Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Q. My daughter has been looking to buy here and working with you.

She told me that every time she looks at a home with a wood stove in it you recommended that she get rid of it and install a pellet stove or gas stove instead. I’ve had wood stoves and fireplaces all my life and don’t see what the problem could be. What do you have against wood heat?

There are several reasons that I make that recommendation. The most important one has to do with insurance. In the last few years the insurance industry has become more and more conservative. They are turning down homes with problems and often turning down homes that have ever had an insurance claim. One of the things many of them are doing is refusing to insure homes with woodstoves since they can show that the woodstoves pose a fire hazard. Even when they do insure these homes they want to be sure the wood stoves are newer, certified stoves. Some companies are even charging more for such insurance.

Another reason for mentioning other heat sources is that studies have shown that burning wood creates pollution. That pollution is outdoors, from the smoke of the fire and also indoors. Even the newer certified stoves put out enough particulate matter indoors to cause problems for those with asthma and allergies.

Pest inspectors often mention the issue of wood destroying organisms (bugs) being brought into the house on firewood. This can create problems if those bugs decide they like the taste of your floor, walls or furniture.

For those who simply love a wood fire the only choice is a wood stove or fireplace, but for those who just want the warmth and look of fire without the hassle, there are other options. Part of my job, I believe, is to educate people. I try to keep up with as much information as possible that involves real estate so I can pass that on to my clients.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Q. We’re going to sell our house in the spring and are trying to decide which real estate agent to list with.

We interviewed several agents but found it confusing. They all have web sites and they all put the house in the multiple listing service and have newspaper ads. We’re not sure what to base our decision on. Since you don’t list houses we thought we’d ask for your recommendations.

If I were selling my own home, I would want someone who was experienced, had an excellent reputation, did a lot of business on the Island, and had access to good marketing tools. (It’s always smart to ask for references). I would also want to know that they are accurate with their pricing. The wrong price could mean that you leave money on the table at closing, or that your house is so overpriced that it stays on the market for a very long time.

In addition to those things I add a few other requirements based on my years representing buyers. As a broker selling a house, I want to believe that the listing agent is ethical and goes well beyond what the law requires of them. I want someone I can trust to fully disclose material defects in a property.

It’s possible that I, or someone in my office, will sell your home so I would also want to know that your agent is really knowledgeable about representation. I want them to be working as hard for you as I am working for my buyer clients.

Once we’re in a transaction both agents have a lot of work to do. I like to feel that we can have a good working relationship to solve problems as they come up and make the entire experience as pleasant as possible for our clients.

One last thing to remember. You will be working very closely with this person for weeks or even months. You need to feel comfortable with them. You want to be able to totally trust them and know that they’re looking out for your best interests.