The best place I have ever lived

HK for blog

 

Of all the places I have ever lived, this house was my favorite.

Somebody once told me that people either are moving away from pain or moving towards pleasure.

We were definitely moving from pain.  We were miserable at our old house due to two neighbors.  One held poker games several nights a week.  40-50 guys gambling and drinking until the middle of the night was going to eventually erupt into something scary.  The other problem neighbor was an animal hoarder who kept multiple dogs outside 24/7.

We had a contract to build a brand new house.  Then it turned out that the Army Corp of Engineers had not issued a required permit the developer needed.

My wife told me I had better find her a house fast!

I had shown the house we eventually bought to another client.  It didn’t really impress me.

The price had just been reduced so I told my wife we could go see this place but I had been in it and didn’t think she would like it.

She did though.

I wasn’t too excited about it, but it was better than where we were living.  We bought it on my oldest son’s birthday.  I remember having to leave his party early to go drop off the signed contract to the listing agent.  This was a few years before we all used electronic signatures.  Today, I would have been out in the backyard with he and all his friends doing it from my phone.

We moved in.  I woke up the next morning and it felt so good to have all the natural light flooding the two story foyer.    It also felt good being on a dead end street.  And knowing my boys were safe.

We had no idea what an awesome time was ahead of us.

There were lots of boys the same age as our two.  A family across the street was in the same magnet program our boys were in.  We carpooled a lot.  We didn’t realize it when we bought the place, but it was just down the road from my oldest son’s best friend.  My wife’s roommate from college lived about 200 feet down the road too.

It just felt like home.  We knew our neighbors.  Everybody was friendly.  Our kids and all the other boys could play outside.  The floor plan really worked well too.

It was…….perfect.

This is what I hope to find for all of my clients.  It feels really good when you touch base with somebody after they have moved in and they tell you they are loving everything about their new home.

 

My first lesson about real estate

1669 Elliot

 

This was my grandparents house.  1669 Elliot Avenue in Ashland Ky.

I have lots of good memories of this place.  See that lonely window on the right?  That use to be a screened in porch.  My grandfather made it into a bedroom and the house’s 2nd full bath.  I helped him build it.  Well, as much as a 6 year old can help.  I remember trying to help him do something with the new toilet.  Using a hammer on porcelain turned out not being the right tool.  The house use to have white asbestos siding and diamond shaped shingles.  It had much more of the 40s character back then.

See that gray house on the left?  It use to be white too.  The neighbors added an in-ground pool in about 1975 or so.  It has since been filled in.  That driveway is shared.  It use to have two concrete strips with grass in the middle.  It has now been filled in too.  Not only was this the location of my first real estate lesson, it is also where I discovered my love for cars.  The neighbor with the shared driveway had a red Camaro with white stripes.  Probably a 1971-1973.  Car was super loud.  Then I guess the gas crisis hit and one day it was replaced with a yellowish MG Midget.  I loved that car.  Probably why I love my Miata and M Roadster so much.  The car smelled so good inside.  It had that great British car smell, which I have since realized is probably a combination of leather, dust and mold from a leaking top.   My grandfather had a series of old Datsun Z cars too, so I would hang out in the driveway and just look at the cars, counting down my days until I could drive.

This house is also where the “Incident” occurred.  I was trying to get a garden rake that was hanging on two nails off the garage wall.  I was a little kid and could only reach the very bottom of the rake handle.  I was successful at getting it off the nails, but not successful at preventing it from falling, tines down, on the hood of my grandfather’s car.  So, if anybody sees a brown 1975 Datsun 280z with 5 little dents right in the middle of the hood, please apologize to the owner for me.

The only bad memory of this place was the morning of May 29th 1977.  I remember my grandmother crying and not knowing why.  The lady across the street, who we called Tink, had died the night before in the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire.   I didn’t know that it was one of the deadliest fires in history.  I just knew my grandmother’s friend wasn’t ever coming home.  It was strange to be outside playing and see her red Olds Cutlass still in her driveway.  I thought that was a cool car and always remember her every time I see one.

I guess I better get to real estate now.

My grandparents decided to move to Florida.  I was so unhappy about this.  They used an agent with ERA.  Being the 70s, I had no idea WHY the Equal Rights Amendment people were selling my grandparent’s house.

My grandparents timing was fantastic on this sale.  The house was in Ashland.  Like, when Ashland Oil was in Ashland.  It sold quickly and for top dollar.

A few years later interest rates went though the ceiling and Ashland Oil left town.  It was a double whammy for the local real estate market.  It took well over a decade for the house to be worth more than the buyers paid for it.

Supply and demand.  How interest rates and the local economy impact value.  What happens when more people are leaving town than moving in from another town…..Lessons I learned as a kid that benefit my clients today.  Other lessons I learned at this place?  Don’t throw a baseball through the neighbor’s window.  Don’t jump off the roof of a detached garage.  Every neighborhood has a grumpy old lady.   Your parents are the tooth fairy.

Shhhhh….Don’t tell anybody this

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

The market has slowed down in much of the Bluegrass.  I don’t mean that it is dangerously slow or anything.  It is still a hot market with too few houses for sale.  It just isn’t the crazy frenzy it was earlier this year.  That is to be expected since it does slow down a little after school starts, then a little more the closer you get to Thanksgiving, then a little more the closer you get to Christmas.

How much?

In Fayette County, sales are down 6% when comparing August 2016 to August 2017.

I put two new listings on the market last week.  I try to put my listings on late Friday afternoon so we get lots of showings on Saturday.  That way everybody is off work and they can all see each other come and go from the house….it makes it feel more like an auction.

I knew it had slowed down some, so I was expecting only 4-5 showings at each house, and probably at least two offers on each.

House A did not get any showings the first day on the market and only one showing was scheduled for the second day on the market.

House B had only one showing scheduled the first day on the market.

Fortunately both sold to the first buyers who saw them, but I imagine they and their agents would be surprised to know this.

Both houses were priced right, presented well and in the most popular price range.

I sold another house this week too.  This time I was working with a buyer.  We saw a very affordable house the very first day it was on the market.  Throughout most of this year, I have shown a house and had another agent showing it before and/or after my showing.  Sometimes there has been a line, prompting me to consider a side hustle of selling snacks and drinks while I am there waiting.  I was at this house for an hour.  No agent was there before me.  No agent was waiting for me to leave.

I am noticing home inspectors have been able to get to jobs in fewer days too.

When I scroll through the pending sales every day, I am seeing fewer and fewer 1 day on the market sales.  Most are still selling in less than a couple weeks, but that is a big change from earlier this year when almost every house sold the first day.

All of this makes me think it is a great time to buy.  Probably the best time all year.

 

 

 

Why this is my favorite house in the whole world

I recently sold a house for an old friend.  It was her father’s house.  It was a little tough to finally sell it since she had so many memories of her dad at his home.

That got me thinking about houses I have a connection to like that.  While I have a few, the one that means the most to me is this one:

55 Manners 1

This is 55 Manners Avenue in Bangor Maine.

My great-grandfather built this house.  My grandmother was born here.  It stayed in my family until just a few years ago.

I have only been at this house twice in my life.  Once as a child and once when we scattered the ashes of my grandparents.  Both times I always got a little laugh as I heard people call that little brown building on the right “The baaaaaaahn.”  Nothing like hearing a Maine accent when you’ve been in Kentucky most of your life.

This place will always remind me of my grandmother and her life here.  Which makes me think of her and my grandfather, which makes me think of my mom and the rest of our family tree.

I remember my grandmother and other family telling me about my great-grandfather building the house.  As I look at this wall of built-in cabinets, I think about what their 1920s clothes must have looked like inside them.  I wonder if they were originally stained wood.  I wonder whose room this was and what my grandmother’s day would have been like here as a child.

55 manners 2

After my great aunt passed, my family no longer needed the home.  We had a 90+ year run with it.  I didn’t really want anybody else to have it outside of our family.  For a brief moment, I thought about buying it.  Then I realized that I couldn’t really keep it just for the sake of memories.  I do have this though:

55 manners 3

This is an original wood shake from either the roof or the siding of the house.  At some point, somebody in my family painted this picture of the house on it, before “The baaaaaahn” was built.  It looked a lot different when it was a new house, long before all the changes the house has encountered.  It blows my mind to think that my great-grandfather, who passed away long before I was born, has touched this wood shake.

I am glad I have this to remind me of my family and our history at this home.  I hope my friend has something from her Dad’s home that will always remind her of him and their time at his house.

What neighborhood is the winner in this market?

Masterson.  Formally know by it’s full name, Masterson Station.  While the whole neighborhood has seen values really go up, I think the true winners are the single story homes in the 1000-1350 square foot range.

Many many years ago, half of Masterson was in foreclosure.  That happened to a lot of the newer neighborhoods where the first owners bought at the top of the previous hot market with sketchy no money down loans.

I remember I would often spend ALL day with first time buyers just in Masterson when the market collapsed.  I would schedule 8-10 houses, all just blocks apart.  It would get confusing after a few.  I would find myself saying stuff like “This is the Roxbury plan by Schneider Homes.  It is the same floor plan as the 2nd, 3rd and 6th house we saw earlier, only this one has blue vinyl in the kitchen instead of tan, and it has a deck instead of a patio…..oh, and this one has a fenced back yard too.”  Then my client would say something like “I thought the 2nd and 6th house were the two story houses?”  Then I was like “No, it was the 4th house that was the two story.  It was a Ball Home plan.  The Fairfax is the name I think…..yes, that is it.  The Fairfax is the one I told you about that sometimes has an open loft instead of the 3rd bedroom, and realtors often call that a 3rd bedroom because they know nobody will come see it if they said it was REALLY a 2 bedroom house.”  Then my client would ask “What was the 5th house?  I don’t even remember it!”  I’d reply “The 5th house was the only occupied house we saw today.  The water was on and we both used the restroom.”  Client be like “Oh, I remember now. How do you keep all this straight?”  And I’d be like “It is taking every bit of concentration I have.”

Back then, $125k was like $155k is today.

Then the market improved.  I was amazed these houses were selling around $130k.

Then it got better.  I started seeing a lot of $140k houses a year ago.

Now a decent one is $150k, some are even higher!

That is a huge turn around from half the neighborhood being vacant houses that took 6 months to sell.