what if a friend or family member wanted to buy, how would I deal with mixing the financial and personal sides of that relationship? What if someone offered a really good price but I knew they were gong to demolish the house and build an ugly big house? What if several people wanted to buy, how would I choose? (I sold the house myself because I didn’t want an agent to act as an intermediary between me and potential buyers)

As it turned out I was surprised to find that several people did want to buy. Because I hadn’t thought about that as part of a strategy I didn’t feel comfortable playing the role of real estate agent. I didn’t want to start a bidding cycle so I went with my gut feeling and sold to the people who I thought would give the house and the surrounding habitat the best chance.

With a strategy in place some people would still have been disappointed but I would have felt more comfortable about the whole process.

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