Waiting for a Snowstorm

Waiting for a Snowstorm

  If you have lived in Tennessee long enough, you have experienced the agony or joy (however you look at it) of waiting to see if we actually get snow or not. You plan, you prepare. The kids are out of school, you take your work home with you, you stock up at the grocery store and you dig the shovel and the sleds out of the depths of the garage. Then you wait. And wait. It gets cold. The kids get excited. They watch out the window for the slightest sign of white stuff falling from the sky. You’re waiting for a snowstorm but nothing happens. The sun comes out, warms up the roads and all that preparation and excitement was for nothing. That can, unfortunately, be how waiting for an offer on your house feels. You do so much to get your house ready to sell. You check off the to-list, hire the handyman, declutter, and tell your family that if they so much as sneeze in the house after it is clean, that they are not to show their face in your presence. Ok, maybe a bit of an exaggeration. However, by the time you have planned and prepared, the waiting for an offer can be excruciating. So what can you do? What do you tell your kids when the snow doesn’t come after all the hype? Is it really the weatherman’s fault or are some things (like Mother Nature) out of their control? Those people get a bad rap. I mean, I feel it too, but they do their research, follow the patterns and if, at the last minute, the wind turns or global warming decides to show its face, there’s not a lot they can do to make it snow. The most they can do is keep you updated as weather changes so you can make the appropriate changes to accommodate her. So, when you prepare to sell your house and you do everything right but it still doesn’t sell right away, is it the real estate agent’s fault? Hmm, well, maybe not. Maybe, like Mother Nature, the market turns. It shifts, rates change, the government shuts down, suddenly 5 other houses on your street go up for sale. Any number of things can happen to cause a shift and your house not to sell. Sometimes, the best you can do is stay updated as to the current market and make the appropriate changes to accommodate it. That’s not to say that there is not a human element. Just like the meteorologist, the real estate agent could have been wrong or gave you bad advice – after all, they are human. When you are...

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We’re Building a Pool!

We’re Building a Pool!

You’ve bought a house – congratulations! Now you’re thinking about summertime in your new home and declare, “we’re building a pool!” So, you call pool companies, get quotes and design options and choose one that you are excited about. Eric is a nice guy and he gives you a good deal. You sign on the dotted line and he says they can start digging in about two weeks. He comes out to measure and talks to you about setbacks and septic lines – did you say septic lines? If you have a septic system, you have some extra due diligence. The story continues. Eric calls a few days later and tells you the pool needs to be moved because the County imposed a new rule that no part of the pool can be off to the side of the house. OK. Round two. He redraws the design and you approve it. It didn’t have to be moved much and you think it will still look good though you won’t be able to see it all out your side windows like you had hoped. They now can start digging the pool in about another 2 weeks. Onward! The next time Eric calls, it better be to say they are on their way with shovels. Nope, not this time. This time it is to say that the pool needs to be moved further down in the yard, a tree will need to be removed and that with the new design, you will need more pavers and, of course, more money. Ugh. You look at the design, decide that it is actually going to look better than the original and, it’s only money, right? Let’s move forward. Now it is another two weeks before they can begin to dig but at least you can have a pool before summer. Eric calls a few days later with more news, and not the kind you were hoping for. Guess what? That septic system is in the worst possible place, not at all like you thought, and it is not going to be possible to dig a pool anywhere in your yard with all the rules and restrictions. Now what? Well, you do have one final option. Connect to sewer. Sounds easy enough. Bwahahaha. The utility companies have to mark the lines and they have 45 days in which to do so. Tick tock. Then the permits have to be pulled and the actual connection needs to take place but not before paying the connection fee as well as the assessment. About $5000.00 later, you can now have the septic system shut down and the plumbing hooked up to sewer. This means about another $10,000...

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Not as Good as the Original

Not as Good as the Original

  Don’t you hate when a classic movie is remade and you are so excited to see it but then so disappointed when it it’s not as good as the original? How about when they came out with the new Coke? What were they thinking? Some things can be improved upon. Some companies learn from previous experience and customer feedback and their new product is actually new and improved. How does this translate into real estate? Many home purchasers will walk into a model home and say, “I’ll take it!” Only after sitting down with the on-site agent will they realize that the cost of the model home is substantially more than the base price due to all the upgrades that are in the model they loved so much. Similarly, you may have seen a house built by a smaller, local builder and decided to contract with them to build that same house on another lot they have. You may be disappointed with the quality of craftsmanship or the customer service (or lack thereof) throughout the process. Three lessons here: Hire a professional Realtor to represent you. A lot of on-site agents do a great job. They can recite every feature and upgrade, help you decide which lot will be best, and even let you know what they think the builder might accept as an offer and what he might throw into the price of the home. The thing you need to remember is that they do not represent you. They represent the builder – the Seller. A Realtor who represents you can also help in terms of local reputation of builders. If they have worked in the area for any number of years, they will likely have had some experience with the builder you are looking at. She may even have a relationship with them or their agent and may be able to use that to your advantage when it comes to negotiations. Hire a home inspector and have the house inspected at various times throughout construction. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean that it’s great. Faulty materials and simple human error can be to blame. Your neighbor’s house may have been built well by the same builder but if the crew was different, yours may have totally different issues. A home inspector can inspect the house during construction and they will have access to the framing and the guts of the house prior to the drywall going in and hiding potential problems. Don’t get too caught up in the “model home”. Model homes are just that “models.” They typically have that perfect look – everything you would want. The question is, “at what price?” Sometimes builders will...

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Dude Looks Like a Lady

Dude Looks Like a Lady

Not everything is as it seems these days. In music, this is true in songs like Dude Looks Like a Lady and Funky Cold Medina, genders were not what they seemed. In real estate, lipstick on a pig is probably the description that would best describe what I’m talking about. Sometimes we can get very caught up in the exterior. We love the facelift the house has or that the flooring is all new. We may even be buying a brand new house and love that we won’t have to deal with all those issues like in a 75-year old house. Well, not so fast. Not everything may be as it seems and there may be more – or less – than what meets the eye. This is why it is so important to have two people on your side. A great Realtor and a great home inspector. First, your Realtor has likely seen a LOT of crazy things in their experiences and can warn you as to some of the things they have seen in the past. Second, they will (hopefully) be very honest with you and help you be realistic and see the house for what it is, not just what it seems to be. This can work the opposite way as well. Your agent may know that you really want a solidly built home and that getting an older home with “great bones” would be better for you than a new construction home that was built in a few months, based on known quality issues of the builder. A great home inspector will make sure that you know the true condition of the property, not just if things are operable or not. They will check everything from the foundation to the roof and everything in between. They can check for mold, radon, and structural issues. You need not be alarmed by all the little details since all houses have issues,  but listen to the warning signs. If there are red flags in the inspection report that could be continuous issues, take heed. You don’t want to get into a money pit, no matter how good the house may look. Bottom line is, you can change cosmetic items in a house to make it be what you are looking for – and at a fairly minimal cost depending on your needs. It is much harder and costlier to fix a house that is sliding down a hill in the backyard because the structure has not been properly maintained. Do your research, hire professionals, and don’t get fooled by the dude that looks like a...

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Out With the Old, In With the New

Out With the Old, In With the New

This is the time of year that we make plans. We set goals and resolve to do things better. On Jan 1 we have a clean slate for the year. 365 days to get it right, to get up early, to eat healthy, to exercise, and to get organized. A new beginning can mean many different things. For some, it’s saying goodbye to a less than stellar year behind and looking forward to the beautiful potential of the year ahead. It’s out with the old, in with the new. If you are looking for a major change, you may be considering a move. You may need to sell the old house and purchase something new. You may decide to move out of state. Maybe you want to stop putting work into that money pit and buy something brand new. Whatever you are planning, none of them will be perfect. The grass isn’t 100% greener. It will be fun for a while. It will satisfy your need for change and it will be good in a lot of ways, but don’t be fooled into thinking all your house problems will be solved by getting into something different. Here are some things to consider: A move of any kind is expensive. Depending on how much stuff you have, a move will cost you thousands of dollars. You can do it the old school, college way and get your friends to help but you may be looking for new friends as well as a new house! It’s always best to leave it to the professionals. You also need boxes and packing material. Also, if you are selling and/or purchasing a new place, you will have costs associated with the sale(s). See my blog, How Much Does Buying a House Really Cost for more info. A move costs you time. It takes a lot of time to sort through all of your belongings, decide what is going with you and what you need to give away or throw away. Then you have to pack everything. You may have to take off work in order to physically move and/or attend all the appointments that are associated with selling and/or buying. A move is stressful. No matter how much you try, you will be stressed at some point during a sale, purchase or a move. Timelines can be tight, vendors can be frustrating, deadlines can be missed, things can not go the way you planned, and you don’t have any idea which box the toilet paper is in. I always want to help anyone that wants or needs to sell or buy. But I also want them to know what they are getting into. It’s not typically perfect...

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