Creepy property…Halloween or not!

by Lindsay McCord

It’s that time of year when things “go bump in the night”… or in the house if you’re a real estate agent. Having shown many houses over the last four years, my clients and I have run into a some creepy situations.

For instance, one morning I was viewing homes for an out-of-town client. I crouching down in my heels and slacks to check out a crawl space with a not-as bright-as-I-would-have-liked phone flashlight, a black cat ran across the space and disappeared into a hole. My heart skipped a beat but not real harm done.

Another time, while wandering the backyard of a different house my client calls over to me, “LINDSAY…is that a copperhead?” Seconds later, standing by her side, I recognized it was indeed the said venomous snake. Fortunately, it lunged into the creek, startling both of us!

Some houses just give a general creepy feeling, like when you find that there are hidden passageways connecting a child’s bedroom closet to the master closet, or other houses that are listed as being “vacant.” but aren’t. Yes… we walked in and right away found a pair of house slippers by the door, furniture and other things you normally find when someone LIVES THERE. Needless to say, neither of us felt entirely comfortable that no one was really home. It was just creepy.

7 Reasons I Love Condos

by Betsy Sims

1. Location, Location, Location

Condos can afford the opportunity to live in a desired area where houses are a little…or a lot…out of your price range. 

2. Easy Living

And condos are the easiest type of living!  Where else can you live where your focus is only the interior of your living space? No roof repairs; no putting out grass seed or fertilizer, nor watering or mowing the lawn; no painting the exterior or cleaning the gutters. Have I convinced you yet? Condo living is truly a lock and go environment. I’ve purchased a unit in two different types of condo buildings – a mid-rise with 4 floors and a high-rise with 40 floors.

3. Quiet

This one depends on size… high rise or low rise. Can you guess which was the quietest?  If you guessed the mid-rise you are correct. Think 80 units with maybe 120 residents.

4. Party Animals and Hermits

Can you guess which affords the opportunity to meet more people? If you guessed the high-rise you are also correct. Think 300 units with maybe 500 residents. Both buildings do offer social events to get to know your neighbors. The mid-rise can fit all resident party-goers in the building’s entertainment room. The high-rise has two different approaches – a larger event in the outdoor pool area where all residents are invited as well as smaller events for groups of residents which provide a more intimate experience to get to know your neighbors. 

5. HOA Services

Can you guess which building has more amenities? If you guessed the high-rise you are correct. Can you guess which building has the lowest HOA fees? If you guessed the mid-rise you are NOT correct. In both of my experiences the monthly HOA fees are within $25 between each building. Both buildings have a saltwater pool, fitness center and entertaining room.

6. Pennies A Day For More

The high-rise also offers a 24-hr concierge, movie theater, wine lockers, coffee bar, business center with computers, printers and conference rooms for meetings. And with a larger number of residents it’s easier to attract businesses to offer services – dry cleaning pickups and returns, car detailing valet services and spring cleaning days with on-site junk removal. I also hear – but unfortunately have not experienced – some high-rises offer a suite in the building for your overnight guests. Who wouldn’t love a hotel room in the building for your guests?? Did I say the monthly HOA fees are within $25 (truly pennies a day) between each building?

Now let’s talk about the quality of the amenities. The mid-rise offers a beautiful pool area with equally beautiful outdoor furniture. The high-rise also offers a beautiful pool area as well as a towel service and outdoor entertaining spaces – think cabanas, outdoor televisions, fire pits and grills. The entertaining room in the mid-rise has sofas, chairs, tables and a large bar with sink and refrigerator. The entertaining room in the high-rise includes the same type of furniture but with a gourmet kitchen.

7. High Security

Speaking of a 24-hr concierge they offer a variety of advantages on their own. They manage all package and large item deliveries. They will even get your items delivered to your unit – in the hallway or in the unit – at your request. So, no porch pirates in a condo. As all guests must check in when entering the building the concierge will call you to let you know your guests or food delivery has arrived and provide access to the elevator at your request. You don’t have to go to the lobby in the old shorts and t-shirt you’ve been wearing all day. Did I say the monthly HOA fees are within $25 between each building?

My Conclusions

There is no perfect building. I always said I did not want to live in (a.k.a. pay for) a building with a 24-hour concierge service. Did I say the monthly HOA fees are within $25 between each building? Only you can determine the environment that works best for you as your home. If you haven’t been to the pool for a number of years maybe the mid-rise is for you. If you like a quieter and laid-back environment maybe the mid-rise is for you. If you just enjoy having a few friends over for dinner every now and then maybe the mid-rise is for you. But I can tell you as an admitted shy introvert who can’t remember the last time she has been to a pool I much prefer the energy of my high-rise.

How to get to the closing table…

Map and directions below….

by Sue Haynes

Please note that the following information is intended for use as a guideline only. All aspects of a real estate transaction are governed exclusively by legal documents that the realtors will use. Typically, these documents have been developed and copyrighted by the Georgia Association of Realtors (G.A.R.). In every case, if the information presented herein differs with those documents, those G.A.R. Documents as negotiated and signed by all parties will prevail.

Always read and understand all legal documents before you sign.

1.Sellers typically engage the services of a realtor to determine a reasonable listing price based on recent (past year) market comparables in the neighborhood. All paperwork relevant to the Seller’s listing agreement is completed and marketing efforts commence by the Listing Agent on behalf of the Seller.

Continue reading “How to get to the closing table…”

How Many Houses Should a Buyer View?

Well, it depends. The average is probably around 10 but I have shown over 50 to some of my clients.(You know who you are and I love you anyway!) Even when the first one is “The One”, it’s smart to look at a few others for comparison.

Buyers generally know what features they want in a house, but some don’t seem to place enough emphasis on what many people consider the three most important aspects of real estate… “Location, Location, Location”. However that’s not really the first thing to consider.

First things first…

Even before deciding on a location a Buyer needs to be sure they know all they need to know about getting a mortgage. Things like:

  • What’s my true credit score?
  • What will my down payment be?
  • How much will the monthly payment be?
  • Will the payment include taxes and insurance?
  • What price range should I look in?

All items that only a mortgage consultant can answer… and a real person will be more helpful that a web site… especially as you move through the selling process.

Then comes location

Why second? Didn’t I just quote the three rules: Location, Location,.Location? Simple, because finding a home in a location you can’t afford is a real heart breaker. We encourage Buyers to set their priorities about that ever important location.Consider the areas where you’ll be happy and limit your house searching to ONLY houses in those areas/

If you’re moving from out of town, and aren’t familiar with the area finding an agent who knows the territory is a must. Haynes and Associates has you covered there! Regardless of how much you know about metro Atlanta, nailing down some personal preferences about
location up front can save a lot of time and energy later on.

Consider the list below, make some decisions, then give us a call. We’ll gladly take it
from there. You’ll know you’ve seen the right number of homes when your
heart and your pocket book agree that “This is the one!”

  • School districts
  • Zip codes
  • Work commute (time not miles) from your office
  • Walk or drive to park/restaurants/shopping/place of worship/etc…
  • Adult community
  • Family oriented community
  • Neighborhood with pool/tennis/workout facilities

Questions Buyers Don’t Ask (but Should)

by Sue Haynes

The Seller’s Property Disclosure and the Home Inspection can tell you a lot
about the property you are considering, but they won’t tell you everything.
Buyers are sometimes too shy or too polite to ask the hard questions. No
problem. Let your real estate agent ask for you.

I suggest putting the questions you want answered in writing for your agent
to submit to the Seller’s agent. Your agent can suggest that the Seller
answer your questions in an email directly back to the Seller’s agent. That
way you have a written copy of the answers. If those answers would serve
to clarify the Seller’s Property Disclosure in a meaning way, then by all
means request that the Seller formally update the Disclosure so that it is a
legal part of a subsequent Agreement that might be negotiated.

Below are a few examples…

About the HVAC system:

  • When was the last time the HVAC was serviced?
  • Is the system(s) under a routine servicing contract with a licensed vendor? If so, what vendor?
  • How often have the HVAC filters been replaced?
  • Have the air ducts ever been cleaned professionally? If so, by whom? (This is especially important if the Seller has pets or is an inside smoker.)

About the utilities:

  • Who provides Cable/Internet services in this location?
  • How well does your cellular service work inside the house?
  • Who is your carrier?
  • Is the neighborhood served by fiber?
  • Would you please supply copies of all the utility bills for the most recent 3 months of hot weather as well as the most recent 3 months of cold weather?

About the dearly departed:

  • Are you aware of anyone ever dying in this home? 
  • Are there pets buried in the yard? Where are they buried?
  • And while we’re on the subject… do the next-door neighbors have pets?
  • What kind? Do those neighbors manage them well?

Other miscellaneous questions:

  • Do you have a copy of a survey? 
  • Do you use a pest control (not termites) company? Who? Cost?
  • Who do you use for a lawn service? What is the cost?
  • In your opinion, how well is your HOA run?
  • What do you like best about your house?

Seller’s Property Disclosures… Serious Business

Whether listing a home to sell or looking to buy, the Sellers’ Disclosure is a critical piece of information. It can seal or kill the deal. It can be a source of contention or a foundation for trust. Or worst case, it can be a basis for litigation.

Typically we ask all Sellers to complete a Seller’s Property Disclosure, distributed by the Georgia Realtor Association. The form covers questions about the property that the prospective Buyer could most likely not uncover for themselves. Some of these conditions could be considered “material defects” The Seller answers by simply checking “Yes” or “No” in the appropriate column. (A “Don’t Know” column has been eliminated in recent years.) The whole idea is to protect both parties from accusations of misrepresentation or fraud after the closing.

For Sellers Honesty is the best policy

We encourage Sellers to follow three rules of disclosure: 1. Disclose. 2. Disclose. 3. Disclose.( By the way, “I don’t know” can be legitimate. However, without a box to check on the form, Sellers who really don’t know will have to write those words out as an explanation on the form.)

In Georgia, sellers are required to honestly answer any Buyer’s questions about the property. (Unless, of course, the question is about housing discrimination which is protected under the Federal/State Fair Housing Act.) The Seller’s Property Disclosure can answer some of the most basic questions but not all of them. If Buyers have additional questions, and they should,we encourage them to ask in writing, We ask the Sellers to respond likewise. Written communication is the best way to document the discussions, being sure each party understands and is satisfied with the answers.  

What Buyers look for

Many times, the first things Buyers look for are the ages of the house, the HVAC systems and the roof. Those are typically the more expensive replacement items. Water intrusion that has not been corrected can be even more expensive if it’s been extensive.

Sellers and Buyers both need to carefully consider the “Features Check List” of the SPD. Sometimes a Seller may not include items that they know the Buyer will expect to be included in the sale. This maybe intentional because the Seller hopes to use the item as a bargaining chip in negotiations or it could simply be an oversite. If something is missing be sure to ask your agent to check with the Seller.

Reading the document carefully is important. Considering the phrasing and meaning. For instance, when the Disclosure asks about mold, radon or any other potentially toxic environmentally hazardous substances the key words are “adverse test results”. This doesn’t mean there are no hazardous substances. It means that to the Seller’s knowledge there have been no tests.

Sellers can make honest mistakes

Honest mistakes can become a problem for all parties.  Below are some areas where our team has seen unintentional problems occur. In most cases the issues get worked out (with help from a good agent)

Sewer or Septic? This is not a place for a “don’t know” explanation. If sewer service has never been paid, there is probably a septic tank on the property somewhere. Find someone to check it out.

Termite Bond: “Repair” or “Repair and Replace”? Don’t guess. Pull the bond out and confirm the coverage type. Guessing “re-treat and repair”, when it’s not, could cost big bucks to upgrade once the Buyer checks it out.

Permits: If you needed one and did not get it, say so. That is not so unusual. People sometimes do work without obtaining a required permit. However, if checked “No” (meaning no work requiring a permit was done without a permit) but the county clerk can’t produce a record of it, the Buyer could withdraw the offer. Even if they go forward, they will have trust issues about everything else on the disclosure.