Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Q: When we bought our place no one told us that the neighbors had pigs and goats.

Somehow, we didn’t see them when we came to look at the house and we didn’t have time to do an inspection. We just reviewed the inspection that the sellers had done.  Now that we are moved in we realize that this is a big deal.  The pigs especially really smell bad in this hot weather.  The goats make an awful noise whenever anyone gets near them.  We think this whole thing was misrepresented and we would like your recommendation for an attorney.

A:  You might start your investigation by reading the form 17, sellers disclosure that you signed when you made the offer on your new home.  There is plain language on that form that indicates that you might be buying near farming activity and that you should investigate for yourself the noise and smells.  You obviously ignored that.

In a rural or semi-rural area, you can expect people to keep animals.  You purchased a home on several acres and many of the homes in that area have horses, goats, sheep, chickens and yes, even pigs.  It was your responsibility to do a neighborhood review so that you understood the kind of place you were moving into.

I’ll send you my recommendations for a couple of our local attorneys but from what you’ve told me, I don’t think you have a case.  I find it hard to believe you never noticed the farm animals next door when you looked at the house. I always find it amazing when people buy a home without really studying the area, the community and the property.

The form 17, seller’s disclosure, has specific language that recommends to buyers that they do their own research and spend time learning all there is to know abut a property and its surroundings.  It sounds like you didn’t take any time at all to even look around the neighborhood.  Perhaps the pigs won’t be a problem in cooler weather, and you might learn that goats can be fun.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Q: We got our new King County assessment a while ago and the value of our place really went up.

The County records still say we have a view.  We lost that when the neighbors trees grew so tall.  We’re wondering if the assessment would go down if the County knew that we don’t have a view anymore.  We also wonder if the market value has dropped because we lost the view.

A:  It’s always worth a try to challenge the assessment.  Take photos of the front yard facing what used to be the view and compare it to the way it looked when you first bought it.  The photos on the listing at that time showed a pleasant view.  Many people are concerned about the new assessments.  Keep in mind that the property taxes don’t go up in proportion to the assessment.  That is controlled by state law and can’t increase that much. It’s also important to remember that most of our taxes are for our own community. That’s our fire protection, schools, parks etc.  All things considered, I believe that it’s a good investment.

You are correct that it’s certainly possible that the loss of a view can change the market value of your home when you sell it someday.  A home with a view is generally always priced higher. I recall that when I sold you that home many years ago, I negotiated a view easement with your neighbor.  The neighbor asked for a fee to be paid to them, which is customary, and I felt that it was a fair price. Sadly, you didn’t feel that you should have to pay for it and that opportunity was lost.

It often frustrates me when people are short sighted about their property. Making sure that you grab any opportunity to enhance and protect the value of your home with properly drawn up view covenants, road easements and well maintenance agreements will make it so much easier to sell your home when that day comes.  It will also bring you a higher price. Good luck with the County.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Q: When you came out to look at our place and give us a price opinion I was shocked at how low it was.

Our neighbor sold for way more than that a few months ago.  I asked another real estate agent to come out and look and she was even more negative.  What’s with you people?  This house is almost identical to the one that sold near us.

A:  It’s always hard to tell people the truth when you know it will hurt or insult them.  But you asked.  Your neighbor’s house is similar in size, age and style.  However, they have maintained their home well and prepared it for sale by painting, cleaning, decluttering, and tidying up their yard and garden.  It presented very well and all the systems of the home are in good working order. Your home, on the other hand, is in poor shape.  Your roof has leaked and there are water stains in several rooms.  The yard is just overgrown weeds and old car parts. It appears that the inside of the house hasn’t been cleaned in a very long time.  The kitchen and bathroom floors have deep cuts in the vinyl and the carpet has pet stains and is very dirty.  Of course, I’ve seen homes sell with those problems in our hot market but they sell for much less.  Because you haven’t taken care of your place and seem unwilling to fix things up to sell, you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table.  Clean, well maintained homes sell for a great deal more than fixers.  Buyers assume they will have to put a lot of money into the house even after they buy it, so they don’t want to pay top dollar for the property.

I’m sorry to tell you these things.  You seem like nice folks and I wish you the best.  But a neglected home in poor condition will not bring you top dollar.  It may even be difficult to finance.  Give that some thought and then maybe it will be worth it to clean and repair before selling.