to my blog. Here regularly I write on earthships or any other topic that I
think might be of interest to people visiting this website. Please check
back often as I add new material. If you can think of anything that you
would like to see covered, please tell me by using the
comment form below.
Shortcut to nightly rental information.
February 11, 2010 Why so quiet here?
This blog has faded as I have put my posting energies into my
Facebook Fan Page. The format for posting and keep in with fans is
just better there and I can interact with my viewers. Even if you are not
a part of Facebook, you can
check out my page at any time without joining to see my notes and postings,
and those of others who post there.
Meanwhile, I will keep this page up as an archive. But just don't
expect too much new here.
September 11, 2009 - Automatic email notifications of earthships now limited
to Colorado and New Mexico
Beginning September 7, 2009 the Taos MLS changed its listing rules to only
allow listings within the states of New Mexico and Colorado. Therefore,
notifications will only be from listings within these states.
My Facebook Fan page will include updates from all areas. I encourage
visit it and become a fan if you wish to have notifications sent to your
August 28, 2009 - Visit my Facebook Fan Page.
Visit my Facebook Fan Page.
check out my Facebook fan page. If you are
already using Facebook, sign up as a fan to get regular updates and be
able to participate in the interactive. If you are not a Facebook user,
you can still visit the page, but you will be unable to interact with it
until you became a member.
Unlike my personal page, the fan page is designed
for business. Anyone can view content, and signing up to receive
regular feeds on your Facebook page and other participation does not
require me to accept you as a friend or you to provide me personal
The Facebook page give me much more flexibility
than I am able to get through the Automatic Email notifications.
Upcoming changes to our Multiple Listing Service will soon only
automatically email listings of properties in New Mexico and Colorado.
Many people prefer not to get the emails are willing to get on Facebook.
My strategy for using Facebook evolves daily so
expect changes and interesting content. I hope that you will
Please check out my Facebook fan page. If you are already
using Facebook, sign up as a fan to get regular updates and be able to
participate in the interactive. If you are not a Facebook user, you can still
visit the page, but you will be unable to interact with it until you became a
Unlike my personal page, the fan page is designed for
business. Anyone can view content, and signing up to receive regular feeds on
your facebook page and other participation does not require me to accept you as
a friend or you to provide me personal information.
The Facebook page give me much more flexiblilty than I am
able to get through the Automatic Email notifications. Upcoming changes to our
Multiple Listing Service will soon only automatically email listings of
properties in New Mexico and Colorado. Many people prefer not to get the emails
are willing to get on Facebook.
My strategy for using Facebook evolves daily so expect
changes and interesting content. I hope that you will check it out.
August 24, 2009 - Article on Enchanted Homes Magazine - Excellent Earthship
Homes, Northern New Mexico's Real Estate & Living Magazine, sent a
reporter along with me, Michael Reynolds of Earthship Biotecture, and
Pavel Lukes (Dreamcatcher Real Estate's qualifying broker) when we took
a private plane to Phoenix, AZ to look at an unfinished earthship and
consult with the new owners as to what would be needed to complete and
sell it. It was one of those wonderful opportunities to both have
an adventure and get some good press. The magazine wrote a two
page article telling of this fun daytrip and featured it in the
August/September 2009 edition.
Click here to read
of our excellent earthship adventure.
The owners of this earthship
are presently pursing their options and do not have it on the market,
though they still wish to sell. Let me know if you have interest
August 11, 2009 - Follow me on Twitter
For those of you who Twitter, I invite you to follow me at
tweets will be generally earthship-related but I make no guarantees. I
won't be one of those who posts a gazillion times a day saying "I'm hungry" and
stupid stuff like that.
I have just started experimenting with Twitter and am interested to see what
value it has. Time waster or valuable business tool? Time will tell.
June 17, 2009 - Wall Street Journal article
A while back, I was contacted by the Wall Street Journal wanting to
feature an earthship in their "house of the day" entry in the online version.
They chose the Corner Cottage.
Click here to view the article. Following is my press release that I
distributed to the local media:
Taos, NM, June 18, 2009. For their “house of the day
feature”, The Wall Street Journal Online Edition choose the Corner
Cottage Earthship in Greater World Community just outside of Taos, for today’s
entry. This earthship, listed with Dreamcatcher Real Estate for $440,000, joins
recent entries such as a $9.95 million Palm Beach, Florida mansion, a $14.9
million Montana Ranch, a home in Kentucky that was part of the Extreme
Makeover television show, castles in Connecticut and the Berkshires and
other spectacular properties. The earthship article may be seen online at
Every day the Wall Street Journal online features a
different property that they believe will be of interest to their readers. The
article discusses green homes of the future, the earthship concept, and
information and photographs of the home.
John Kejr of Dreamcatcher Real Estate, the listing broker
for this property, and Michael Reynolds of Earthship Biotecture were
instrumental in providing the Wall Street Journal information and
photographs needed to complete this feature.
June 17, 2009 - Financing and Appraisals.
After a couple of rough months in the real estate market, things are starting
to churn it bit. One question I get is, "Are banks lending on earthships?"
To which I respond, "Are banks lending on ANYTHING?" My last several
earthship sales have been cash or seller financed, so it is very difficult for
me to answer whether earthships are presenting any obstacles to financing beyond
the difficulties that just about any borrower is facing these days.
One change is the appraisal process. It used to be that I would refer
buyers to lenders who I knew would locate appraisers who were familiar with
earthships and off-grid homes and get the deal done. Now, the latest
federal law says that the lenders cannot choose the appraisers. Instead
they order the appraiser through an "appraisal processing company" that chooses
the appraiser and orders the appraisal. These companies are out of the
area and will most likely choose the cheapest appraiser that they can find -
which usually won't be the best and may be completely unfamiliar with our
market. I have heard horror stories about these appraisers with other
properties not coming up with realistic values. Like I said above, I
have not had any recent experience with these appraisals for earthships.
But it will be interesting to see what happens.
October 9, 2008 - Quoted in MarketingSherpa blog
A group called MarketingSherpa recently interviewed me and wrote about how I
Click here to read their article. Of all off of the specialty real
estate agents in the country, it is amazing that they even found me, not to
mention chose to feature me in the article. It kind of blows my mind.
Thank you all for your support that enables me to do this.
The article mentions that I have "an enviable SERP". What's a SERP?
Good question - I had to look it up myself. SERP is short for Search
Engine Results Page. Basically this means that when you search
"earthships" on any of the major search engines, my site appears near the top.
According to their website, MarketingSherpa researches what works in
marketing via exclusive Case Studies, surveys, results data analysis and lab
tests. They then publish what they learn so their community of marketers and
weekly readers can improve their results and train their teams. The Economist,
Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge Site, and Entrepreneur.com have all
praised MarketingSherpa. MarketingSherpa is headquartered in Warren RI, USA.
Notification Subscribers and Counting
To those of you who visit this website I thank you. It is you who have
allowed me to become the leading real estate broker selling earthships and
similar homes. It is such an encouragement to received the regular flow of
inquiries on a daily basis. It is even more encouraging when it gives me
the opportunity to sell one.
One testimony of the loyalty that this site has is that since setting up the
automatic notification service just over a month ago, 63 of you have signed up
for it. This blows my mind. I thought that I may have a
handful - perhaps a couple dozen, but I had no idea that this would be so
popular. Thank you again. As you can imagine, when I mention this to
earthship sellers looking to list, it really puts me in a strong position as
nowhere else can sellers be assured of reaching such a targeted market.
This in turn allows me to provide a better site to you with more listings.
If you are considering signing up for the notification
service, I would encourage you to do so. I get a number of requests
for me to call or personally email people whenever there is a new listing that
might be of interest to them. Keeping up with all of these requests
becomes impossible. I just can't do it. That is where the technology
helps me by having the computer send notifications - even on days when I am out
of the office and not able to respond.
On the subject of notification, I can customize them for you - not just for
earthships, but for any type of property for sale in Northern New Mexico.
Just let me know what you are after, and I can create a custom search and
notification for you. The other day, I had someone wanting to be notified
when of land listings that front the Costilla River - a great fly fishing
stream. I set this up. Contact me and let me
know what types of listings you would like to see and I will do the same for
August 28, 2008 - Listings across the Mississippi
My latest listing in Pulaski, TN is the
farthest from the Taos area that I have listed. Colorado, Tennessee, and
New Mexico are now featured here on this website (Arizona may be coming).
The long distant listing process presents some unique challenges.
Fortunately, my nephew Andrew Tse lives about an hour a way, and he graciously
went down and took the pictures and gave me enough information that I could
compose a good description without actually having visited. Showings are
coordinated with a local broker so I don't have to travel across the country
whenever someone wants to take a look. Of course if someone wants to sell
an earthship in Hawaii, I may just have to go down and show it occasionally.
August 15, 2008 - Automatic Email Notification of New Listings Available.
am pleased to announce a new service to visitors of this website.
Would you like to receive email alerts whenever there is a new
earthship, off-grid home, or related property listed in the Taos County
Association of Realtor's Multiple Listing Service? If so, please
sign up for my automated alert service.
By doing so, you will be among the first to know an any new listings -
both those of mine and any of other brokers.
I have more information on the sign up page.
This is also the same page that you can use to tell me to stop sending
the emails should you choose to unsubscribe. The service is free
so please give it a try.
August 7, 2008 - As Now Seen on Google Earth
Hey, I saw one of your videos on Google Earth, and I have some questions
about a certain property", the caller said.
After answering his
questions, it was my turn. "You said that you saw the videos on
Google Earth; how exactly did you do that?"
He explained that if you have your settings right, Google Earth will
show the locations where YouTube videos were shot. I tweaked the
settings on Google Earth, and was able to do so. The picture to
the left shows a Google Earth screenshot of the Greater World Community
with YouTube logos. Within Google Earth, you can click on these
and see the videos (mine and any others loaded by other YouTube users
tagged to a particular spot).
To configure Google Earth, download and open the program. In
your Layers section on the left, open Primary Database, then Gallery.
Check the box that says "YouTube". You are then good to go.
Beware, this is a very addictive and habit forming activity that will
severely damage your productivity.
When I upload my videos to YouTube, I enter in the GPS coordinates,
which Google Earth then uses to place the icons. Because of this,
you can be confident that the locations of my videos are accurately
Another item of good news regarding Google Earth, they recently
improved their resolution of images over this area of New Mexico.
This makes it possible to see detail that was up until recently
July 25, 2008 - Pikes Peak or Bust
Today marks a milestone on this website in that we now have two states
represented. MLS# 85533 is my first listing
in the state of Colorado. Lately I have have had sellers from outside of
the Taos area looking to list their earthships with me. I have several
signed listing agreements in Colorado and Tennessee and am negotiating them in
other states as well.
Representing properties outside of our immediate areas is always a challenge
for people practicing real estate. How do we represent a property that is
hours away? How do we keep arrange showings when we are not there?
How do the the local and state laws allow us to do this? The solution is
that we team up with local agents. I market the property to earthship
buyers and they market in their local area. They handle all of the local
inquiries and schedule showings.
I find it exciting and interesting to have this opportunity. I other
earthship sellers to contact me about selling their
earthships regards of where they are located.
November 14, 2007-Earthship DVD
In addition to the resources that you may purchase from the Amazon.com links
on my About Earthships page, I occasionally find
information on other resources that you may be interested in. John Neumann
has produced a DVD called Ultimate Solar Homes which can be ordered from
The site features a number of earthship pictures that I have not seen elsewhere.
You may wish to check it out if you wish to expand your earthship library (note,
I have not seen the DVD).
October 1, 2007 - Jamaica earthship internship
Anyone wishing to combine a trip to Jamaica with learning about
building earthships may wish to contact Earthship Biotecture regarding the
following upcomming project. You may visit their website at
Earthship Biotecture will be starting a project in Negril,
Jamaica in February of 2008. The Earthship Commando team from our headquarters
in Taos, New Mexico led by Earthship inventor Michael Reynolds will spend 3
weeks building an Earthship structure. There will be positions available for
eight trainees for each of the three weeks. Fees for the training will be $350
per week (not including room and board).
Session 1: February 25th-29th
Session 2: March 3rd-7th
Session 3: March 10th-14th
June 14, 2007 - Earthship Inventory
While talk may of a slow real estate market, the earthship market is strong.
Two of my 2 bedroom earthship listings closed last week. Recently I also
put another earthship (one listed with another agent not listed on this site)
under contract. If I had more two bedroom listings in the
less-than-$300,000 range, I could sell them tomorrow.
those of you looking for a small earthship as a getaway, may I recommend
my newest listing. While only about
750 square feet, it has its own bedroom, bathroom, and greatroom.
At $129,000 its price makes it attainable for those looking for a second
home or a small primary residence.
Since my video tours of earthships
have been quite well received, I filmed this home and placed it on this
homes page. Please check it out and let me know if you have any
interest in the little gem of an earthship.
May 30, 2007 - Are Earthships underpowered?
I received the following message posted from a visitor to this webpage:
|I have lived now 10 years
with solar power, hauled my water, and grown food in my greenhouse.
This past weekend I toured Earthships in Taos.
The ideas are great, but what I see, is the turnover. This is
because not enough solar power, wind power is supplied on most homes. 2
people that want to live somewhat normal lives, cannot do it with the
amount of solar I saw on the homes their. A 2 person home should have
3000 watts of power min. with batteries to support 2 days no sun. I have
2000 watts , run washer ,dryer, dishwasher, water pump, disposal
,computers, TVs, satellite, wireless internet and a 21 cubic ft
refrigerator my biggest power draw.
I have learned to conserve on no sun days and
use power on sunny days to best advantages. Winter time I used a blower
to move heat from my wood burner through the house. House is 1500 sq ft.
Manufactured home. all wood heated in Show Low, AZ. My HOUSE IS NOT A
EARTH SHIP, BUT BUILDING A PASSIVE SOLAR GREENHOUSE ACROSS THE SOUTH
SIDE MAY BE IN THE FUTURE.
The way I see it, with about $6,000 dollars
more worth of solar panels, the people in earth ship could live somewhat
more normal to what they are use to.
The following is my response to Ray:
Thank you for visiting
my website and for your comments. I appreciate your thoughts about the
amount of power recommended for comfortable living.
All of the power
systems that I have seen in earthships are upgradeable. I see no need
for anyone to suffer in the dark in an underpowered house when adding
additional panels and battery capacity would solve the additional power
needs. On the other hand, there is no need for homeowners to pay to add
electric capacity if they are living comfortably with the power that
they already have.
The turnover in
earthships is probably less than that of most houses. Some is due to
people moving to other earthships. Most is due to issues other than the
home itself (needing to be closer to family, job changes, divorce,
etc...). Most sellers leave with regret that they can't take their
homes with them. I have never had anyone say that they wanted to leave
an earthship just because the systems were inadequate for their needs.
I am glad that you have
found your optimal setup. I wish you well.
I personally would like to see some more turnover in larger earthships.
I have willing buyers, but not enough homes to shown them.
I welcome other comments regarding the adequacy of
May 29, 2007
The Beauty of Earthship Bottle Art
Bottle art creates a distinctive impression on most visitors to
earthships as the an art form that is unique to them. Most of the
bottles and cans in earthships hide behind the walls and serve only as
filler and a framework for concrete. But some bottles bottles are
built into the walls to bring light through them.
bricks - the building blocks for bottle art - require two ingredients -
bottles and duct tape. To create your own bricks, you take two
bottles of the same diameter and cut the necks off of them. You
then take the two bases of the bottles and duct tape them together.
The two bottles need not be the same color of class, just the same
diameter. When making multiple bottle bricks for the same wall,
the bottlebricks should be about the same height from top to bottom.
variety of bricks of different shapes, diameters, colors of glass
provides you a tiles for your mosaic
you construct your walls, you place the blocks in them with the ends
facing both surfaces as you see here to allow light to pass through
The bottle bricks form the framework for the concrete and hold
it place. The bottles do not provide structural strength to the
wall, they only work as a from for the concrete.
Here you see a sloped wall. The builder will continue to add bricks
as you see here and trawl in concrete until the wall is complete.
the bottle bricks in decorative patterns varying the diameters, colors
and shapes of bottles allow you to create a brilliant gleaming mosaic.
Almost all earthships features some bottle art. It ranges from
just a handful of bricks in a bathroom or closet to entire shimmering
walls such as the one seen here under construction in the Phoenix
While most builders use glass bottles, occasionally plastic ones are
used for a different effect.
The only other rule in earthship bottle art is to be creative.
Not every element in an earthship is designed for technical efficiency.
This distinctively earthship art form provides each earthship builder to
create an enduring object of beauty and unique style that will last
unchanged for as many years, decades, or centuries as the house stands.
May 21, 2007
I asked the writer of the email featured in my April 24, 2007 blog if she
wished for me to site her as the source of the information. She replied as
follows with some other good information.
No need to cite me. I hope this helps make the
transition from mainstream lifestyle to conscious lifestyle. I have
always thought the real goods big catalog they put out every few
years (solar living source book I believe it is called) is a great
source of information. it is divided into categories like "water"
"appliances" etc and before each section is a brief but informative
few pages of information that is invaluable to newbies. This was my
first source. maybe you could photo copy each of these intro's and
have it available for new buyers to borrow.
I appreciate your willingness to educate your buyers.
||While I can't provide photocopies of pages
to the book, I certainly am glad to refer readers of the site to it. For quite a while I have had an Amazon.com link for the Solar Living Source Book on my
About Earthships page.
I have copied the link here too the left for your reference.
Living by Real Goods Catalog is also a good source for solar living items
that you may need. You may browse the
catalog online or request to have a dead tree copy mailed to you.
If you know of other sources of information that you think will be beneficial
to readers of this site, please let me know. I am
glad to share information that is helpful.
May 4, 2007
I need earthship listings! As you can see from my home page,
half of my listings on this site are under contract. By the second week of
June, if they all close, this site will have quite have lost quite a few of its
listings. Therefore, if you know anyone looking to sell an earthship,
please have them contact me. Now is a great time to sell.
April 30, 2007
The Earthship Armada is Sailing. Today I put the dome earthship
under contract. This will be the fourth earthship that I have put under
contract in the first four months of the year in addition to one earthship lot.
Based upon my experience, I would say that this is a very healthy market for
these homes. In spite of what we hear about the dreadful housing market
nationwide, this certainly is not true with earthships.
What is most interesting is that most of the sales this year have been the
inventory that I have the longest. If I were to average the time on market
for the last three listings place under contract, it would probably come to
about two years. Normally I expect the heaviest activity on my new
listings. None of these sales came about due to price changes by the
sellers. The market has caught up to these properties.
I guess the moral of the story is that just because something has been on the
market a very long time, there is no guarantee that it will stay on the market.
New buyers may come in at any time, and seller's may decide to withdraw their
properties. I know that other potential buyers had been very interested in
these listings that are no longer available.
The other moral of the story for me is to get more listings of larger
earthships. The removal of the Two Hawks Earthship and the Dome Earthship
means that there are no two or more bedroom true earthships on the market right
now for for less than $420,000. If you know of anyone looking to sell one
of these homes, please have them contact me.
April 24, 2007
Earthship wisdom. My favorite things to share on this site are
not things that I come up with myself, but valuable information that is provided
to me by others. Please read this content from an email that I received
today. I have made some small edits to make it appropriate for this blog.
I was looking at the pictures on your site of one
of the homes and noticed the new stove. Is there an electronic display
on the stove that plugs in? if so, is it drawing 24/7 a phantom load
from the batteries? These apparently innocuous loads can mean death to
batteries. In the same category are cubes that plug in for cell phones
etc, dust busters, all AC halogen lights, printers, washing machines,
I remember reading a story in a Real Goods
book about a couple who had a solar system designed for them based on a
worksheet showing all their energy needs. With charged batteries and
system in place, they ran out of power by 11 pm. It turns out they
had a small handful of phantom loads. It's just not common knowledge in
our culture to know what is drawing power all the time when plugged in.
Having rented out an earthship (not one that
you have listed) for 3 years, I can tell you the damage phantom loads
can create. Renters who thought they were up on solar etc, conservative
in energy use etc. generally were NOT. Maybe you are already noticing
this, but I can imagine the high turnover of earthships (and other off
grid, green structures) may be due to the lack of knowledge by the
Power usage is number one area for education.
Second is what not to pour down the drain for a grey water system.
That's what causes problems with that system. The system only works when
you have microbes etc living in the planter. Pour down Drano®,
bleach, most cleansers, hair coloring, paint thinner etc and you kill
the part of the system that helps filter and clean the water.
Then there is the 10" of rain to live off of.
Definitely a new way of thinking for most. Those three areas, plus
forgetting to close skylights were the biggest issues I found with
people new to off grid living/earthships. Maybe you can change all that.
I guess the only thing above I might disagree on is the statement that
earthships have a high level of turnover. I have not really found this to
be the case. New residents, however, do quickly find out that failure to
manage any of the systems does have its consequences.
Thank you for sharing. It is the sharing of information like this that
helps everyone and brings the change that we all desire.
April 20, 2007
Just Taos anymore. Today I added my newest listing
to the website - some beautiful land just to the southeast of Albuquerque that
would be a wonderful place to build an earthship. For those of you
familiar with New Mexico, you will know that this is no where near Taos.
If I was to show this property, it would take me about 3 hours to get there and
the same amount of time to get back.
Meanwhile, I have been in regular contact with people in other states such as
Tennessee and Colorado, discussing possibly listing their earthships.
Representing these properties presents not only logistical challenges but legal
ones as well since I am only licensed in the state of New Mexico. I have
been working to come up with a way to expand my business beyond the local
market, yet I am faced with many challenges in doing so.
My new listing today is my solution. I found a local agent who partners
with me for this listing. We both market the property, but the local agent
arranges showings and will ultimately will handle the sales transaction. I
also depend upon the local agent for pricing and market information,
photographs, including it in their local Multiple Listing Service, and anything
else where a local presence is needed. We do this at no additional charge to the
seller (there is no charge to the buyer).
I look at this as the first step in the beginning of a global network of
agents who assist buyers and sellers of earthships, similar homes, and land good
for building these homes upon. I welcome inquires from potential buyers,
sellers, and other real estate brokers and agents interested in working together
for the common goal of selling these properties. Please
contact me on any related matter.
April 4, 2007
In this blog before, I have mentioned how valuable it is to stay in an
earthship when you are considering buying or building one. Please see what
another potential earthship buyer recently wrote to me.
|Hi John - I spoke to you
Friday afternoon inquiring about nightly earthship rentals and you
directed me to the links in your blog. I just wanted to thank you for
your help - despite such short notice I was lucky enough to reserve the
Helio House in GWC owned by Jill Lickley this past Sunday. It was a life
changing experience! As potential earth ship buyers, my husband and I
had some concerns and questions, all of which were put to rest after our
night at Helio House. I would highly recommend that any of your clients
considering earthship or off the grid living take the time to experience
one firsthand. We were sold after this visit!
We will be (back in) May when ... at which time we will arrange another
visit to Taos to continue our search. Hopefully there will be some new
listings by then. Thanks again for your help John and for the great
website - your blog is very informative!!!
Please follow this link for the nightly earthship rentals
that I am aware of. If you know of more, please let me know.
April 2, 2007
New toll-free phone number. You can now call me toll-free from
anywhere in North America at 1(888)TA0S-HOUSE. If you prefer regular
numbers, you can call me at 1(888)826-7468. If you have not already
figured it out, the two extra letters (SE) really don't matter, so you can just
call me at 1(888)TAOS-HOU. If you do call them, the call will still work.
I have great plans for this phone number. Can you think of an easier
phone number to remember for Taos real estate? I can't. Call this
number for any of your Northern New Mexico Real Estate needs. I have also
reserved the domain name 1888TaosHouse.com for future use which will be a
new website address focusing on general Taos area real estate and used for my
email. Once you learn my phone number you already know my internet
address, and once you know my web address, you already know my phone number.
What does this mean for the TaosEarthships.com? This website will
remain and continue to expand. I have worked to hard to establish myself as the
real estate broker who sells earthships to leave this niche. I am also
having too much fun. It does mean that I am now easier to reach with a
very easy number to remember and a toll free call. This will help me
better service both buyers and sellers of earthships. This is a good
thing, and I am very excited about it.
March 28, 2007
New videos: Honza Vorel of our office recently went out and
filmed one of my earthship listings to show to some of his clients. He has
graciously allowed me to place it on my website. Please see
MLS#81654 to view
this film. Unfortunately a sound malfunction prevents you from hearing
what is being said, but it should still give you a pretty good feel for the
layout of the house.
I would be most curious to know if you find this clip beneficial. I
have generally avoided creating the panoramic virtual tours because they tend to
take forever to load, and in my opinion, pictures need to be combined with text
showing what you are looking at. I always figured that putting good text
with the pictures was worth more than trying to go too high tech - especially if
many people are still using dialup.
But, I am willing to change. If you find things like this beneficial in
previous potential properties that you might buy, than I can be convinced.
Please send me your comments telling me if you find this valuable buy using the
comment form at the bottom of this page.
February 27, 2007
Listing Alert! One of the fun things about selling a lot of earthships
is that I get to see many of them and compare how they address many of the
systems and design needs that they address. This is especially true when I
see brand new construction such as my newest listings at
#15 South Lemuria in the Greater World.
This home features a double greenhouse design and a special dual skylight
system. Both of these innovations provide superior climate control by
providing another layer of separation between the outside air and the living
space. I will discuss these concepts in greater detail in a future post to
Sometimes when looking at earthships, the words "sustainable" and
"affordable" don't seem to go together. This home presents brand new
construction and is priced at only $219,900. For more detail, please
see the listing.
February 26, 2007
Dome Earthship Mystery Video. I received an email from the
seller of one of my earthships saying:
A friend of mine has brought it to my attention that there is a video of my
house on You Tube. It was taken by a woman, and there is also a young man
present. It looks like it was taken within the last two months.
I am wondering if they were there with you?
Well, stranger things have happened, but I have no idea who filmed this
earthship, who the person is inside, and who placed it on the web other than
someone by the name of Shannon. In any event, I will place the links here
for you to to see - compliments of Shannon (whoever she is).
One: The bathroom and west bedroom
The remainder of the house including the kitchen, master bedroom, and the dome.
Link to my webpage featuring this property
February 20, 2007
Listing Alert! Today I added my newest earthship listing to this
website. This Greater World Community home features a split-level design.
Click here for listing details.
Thoughts on the Split-level design
The typical earthship design is geared more towards energy efficiency rather
than separation of living spaces. If an earthship is chopped up into many
small rooms, the energy efficiency suffers. Some rooms - especially those
with many south facing windows - will be hot. While those in the back will
lack both heat and light. So, most earthships have few interior walls with
the rooms lined up linearly. To get from one end of the house to the
other, you have often have to walk through any rooms between the room where you
are and the one where you are going. This often leads to a lack of privacy
and noise from one room being heard throughout the house.
The split level design provides a separation of living spaces. A
stairway leads between the upper and lower levels providing distance between
these living areas. Quite often you will find the bedrooms on one level
and the noisier kitchen/dining/living areas on the other. The bathroom may
be on either level or perhaps both.
You may ask, "Why then don't we see many more split-level earthships due to
the superior separation of spaces?"
The answer is that not very many building sites are conducive to the
split-level design. Both levels should have the thermal mass design where
the back walls are either bermed or partially built into the ground. The
only place where this is practical is on a steep hillside facing in the
direction of the predominant sun position (south in the northern hemisphere).
This home site sits on such a slope. It's two nearest neighbors also take
advantage of this slope and are also split-level earthships.
To see what this home looks like in the inside, please visit the
listing's page. Please let me know your thoughts
on the split level by using the comment form below.
February 16, 2007
Nightly Rental Option. Kelly and Mario Estrada purchased the earthship
that I previously had listed on this site as the "Sunshine Adobe Earthship".
They now call it "The Sol Ship". This is one of the most beautiful
earthships that I have ever seen. They have now operate it as a nightly
rental. Should you wish to check rates and availability, you may check
their website at
Click here to see my complete list of nightly rental
February 6, 2007
One of the questions that I am often asked is how do you finance earthships
and can they be financed like other more conventional homes. Most of the
earthships that I have sold have been financed so you can buy an earthship if
you are not sitting on a pile of cash. Here are some options:
Traditional mortgage through a bank or mortgage company: Most
traditional homes are financed through mortgages obtained through banks or
mortgage companies. Many of the earthships that I have sold have been
financed this way. Here are some things to remember:
1) Of the ten's-of-thousands of lenders who will finance homes, only a
handful of them will underwrite off grid housing. A good mortgage company
will be able to research this and find them. I have found two mortgage
companies in Taos, and one in Colorado who have been very helpful in finding
these underwriters. I will share them with you upon request.
2) Good credit matters. There are lenders who specialize in
alternative housing, and lenders who specialize in working with buyers with poor
credit but very few lenders (if any) who specialize in working with buyers with
poor credit and alternative housing.
3) A healthy down payment (20 percent down or more) will get you better
rates, eliminates the need for private mortgage insurance, and will qualify you
for more loans.
4) Lenders will not be interested in financing homes that have title
issues. I have sold homes in unapproved subdivisions, and even one where
the home was not on the land that it sat on (in both cases, I insisted that my
clients get legal advise before consummating the sale). These situations
occur much more often than you might think. While some buyers
may be willing to take the risks involved, few lenders will.
5) Expect rates to be higher with unconventional homes. Lenders
consider these home to be a higher risk and price their interest rates
6) Expect to pay fees such as appraisals and origination fees.
Ask you advisor what types of costs you will incur in your purchase.
Second Mortgages on another home: One of my first earthship
sales was to a buyer who purchased the home as a second home. She
used the equity in her primary home to finance her earthship. This may
result in better rates than a mortgage on the off-grid home. Run the
numbers with your financial expert and see what makes the most sense.
Seller Financing: Many earthships are owned free and clear by
the owners and seller financing is often an option. In this case, the
seller acts like the bank and you make payments to the seller over the time
period of the loan. Here are some thoughts:
1) Sellers face a number of costs involved in the sale of their
property. Because of this, most will want to have a down payment large
enough to cover all of the costs so that they will at least get some money
rather than having to pay at closing. Don't expect sellers to be
enthusiastic about down payments of less than ten percent.
2) Most of these transactions that I have participated in use Real
Estate Contracts in New Mexico (they may go by different names elsewhere).
Here the seller retains title to the property until the loan is paid off
according to the terms agreed upon. If the buyer defaults, the seller gets
the property back and can keep the down payment and any subsequent payments
received. Therefore, buyers must make certain that they do not default.
A seller can also provide a traditional mortgage.
3) The buyer usually makes payments to a third party escrow company who
than forwards the payments to the seller. This documents when payments are
received and provides book keeping ideas.
4) Most sellers do not know this, but if they want their money sooner,
than can actually sell it to another investor.
Financing non-traditional homes provides challenges, but many of them can be
overcome. I particularly enjoy making the difficult sales happen by
overcoming obstacles. When the buyer wants to buy, and the seller wants to
sell a deal can quite often happen. Feel free to
contact me to discuss your situation.
January 15, 2007
At the seller's request, the Gratitude House is no longer listed and I have
removed it from the website. I expect two have two new earthship listings
within the next month so please keep checking back often.
December 21, 2006
Thank you all for your support and for reading this blog this year.
Yes, I'm guilty. I was posting daily and then I started slipping, and
next thing I know, I have not updated this page for about two months. If
you have been checking back frequently, then I apologize for the lack of new
2006 was a good year for the sale of earthships. I personally was
involved in the sale of five of the eight that were sold as listed as earthships
in the Taos County Multiple Listing Service. I have met a lot of terrific
buyers, sellers and support personnel. Thanks for making this such a great
year. I have some terrific listings that make be believe that 2007 will be
excellent as well.
For 2007, I would value your input as to what you would like to see in this
blog. Please contact me with any ideas that you
October 17, 2006
Green Guide ad
night Sustain Taos released the 2007 edition of the Taos Green Guide at a
party celebrating its release. This annual publication features about 100
pages of articles on sustainable living and related issues. While I could
not stay for the event, I showed up long enough to get some copies fresh off the
Since I believed that this type of publication had readership demographics
similar to Taos Earthship buyers, I figured that this would be a very good
place to advertise my earthship real estate services and this website. As
I am working very diligently to represent myself as "the earthship agent", I
wanted to set myself apart from the other real estate agents who also advertise
in the publication. I attempted to do this by purchasing the inside back
cover - the best spot available at the time - and hiring an graphic artist to
make something that looked quite nice. Since I had not budgeted for this
expense, I shared part of the ad with Delta Mortgage to lower my costs.
Click on the image to see my full size ad.
Since this ad will run for a whole year and the ad deadline was in July with
publication in October, I realized that any listings featured would soon be out
of date if they were not already so. For this reason, I really wanted to
use the ad to promote the TaosEarthships.com website where viewers can see the
most current listings.
Marketing decisions always provide a dilemma. I have no shortage of
places where I can spend my money - web advertising, newspapers, real estate
magazines, referral networks, etc... Some are very valuable and can
provide significant business, others are a complete waste of money. I set
the following goals in my advertising:
- Promote my seller's listings.
- Give potential seller's a good reason to list with me and to contact me.
- Attract potential buyers and encourage them to contact me.
- Establish my name as a brand
In my opinion, this ad, while it cost a lot of money, was worthwhile because
it accomplished these goals. I welcome your comments
and suggestions regarding this advertisement and how best to reach potential
earthship buyers and sellers. If you came to this site because of the
Green Guide ad, please let me know. That way I can know that my
advertising money is working.
October 15, 2006
The Name Game: TaosEarthships.com and TaosEarthship.com
Good news, you can now access this site by typing either TaosEarthships.com
or TaosEarthship.com. While I have had the domain name TaosEarthships.com
for a while, I have only had the site up for a couple of months. Quite
often when I would tell people to check out the site, I would get the following
"I went to your website, and all I saw was one earthship for sale and it was
not one of your listings." Other times I would get told, "I saw your site,
and I am interested in the Earthship in Arroyo Hondo"
Each time I knew what was happening, people were visiting TaosEarthship.com
rather than TaosEarthships.com. TaosEarthship.com was created by either
the owners or their real estate agent to promote their earthship home that was
for sale. The problem was that the home that it featured had sold about a
year ago and no one had bothered to remove the site or update the site to say
that it was sold. I guess people get excited about building the site to
promote their properties, but are lack the same enthusiasm when it comes to
removing the site or at least changing it to let site visitors know that it was
Through my website host, I noticed that the name was due to expire in August,
so I backordered it. I figured that if web surfers looking for my website
were accidentally coming to this site, I should at least get the name so that
they could find me. I also wanted to prevent a competing agent to use it
for their marketing purposes.
Back ordered domain names do not become available the moment that they
expire. The existing registrant is giving a grace period and redemption
time to reinstate the name. I waited for this to expire.
Several weeks ago, I received an email stating that the name was pending
deletion and that my hosting provider would try to grab the name for me. A
few days later I got a message stating that they had tried, and failed, to get
the name. Someone else had beat them to it. I was most disappointed.
I went to TaosEarthship.com and saw that it was registered to another hosting
provider. I didn't know if this was someone wanting to sell the name
(perhaps to me), a competitor, or just someone wanting the name. The one
thing I was not going to do was to pay someone for the name just because they
had a faster registrar than I did. "Oh well", I thought, "I'll just try
again next year."
Yesterday morning, much to my surprise, came an email from my web host
saying, "Congratulations, we got the you name that you backordered." How
this happened, I don't know. Did they not pay? In any event, I am so
glad that I now have this name and hope that it will make it even easier for
people to find this site.
October 14, 2006
Just as I said that I needed new listings, I got one. With over 9 acres, a terrific
organic garden and lots of New Mexico touches you will definitely want to
consider this earthship for your next home.
October 10, 2006
Real Estate Slowdown and Earthships
You certainly have heard much about the alleged real estate slowdown.
In some parts of the country it has been called a bubble and media
reports abound with claims of a crashing market. While Taos
certainly has more properties on the market than it did a year ago, and
prices no longer seem to be soaring, few would say that we are in a
collapse. We certainly are fairing much better than previously
overheated markets such as Phoenix and South Florida. All real
estate is local and it is very hard to generalize.
Have earthship sales slowed down? I don't believe so.
I personally am seeing a strong demand for these homes. You may
notice from the home page of this website that MLS 81011 (The Sunshine
Adobe Earthship) went under contract today and now has a sale pending.
It's time on the market lasted just a little over one month. MLS
76827, (Lower Two Hawks Trail Treasure) should close next week.
This first half of the year, I experienced a very fast pace averaging one
earthship sale a month. Then things slowed. No new contracts in July
and August. September I had one go under contract and this month I have
had one go under contract (another is in negotiations that look like they are
going nowhere so I won't count it). So according to the sales-per-month
things the fast paced trend continues.
While I don't keep a statistical track of showings, I continue to receive
many requests - both from potential buyers and other agents asking me to
accompany them on showings of my earthship listings. I would say that we
have a healthy earthship market right now in Northern New Mexico. Part of
this may be due to this website which was only launched a couple of months ago
and has experienced a steadily growing readership trend.
I need new listings! While I am just thrilled to see two very
fine listings go under contract, I have a bit of sadness. These two very
nice complete homes are no longer available. I also have appointments
coming up of people coming to Taos to look at earthships and need inventory to
show them. I have leads on new listings and hopefully you will see
them here soon. I may have to get desperate and start banging on doors in
search of sellers. If you have an earthship to sell, now would be a very good
time to contact me.
October 6, 2006
How I started selling earthships (part 3 of 3)
The call from Michael Reynolds meant that I had the opportunity to make
earthships a significant part of my business. Many agents had been trying
to get him to list in the past without much success.
When we met, Michael Reynolds explained to me the frustration that he faced
with other agents who had listed his properties in the past. His complaint
was that he usually had to do the showing and selling of the properties because
the other agents either did not know how to sell earthships. Since I had
already shown the ability to sell several of them without his help he wanted to
give me a try and listed the earthship that he called "The Hybrid" or "The Happy
Castle". With this prize listing, the business relationship between us
started and remains through this day.
About that time, I received an email from Tracy Santomarco, a producer from
The Travel Channel. The email was probably sent to thousands of real
estate agents and was of the type that usually I just quickly delete as spam. But this
time, it caught my eye. It read.
From: Tracy Santomarco
11, 2005 6:22 PM
To: John Kejr
It's Back! The second season of "Vacation Home Search" for the Travel
We're looking for a buyer to appear on our show. The realtor will
on-air credit as well!
The 14-episode host-driven series is all about the quest for the perfect
In each half-hour episode, we will feature our host and a different
scouring the neighborhood in a different part of the country.
The buyers, must be at ease in front of the camera and be motivated to
home-buying experience with the TV audience. Since we will only have
few days to shoot at each destination, the ideal situation for us would
find real estate agents with clients
have just bought a new vacation home (currently in escrow or just
It is best if they are not FULLY moved in before the shoot because
need to see 'before' and 'after' in the chosen house. If they are moved
we might need to move some furniture.).
As far as the homes go - they should look like true vacation homes: log
fortresses, beach houses, even tree houses. Town-homes or condos are
if they are really unique, but the network much prefers single family
But the catch is that they must be within 30% of the median in your
We want the homes we feature to appeal to the average viewer, and
the gorgeous oceanfront estates might look great on TV, they are
realistic enough for most Americans. As far as the buyers go, they can
families, couples, singles, or groups pooling resources and buying a
They must be purchasing it for use as a vacation home, and not
as an investment. We want to know that they are going to really enjoy
The purpose of this program is to showcase the area, the wonderful
but it’s also to provide home-buying tips, to learn how prices vary
location to location, and to see the drama that unfolds when a whole
of money is going toward something that most people consider a luxury.
The shoot schedule is between now and
April 2006, so if you don't have something
that would fit our show right now, you should just keep us in mind
the future. The most important thing to remember is that we can't tag
during the actual house-hunting process - we will come along once the
has already been selected and then we will re-create the search.
It would be great publicity for both the realtors who will receive a
signage shots, as well as for the communities that we feature. We are
things underway as fast as we can, so if you're interested, please
in touch! Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Tracy Santomarco - Segment Producer
I read through the email a couple of times, and just before I hit delete, I
thought of Mary and Gene who had Margaret's earthship in the Greater World Community
They seamed like a photogenic couple, they had purchased their earthship as a
second home, the price was within the shows parameters, and what could possibly
be a more unique than an earthship? Besides maybe I could get on TV, or at
least get some publicity out of it as well. Perhaps we could even use it
to promote my new listing from Michael Reynolds.
On 10/12/05 11:10 AM, "John Kejr" wrote:
I just have a vacation home that is under contact (scheduled to close
next week) that you might wish to feature and wanted to provide you the
information on it. This property is truly unique in that it is a
earthship home in Taos, New Mexico. Earthships are homes that are built
into the ground, and are off-the-grid relying on Solar Energy for the
electricity, and rain water cached in cisterns for water. They also
recycle water from the kitchen, laundry, and bathtub to water lush
indoor planters which then purify the water that is then used to flush
My buyers are a photogenic couple who teach at Adams State University in
Alamosa, Colorado – about an hour-and-a-half away. They enjoy the
culture and activities of Taos and liked the idea of a sustainable home.
This home meets your qualifications of being a truly unique single
family home. It is within the 30% median of our market.
If this is something that you would consider, would you please let me
know? I have included pictures and text of an email that I sent to
previous prospective buyers below.
John Kejr, Agent
Dreamcatcher Real Estate Co
Within half an hour of sending the email, Tracy called me. Yes, they
were definitely interested in featuring this property. She explained that
the show would feature the buyers going through three homes and revealing their
choice at the end of the program. I told her that I would be able to get
two other earthships for the show. The only thing that we needed to do is
to get the buyers to cooperate.
I immediately called Mary. "Hi Mary, this is John. I have a kind
of unusual question to ask you. How would you and Gene like to be on a
reality television show?"
After explaining the show, Mary said that she thought that it would be a lot
of fun. She gave me her permission to have the producer contact her
directly to discuss.
On a future posting, I will tell about the whole filming experience. It
was very interesting, provided me some great publicity, lead to new listings,
and further solidified my position as the real estate person who sells
Entrepreneurs always tell you how important it is to find your own niche,
separate yourself from the competition, and do completely different things that
differ from what everyone else is doing. The difficulty is determining
what exactly that niche and how to claim it. Sometimes you go after one
with a real thorough plan. Other times, like in my case, the niche finds
When I started selling real estate, I had no idea that earthships would
become a significant portion of my business. The pieces just fell into
place: the email from Evan, the expiration of the first listing, the
article in Enchanted Homes, Michael Reynolds noticing my success, the
television program, and many others. Each presented opportunities which I
took not knowing where they would lead. It's hard work, but also a whole
lot of fun. I would not trade it for anything.
For those of you looking to start your own business, I wish you well in your
October 5, 2006
How I started selling earthships (part 2 of 3)
I could just feel the opportunity of my first sale slipping through my
fingers. It was so close.
I discussed the situation with my qualifying broker and remarked at my shock
that after sitting on the market with no action for years, there was suddenly an
offer. He explained to me how some agents will unethically use a false
offer or a false promise of an offer to persuade a seller to continue with an
expired listing. He was persuaded that this was the case. He
encourage me to revise the listing agreement to exclude any offers presented by
the other company within 7 days.
The seller agreed to this and I had my listing. Six days later I got
the call from the seller stating that he received the offer and accepted it.
My listing agreement was cancelled. Again, I felt this one slipping
through. Evan cancelled his trip out and this transaction was dead.
About a month later, the seller called telling me that the other transaction
had fallen through and he was ready to list. To this day, I do not know if
the offer he had received was real or just a stalling technique by the other
agent. It would be difficult to prove, but I have my suspicions.
With the listing now firmly in my name, I called Evan and gave him the good
news. But, he was involved in some major projects and would not be able to
come out for a while. I regularly received other inquiries to the property and
within a couple of months successfully sold my first earthship.
The Star earthship community lies at the end of eight miles of horrible
unpaved roads. The fact that I had sold an earthship in Star really got
the attention of the people who lived there. No one had resold and
earthship there before and many of the property owners there really felt trapped
because resale was so difficult. This resulted in another listing in the
Looking back, I am amazed how one thing lead to another especially when
combined with a really special unforeseen blessing. I placed my newest
earthship listing in Enchanted Homes, the local real estate publication.
Once a month, a drawing was held at the Taos County Association of Realtors®
luncheon. The winner would receive a free profile article in Enchanted
Homes. When I saw that the business card drawn was the same color of
blue as mine, I waited in anticipation and finally found out that I had indeed
won this profile.
The Enchanted Homes article contained my picture and was basically a
based upon my interview with the writer. I told him that I wanted to be
featured as the "Rising Star" of Taos real estate. By this time, I had
completed a number of other sales of different types of properties, so I did not
direct the article in the direction of earthships and sustainable housing.
Instead I had the article focus on how I regularly visited properties every week
to keep current on the market, used GPS technology, and some of the special
education that I had received.
Read the article here.
About a week after the Enchanted Homes article hit, Margaret called me
and told me that she read the feature, saw the ad with my earthship listing, and
wanted me to sell her earthship in the Greater World Community.
Margaret's home was just beautiful. Michael Reynold's designed and
built this home as a "package earthship". It's two-bedroom one-bath design
with great views made it the type of listing that I was very proud to have.
She wanted to sell the home quickly so she priced it property. The Greater World
location also meant much easier access to Taos than the other listings I had in
Star. Several months later Mary and Gene from Alamosa, Colorado bought
this earthship as a second home.
This sale lead to two very significant events 1) my experience with the
reality television program "Vacation Home Search" on The Travel Channel,
and 2) A phone call from Michael Reynolds himself saying, "I see that you are
the Realtor® who is selling earthships,
and I want you to sell some of mine"
... to be continued...
October 4, 2006
How I started selling earthships (part 1 of 3)
I gained my first exposure and familiarity with earthships when I came to
Taos for a job interview about 4 years ago. Coming down from Colorado, I
approached Taos from the west on US 64 and saw these strange-looking solar homes
just to the west of the Rio Grande Gorge. I found them interesting but
nothing more than a curiosity. Little did I know that I would be the real
estate agent known for selling them in a few short years.
You can probably figure out that I got the job and moved to Taos. While
the position that I accepted challenged me, I did not see it taking me in the
career direction that I wanted and started thinking about what else I could do.
Real estate sales had always intrigued me so I started taking classes while I
continued with my other job and decided if indeed was what I wanted to do.
Several months later I got my license and joined Dreamcatcher Real Estate.
During this time, I had only brief exposure to earthships. I remember
going to a yard sale at one. Since some of the things for sale were inside
the home. I was more fascinated with the home than anything that was for
sale. I could say that I had now been in an earthship, but that was all.
Joining Dreamcatcher was a case of choosing the right company for the wrong
reason. Through the Taos Community Chorus, I meet Linda Knief who was -
and still is - an agent with the company. I talked with her about her
company. She told me that Dreamcatcher had opened a second office on Kit
Carson Rd. in the tourist district. She was usually working there alone,
and needed to have at least one other agent to work there because there were
times when people were lined up and she had to call other agents to the office
to talk about them. This sounded like the best opportunity for a new agent
just starting out - instead of having to look for clients, they would just come
I started in late September - just when the summer tourist season ended.
Hardly anyone came into the office. But, the goldmine was sales leads from
Dreamcatcher's website which were shared with me. These made up for the
poor foot traffic experienced after tourist season at the Kit Carson office.
One of these was from a Evan in Wisconsin and he had interest in an earthship
listed by a competing office. This was the beginning of my earthship sales
At the same time Dreamcatcher had a partially completed earthship listed for
sale in REACH Community. REACH is a cluster of earthships built on the
side of a very steep mountain. One day my a took my wife out with me to
look at some of our company listings, including this one, so that I could be
familiar with them should anyone call. The directions were not to clear,
but involved driving past a sign that said "4 x 4 only" (and they meant it),
then going up a very steep road to a driveway that was even steeper. I
tried to drive up the steep driveway, in my SUV, but found that it was not going
to work. So we hiked up this steep trail, to find that it was the wrong
one. We climbed back down, found the right equally steep driveway, climbed
it and made it to the house. Exhausted, we opened the door. The
house featured fabulous views overlooking the entire Taos area, a marijuana
plant in the planter, and not a whole lot else. After joking about how the
plant might effect the value of the property, we quickly climbed back down to
the car - before the farmer could return to defend his crop. I later sold
that earthship (the pot plant was gone by that time) and will tell you about it
sometime else on this blog.
Evan and I kept phoning and emailing about the earthship and when he would be
coming out to see it.
About a month later I received a panicked call, "It's gone!" he exclaimed.
"Did someone buy it? I am not coming next week if it is not on the
market". Indeed the earthship was no longer showing up our website which
features listings of all properties in the Taos County Multiple Listing Service.
I looked it up in our multiple listing service and saw that the original
listing had expired. I explained this to Evan, and told him that I thought
that the seller still wanted to sell and that I would get back to him.
In real estate, we are only allowed to accept listings for a specified period
of time after which time them expire. Both the Realtor's®
Code of Ethics, and our multiple listing service prohibit soliciting another
agent's active listings. But once a listing expires, it is fair game.
Any agent is welcome to track down the seller, persuade him or her to sign a new
listing agreement, and take it over. This is exactly what I attempted to
After researching the ownership of the property, I
reached the seller. He was quite unhappy that the other agent had allowed
the listing to expire without notifying him. He explained that this had
happened before and that he was not pleased at all with the service that he had
received. The property had been on the market for several years with no
offers. When I explained that I had a likely buyer and would love to have
the listing, he said that he would be willing to give it to me but wanted a
reduced commission. After quite a bit of discussion, he settled on
something that I could agree on. I drafted the papers.
Unfortunately, he did not have a fax machine or a way for me to email them to
him. So I had to wait till he could get to a copy shop a couple of days
later where I could get them to him.
Finally I sent them and he received them, but did not
fax them back.
I called him the next day. "Clayton, what's up?
I need the signed listing agreement otherwise I cannot show your home and I have
this buyer coming in a couple days."
He said, "I was just about to call you. I just got
a call from (the previous listing agent) and she says that she has a full
price offer. I think that I will take it. Sorry."
... to be continued...
October 3, 2006
Try one before you buy one.
A lot of potential earthship buyers ask what it is like to live in an
earthship and if they could possible stay in one. The good news is that
there are a number of options for staying in an earthship during your next visit
to Taos. They are:
Earthship Biotecture. They presently operate the 1 bedroom Hut
earthship and a finished bedroom portion of the Phoenix
Earthship. Both of these earthships are in the Greater World
Dobson House. This Bed and Breakfast features a Mike Reynold's
- Suncatcher Earthship. A nightly rental earthship home near
the south end of Blueberry Hill. Telephone number is (575)758-8745.
I can't find a website for them, if you know of one, please
- The Helio House.
Earthship rental in the Greater World community.
If you know of other earthship rentals, please contact me
and I will add them.
If you are just curious about earthships and want to see what they are like
and see exhibits on their systems, Earthship Biotecture has a museum at the
Greater World Community. See
for driving directions and more information.
October 2, 2006
Earthships and the real estate market
A recent visitor to my website asked, "Do you know anything about resale
values of Earthships? I have also put this question to the person at Greater
World Community and am awaiting reply. Do they sell at full value, how long does
it take to sell one, do they turn over a lot and go thru multiple sales?"
I can answer the first question with a definite "Yes, I do know about the
resale values of earthships", but the rest of the question is a little more
difficult to answer. Let me delve into the questions a bit more.
Do they sell at full value? What makes this difficult to answer
is how do you define "full value". Compared to listing price, some of my
sales have been negotiated at below the listing price (this is common in most
real estate sales in our area, not just earthships), some have sold at listing
price, and I had one where a bidding war erupted and it sold for over listing
price. I know that many of the earthship resales have sold for less than
what it would cost to build them today, but they had have older systems, some
maintenance issues and are not a shiney new house. Some have been sold for
what I consider a steal, others I am surprised sold at all.
How long does it take to sell one? In my experience the answer
is somewhere between 3 days and 6 years. Like any other real estate
attractive properties, in good locations, and especially that are priced right
sell. The opposite is true for overpriced properties in poor locations.
I always remind both buyers and sellers that it is the seller who determines the
listing price, not the real estate agent. If a seller wants to move an
earthship fast, priced right it will sell fast. Those holding out for lots
of money may wait longer.
Do they turn over a lot and go thru multiple sales? In the two
years that I have sold earthships, I have not seen one of the earthships that I
have sold go back on the market. I take this to mean that I have happy
buyers who are living their dream and don't desire to move on.
Having said this, the earthship market is much much better than it was a
couple of years ago. There used to be next to no resale for them, no one
knew how to finance or insure them and few real estate agents know how to
demonstrate their systems and explain how they worked. These challenges
still exist, but to a much lesser extent. Overcoming these challenges is
what makes selling these properties such a fascinating niche.
September 27, 2006
Water and earthships
"Do you really get enough rain and snow to provide the water that you need?"
I am often asked when showing earthships to someone who has never owned one.
Since earthships are off the grid the do not connect to a public water system or
have their own well for water. All of the water comes from the sky in the
form of melted snow, rain, and occasionally melted frost and dew.
In a desert climate such as Taos, people marvel how this is sufficient.
I explain that on average Taos gets about an inch of rain a month pretty evenly
distributed throughout the year. One inch of precipitation a contributes
about .62 gallons of water per square foot of roof area. So in theory a
house with a 1,500 square foot roof will harvest about 930 gallons a month.
If users keep use below 30 gallons a day, they should be fine. This is
accomplished by recycling shower water in a gray water system to fill the toilet
and other conservation techniques. A bigger roof also helps since it
gathers even more water - especially in a house with teenagers that like long
Does it always work this way? No.
This year is a perfect example of a year where dwellers were at the mercy of
the climate. This past winter and spring we had a horrible drought. According to the
New Mexico Drought Monitoring Work Group Report on Drought Conditions August 18,
2006, from November 2005 to May 2006, Taos Airport received only a total of
1.41 inches of precipitation. Since the Greater World community is
about 5 miles from the measuring location at the airport, its rainfall was probably about the
same. This means that the 1,500 square foot roof house would have
only yielded 2115 gallons of water. The household would have to cut
consumption to 10 gallons a day to avoid running out. This is just not
practical. Many homes had to supplement their water.
The good news is that you can get water. Some of the off-grid
communities have wells for just such a purpose. The picture below shows the
community well house for the Cielto Lindo and Cielto Azul communities.
Rows of solar panels gather power to extract water from this deep well.
Members can then use the trailer below to take the water to
their home. They fill the tank from the well and then cart it to their
home. Upon arrival at the home, the homeowner puts the hose into their cistern,
plugs in the pumps on the trailer and refills them.
Your other choice is to pay to have water trucked in. It costs about
$100 for a truck to cart out a couple-month supply of water. Hopefully it
will rain before the supply is diminished. But even this expense is less
than what water bills run for many homeowners in more traditional communities.
Then the world changed. From the end of June on, Taos had a very
monsoon season. The same report sited above shows that by August 9, 8.63
inches of rain had fallen since November 2005 - Meaning that from June 1 to
August 9 a total of 7.22 inches of rain fell. The valley changed from dry
and dusty to lush and green, filled with wildflowers. The 1,500 square
foot roof house would have generated an incredible 10,830 gallons of water.
And the rain did not stop on August 9 (the last date covered in the report) but
continued on a daily basis well into September.
Many homeowners now faced the opposite problem. After their primary
cisterns filled, their overflow cisterns - like the one at the right - quickly
reached capacity. Homeowners had to decide what to do with all of the
extra water. Many had no choice but to dump the it to make room for future
water. I can only imagine the pain that they must have felt after having
to ration their precious treasure for so many months and to then have to throw
To deal with the variability of precipitation, the earthship dweller can do
do the following:
- Add cistern capacity. The home with the full overflow
cistern picture has 6,000 gallons of capacity and has never had to import
water. After seven months of drought, followed by abundance, many
earthship dwellers have decided to add cistern capacity to bank their
valuable water for future use as their summer home improvement project this
- Arrange access to a community well or other water source for
times of drought.
- Conserve water. I knew of one earthship owner who would
collect cold water from the tap in a bucket while waiting for hot water to
arrive. He would then empty the bucket back into the cistern for later
- Maintain the plumbing. Dripping faucets and running toilets
will quickly drain cisterns. Keeping the gray water system functioning
property reduces having to use cistern water.
- Arrange to have water hauled when needed.
Living in an earthship is really not that different from conventional living.
Conserving water and keeping track of your water level takes very little effort
and with the proper systems and storage is quite simple. For more
information on harvesting water, I recommend Michael Reynolds' book Water
from the Sky. For details see the link on my about
I welcome your comments
September 23, 2006
New Mexico Septic issues
About one year ago New Mexico enacted legislation designed to protect ground
water through out the state and drive real estate agents crazy. It has at
least been successful in the second point. Basically prior to the transfer
of a property with a septic tank, a state certified inspector must come out and
have the tank pumped and inspected. If problems are found they corrective
action must be taken within 14 days to bring the system into compliance.
Seller's of properties must now face an additional charge of about $600 to $800
in addition to their other closing costs for these inspections, and if they
fail, then the costs could be well into the thousands. Meanwhile, a home
which has a toilet that basically flushes into a stream beside the property can
continue to pollute the streams indefinitely as long as it is not sold.
Yesterday I had a conversation with an homeowner who was looking to list his
property and I brought up the topic of his septic tank:
"Is your septic permitted?". "No, but it works"
"Would it be possible to have a truck come up an pump the tank out for an
inspection?". "No, it is on the slope of a 45 degree mountain. There
is no way to get a truck to it."
It became apparent that this could be a real nightmare when it comes time to
sell this property. The real wild card is the state environmental
department. It is a crazy guess as to what they will require. It
could be that they some how grant a variance and allow the existing system to
continue, they could require some new advanced treatment system costing over
$20,000, or they could condemn the whole property and demand it be torn down.
Our discussion ended with him deciding to discuss options with experts and
hopefully come up with an economical solution that will meet environmental
department approval. One option is to revert back to a composting toilet.
But I am not quite sure what their position will be - I have heard conflicting
views on whether composting toilets are allowed (the law says that they must be
Some people choose to not have the inspection performed at all. Lack of
an inspection report will not prevent a sale from happening. But, the seller
could face criminal and civil prosecution if the environmental department
decided to enforce the law.
In all, this whole thing is a mess and I am really not sure what to recommend
that this seller do.
September 22, 2006
Gray water system under construction
Yesterday I visited an earthship where the gray water system was being
replaced and a new system being installed. Since they usually just appear
as large indoor planters, this provided a unique opportunity to see how it they
My understanding is that this picture shows the liner used to keep moisture
in the planter. On top of that large rocks surround the pump area so that
water will pool there and will be easily removed when needed. The gravel
on top of the large rocks filters the water to prevent soil and other
particulates from entering the area where the pump lies. The large white
pipe is provides access to the pump. The smaller pipes distribute water
Additional layers of gravel, sand, and perhaps charcoal will be placed on top
of this and then finally this will be topped off with garden soil and
plants. If I have the opportunity to photograph this when it is complete
or further along in construction, I will place updated images in this blog.
As I am not an expert in gray water systems, I would appreciate any
comments or corrections on anything that I have said
above. For more detailed information on Gray Water systems, I would
recommend the book Create an Oasis With Greywater by Art Ludwig, and
Earthship vols. 1, 2, and 3 by Michael Reynolds. You will find links
containing information on the books and for
purchase on the About Earthships page of this
September 21, 2006
First snow in the mountains!
Today I snapped this picture out at the Greater World Community after
the clouds finally cleared from the previous night's rain. The mountains
have their first snow of the season. This view looks towards Wheeler Peak
- New Mexico's highest mountain. Hopefully this is a sign of a good moist
Earlier in the day
Welcome to the first post in my blog. Here I am planning on commenting
on sustainable housing and earthships with a focus on the Taos, New Mexico area.
But, I really don't plan on structuring things too formally. I will
address some of the frequent questions that I get. Please check back from
time to time if you find this interesting. You can also
email me with any questions, comments, etc...
When it became clear that earthships were becoming a substantial portion of
my business, and that I was the leading real estate broker selling these unique
properties, I decided to establish a web presence focusing on this niche. I
bought an advertisement in a local real estate publication showing my listings
and telling people to go to TaosEarthships.com for more
details. The only problem is that there was no such website. The
night before the real estate publication hit, I got out my copy of Microsoft
FrontPage and launched the site. First it had just one page showing the
listings, but has expanded to give each listing its own unique page. As I
have seen need for additional content, I have added it.
My commitment was (and still is) to have:
- Unique content: There are probably about 50 real estate
agents in the Taos area with their own websites - and they all have the same
stuff on them. My focus on earthships allows me to focus on these
- Current content: The properties featured on my site are
available now unless otherwise noted.
- Interactive content: Most of my page have forms to request
- Reasons to come back: That is what this blog is for.
This site has been successful beyond my expectations. I am grateful to
the buyers who have seen this site and used it to as part of their search
process before buying. I appreciate my sellers who keep providing me
wonderful earthship listings to put on the site. And finally... I am
thankful for visitors to my site which make this whole thing more than just a
business tool but also a whole lot of fun.
I welcome your comments