No Compromising…Sort of


It occured to me while I was showing property over the weekend that maybe the best thing about this current market is the fact that buyers don’t have to compromise nearly as much as they used to. Fortunately, the old and wise rules about real estate investment have returned…and that’s a good thing! In the past 10 years or so, if you wrote down a list of the top 10 or 15 attributes you wanted in the purchase of a home you might have been lucky to have gotten 2 or 3 of them. People, quite literally, were buying homes they didn’t even like because they were so afraid that an escalating market would price them out. Now there’s something we haven’t seen in a while…choice!

Of course the pendulum has swung pretty far in the other direction right now and many buyers have talked themselves out of making an offer on places they liked because of relatively small, or eminently fixable problems discovered about the home they’re interested in. I heard a story recently about some buyers that backed out of a transaction because they discovered that the seller’s small child had scibbled on a wall with a crayon as they were doing their final walkthrough. It is funny to me, and certainly ironic, that many things that didn’t seem all that important a few years ago take on so much more meaning today. Buyers certainly inspect a home more thoroughly than they used to and there’s more soul searching discussion about moving forward too.

All this circumspection makes me think of a listing I had in Belmont in 2000. The seller, who had grown up in the home, was liquidating it following the death of her parents. Across the street was the back end of a shopping center and there was a ton of garbage, including an old mattress sitting near the loading docks. The house was in original condition and had a rotting front porch, rear deck and an attached storage shed that was literally falling apart. The worst part though was that the painstakingly honest seller had written in the disclosure that “sewage backs up into the house”. “Ummm…could you explain that?” I asked. Turns out the main sewer line for the City of Belmont ran right behind the back fence and when it rained heavily it got clogged up with debris and wouldn’t drain properly…and when that happened all that liquid backed up into the house, sometimes filling up the sinks and bathtub! This was a first for me as a listing agent. “What do you do?” I asked. “We call the city and they unclog it…usually takes 3 or 4 hours, no big deal” She said. 3 or 4 hours of sewage in your bathtub and sinks! It actually had a pretty easy fix but her family had gotten used to it…for 38 years! The moral of the story? We got 3 offers and it went over asking, As Is.

Do you know how grateful I am not to be getting that listing in July 2010! Folks, there’s no such thing as a perfect house so you’ll end up having to compromise on something…but I’m betting you won’t have to accept sewage in your new home in this market.

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