Friday, September 21, 2012

Q: My mom passed away a few months ago and I want to sell her home. I’ve spent endless hours clearing the place out and getting it cleaned up.

A neighbor stopped by to say how sorry he was that I lost my mom and told me that he had always wanted to buy the house. He explained that he and my mom had an unwritten agreement that he would have the first chance to buy it. He seemed really firm about his position and offered me a really low price to buy it. Do I have an obligation to sell to him?

A:  You will need an attorney to verify your position, but my guess is that without a written agreement you have no obligation to this neighbor. Verbal and handshake agreements are usually not enforceable, particularly when it comes to real estate. People have to learn that if they really want to agree to something, they need to put it in writing and record it with the County. In addition, even if he produces a “right of first refusal” agreement, he would still be expected to pay you what any “ready, willing and able” buyer would pay.

I suggest you consult an attorney, and also have an appraisal done on the property. That could save you time and trouble later. You should also do an inspection on the property. That way you can discover any major defects that would cause a buyer to ask for a price reduction, major repairs or even walk away from the sale. So then you’re ready to put it on the market and get it sold.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Q: We had a really great time looking at houses with you and we're excited about moving to Vashon.

I guess the only hesitation is that it really is an island. It feels like a big deal to have to take the ferry every time you want to go shopping. We work from home so we don’t really have to commute, but I’m used to taking the kids and going out to eat or to a park or to a mall. How do people adjust?

A:  First, you need to spend more time on the island. Most of us find everything we need right here on Vashon. Our local stores and shops offer pretty much everything we need or want. You don’t know that yet because you haven’t really shopped here. The Island is filled with wonderful parks, open space, trails, beaches and recreational opportunities so I wouldn’t worry about where to take the kids.

We have a small number of restaurants and cafes but they are diverse and good. Everybody has their favorite place to eat. It may take you awhile to go through “mall withdrawal” but it will be healthier for your family. After awhile you won’t miss the hype, the crowds, the mile wide parking lots or the impersonal atmosphere. We have a variety of stores here selling most of what you need. An occasional off Island shopping trip can be a fun adventure, especially when it is a special event once a month, not a daily activity.

  I rarely leave the Island. There just isn’t all that much reason to go. You need to spend some time shopping here and getting to know what we have to offer. Talk to local shopkeepers. If they don’t have what you want, most are happy to find it for you. Talking to folks around town is a good way to get to know our community and make some real connections. You’ll also want to check out the medical services, library, parks, and schools as well as shopping. I think you’ll be surprised!