Monday, February 25, 2013

Q: My neighbor has been making a fuss over trees in my yard. He says they block his view and that we need to have them cut down.

He said there is a County ordinance that says you can’t block someone’s view.  I love those trees and don’t see any reason to cut them down.  I have bird feeders up and there are always lots of birds in those trees, which I love.  The trees also shade the west side of our house which gets really hot in the summer.  Is there really some kind of law about this?

A:  As far as I can research there is no such rule, ordinance or regulation. In fact, the County encourages people to plant trees. There are, however, some view covenants on Vashon. The primary ones cover homes in Gold Beach and in parts of the north end of Vashon.

View covenants are agreements that are recorded on your deed. You should contact your title company to be sure there are no such covenants in your neighborhood. There are a few such agreements for individual properties around the island but it is my understanding that they have to be recorded on your title for them to be enforceable.

If your neighbor gets really obnoxious you might want to consult an attorney. At the very least the attorney can write your neighbor a letter including a copy of your title to prove that there is no such covenant. You can also consult King County to get a definitive answer to show your neighbor.

It’s common to find these covenants and agreement in cities where a significant number of houses have a view. From a buyer’s point of view, they feel that since they paid to see the mountain or the water they want that to continue. We have very few places on Vashon that offer that view protection.

However, there are those who appreciate all that trees do for us, including giving shade, providing oxygen, offering wildlife habitat and being simply beautiful. For some of us, trees are the view.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Q: We're offering to buy a really nice house. The sellers are retiring to their second home in Hawaii.

They have a fully furnished home in Maui and don’t need the furniture they have here. The furniture and all the interior design is perfect as far as we are concerned and we’d love to have everything. Our agent tells me that we can’t include that in the offer and that the bank won’t let us include it in a loan. I sure don’t see why not. What do you think?

A:  I normally don’t make comments concerning other broker’s statements when there is a transaction underway, but in this case he is right and I support what he told you. Banks and other lenders don’t loan on furnishings when doing a real estate loan. A real estate loan is for property and homes. Furnishings are personal property and not covered under the term real estate.

This also puts the brokers, escrow, lender and title folks and everyone involved with the sale in the position of selling furniture. That’s not what we do. Of course, it’s not unusual to have buyers purchase personal items from sellers. This is done "outside" of escrow. You need to offer to buy personal items, negotiate a price, and pay the seller directly for those items.

It’s wise to wait until the closing to pay for the items simply to be sure you actually have the house. Common items sold to buyers may include ride on mowers, garden tools, and furniture in the home. It would be wise to photograph the items and make an inventory list so that both you and the seller remember what you have purchased.

Keep in mind that this saves you from going out and purchasing all new stuff so it’s a time and possibly even money saving way to get a house full of nice things. It’s also important that the seller understand that this saves them doing a big garage sale and all the time it takes to get rid of stuff, so they should be flexible on price.