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House Shopping Without Sales Agents

Special to The Times

Imagine being able to gather detailed information about dozens of new houses that you may want to buy and also get solid information about area schools, transportation, mortgages and taxes--but without ever seeing a salesman!

Newly opened in suburban Northern Virginia, the first (of a planned group) Consumer Housing Library is now offering what founder-creator Peter Crouch describes as a no-pressure atmosphere with a “manageable perspective for buyers” while also helping builders by providing “better informed buyers better prepared to talk business.”

Gathering information at the Consumer Housing Library is free. Space is rented to builders who display their information--but no sales agents are there. Librarians aid consumers in obtaining all possible information for their home search.

In addition to offering information about builders and communities, the Consumer Housing Library provides details on day-care centers, schools, colleges, parks, recreation services and transportation options. To accommodate working persons, the library in Fairfax County, Va., is open 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

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It is far too early to make a judgment on the viability of the housing library idea. Whether it will prove successful for the originators, Peter Crouch and Lori Poirier, remains to be seen. (Their business address: 11166 Main St., Fairfax, Va. 22030.)

Veteran realtor Earl Farr commented that the real test for the Consumer Housing Library is whether the public response will be sufficient to satisfy the builder clients and also whether the atmosphere in the library is sufficiently nonpartisan. Housing observer Edwin L. Stoll added: “This sounds like a good idea, but it must attract and help lots of consumers while also satisfying builders who are paying for the service.”

SHORTLY: Builders and developers are fuming in suburban Montgomery County, Md., where County Council member David Scull has proposed an excise tax that would amount to $3,100 on the average new house, as part of a package of proposed legislation to control growth in the booming area just north of Washington. Some civic leaders have joined builders and developers in fighting the proposed tax designed to provide funds for new roads and schools in rapidly growing areas.

It is estimated that the tax would add as much as $24,000 to the cost of paying off an average new house over 30 years. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, legislator Josephus L. Mavretic is pushing a plan to make his state the first to abolish the property tax.

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He proposed replacing the traditional property tax by raising the sales tax to 8% and giving local governments half of the income tax paid by corporations. Local governments also could levy a local income and a real estate transfer tax to make up for lost revenue.

Mavretic contends that his proposal has the backing of the most powerful group in this state--the people who pay taxes, particularly the homeowners and the landowners. Did you know that the federal government owns 727 million acres of land in our country and that’s about one-third of the nation’s total?

Some of the government-owned land and property that some people think should be sold to provide needed national revenue includes 442 acres in the Westwood area of Los Angeles, (site of a Veterans Administration medical center) and a virtually unused big office building in Laguna Niguel.

Refinancing mortgage business is so active in this Washington area that mortgage firms are staying open longer and adding extra personnel to take care of increased inquiries. And insiders still see no end to the decline in mortgage rates.

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The National Assn. of Realtors has statistics showing that 51% of the houses resold in January were priced at or below the $77,700 affordable threshold, but very few of those houses were located in Southern California or the Washington areas. America’s baby boomers (persons born between 1946 and 1964) number about 75 million and make up about one-third of all U. S. citizens.

More than 70% of all female baby boomers are employed. Full-time working baby boom couples earn a median income of $31,000.


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