Blog :: 02-2014

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What's To Love?

 

I find myself in the interesting position both of being a realtor and being in the market for a new home!  Our house is under agreement.  This means we now have a finite period in which to find a new place to live.  I spend a lot of time contemplating what it is we want in a house.  I know how many bedrooms, how much land, how many bathrooms and the locations in Northampton which are appealing to us - but, beyond that I'm just not sure.  A wise friend recently said to me,  "When you find the right house you will know it.  You just need to love something about it.  When we first found our house, I loved the 2 large windows in the front of the house, and I loved the big yard, I didn't actually love much else about the house!"  This is good advice for buyers such as us.  Some people prefer new construction, or want a house that doesn't need a lot of/any work.  I relate to that preference, and it's good to know ones' limitations.  But I think we are open to purchasing a house that needs some work.  I like the idea of putting our own mark on a home to make it feel like our own.  Of course, a person can do this with paint, decor and interior and/or landscape design as well.  But I think that if we can keep our eyes and minds open to the possibilities, we will have more luck finding something within our designated time frame.

 

Butler Pantry in Northampton Home

Here is the butler's pantry in the house we are selling.  This is one of the details of our house that I fell in love with right away.  Note the built in in the background, another selling point for me.

 

We opted not to open the walls between the kitchen and the dining room to create the ever popular "open concept" space on the first floor.  We didn't want to lose the original charm and character of the butler's pantry.  And, if we had, what would our butler have thought?  At any rate, the decision to keep the rooms separate did not appeal to every buyer who came through our house, but we had faith that there would be other buyers out there for whom it did.

 

I was perusing one of my favorite blogs, Apartment Therapy, and found an interesting little piece discussing this very topic today.

 

So my friend's wisdom seems to have universal appeal.  It makes sense to me, and I will certainly pass this advice along to my buyer clients when they are trying to narrow down what it is they want in a home.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Heidi on

    Trust your gut! You will definitely know it when you find it. You can always rent if need be until you find it! It will show up!
    • ghol on

      thanks.درب ضد سرقت

      Wet Basement Blues

       

      As realtors, we may have concern on behalf of our clients when we see terms associated with a listing such as "seasonal water in basement" or "some seasonal seepage" or, "history of water in basement".  We may be concerned for our sellers if they have some degree of water in their basement, and we may be concerned for our buyer's when the seller of a property in which they have interest discloses such an issue.  It's not that these issues aren't fixable - but they do often require some level of intervention.

       

      One reason for concern is that a wet basement is a hot button issue for most buyers.  When a seller has lived in his or her home for years, seemingly unaffected by a little water in the basement from time to time, it's a challenge to impart to him or her that for a buyer - this type of issue can be extremely off putting.  Dampness in the basement can mean microbial growth, which can mean poor air quality, allergic reactions, health concerns.  It can also mean that dreams of a finished basement are not feasible without expensive interventions such as perimeter drains -- or less expensive solutions such as sump pumps, dehumidification systems, regrading of the property around the outside of the house, and/or redirecting water away from the house.  Oftentimes, the buyers we work with are looking to maximize their living space to include the basement and the attic when they are purchasing a new home.  A wet basement decreases the likelihood of being able to finish off that space -- or at least not without mitigating the water issue.

       

      Water in a basement can come from differing sources:

      1.  Pooling of water near the base of  a bulkhead door.

      2.  Improperly dispersed water runoff from roof/gutter.  This is relatively easy to address.  Sometimes extending gutter downspouts and/or regrading the landscape around the foundation of the house will help move the water away from the foundation.

      3.  Heavy water accumulation during wet weather.  Proper installation of a sump pump can help to remove unwanted water in certain cases.

      4.  Cracks in the foundation of the basement.  There are companies that will seal and fill these cracks to prevent further leakage or damage.

      5.  Ground water penetration into basement.  This issue can be more serious, as it usually relates the water table level.  In this case, a sump pump might not be sufficient to address this issue.  A perimeter drain, or French drain, might be the only solution.  These can be costly to install.

       

      If you have questions about a house relating to water in the basement, this would be a good time to engage with a buyer's agent, if you haven't already.  A good buyer's agent will assist you with getting the answers to your home-buying questions.

      Buying a Home? Check the merchandise

      There are a number of home related blogs out there that really float my boat.  Today a friend sent me a link to an Apartment Therapy blog post outlining the 10 Things You Should Check Before You Buy.  This is timely, given my last 3 blog posts targeting buyers and sellers.  The spring market is almost upon us (though looking out the window at the snow drifts this is hard to believe), and although there is a dearth of inventory on the Multiple Listing Service at present, we realtors can assure you that before you know it, we will see an array of desirable new listings to peruse.

      Cottage Home Image from Flipkey 

      Image from Flipkey 

       

      Ok, so this adorable cottage isn't actually located in Northampton, but there are many wonderful homes here nonetheless.  But, I digress...

       

      I think the "10 Things to Check" list from the Apartment Therapy blog is interesting and informative.  Of course it would be ideal to check the drains in a house you are buying to avoid having a burst pipe from a tree root which has broken through the line...  But how realistic is it to run a load of wash in a house before you buy it?  Build a fire in the fireplace?  Again, maybe not so convenient for the sellers, the buyers and/or the home inspector.  That said, a buyer should always have a 14 day home inspection period (that amount of time, or 10 business days, is standard in Hampshire County) - wherein s/he can inspect any element of the house (within reason) that he or she has questions about.  Most buyers hire a home inspector to conduct a thorough home inspection, as well as a radon inspection, at the very least.  Water testing and Title V inspection are standard on a property with well water and/or a septic system.  If anything comes to light during that period that is off putting, or a deal breaker, the buyer has the right to withdraw his or her offer.  They also have the right to renegotiate the terms of the purchase at that time.  If a buyer has concerns about the chimney, the drains, the moisture level in the basement, etc -- any good buyer's agent can help direct them to a professional who can come take a look at that element of the house during the inspection period.

       

      So, yes, it is important to do ones' due diligence when buying a home.  You want to avoid any big surprises after you have made the purchase, to the extent that this is possible.  That said, home ownership is a big responsibility.  There will always be some degree of maintenance, repair, and updates that become necessary when you own a home.  It's a good idea to be aware of this when deciding to buy a home.

       

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      Where do I start?

      It has been an interesting process to find myself in the role of client for a change, since I am also my own realtor!  We have recently gotten our house under deposit (with the help of a great Maple and Main Realty buyer's agent, as it turns out), here in Northampton.  It has been on the market for almost two years.  It's a big house, and it's beautiful, but it is (and was) expensive, especially by Northampton standards.  Houses at the higher end of the market don't tend to sell quickly in our city.

      IMG_0665

      One thing about having had the house on the market for awhile was that we have slowly made improvements to the house that have helped it to sell.  At first we hoped to sell it as is, and, granted, "as is" - to our minds - was pretty great.  But our house is nearly 100 years old, and we have opted not to strip it of all of its' original character, as that is what drew us to the house in the first place.  We loved the original 12 x 12 windows, the kitschy 1960's linoleum in the upstairs bathrooms, the quirk of having 3 full baths upstairs, and NO bathroom on the first floor.  We assumed there would be a like-minded buyer out there.  But, apparently, these quirks were not so charming to the people looking at our home.  After much deliberation, we finally decided to replace our lovely windows with high end insulated Pella windows:

      photo 1

      This is one of the original windows flanked by the new windows.

      We also put in an adorable 1/2 bath on the first floor.

      photo 2

      In addition, we removed the groovy linoleum and put in marmoleum floors in the upstairs bathrooms, and replaced one of the beautiful old sinks with a more updated vanity.  Lo and behold, our house now has a buyer!

      The point of this story is to convey that there may be changes that one should consider making in order to sell ones' home.  Prioritizing those updates is something that your seller's agent can help you with  There are many ways to look at the situation.  Does it make sense to pour money into updating your kitchen when your house is not well insulated, has old wiring, original windows, an outdated heating system and needs a new roof?  The answer is no.  But it also depends upon the seller's goal.  Is the goal to sell as soon as possible, or to recoup what you have paid and put into the house?  If you are struggling with similar questions, now would be a great time to get the opinion of a real estate professional.