Talk about luck

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of the media scaring us with doom and gloom headlines about the real estate market. It’s time for some warm and fuzzy vibes to read, so here are a few of my favorite real estate stories spanning my 17 year career.

The oldest story happened back when the market wasn’t so good. I had a young couple who had used me to buy their first house in Masterson Station. Well, it was time to move up. They found an incredible house in Copperfield that had been on the market for a while. It was a relo sale, which is when the seller has been transferred and a relocation company is involved. When the house doesn’t sell by a certain time, the relocation company buys the house and they become the seller. We wrote an offer contingent on selling their old house. It was accepted. We then sell their old house. Everything is good. Until it isn’t.

The sale of their old house fell apart…..while they were on a cruise. Yep, I had to call and interrupt their vacation to tell them that not only are they not selling their old house, they are also going to now lose their new house. It was one of the toughest calls I’ve had to make.

They came home. We put their house back on the market. We sell it again after a little while. Guess what? The Copperfield house is still on the market. Only now the relocation company has lowered the price AND replaced some of the carpet. In the end, they got their house for less money than they were paying the first time and got some new carpet too.

Years later, after moving out of state and returning, this same couple told me what they wanted in their next home. They are really good at remodeling so a fixer upper would be a plus if one was available. They had narrowed it down to two neighborhoods. The husband told me he wanted a spot to park a camper or boat. About that same time, a seller in one of those two neighborhoods randomly called me to list their house. The seller was the original owner. The house was in good shape other than some deferred maintenance but was a bit dated. As I saw the house for the first time, I remember thinking it would be a good fit to my buyers. I KNEW it was their home when I saw the extra concrete going from the driveway to the backyard where the seller told me he used to park his camper!

A couple years after this, another client sent her brother to me to talk about buying a first home for he and his wife. As he was describing what they wanted in a house, I told him that I was about to list one just down the street from his sister and brother in law as soon as the seller’s new house was done. Sure enough, they bought it and started their family there. A couple of years later, they asked me to work with them to find an entry level investment property. I had a friend who had been talking about selling a townhouse I had sold him a few years earlier and sure enough, he was willing to part with it.

Some time later, another seller was referred to me by some clients and friends. I met with her at the house she had lived in most of her life since it was built by her parents. While I was waiting on this seller to do a few things to get the house ready, another client took me out for coffee and told me he was looking for a house. His big requirement was enough space to do his woodworking. I told him about the house I was getting ready to list since it had a huge detached garage that, if I remember right, already had enough electrical service for his heavy duty equipment. He bought it.

I used to think these people and many others I have worked with were just incredibly lucky to have exactly what they wanted drop in their laps. Now I realize I am the lucky one for getting to be the hands that drop it in their laps.

Now, isn’t this better than reading about higher interest rates? Don’t worry. They will come down. The real estate market will soldier on. How do I know? Because it always has and that is because everybody has a dream about what they want in their next house, just like these friends and clients of mine.

Price of new construction driving up “Used” home prices

Used to be that new construction in your area held back the value of your house. The “Used” houses needed to sell for much less than a new one would. Even in a mildly appreciating market, your newer home didn’t really go up in value until that last brand new house sold. It was like the thought was “Why wouldn’t I just get a brand new one instead of buying a ‘Used’ home?” I know this is hard to believe for those of you new to the real estate market, but you used to be able to be the only offer on a completed new home and if you had time, you could pick your lot and pick your floor plan and have your house built. Today, builders like to finish the house and put it on the market to see how much they can get for it. Construction times have gone from 6-8 months to 10-12 months. Builders don’t want to be locked into a sale price where they won’t get paid for 10-12 months in inflationary times and with supply chain issues.

While an existing home will still sell for less than a brand new one in the same neighborhood, I am seeing something that hasn’t happened before. Since new construction is sooooo expensive these days, I am seeing the value of existing homes being boosted by the sticker shock of new construction homes. Yeah, the market is good and inflation is driving the prices of everything up, but prices are rising even faster than I expected in some neighborhoods with a lot of brand new homes going up, such as Masterson Station and The Home Place.

A brand new 2000 square foot home in Masterson is about $325k and the same size in The Home Place is about $440k. Now, instead of saying “Why wouldn’t I just get a brand new home instead of a used one?” buyers are saying “This existing home is a bargain compared to what the brand new homes are!

What’s it really like living in the country?

I’ve been in the sticks for almost a year now. I get asked this a lot. For the most part, it has been everything I hoped. I enjoy it. I did have some concerns before we moved, and of course there are a few things I had not thought about.

My biggest concern was getting stuck out here in the winter. I don’t know why, but for some reason ice on my street in the country bothered me more than ice on the street at my old house in a neighborhood. It was about two miles inside the neighborhood at my old house before I got to well maintained road. Well, I live about the same distance from a major state highway. Guess what? Two miles of ice is still two miles regardless of where you live. The good thing for me is that my road gets plowed and salted faster than my old neighborhood road did. My next door neighbor out here is the police chief, so I guess they want him to be able to get out easily if there is an emergency.

I was worried about crime. That is probably because having grown up in neighborhoods, the thought of nobody being close by was scary. That’s been a non-issue. Only your neighbors drive past your house unless you live on a main road and there seems to be a real strong sense of respecting the property of others out here. And for those that aren’t so respectful, they assume everybody has a gun so they don’t really want to risk getting shot at for your stuff.

There are really only two things that I didn’t think about. Neither are big deals thankfully.

The first is that most people in the country keep to themselves. My neighbors will wave to me. Several stopped and introduced themselves to me when I was new. But most of the time it is just like a neighborhood where you mostly just smile and wave. I guess small talk is harder to do at the mailbox when your houses are so far apart.

The other thing, and this one is what bothers me the most, is that there are no storm sewers. In a neighborhood, the rain water runs neatly down the curb into the storm sewer and disappears. Out in the country, the water runs down a hill, crosses the road leaving mud and gravel for daaaaaaaaays after it quits raining. This probably wouldn’t bother me if I wasn’t trying to keep my cars clean. As soon as it all dries up, here comes another rain to do it all again.

And that’s it. Other than these few things, it really isn’t that much different than I expected. Sure, I have to drive longer to get anywhere and I have a lot more grass to mow. That is totally worth it to me to get the peace, quiet, calmness and beauty that county life offers.

I love showing rural properties. Nothing like a fun drive in the country and then getting to see a house and some land. Here are the counties I work in for both rural and neighborhood properties: Fayette, Scott, Jessamine, Clark, Madison, Woodford, Bourbon, Montgomery, Franklin and Garrard Counties.

Why now is the best time to buy all year

At the risk of sounding like the stereotypical realtor who is always saying that now is the best time to buy, it really is the best time to be a buyer since before COVID hit.

Why? Lots of reasons but the biggest single reason is that we are seeing more listings hit the market at a time when most everybody who was going to buy a house in 2021 has already done so. If the market were a restaurant, picture that time when you walk into a very popular place that is hard to get into at noon, but you have arrived at 12:45 and there is plenty of seating.

This won’t last long though, which is why I think now is a great time.

I put on a new listing for $185k last week. We had tons of showings, some interested buyers, but only one full price offer. That hasn’t happened all year. One of the agents that showed it gave me some feedback. She said that her buyer opted to buy another house that was closer to her grandparents whom she took care of. I read that and I was a little shocked. It was the first time in the past two years I have seen where a buyer had a choice between two houses. Lately the choice has been the one house on the market or waiting for the next new listing.

The week before that, I put 3 new listings on the market. Granted all sold the first day, but two of them sold for slightly less that the list price and only got one offer.

I think the market will remain strong for years to come. It might not be the frenzy we have seen but there is no doubt we will have more buyers than sellers for quite some time. We will see what next spring brings. That is usually when we see prices got up the most. That is why I think between now and late winter might be the best shot you have for getting a house!

5 things I like/dislike about country living

I never thought I would live in the country. I’ve always been a neighborhood guy. I like having pizza delivered. I like not having wild animals around, especially snakes. I hate snakes. When I was a kid, I was convinced that living in the country was the surest way to be murdered since nobody was around to hear you screaming for help. Or get eaten by a wild animal. I never investigated the statistics, but I was sure that living in town was MUCH safer than living in the country.

My love of seeing trees instead of concrete, hearing nature instead of traffic and leaf blowers, feeling calmness over chaos eventually convinced me that I could only get all that in the country.

So, here are my top 5 things I like and dislike about being in the country. I hope it helps you decide if country life is for you!

THINGS I LIKE:

  1. Peace. You can’t get this type of peace anywhere else. You wake up and everything is so calm. You notice more enjoyable little things like the wind blowing through trees.
  2. Space. I used to think having a big yard was space, but there is nothing like neighbors being 500 feet or more away from you.
  3. Sunsets. I have always loved the sunset. It is even better when paired with hills and trees than your neighbor’s roof and power lines.
  4. Being alone. I am either the world’s most introverted extrovert or the world’s most extroverted introvert. Whichever it is, I really enjoy when I am home. It recharges me.
  5. Being outside. When you live in the country, you tend to think of your property as land, not a yard. I don’t know if this makes sense, but when I was in a neighborhood, I thought my house was the property and it was just on a lot. Now I have switched it and think of my property being the land on which my house just sits.

THINGS I DON’T LIKE:

  1. Gravel. It’s usually all over the road and at the end of driveways. I am too into cars to not have this bother me.
  2. Snakes. I have only seen two of them but I did find a 5 foot skin that one left…..which means it is bigger than that now.
  3. Mowing. I actually love mowing. Always have. I just don’t like that it is a half day commitment. I especially don’t like it when you are half way done and it starts raining.
  4. Mowing.
  5. Mowing.

That’s it. Overall, being in the country has been super nice. The positives far outweigh the negatives. Every house in the country I have sold, the sellers have all missed their homes. Most of them moved back into town because they were driving more than they wanted to be. It can be a little tough for those with kids who are always needing shuttled to and from band practices, sports and other events.