Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Q: We’ve had our place off and on the market for a long time now and aren’t getting any offers.

We keep it neat and our agent holds open houses regularly but there is just no traffic. I see that other houses are selling, even in this depressed market, and I wonder why ours isn’t. Any ideas?

You do keep your house looking very nice for showings, which has to help. However, it has a very poor floor plan that buyers don’t usually like. It’s also on one of our really busy roads and most buyers want some peace and quiet in their lives, that’s why they want to move to Vashon Island.

I see from the records that when you bought your house, you paid about 15% less for your home than competing properties. It’s possible that the busy roadway and the odd floor plan were an issue then too.

Since nothing has basically changed in the house over the years, and the road is even noisier now, you may have to price your home at least 15% lower than other houses of similar size and general category. At this point, your house is actually priced for more than a competing home nearby that is larger and has been recently remodeled.

Keep in mind that your goal should be to get it sold and move on with your life. While it sits there unsold, you are still paying taxes, insurance, and mortgage payments every month. That is money lost that won’t be regained regardless of when your house sells.

We all think our home is better than anything else out there for sale. But the truth is that if your house was less than desirable when you bought it, and therefore you got it for a bargain price, it will also have to be set at a bargain price today to sell.

The next time you list the house for sale, sit down with your listing agent and do some math. Figure out what the price has to be to get that home sold. Best of luck.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Q: Is there any rule or County regulation about blocking someone’s view?

My neighbors just planted a row of trees along the back of their lot. They are down hill from me a little bit but those are going to be big trees and will block my view. I don’t want to sue them or anything like that, but I paid more for this house because of the view and it doesn’t seem fair that they can take that away. It will also devalue my property.

A: Unless there is a view covenant in your neighborhood or on your deed that protects your view, you probably have no legal protection. When selling a view property I always tell a prospective buyer that without covenants they have no legal way to protect that view.

I’ve checked, and you are not in an area with covenants or restrictions for view protection. Your neighbors probably have the right to plant anything they want on their property. I can’t give legal advice so you should check with an attorney, but it’s unlikely that you have any case for a lawsuit. To my knowledge there is no County code or regulation that would protect your view.

You might want to simply meet with the neighbor and find out what is motivating them to do this. Maybe they want more privacy or don’t want to look at your place from their property and were hoping that the trees would obscure the view of your house or yard. That could be achieved with different plantings that would grow tall enough to block their view of your house without blocking your view looking out over their house.

You could offer to pay to take out the trees and put in lower growing evergreen shrubs. You might also offer to buy a view easement or covenant from them. That could protect your property for the future. You’d be surprised at what people will agree to if you approach them with an attitude toward mutual benefit and neighborliness.