Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Q: We moved here for some peace and quiet.

Now a neighbor has chickens and the rooster is driving me nuts! He crows all the time, not just at the "crack of dawn". Is it legal to have roosters here? We're on acreage but it doesn't seem to make a difference.

A:
Well, you probably are asking the wrong person since I have chickens and that includes a vocal rooster, Mr. Tom. Chickens, including roosters are allowed on Vashon Island in all but a few neighborhoods that have restrictions against livestock. Those neighborhoods are those few on the Island where houses are on city sized lots and folks are very close to their neighbors.

Part of the reason that certain sounds may be a problem for you, is that unlike the city, we don't have much in the way of ambient noise, sometimes called "white" noise. White noise includes things like the constant drone of traffic from heavily traveled roads and freeways. It also includes the hum of large electrical transmission lines as well as the noise of thousands of people talking. Throw in sirens, large trucks, televisions, lawn mowers and other machines in dense areas and you have a real racket.

Living in an area without that ambient noise means you can clearly here everything around you. You can hear bicyclists talking to each other as they drive by, a weed wacker miles away, the train whistle in Tacoma and the songs of birds. Between these sounds you hear nothing. That's part of why most of us live here.

What I suggest is that you quickly learn a method called "re-framing". You re-frame an experience in your mind to change how you perceive the experience. For example, each time the neighbor's rooster crows, imagine the sound of a police siren on top of a street full of talking people on top of the roar of a freeway. Sort of puts it in perspective, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Q: I've talked to several real estate agents on Vashon and figured maybe I could finally get the straight scoop from you.

None of these other agents will take me seriously. I've written up a couple of offers and these agents aren't even trying to make a good case for me to the seller. I figure in these hard times sellers would be thrilled to get any kind of offer.

A:
As an exclusive buyer representative, I generally encourage people to make an offer under asking price. It's hard to arrive at market value when it's such a moving target, but I analyze the comparables and judge the value based on the desirability of the location, condition of the house, style and other factors. In some cases, even in our down market, something is so desirable that it still goes for asking price.
Of course, if it's over-priced or has been on the market a long time, it always makes sense to offer less. However, reviewing the information you sent me, I see that you made very low offers. One was on a very desirable home in a great neighborhood that has since sold for the asking price. The other was such a low offer that it wouldn't have covered the seller's mortgage and closing costs.
We do occasionally have what is called a "short sale" where the seller actually comes up short at closing and has to pay the remainder owed or negotiate with the lender to take less. If the lender won't take less, the seller will have to come up with the difference at closing, end up still owing the debt after the sale, or reject the offer.
In the case of the offer you made, it's possible that the sellers had enough resources to wait for a better offer to come along. Being a smart shopper and taking advantage of our current market is good, but we haven't dropped in value as much as other areas and you're probably not going to get the extreme bargain you expect here.