Thursday, January 23, 2014

Q: We moved into our new home a couple of months ago. Now we’re having a problem.

We had no idea that the neighbors raised dogs. Not just dogs, but some kind of hunting hounds. There are several of them out in a kennel (which we think is cruel) and they howl together at odd times, day and night. It’s driving us crazy and our cat is so scared she dives under the bed every time the dogs start making a racket. Wasn’t it the agent or sellers responsibility to disclose this? We regret moving here and we may just try to sue them over this.

A: First let me remind you that lawsuits are expensive and often don’t have the outcome hoped for. You probably should speak to an attorney about this, but my suspicion is that the lawyer will tell you there is little in the way of legal intervention that you can do.

There is a clause in the inspection contingency form that allows for something called neighborhood review. It is there for the obvious reason that people may want to get a better idea of what the neighborhood is like before they buy. If you didn’t take advantage of that option it is assumed to be waived.

The neighborhood issues are not required to be disclosed. Material defects of the home or property are all that the disclosures address. I’m surprised that you never heard the dogs while you were looking at the house or during your inspection. If they howl at odd times, day and night, you should have heard them.

It’s possible that the dogs are reacting to you. You are strangers to them, after all, and maybe getting acquainted with the neighbor and the dogs might make a difference. I would start with getting acquainted with the neighbor. They might not know how bad the howling is for you.

It is not unusual to keep trained hunting dogs in a kennel situation. Some consider this cruel but seeing the owners interact with the dogs may tell you if they are healthy and happy.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Q: When will there be more real estate inventory on Vashon?

We’ve been looking with you and checking online every day.  Nothing new!  We’ve seen and passed on the few things available in our price range but it’s getting frustrating.  When will there be something to buy?

A:  Good question.  I wish I could predict the market!  This is an unusual winter for real estate.  Perhaps because of the mild weather we’ve had, there are still lots of buyers out there eagerly looking.  Sellers often wait until spring (April) to put their homes on the market believing this is when buyers are active.  Plus, some homes that have been for sale for awhile take them off the market through the winter months.  But this year we really need the inventory and this is a good time to have that for sale sign up. 
Pent up demand is driving prices higher, too.  Prices on Vashon grew 18% in 2013 and it looks like it will continue to inch up this year as well.  It would behoove a seller to get their place on sooner than later.  With less competition, they may actually come out way ahead selling earlier in the year.

We currently have only 44 homes on the market and that includes some places that are not livable.  Some categories have only a handful of homes.  Price ranges vary, of course, but the low to middle of our market is very sparse. 
All I can tell you is to get ready.  That means being fully pre-approved with a lender, prepared to write an earnest money check, have your down payment in the bank, and be clear on what you will give up in order to have the most important one or two things you’re hoping for.

I know I’ve said it before, but you really can’t be too picky when we sell only 100 to 150 homes a year here in all price ranges.  That means in any category and price range there are only five or six houses a year that would work for you.  Good luck and keep looking!