Riverside Realtor Blog - Alma Dizon

Alma shares her experiences and observations as a Realtor in Riverside California.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Gas and Inland Empire Real Estate

Several days ago, I got a call from a producer at Fox News who was putting together a segment on gas prices and Inland Empire real estate. I connected him with the buyer of a house I had listed a few months ago, and he interviewed both of us that afternoon.

I’d been thinking for a while about gas and how it’s affecting people who are commuting to the coast, and the interview gave me a chance to articulate some of the concerns I’ve had.

1) People who are looking to buy shouldn’t charge their gas as this will affect their debt-to-income ratio.
2) People who have bought high and have big mortgage payments need to cut their gas costs or the increase may push them over the edge into foreclosure.
3) Increased gas prices will eventually affect all segments of new construction.

I’ve begun asking buyers from LA and Orange Counties if they’re figuring gas into their new home budget. The answers are varied. One person told me that his company pays for his car and gas. What a lucky guy! Other people are telling me that they’ll start looking for a local job as soon as they’re out of escrow.

Riverside has a bright future in terms of growth, but fuel prices will have a dampening effect unless individuals and government can come up with a variety of solutions. We’re certainly weak when it comes to mass transit. Trains are expensive, few, and unreliable. Bus rides are interminable.

In addition, car pool lanes on the freeway appear and disappear randomly, and when I was growing up, no one would have thought 2 people sufficient to call a “car pool.” And the complete lack of a car pool lane wherever there are toll lanes is nothing short of bizarre.

I made the decision to get a Honda Civic Hybrid now that their safety standards are approaching the Volvo I’d been driving the last few years. My clients are cramped, but they don’t seem to mind my doing the driving and paying for the gas. However, while the mileage is terrific, I do have a heart attack every time I go to the pump and see the huge leap in price from two weeks before.

Since I bought a hybrid that also has low emissions, I was able to get car pool stickers, so I can use the HOV lane even when I’m alone. I’m also getting a nice tax refund—but nothing compared to the amazing write-off that Hummer owners get.

So all those wonderful lobbies have helped push us to the edge of suicidal consumption. If you’re serious about getting the home of your dreams, you’re going to have to start making some difficult choices. Your beloved SUV may be costing you as much as the tax payment on a house. If 3 of your coworkers could cram into an economy car with you, all of you could cut your commuting costs to 25%, and then you might be where you were a few years ago… Oh, except that, in addition to their delivery to the local store, all that plastic in our shampoo, mouthwash, and water bottles requires fossil fuels.

Here’s a recent article on the history of write-offs for gas-guzzlers:

Here’s a pro-hybrid site:


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