Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Q: We bought this cute little cabin on the water a few years ago.

Frankly, we didn’t buy it from you because you told us you didn’t recommend buying in this area because of slide hazards. We didn’t like your attitude, telling us what we should buy, so we went to somebody else. Well, sadly, we’ve had two big slides here and it was only because we were on top of the situation that we saved our house. Now my husband has been transferred and we have to move. Do we have to disclose about the slides if no permanent damage was done?

A: Yes, you must disclose it and explain it. Just checking the box on the sellers disclosure form asking if there have been any slides is not enough. The form requires that you explain the details about the slides. I would guess that by doing this you might actually help yourselves. Giving the details may suggest to potential buyers that there are ways to protect the house from serious damage if those methods worked for you.

Because these issues often result in lawsuits, I would recommend that you check with an attorney who specializes in real estate, to help you fill out your disclosure. Real estate brokers are not really supposed to help you do that, although they should check the form to be sure you filled it all out.

I realize that I can be self righteous at times and I apologize if my manner offended you. I just hate to see folks get into problems, particularly if they may not know the right questions to ask to get at the truth. Even using all of the tools at our disposal it can often be hard to get the full story about a property. With waterfront I think it’s even more critical that you dig deep for information.

Just a tip to those considering waterfront property. Be sure to check early with your insurance carrier. Many of our waterfront areas are considered flood zones and will require government flood insurance. That’s pricey so you need to know.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Q: Can you tell me what the customary routine is for showing homes?

My husband and I were out with an agent over the weekend and he seemed to be running in circles. Some places were empty and we could go to those anytime but some homes we could only see at a specific time. He had conversations on the phone with some of the owners about taking dogs with them and one made a big deal about locking a gate or something. Why is this so difficult?

A: Showing homes, especially if they’re occupied, can be a real choreographic nightmare sometimes. Most sellers want to be notified of the showing a day ahead and want the appointment made for a specific time. That’s often hard to accomplish when showing several homes to clients that are located in different parts of the Island.

We often run into other challenges when our clients miss the boat they were planning on getting and we have to call everyone back and reset the time of the appointment. Another problem is trying to guess how long a client will spend in each house. Some folks are interested in everything and want to walk the property, see the garage, and even spend time measuring rooms. Others just pop in and out in just a few minutes to get a general idea of the place. That can mean that by the time you get to house number six on the list, you’re an hour late or an hour early.

Many listings have special instructions for closing a gate or leaving a back door open for the cat, or calling ahead just before you get there so the seller can scoot out with the dogs. We all try to be respectful of people’s time and requirements but it isn’t easy.

Cut your broker some slack. He is juggling many issues as he’s trying to show you everything in your price range that you’d like to see. His thoughtful handling of seller’s often difficult requests can pay off when you make an offer on one of those homes.