Monday, December 30, 2013

Cigarette Smoke

A major part of the first impression that buyers get when going into a house for the first time is the odor.  I have smelled all kinds of different aromas when showing houses--from the very good to the downright nauseating. Nothing can make a prospective buyer hurry from a home faster than a bad smell.

The two that I seem to encounter the most are pet smells and cigarettes. Both are fairly unpleasant, depending on the severity, but according to Regina Flores of ServPro, Cigarette smoke smell is much worse to get rid of.

"If the pet smell is your run of the mill shedding dog or cat, and the animal has not repeatedly done its "business" indoors, then simply removing the hair, and replacing the carpets will normally get rid of the animal smell." She says. "Cigarettes on the other hand infiltrates everything. I've seen yellow walls, practically dripping with nicotine. That is a much harder odor to get rid of."

I used to smoke. I smoked all through my twenties. And not that it is an excuse, because it was apparent back in the nineties that it was bad for you--but everyone seemed to smoke back then. At least everyone I knew.  You could smoke in restaurants,  in hotel rooms, hell they had just stopped allowing you to smoke on domestic flights. EVERYTHING used to smell like cigarettes. I never noticed it.

But now I am one of those horrible reformed smokers that hates the smell of it. I glower at any smoker who I deem has ventured too close to my personal space. I applaud every new anti-smoking law, and I look with a bit of pity at those huddled outside still puffing away. Smoking is so twenty years ago.

  And the smell is the first thing I notice when I go into a house. There really are few smells that are as bad as stale cigarettes in a home that has been shut up for awhile.  And according to the experts in odors. Getting rid of the smell can cost you thousands of dollars.

"In real bad cases," says Flores, "Getting rid of carpets and repainting won't do the trick." you have to scrub all the tar off the walls. Then you prime the wall with an alcohol based solvent before repainting. Also the tar will seep through the carpet and into the subfloor, which will need to be treated with a heavy duty solvent as well. And if there is any type of duct work in the house? Many times all the will need to be replaced to bring the odor under control."

Jeff Williams of KW NYC saw an apartments sell for 20% less than its none smoke contaminated duplicate. A bad habit that cost the seller over fifty thousand dollars.

So besides depreciating your health, smoking  can depreciate the value of your home. Just another reason to give up the smokes.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

My Blog Has Moved!

In my unending quest to be looked at favorably in the eyes of Google, I have moved my blog so that it has the same root url as my main site. Click here for the new blog. This site will be shut down in the next few months.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Business is Business

I'm not sure if this blog post is much more than a justification of my actions, or to assuage my guilt, but I think it may also educate possible home buyers and sellers, and maybe just be a good read.
I just finished a deal with an agent who was a fellow agent in the first real estate office I joined. We have since done a few deals over the years, and have remained in contact. She was at my wedding. She is a good, solid agent, and is one of the good ones that is easy to do deals with.

I was the listing agent, and she was the buyer's agent. It was a somewhat unique set of circumstances that I secured this listing. It was a distressed property that we were attempting to short sale. I had attempted to sell this property earlier at a higher price point in which the seller would break even a few years back to no avail. So once they fell behind on payments we decided to attempt a short sale.
Short sales are not only a pain in the neck, they are also very time consuming. I contacted his bank, secured all the necessary documents, waited the obligatory weeks, called loss mitigation, waited on hold, waded through red tape and many customer service reps with varying degrees of customer service training and effort.  (Did you know an independent college study ranked customer service of large companies  across the business spectrum--from banks to insurance companies to online retailers. In all these companies customer satisfaction was 300% greater on Mon. than on Fri. The study also showed that if you use the person's name three times in the conversation you are much more likely to have a positive outcome.) However once again I have veered off topic.

At any rate just when I was thinking I was making progress, I heard the bank sold the bad dept to an investment firm. We were at square one. Luckily this was a much smaller company, and they had paid whatever cents on the dollar, so they were much more willing to short sale the property and worked well with me throughout the process. However it was a lot of work, so when I listed the property I did not do an even commission split like a normally do. I kept a point on the listing (my) side.

I have been at closings tables before and been the recipient of the smaller--buyers agent commission split, so I get it. It does leave a bad taste in your mouth and a feeling of being ill used. After all I did bring the buyer. Isn't that half the work? There are a few companies (and agents) who are notorious for this, and around the realtor water cooler it is considered a bit gauche and in bad taste.
 But in my defense, the commission offered was right in line with the "going rate" so it was not a discount on that end.  And I feel I did do quite a bit more work. The property was a good house at a good price, and I knew it would sell fairly quickly. Dangling good inventory out there for buyer's agents is a good thing right?

I explained all this to the buyer's agent, and I think she gets it. I am just left with a vague guilty feeling, and a need to have it somehow justified. Thanks for the Catholic upbringing Mom.
But like my title says--business is business.
There were 9 single family homes reported sold in the Sullivan County MLS. Click Here for Listings.
31170 finally sold. That was a favorite of mine and had been on the market awhile. It went for 143K which is a good price for that house. It is a cool brick farmhouse on seven acres. The listing says it sold FHA which is a bit surprising, because that house needed some work. (Talk about agents working hard. They must have worked very hard to push that through FHA) Congrats to whoever bought it. I am little bummed that I was not able to sell it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Skiing in Sullivan County

Hunter Mountain
Since Sullivan County really is in the foothills of the Catskills, That is pretty much what you are going to get skiing wise here. Foothills. However we are within not too far driving distance to Belleayre, Hunter and Windham--all pretty major skiing resorts. And as of this week, they are all up a running. Belleayre has over 20 trails open, Windham as all of them open, and so does our closest large skiing mountain, Hunter. the snow tubing chutes are also open, and of course the accommodations as well.
Closer here to our area, we have Elk Mountain, which is just over the border in PA. It is a smaller skill hill in comparison with the larger upstate ones, however they boast a thousand feet vertical, and have over a half dozen trails. It is a little under an hour to Elk. This is the mountain I would most recommend if you own, or are planning to own in Sullivan County. It is big enough to enjoy, and you get some really nice views from the trails. The Mountainside Cafe is a nice spot to rest and get a cup of hot chocolate. There is no hotel on the mountain, but there are quite a few places to stay nearby.

Masthope is also in PA, but a bit closer. It is only a fifteen minute ride from Barryville.  This is a pretty small ski resort, really good for the young ones, or a place to spend a non-challenging day. They too have a nice clubhouse, and their tubing and skiing rates are quite reasonable.

Here in Sullivan County we have Holiday Mountain a 450 foot drop with seven beginner trails. They also have a tubing hill, and ice skating for the kids. They too have a snack/lunch chalet with your agreeable winter skiing grub. Its close, and it's a nice way to spend a winters day.

And then of course there is the Villa Roma with its four trails of 200 plus feet of drop.  Again it is a good place for the kids, but even the beginner skier might want to skip this one.    

There were five single family homes reported sold in the Sullivan County MLS this week. Click Here for listings.