by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.
What To Do When A Neighbor Parks a Motorhome Next Door
As a real estate broker I am used to the appraisal and home inspection process, and normally I have a detached perspective on it.
On appraisals what I usually worry about is, “How are we going to handle this if it doesn’t appraise? What solutions do we have going forward? Will there be a way to keep the buyer and seller together?”
With home inspections it’s similar, “What do we do if the roof is bad and the seller doesn’t have the funds available to fix it?”
But then I went through the appraisal and inspections for my own house and it made me a nervous wreck. Maybe it’s because I knew of all the things that could go wrong but I was a living, breathing stressball in the days before and after.
The Septic Inspection
I wasn’t too worried about the home inspection, per se. I replaced the roof earlier in the year, added a new dishwasher and water heater, re-did the ceilings and painted the home both inside and out. I even added some new carpet. The a/c broke when we were moving out so I had that fixed and cleaned up as well.
I’d replaced some lights, all of the door knobs, and every burner on the stove. Even the washer and dryer and all the faucets weren’t older than a year. There pretty much wasn’t anything left to break down except maybe the refrigerator.
What had me in a twist was the septic tank inspection.
I’ll be starting my 14th year in the real estate business this summer and I have attended several septic tank inspections. If that ain’t a reason to get into real estate I don’t know what is.
Anyway, a septic inspection is where the septic guy sits there in front of an open septic tank as he pumps it out and observes it. As I sat there next to him I had no idea what he was looking for, or what constituted a good or bad inspection. Since I had no idea what the inspector was looking for, I had no idea how to prepare for it.
I mean, it was working for me while I was living there. That’s good enough, right?
The inspection turned out just fine. And the worrying just kind of ruined the day for no good reason.
Get An Inspection When You Sell
If you want to spare yourself some stress, pay to have an inspector come out for yourself. If anything shows up broken in the “major” category you can have it taken care of, and improve your net by selling the fix as something “new.”
Getting back to the roof replacement I did earlier, I discovered the roof needed replaced while painting the exterior. I noticed the shingle over done ten years earlier was holding wetness between the shingles and against some of the decking. So I ended up putting a lot of new decking on when I replaced the roof.
Had that happened while we were under contract it would have come as a major shock, and it might have scared the buyer. But putting the home on the market with a new roof and wood repair already done made the house easier to market (and for a higher price, too).
I actually planned to have an inspection to catch any last “gotchas,” but the house went under contract too fast. Nothing showed up on the inspections anyway, so all’s well that ends better.
Sweating Out the Appraisal
I had my house listed at $179,900 and it sold for $172,500. The offer came in 9 hours after it hit the market.
As a broker I saw all the local comparable sales for other area homes before I put my own on the market. For example, I saw several St. Augustine Shores homes built in the 70′s on smaller lots list in the $170s and sell in the $160s. So I knew $179,900 was a good price for my own home built in the 1980s and nearby.
The trouble was, the house immediately next door sold for $141,000 a month before I put mine on the market.
So I was super worried. Was the appraiser going to look for homes just like mine, nearby but not necessarily right next door? Or was the appraiser going to look at the home right next door simply because it was right next door?
Here’s what I knew that an appraiser might not know: The house next door had been tenant occupied for nearly 10 years. The last tenant took good care of the place but he certainly didn’t put any money into it … nobody had in the last decade. The house was built with an obsolete floor plan (the floor plan didn’t become obsolete over time, it was actually built that way … with a very small kitchen and a master bedroom that opened directly to the living room and adjacent to the television). The roof was bad. There were only a few trees. The back yard had an “Elephant’s Grave” style septic tank. But that kind of stuff doesn’t show up on sales records.
It’s not that I’m saying that the other house was a negative, but using it as a comp wouldn’t be an apples to apples comparison. I was a little concerned its sale price would drag mine down if it was used.
So what I did do was put every major improvement (and the year it was completed) listed in the marketing and in the MLS. That way the appraiser could see in black and white how the home had been improved compared to any other home it was being compared against, and the appraiser could verify things with their own eyes,.
No news is good news on appraisals. If things go south you usually find out in a few days.
After three or four days I started to relax. I still have no idea what it actually appraised for … at the closing I never looked.
The Rogue Motorhome
The day before I put my house on the market I was in one of the bedrooms doing some final touch up work. I looked out the window and the guy who moved into the house next door (thirty days earlier) was parking his 100-foot long motorhome in the side yard next to my house.
“You have got to be f*cking kidding…” I said to myself, incredulous.
I was a little upset. I was literally ready to run outside screaming.
And then I chilled.
First of all, I’d talked to my new neighbor a few times and he was super nice. He had the RV parked on the other side of the house for the first month, and maybe he was just moving it from side to side to keep the yard in better shape.
Secondly, the motorhome looked brand new, and it’s brown and gold scheme really meshed well with the trees on my side of the property line. And this is going to sound crazy, and this is not a knock on my neighbor’s judgement, but the motorhome looked a hell of a lot nicer than the house he just bought. Seriously.
And it was better that it happened right then, right before I put my home on the market.
If a buyer bought my house and all of a sudden a motorhome the size of Jupiter showed up, the buyer might have freaked. With it happening before the house hit the market I certainly freaked, but any buyer viewing the home would know about the RV up front, and it could either be an issue or a non-issue right then.
Obviously, with the winning offer coming in just 9 hours it wasn’t an issue at all.
And This Is The Reason Why They Have Homeowner Associations
I am now a member of a Homeowners Association (HOA).
Since I’m in the real estate business I am aware of how some HOAs can be poorly run or overly intrusive.
But HOAs keep the guy next door from parking his RV 20 feet from your bedroom window. There’s something to be said for that.
When you sell your house, call us. We’ll sweat the appraisals and inspections so you don’t have to: Click Here to Hire St. Augustine Team Realty! Or just contact me at the email up top or email Kate Stevens, my partner and Broker Associate (904-377-2276).
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