Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Home Sales On Martha's Vineyard Are Picking Up

2011 proved to be a year of reduced sales on Martha’s Vineyard with home sales totaling 319, down 9.1% from 2010 and the average price dropped to under a million, and at $939,000 was down 10.9% from the prior year. The median home price settled at $555,000 which was down 9.8% from 2010. 
 At the beginning of this 2012 I predicted sales would be ‘flat’ and pretty much a repeat of 2011.  However, if home sales numbers at the end of February are any indication I will have to agree with NAR’s chief economist that Spring Looks Bright .

 As we rolled out of February into March, home unit sales were already up by 40.8% and the average sales price was down by 11.5%.  The median sale price was up by 7.7%.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Would You Buy a Used Car Without Inspecting It and Taking It To Your Mechanic?

Maybe a better question is, would you buy a half a million dollar home on Martha’s Vineyard without taking a good hard look at it yourself, and then having a professional home and structural inspector thoroughly examine it? If the answer to both of my questions is No, then by all means read no further.

There are two kinds of house shoppers: One just likes to shop, looking at how a house is decorated and how the owners are living; they are just nosey and have nothing better to do with their time. On Martha’s Vineyard we call them rainy day house hunters – a real estate agent’s worst nightmare. The second kind of house shopper is dead serious about the task; they recognize they are contemplating making the most expensive investment that they may ever make and this is not a game. They will forego the beach on a sunny day because to them this is not a lark, a rainy day distraction.

Serious buyers are the only people I will work with and I can quickly separate the wheat from the chaff. Serious buyers need education and that is what I provide. Serious buyers are not afraid to pull up a corner of the carpeting, draw back a shower curtain, open closet and cabinet doors, climb up into attics or scrutinize basements, cellars and crawl spaces. Serious buyers are all about business and they have a nose for mold, water damage, leaks, faulty appliances and any sign of deferred maintenance. Serious buyers will ask a seller agent, if present at the showing, all kinds of probing questions even though they may think those questions approach being provocative or inappropriate. They do not have time to waste, and neither do I.

Are you thinking to yourself, I’m serious but once we agree on a purchase price I have every intension of getting a ‘home inspection’, so why do I need to be so inquisitive and investigative? Why can’t I just enjoy looking at the furniture, art work, petting the dog and admiring the gardens? Because, when you pay attention to the details you will be able to save yourself infinite time and aggravation. If you carefully walk around the inside and outside of a house you will be better able to determine if the condition of that property meets with your expectations for the condition of a property you would buy. Here is a list of just a few of things YOU are capable of observing while you are previewing a property on Martha’s Vineyard that is on your list for possible purchase.

• Wooden siding that is rotten at the edges.

• Wooden window and door trim and sills with evidence of rot and peeling paint.

• Exterior shingles both on roofs and on siding that are split or lifting up (that’s called cupping).

• Cable-vent covers that look like they have been chewed on by werewolves.

• Double glazed window glass that is fogged. Make note of who the window manufacturer is. Note: Anderson windows also have the manufacture date stamped on them.

• Gutters overflowing with leaves and grass and sometimes with small bushes growing in them.

• Mud tubes running up the sides of foundations or wood siding touching the ground, less than 6” - 8” from the earth surface.

• Oil stains under old style single wall oil tanks in the basement or evidence of rust on the belly of the tank.

• Hot water heating boilers that look like they have been hit by a train and have rust around all the fittings.

• Electrical panel boxes with covers removed and a rat’s nest of wires poking out.

• Cracked foundation blocks or wide (3/16”+) settling cracks in basement floors.

• Wooden or composition flooring that looks like it has been rough sanded.

• Ceramic floor tile that is cracked.

• Brown spots where grass won’t grow around septic system covers.

• Appliances that have scaling rust and look like they should have been taken to the dump years ago.

• Water stains and turquoise blue (copper) stains around plumbing pipe couplings for domestic and heating system plumbing.

• Black flecks of mold on the walls and ceiling in bathrooms with no exhaust fans, whether they have windows or not.

• Speaking of exhaust fans, if there is an exhaust fan in the bathroom look to see if there is an exterior exhaust hood for that fan nearby. If there is none all that moisture may be venting into the attic. The same thing applies to clothes dryers where the foundation is a crawl space and the laundry equipment is on the main level.

• On Martha’s Vineyard, if the foundation is a crawl space check to see if the foundation vents are open or closed. The foundation should be sealed and have a vapor barrier or concrete skin over the entire floor.

• Nasty black mold stains around bathroom ceramic bathtub tile grout.

• Water stains around toilet bases.

• Metal entrance way storm doors that are rusting along the bottom.

• Metal basement bulkhead covers that are rusted and open to the elements and rodents.

• Finished areas above garages or in basements where you do not see proper egress windows or doors – cook stoves are a trigger for questions about approved zoning.

By paying attention to the types of things I listed above you will be able to make a more intelligent decision on what you are willing to pay for that property. I am not saying that this means you don’t need to have a professional home inspection but this puts you further ahead of the game. Also, it is important to note that here on Martha’s Vineyard more than in most other areas ‘deferred maintenance’ is common place and that makes a home inspection even that much more important.

Once you and your exclusive buyer agent have negotiated an agreeable purchase price and there is an acceptable home inspection contingency in that agreement, you can go ahead and hire a home inspector. Make sure you tell him what your observations were when you previewed the property and what your concerns are now. If the home inspector discovers a deficiency that you determine will significantly affect your enjoyment of that property you then have the right to terminate the agreement with the seller and all monies deposited for the seller will be returned to you. Keep in mind that your home inspection is not meant to be an opportunity to renegotiate the purchase agreement; it is for your edification alone.

So as you can see, buying an older home is very much like buying a used car, first you walk around it, look under the hood, kick the tires and then you have your mechanic look at.