Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Q: We’ve had our wonderful home for several years now and continue to be happy on Vashon Island.

However, the house next door to us sold recently and we’re having some issues with our new neighbors. The first thing they did after they bought the place was to cut down the line of trees that separates their place from ours. That was a real shock for us, but they said it was to get more light into their yard. We have tried to be understanding about that, although we miss those trees. Now they realize that the trees created some privacy for them and so they are starting to build a big, ugly fence along the property line. We worry that it’s not really on the property line and we wonder if there is anything we can do to stop it.

A: I sympathize with your situation. It’s always difficult when new neighbors move in and change everything. I would recommend you have a survey done to be sure that everyone concerned knows where the property line is located. You might try talking to them calmly and see if they would split the cost of the survey. It is in their interest as well as yours to be accurate.

As for stopping them, I can’t think of anything you could do if they are determined to build a fence. If it were me, I would go out and find some nice, fast growing shrubs and plants and get those planted this fall. With luck and care they will hide the fence and add some nice landscaping to your yard.

You can’t always control what someone else does but you can control your reaction to it and your response. Concentrate on what you enjoy about your home and property instead of your neighbors fence, and think about enhancing your yard with some new landscaping. Get some help from our local Master Gardeners or other folks who know plants and can make recommendations. That way you can turn this into a more positive experience.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Q: I am so thrilled that there are finally some affordable homes on Vashon.

I've been trying to get my granddaughter and her husband over here for years. They have two small children and I'd love to have them nearby. I want to be able to help them find a place but I don't know much about how to assess the value of a house or how to find out what condition it's in. Where should I start?

A: There are some things I can recommend. First find a good real estate broker that you can trust. Interview several. Ask friends for referrals to those they've worked with. Buying a home is a big step and you'll need professional guidance.

Next. be sure to have your granddaughter and her husband get pre-approved for a mortgage. I can make some recommendations for lenders I've worked with and trust if they don't have someone in mind. If they don't have much money saved for a down payment but have a stable income and good credit, you might look at some of the FHA loans available.

You should be sure to take a look at all the homes that are available in their price range. That way you will be better able to compare properties to get the best buy. Once they find a home they like and make an offer, be sure they have a good home inspector go through the place with them. No home is perfect and there will be things that need some attention, but it's the big repairs you are looking for. Often, the seller is willing to make those repairs and sometimes the bank will insist on it.

I know you want the best for your granddaughter and her family. My last piece of advice is to step back a bit and let them make their own decisions. It's tempting to be involved in every step of the process, but it's going to be their home. Find a good Realtor to help guide them and then trust them to make the right choice.