Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Q: We are getting ready to put our home on the market and wonder about adding granite counter tops.

Everyone seems to expect that but we don’t want to spend anything that won’t get us a better price.

A:  I wish no one had ever heard of granite counters! They can be burned, they can be cut and scratched, they are cold, and they are just rock for heavens sake! They will be “out” soon enough and some other ridiculous thing will be touted by all the folks waiting to make money off of everyone by convincing us that we must have this newest thing! (Sorry, but this is really one of my hot buttons)

If you really want to do something worthwhile, have a home inspection done by a licensed and certified home inspector. Fix everything. If you can’t afford to fix anything, then put it all in your seller’s disclosure (you are required to fill these out) and say right up front that you won’t fix those items. Then price the place accordingly.

I can’t tell you the number of homes I’ve shown with beautiful kitchen remodels but with rotting decks, leaking roofs and faulty electrical systems. You need to know what a potential buyer’s inspector will find and fix it. You could save your sale.

Buyers often walk away from a house with too many things wrong. During a recent inspection, my buyer and I admired the lovely floor tiles in the bathroom but discovered when the inspector went under the house, that the bathroom sink and tub leaked. They had been leaking so long the floor was rotted out. That means those lovely tiles will have to come up and the entire floor replaced.

These kinds of problems can be avoided by getting a complete inspection before you list your house. Be sure you get an inspector certified to do the pest inspection too. It should be no secret that we all have rodent roommates. Get them taken care of before the buyer has to hear about it from their own inspector.

Q: You sold us our place over 20 years ago.

We thought that by now we’d have our house almost paid for, but we refinanced about five years ago for our son’s collage money and then in 2009 my husband got laid off. He finally got a job but it doesn’t pay as well as the other one did. We were just getting by when I lost my job so now we can’t make our mortgage payments. We’ve tried everything. We cut back on all our expenses, sold stuff, even borrowed a little from my folks. We’ve run out of options. What should we do now? We’ll lose our home soon.

A:  I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. You’re not alone, I’m sure you know. Many people are struggling just to get by and are close to losing their homes. There is a new law in Washington that took effect in July that mandates that lenders negotiate with borrowers and offer options and solutions. The law created real estate counselors who can go over your situation and try to renegotiate your mortgage so that you can afford the payments.

There are many non-profit organizations that offer this counseling and we have some in the Seattle-Tacoma area. To name just a few for you to call: Solid Ground 206-694-6766 or email: Another is: Washington State Housing Finance Commission at 206-287-4449 or email: Also you can call: Fair Housing Center of Washington in Tacoma at 253-274-9523 or email: For Spanish speakers El Centro De La Raza may be able to help at 206-957-4639 or email at:

Folks, please pass this on to anyone you know that might need it.  Go to the HUD web site for more non-profit organizations that can help.