Grumpy Realtor2020-04-30T19:28:42+00:00

A Murder In the House?

Dear Grumpy Realtor,
There’s a house on the market, and I know it was the scene of a violent murder. It doesn’t mention that in the listing. Shouldn’t that be required?
-Kinda Freaked

Dear Freaky,
Don’t tell me you’re afraid of ghosts? Everyone sees things differently, but if you are already freaked out that a murder took place then maybe you aren’t the right person to buy this property. If you like a little excitement and good dinner conversations with a thrill then maybe this house is for you. Properties that have experienced murders, fatal accidents, meth labs and even, yes, hauntings, are what we call “stigmatized” listings. Disclosure requirements vary by state. If you know a house to be stigmatized, it might give you some bargaining room. So go ahead, buy it. What’s the worst that could happen? Remember, Casper was a friendly ghost.

Appraisal Value vs Market Value-What’s the Difference?

Dear Grumpy Realtor,
I just received my tax assessment for my property and got a pretty good dollar amount, but when I talked to my realtor, they suggested an asking price that wasn’t even close to the appraised value. My realtor then informed me that her price is the market price. What gives?
-Ruffled Feathers

Dear Ruffled,
Assessed value and market price are two entirely different bananas. The assessed value is used to determine how much of your hard-earned cashola goes to the local tax man. The current housing market and financial climate are what dictates your asking price or market price. Your realtor is looking at local sales in your neighborhood in the last six months or so…this is how realtors get their values in most cases. Maybe you need to protest your tax value & get that lowered so you won’t be paying more taxes than you should.

Are Finished Basements Included When Calculating Square Footage?

Grumpy Realtor,
Are finished basements included when calculating square footage?
Mancave Mike

Dear Caveman,
First, where did you find a furnished basement in south Texas? Second, yes; Square footage is generally calculated in Texas for areas of the home that are air-conditioned and heated. The basement may not get as much value as the main part of the house but a basement will count as living space if properly finished out and if the air ducts keep the temperature just right. A garage on the other had does not count when calculating square footage.

Are Realtor Fees Negotiable?

Dear Grumpy Realtor,
I’m trying to locate a trustworthy realtor, but I also don’t want to spend more money than I need to. Are realtor fees negotiable, or am I just being “Cheap”?

Dear El Cheapo,
You’re trying to take food right out of my kids’ mouths! But if you insist on being el cheapo, I will tell you that realtor fees are required by law to be negotiable. But before you go tightening your purse, remember that realtors make their money from commissions. No sale means no pay, no matter how much legwork they’ve put in to find you that perfect home. Also, that seemingly fat cash pie listed in escrow as “real estate fees” gets sliced up into so many tiny pieces that your realtor is often lucky to get a whole plum. Let the pros have their pittance, will ya? By the way, when buying a home the seller pays for your realtor fees, not you.

Can a Realtor Represent Both the Buyer and the Seller?

Dear Grumpy Realtor,
My friend is in the process of buying a house, and his realtor is also representing the seller. That smells fishy to me. What gives? Is that even legal?
Friends Helping Friends

Dear Friendly,
There’s no law against a licensed realtor working both sides of a deal. In Texas this is referred to as “Intermediary”. In other words a realtor can work with both the buyer and seller as long as this relationship is fully disclosed and hopefully signed off on. The realtor must treat both sides fairly and can not disclose any personal information between the two parties. Many realtors won’t put themselves in that situation (really, who needs the extra stress of two sets of paranoid clients questioning your every move?), but those who do work both sides need to be mindful to walk both sides carefully through the deal before an offer goes in. If your friend feels squeamish about this situation they can always get another realtor.

Can I Cancel My Listing If Nothing’s Happening?

Dear G.R.,
It seems like my home has been listed forever, with no action. Am I allowed to cancel the listing?
Feeling Listless in Bulverde

Dear Listless,
Patience is a virtue. But luckily for impulsive folk like you, contracts come with expiration dates. If you can’t wait that long, tell the agent that you want to cancel. Be nice about it, and they probably won’t put up too big of a beef but it will have to be in writing. If they give you a hard time you may just have to wait until the listing contract runs out. In the mean time you can interview other agents for the job….by the way there is usually a reason a house on the market has “no action”…maybe you should ask your current realtor to do a new market analysis and make sure you are priced right.

Can I Find Out Easements Before I Purchase?

Dear Grumpy Realtor,
I’m interested in buying a house, but I was wondering if there was any way to tell what sort of easements apply to the property, if any? I have a friend who can’t plant trees too close to the road in front of her house and wishes she knew that when she bought it.
This Land is My Land

Dear Easement-E,
Ease-y there, fella! Easements, also known as “right-of-way” policies are fairly common. Sometimes neighbors (or even the public) need access through your property for some reason, or the local power company might have the right to dig up your back yard to access their hardware, and there isn’t a plumb thing you can do about it. When your friend bought her house she probably was required to buy a survey for her lender. That survey would have shown the easements that came with the property. Or you can find the information on file at the local assessor’s office. Your tree-loving friend should have dug a little deeper. Don’t make the same mistake.

Can I Keep From Being Bugged Out?

Dear Grumpy Realtor,
One thing I hate about living in the country is all the bugs. Are homeowners required to keep a record of how often they get exterminator service? I know it would be a big factor for me and my wife.
Bugging Out in Waco

Dear Bug A Boo,
That bug phobia must really be under your skin if you’re just itching for me to answer this question. Folks will be coming out of the woodwork to hear that homeowners aren’t required to keep records of practically any sort of maintenance they have done, though it certainly would behive them to do so. The best advice I can can give is for you to ask the seller or their representative; it won’t bug them too much. Now if the seller has done termite treatment or wood destroying insect treatment they need to disclose that on the seller disclosure…so read that carefully or you might be in for a surprise. BOO!

Can I Save My Tree?

Dear Grumps,
I’m selling my home and I’m worried about the beautiful elm tree that is growing in the yard. For some reason, I have a feeling that anyone who buys the house will chop down my ancient old friend. The tree is healthy, but I just have a feeling in my gut. Is there a way for me to write a condition into the sale, that they can’t remove the tree? Thanks.
Tree-hugging Doris

Dear Lorax,
You can certainly try to write some verbiage into your sales contract in order to protect the tree – there’s no law against that. But I’ll be frank: unless it’s a case of an existing easement or part of the local HOA rules, 9/10 buyers will take a “buzz off, this is my property now” attitude. Having a clause like that in the contract will shoo away a lot of potential buyers. So, you have to ask yourself which is more important, selling your home or protecting a tree based on your gut feeling? Maybe the new owners would sublet you a treehouse? In my opinion most people love old trees for their beauty and the shade provide. My guess is that tree will be around a long time unless it gets struck by lightning, burns down in a fire or get a heaven-forbid disease.

Do Foreclosure Properties Lower the Selling Price of My Home?

Dear Grumpy Realtor,
If there are a bunch of foreclosure properties in my neighborhood, will that drag down the selling price of my home?
-I Pay All MY Bills

Dear Bill,
Your concerns are very real when you’re surrounded by a bunch of deadbeats that didn’t pay their bills. If a buyer sees that there are several lower-priced homes in your area, due to foreclosure or otherwise, it stands to reason that they’ll try to use that as a bargaining chip to get you to come down in price. Now, there’s no one saying you MUST lower your own price; you can still ask for whatever you feel is fair. But after your home sits on the market for several months, thoughts of lowering your price are bound to creep in.

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