Sunday, November 15, 2009

Before Buying a Home, Talk to the Neighbors To Determine If the "Neighborhood Value" Is There!

"Neighborhood value" is the atmosphere of a particular area - the look and feel of the homes and yards and so forth. But, more importantly, it's the "vibe" you receive from the neighbors. Let's be honest: You can buy the finest home on the planet, but obnoxious neighbors can spoil the whole living experience for you.

Or, it could be the opposite - the neighbors aren't obnoxious; the current owners are. They may have had disputes with their neighbors and created an unhappy climate.

Depending on the nature of the disputes, the neighbors may be glad to see you, or they may be so negative toward the current owners that their attitude may spill over onto you, even though you had nothing to do with the situation! If that's true, then you may want to look at homes in a different area.

But there's also another important reason for you to talk with neighbors; good neighbors can alert you to problems you may not be aware of; for example, basement flooding, termites, leaky roofs, etc.

When that happens, you can either look at a different house or negotiate with the seller to lower the price of the property!

The Best Way to Evaluate a Neighborhood and Its Value

The best way to evaluate a particular neighborhood is write up a checklist of desirable aspects before you ever enter that neighborhood!

Below, I provide you with typical features (in alphabetical order) to check out. However, you should add as much detail as possible to that list since everyone has different needs and wants.

• Association fees (if applicable)
• Closeness to parks and recreation for the kids
• Crime rate
• Length of commute to work
• Noisy pets (barking dogs, etc.)
• Property taxes.
• Proximity to busy streets or main thoroughfares.
• Proximity to mall, shops, restaurants, etc.
• Reputation of school district
• Sidewalks and running trails throughout the neighborhood.
• Type of families in the neighborhood, etc.

The list above has all the "objective" features of a neighborhood; that is, you can measure them, for the most part, by facts and figures.

Assuming a neighborhood meets these objective criteria, then it's time to analyze the "subjective" features by visiting the area.  Drive through the neighborhood to get an initial look. Do this at different times and on several different days to get a real feel for the area.

Assuming you like what you see, you should also get out and walk the neighborhood. You may well see things you missed from the car. As I suggested earlier, talk to the neighbors to get their opinions of the neighborhood and the property you're considering.

I'd recommend you select a time when they're likely to be outside walking or in their yards (gardening, watering, mowing, etc.). That way, you don't have to knock on their doors and interrupt their personal time.

Since buying a home is such an important decision, you can see that it's vitally important to check both the objective and subjective features of a neighborhood. And, since it's my business to know every one of those aspects, I encourage you to contact me so I can fill you in on the "neighborhood value" of an area you're interested in! Contact me at 402.598.3965 or

Monday, November 2, 2009

“D.O.M." Your Way to a Better Value When Buying a Home!

The term “D.O.M” refers to the number of days a house is listed for sale on the market; thus, “DOM” or “Days on Market.”

A rule of thumb for D.O.M. is that a home which has been listed for more than 90 days is an excessive amount of time. However, this depends heavily on the state of the market at any particular time!

Generally speaking, the longer a home is on the market, the more willing a seller is to negotiate. And that means you might be able to get a good deal!

However, notice that I said “generally speaking.” I put in that disclaimer because there are several reasons a home might be on the market for a long time.

One is that it might simply be overpriced. If that’s the case, then you’re in an excellent position to negotiate since the sellers may be anxious to sell the home.

A second reason may be someone has already put an offer on the property, but their financing, credit rating, etc. hasn’t met the requirements of the deal. In short, there was something wrong with the buyers, and nothing wrong with the home. Again, there may be an opportunity for you in this situation.

A third reason is that someone made a simple mistake in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)! Perhaps the home got listed in the wrong ZIP code or the wrong neighborhood, or the price was simply wrong and listed too high. Now, normally, MLS is very accurate, but, as always, it’s dependent on humans entering information into the system, so mistakes happen!

Fourth, the house may have stayed on the market for so long because the owners simply refuse to negotiate! A real estate agent can help you identify these individuals for you so you don’t waste time and energy on a sale that will never happen.

Finally, a home may stay on the market for a long time because there is something wrong with it either structurally or cosmetically or both!

Depending on the situation, this can also be an opportunity for you as a buyer! You can use it as a bargaining tool; that is, either the home seller fixes the defects or lowers the price to account for the cost of repairing those defects.

However, you should always, always get a home inspection done on such houses! (Or on any house you’re considering, for that matter!). It prevents you from buying a “money pit,” in which you have to throw a small fortune in order to get defects repaired.

Here’s the short and long of it: DOM can sometimes get you a great value in a home; however, you need the expertise and guidance of an experienced real estate agent to pinpoint such values! I can provide you with that expertise. Contact me at (402) 598-3965 or email