Old house/New house & my latest car

M3 S2

Cars and houses.

Those are my two things.  I can’t talk about too much else.  I don’t keep up with politics, pop culture or sports.  Get me on either of these two items though, and I am hard to shut up.

I recently added another car to my collection…..if you want to call a bunch of cars that aren’t old enough to be classics a collection.  Junk yard or used car lot is probably a more accurate term.

Sure, I’ve got a new car I use for work.  It looks good.  Is fast.  Gets lots of compliments.  But to me, it is sterile and generic.  It isn’t anything special because you can go to the dealership and buy one just like it.  I don’t feel anything but comfortable when driving it.

What gets my blood circulating is older BMWs.  I love the way they handle.  I love the way they look.  To me, the 90s-early 2000 BMWs were the high point for the brand.  An era I want to celebrate.

They don’t build them like they use to.

That is a phrase you often hear about older houses too.  Just like some people are into older cars verses new ones, some people also prefer an older house to a new one.  Old house people think all new houses are build poorly and lack any character.  The people who like new houses don’t want old house problems or floor plans that don’t work as well for today’s lifestyle.

Whether it is cars or houses, it is cool to like whatever you want.

As a realtor, the task at hand is getting in the mindset of your client and figuring out which they want.  When I buy a car, it is about what I want.  When I am trying to make a real estate love connection for a client, it is all about what they want.  Sometimes they don’t know yet and you need to help them figure it out.

After 12 years of doing this, I can pretty much tell if a client is really wanting to build a brand new house.  If you show them perfectly good move in ready houses and they don’t like any of them, they probably want to build even if they don’t realize it yet.   Another obvious sign is if their previous houses were brand new.  You would be amazed at how many people build a brand new house with each move.

The old house people will sometimes look at new houses, but they don’t like that the trees are small, or comment about the lack of character or perceived quality.  They walk in a perfectly good new house and don’t have any reaction at all.  It is just a structure with 4 walls to them.  Take them in an older house and they light up.

What do I like?  Both really.  In my dream world, I have an old house in a cool part of Lexington.  In that same dream world I have a super modern beach house.  The kind that is mostly glass.  In the garages of each place, I have a couple of older BMWs and also a new car because sometimes it is really nice to hop in a new car with really good air conditioning, comfortable seats and an awesome stereo with bluetooth.

 

How I grew up to become The LEXpert

lincoln-logs-vintage-1977-playskool-scout-set-856-original-75-pieces-free-ship-c0df4cdf82a4cd27de941b006d55a2cd

 

A little tubular box just like this one is what got me into real estate.  I remember all the times I sat in my grandparent’s family room and the thrill of pulling that plastic top off the cardboard container.  My grandfather would be sitting in his green plaid Lazy-Boy recliner watching golf or some sport on the 19 inch TV with a rabbit ear antenna.  The room was paneled.  Had a giant brick fireplace that took up most of the wall.  I would sit and built houses with these 50-60 pieces.  I played with these so much that the cardboard tube was badly frayed where the lid goes from taking it off and putting it on so many time.

 

Then I stepped up to this:

105 pieces of pure real estate pleasure.  It totally amazes me now to think how far Legos have come.  Most today are about building something and following a plan.  Back then, it was about being creative and making something that only existed in your mind.

I mainly did modern, flat roof houses because with only 105 pieces, you didn’t want to use half of them to make a sloped roof.

IMG_2960

Then I started to draw floor plans.  It was the 80s.  The dawn of the open floor plan for the masses.  There was still enough 70s left over that things like Conversation Pits, like I have in this house, were as cool as firepits and reclaimed wood are today.  My grandfather got me the drafting kit for something like my 10th or 11th birthday.  I still have the note inside that he wrote me.  I wish it had a date on it, but neither of us realized I might need it nearly 40 years later for something called a blog.

Then I got into neighborhoods.  Thinking about how one street compared to another and such.  Asking myself which house was better, which lot was better, what I liked or disliked about each.  We lived in Frankfort at the time.  I remember thinking our cul de sac was one of the better ones in the neighborhood, but I didn’t like that it sat at the bottom of the hill, and that the house behind us sat slightly higher than ours……but it was still far better than the houses closer to the East-West Connector Road with all the traffic noise.

I’d go to Florida in the summers to see my grandparents.  My entertainment was having them drive me around cool neighborhoods and going to model homes to see new houses.

People often ask me how long I have been in real estate.  I tell them I’ve had my license since 2005, but I’ve been in real estate all my life.

 

My crystal ball was clear that day

In the long-range, Lexington will eventually use all of its available land.  When that happens I think we’ll start to see a huge price difference between Lexington and the surrounding towns.  When the land becomes that valuable, we’ll see a lot of what are now cheap areas redeveloped.

That is what I said 7 years ago yesterday and it is happening.  I know this thanks to Facebook’s “On this Day” feature.  Besides being reminded that I had sushi for lunch with my wife on February 4th in 2013, I found an old blog post that was mainly about downtown.

All this is happening because there practically is no affordable housing in Lexington.  Builders have given up on the first time buyer market because the land costs them so much.  Why would they use their expensive land to build small/plain houses when there is so much money to be made building expensive/upscale houses?

We have practically built out to the urban service area……..aka the city limits.  There are few big tracts of land for the big builders to obtain.

That has forced buyers and investors into areas that 10 years ago were undesirable.  Downtown is a prime example because that is where the cheap land is….or was?

The Distillery District, between the time it was actually distilleries and trendy businesses, sat empty and was mostly industrial businesses and junkyards.  There were probably more rats than people down there on any given day back then.

The Newtown Pike extension is connecting Main Street to South Broadway right through a really depressing area of Lexington that few people ever knew existed.  Meanwhile, all the old tobacco warehouses along South Broadway are gone with apartments and businesses taking their place.

Then there is all the activity on the north end of downtown.  Jefferson Street.  NoLi. Midland Avenue.  Cool restaurants, bars and old housing stock.

Heck, even Cardinal Valley and many north end neighborhoods are becoming an acceptable location to young first times buyers with a tight budget wanting to live in this expensive town.

Many people will think all this is happening because people want to return to the urban core.  Lexington isn’t big enough to have true suburbs.  Plus, you can get to downtown from any where in any traffic within 30 minutes.   So I don’t think that is the main reason.  I think the reason is because infill projects and fixing up cheap houses are the only options for a town that is always growing and has run out of space.

 

LEXington market trends

Ok, we all know there is a shortage of inventory and houses are selling fast….but there is more going on in this town than just that.

Here is what I am seeing in 2016:

  •  Waiting.  Lots of waiting in line to see a new listing it’s first day on the market.  Everybody is so focused on new listings.  Granted, you do want to see them before they sell, but I think there has been more of a shift in how the public gets listings.  Everybody has saved searches and gets alerts when there is a new listing.  If it doesn’t interest them at that very moment, they rarely will consider seeing it later.  They just wait for the next new listing.  That is bad news for sellers who don’t sell their houses immediately, and proof that starting out with the best presentation and the right list price is critical.
  • Not ALL houses are selling as fast as you would think.  Only the good ones are selling immediately.  In Fayette County, there are 555 houses for sale priced between $100k and $500k.  Of those, 152 have been on the market for more than 90 days.  That is almost 1/3 of the available houses.  Savvy buyers go back and look at those 152 to see if they can get it for cheaper and avoid the multiple offer frenzy.
  • New construction on the edge of town isn’t doing so well.  I think Lexington is finally big enough that people see a big difference between being closer in town and on the edge of town.  I am seeing more and more people wanting to be closer in to town….heck, I feel that urge too since I live just past Hamburg and am always stuck in traffic.  One of the most successful new construction neighborhoods has been Summerfield.  I think it is about location more than anything.  You are 10 minutes from downtown and 5 minutes to Hamburg.  The best of both worlds really.
  • Smaller ranch houses in nice neighborhoods are getting amazing money.  I’m seeing 1200-1400 square foot houses getting close to $170k in neighborhoods like Cooper Trace, Ashbrooke, Wyndham Hills, Wyndham Downs and Harrods Point.
  •   Lots of people retiring in Lexington…..even Clint Eastwood is moving here, if you believe everything you see on Facebook 😉  An area super popular with retirees is Brookhaven and Lansdowne.  There are lots of nice ranches on good lots in this area.  You are close to downtown, can hop on New Circle at Tates Creek and go anywhere, cut across roads like Regency, Larkin, Zandale or Reynolds to get to anything on Nicholasville Road.  Plus you have cool places like The Lansdowne Club, Lansdowne Shoppes and are 1o minutes to Chevy Chase.

It sure will be interesting to see what comes for the rest of this year.  I am hearing from other realtors that they are having a hard time getting on a photographer’s schedule.  That either means we have a lot of new listings about to hit the market or realtors are just really impatient to get a house on the market!