Archive for November, 2008

jared-close-compressedI’m often asked to do re-inspections on previously inspected homes.  Re-inspections are a difficult thing for some home inspectors to perform and I know may inspectors that refuse to do them.  More times than not, the requested repairs are not completed or have been done in an un-workmanlike manner.


Re-inspections can vary in price and mine typically depend on the amount of work I anticipate having to do.  Do I have to enter the crawl space, attic space, open an electrical panel or furnace?  Do I need to write a revision to the original inspection report or is a word of mouth confirmation OK?  I have done some re-inspections that have taken almost as long as the original inspection, but that is not typical.  Most require about an hour’s time including the report revision.


Even if a re-inspection is performed, I always recommend the purchaser request a copy of the repair receipts and if the contractor says that no repair is required, I recommend they have him put his opinions in writing on his company letterhead.


You should expect to pay approximately $50 to $150 for a re-inspection, but some companies price them at half the original inspection fee.  In all actuality, the home inspection is supposed to protect you, the purchaser, so why not have a re-inspection done to ensure that all of the necessary corrections have been done.

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joe_polaneczky32With all the talk about the credit market “drying up,” one might think that buying a house, especially for first time homebuyer, might be a thing of the past and a thing of the future, but not a thing right now.  Talking to a couple lenders recently, we came to the conclusion that the media has made it seem like there is just no market left, and nobody is lending money.  I know credit still exists because I just put some classified ads in the paper, and I used a “credit” card. 

But seriously, I am currently involved in transactions in which the buyers are all financing their purchases.  The rates are good, the loans are good, and everybody is happy. 

As Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” 

I am 40 years old, and I am a student of history, but honestly I don’t think I really fully understood what he was talking about until just recently.  Fear is a fuel, a negative accelerant.  I just heard a great definition of FEAR as an acronym.  Fantasized Experiences Accepted as Real.  True True True.

Buyers have to proceed with caution but also with confidence, especially given the discounts and rates that currently exist.  In the 1980s, interest rates were like 18%, and now we complain about a quarter point shift.  Homes are really reasonably priced right now, and if you and/or your realtor know what you are doing, YOU WIN!  I know this sounds like a realtor talking, but I would say the following to my loved ones as well as to a complete stranger:  Buy!  Don’t’ wait much longer. 

Even if the market slides some more, let it go.  If you get into a good home in a good location, buy in, enjoy your new home, and forget about the market.  I am not sure how rational it is when folks say they are waiting to buy because they want to buy when the market hits “rock bottom.”  They are the market!  We all are the market.  The longer we wait, the longer it will take. 

Why do we desire homeownership, anyway?   Most of us want to have a place for our family to call home, a place where we have dinner parties, teach our kids to read, cook Thanksgiving dinner, cozy up in when it is cold and rainy and we are dry and warm.  If that is ultimately why we buy homes, we shouldn’t let the “market” make us wait for that. 


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joe_polaneczky31This article was in the most recent Flagpole, and it concerns what we are experiencing here in ATH compared to other areas of the nation.  In one area of the article, it states as opinion that home prices haven’t so much fallen as remained flat in ATH.  I disagree with this somewhat broad-stroke statement, but there are areas of town and outlying areas where this is true.  Again, another perspective for those of us craving an ongoing conversation. 


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joe_polaneczky3With the market being so crazy right now, and prices all over the place, it is only natural to wonder about the value of your home, especially if you thinking about selling.  Intuition is more than likely telling you that there has been some kind of shift in value in the recent past.  Intuition also tells you that if you need to get an accurate assessment, then a solid appraiser will be able to help you evaluate your investment.  However, as counterintuitive as it may seems, most folks don’t need to get an appraisal if they are considering marketing their home.  Here’s why. 

The Athens Regional Area has its share of unique properties (and people!), but most of us live in areas where the properties immediately around us will become the homes used to determine the value of our own. These “comps” are easy to source through a realtor, whose job it is to know the market, have access to raw data, and establish an accurate value.  This is a service associated with our overall service of getting your investment sold.  A good agent knows the market, and in fairly homogenous neighborhoods, establishing value is something we do every day, and unlike an appraisal, we do it at no additional charge to you.

An Example:

The Athens Area has hundreds of subdivisions.  If I get a call from a prospective client in a living situation such as this, I ask all sorts of questions, take notes, visit the property to establish a strong understanding of the “product” to be marketed, and then I crunch numbers. 

I look at recent sales, and I look at sales trends in the neighborhood.  Is the neighborhood trending up, down, staying stable?  I look at price per square foot and see how far the prices hold before they start to flatten out for homes with more square footage.  Ultimately I want to focus in on a more select group of comparable homes to really establish which homes within the neighborhood truly compare to my “subject” property. 

I then will use a list of specifics about the subject property as points of comparison to establish value.  A good agent is often already familiar with the comps because these comps were recent sales, and we watch properties and know the products on market.  Often we’ve actually shown or pre-viewed the property back when it was on the market.  This kind of experience is invaluable.  The whole process is fairly involved (and fun…for a geek like me, anyway).

A Note of Caution

In a rapidly evolving market, like the one we are currently experiencing, it is critical that the comps are as recent as possible since inaccurate valuation can lead to all kinds of headaches and possible financial loss.  A good agent will be aware of this and go back in increments (3 months, 6 months, a year, 18 months, etc.) to establish if/when the market shifted in your immediate area.  We will also know the market well enough to assess if the shift is merely a discount in a strong area that will likely rebound because the neighborhood story is still sound.  This is important because if you are not in a rush to sell, you can wait the market out.  And if you are in a rush to sell, then you will need to consider the relative loss you will be looking at.  Imagine, though, that the analysis is faulty and you think you are waiting the market out only to find that the area is actually trending down!  This is where strong agents earns their money.  We know the area, and that intimate knowledge is critical. 

When Should I Consider Getting an Appraisal?                         

When you can’t look out your window (or close to it) and see your comps.  When you own a 10,000 square foot, turn-of-the-century barn that has been converted into a gallery-like luxury living space on ten acres right on the Clarke/Oconee County line.

When you are trying to sell your unique log cabin/horse farm on a 14 acre tract but you are only selling five acres with the property, and the home was designed to accommodate your family heirloom furniture and over-sized sculpture collection while little but little consideration was given to resale.

Back to intuition.  If you live in a unique setting, you will know when you need an appraisal.  If you live in a subdivision or an area of town with similar homes, and you consider your new chef’s kitchen to be the unique aspect that warrants an appraisal, hold off and talk to a realtor.  The money you spend on an appraisal can be put to good use elsewhere.  But make sure you work with an agent who does a professional analysis for you.  If an realtor rolls in, armed with what’s in his/her head, he/she is being a little too cavalier.  Agents shouldn’t be made to show you solid numbers to back up a bottom line;  they should come with those numbers tucked under an arm. 


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joe_polaneczky2There are two maps of the Athens, GA area that I find to be very useful for those trying to familiarize their selves with the area.  One hangs to the left of my desk in the office, and the other is more geared towards newcomers trying to get a better sense of the in-town area layout and neighborhoods in relation to the University, etc.  I use this map every time I sit down for the first time with out of town buyers as we have a morning cup of coffee at Jittery Joe’s and get to know each other before heading out on the always enjoyable tour of ATH.

This in-town neighborhood map is the creation of the folks at The Flagpole, the city’s independent newspaper.  Some people religiously read the Flagpole every week and never miss it.  Others refuse to read it because they are considered defiantly liberal, and they have sex toy shop ads and the like in it.  Whatever the case, the maps are a hot commodity since they are inside the newspaper’s yearly Guide to Athens, a free news stand item that is limited in supply and can be difficult to find after around mid-winter flagpole-guide-to-ath-pic(They are released in time for the start of the University’s Fall Semester).

But here is the good news.  This year, the good folks at The Flagpole office held back a couple bundles for me and I have them in my hot little hands and will mail them to anyone anywhere if you would like one.  Please consider this a service to those wanting to do their due diligence prior to moving here.  Man, what a good guy I am…

Here’s the thing, you need to e-mail me at my other website since it the private way to contact me.  Go to my other website and fill out your address and I will send you a guide with the map.  No, I am not going to use this to badger you to work with me.  That’s not how I roll.


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joe_polaneczky1These sites are so much fun.  Some people like to go to youtube to fritter away the evening hours, and others like to surf online tax records.  The cool thing about Athens, though, is you get to do a tax search for local music celebs, like Michael Stipe and others.  You can also see how much your boss paid for her house, whether she refinanced, and how much she paid for the pool. Here are the links for online tax records in Athens/Clarke, Oconee, Madsion, Oglethorpe, and Jackson Counties.  

Have fun!  


Click the County, Get the Taxes

Athens/Clarke County

Oconee County

Madison County

Jackson County

Oglethorpe County

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joe_polaneczkyMan, you know you are from a different generation when your nine-year-old daughter has to remind you that November is National Blog Post Month (a.k.a NaBloPoMo).  And as I yell down to the den to ask her the name for the month, she has to inform me that it is now three days into November and I haven’t posted anything yet.  She truly leads the life of Ryan in a way I could never have imagined in my childhood as the youngest of nine children.  She has it soooo good!

NaBloPoMo is simply the month that bloggers, lame and heroic alike, commit to posting a blog a day (minimum) for a full month.  While I have already failed at that, I am announcing on this 3rd day of the month that I am going to attempt to be successful at this ambitious endeavor from here on out. 

Let’s be honest, I am probably not consistent enough to be a blogger at posting, but at least I try!  I was put on this earth to help people sell and buy real estate, not write a real estate blog (hopefully you don’t think I am being too serious there).  Some have said, “You haven’t posted in a while.  Aren’t you worried you will become irrelevant?  You put a lot of time into this end of marketing yourself…Why are you being so inconsistent with your blog posts?”  Well, they didn’t really say it exactly like that, but…

Here’s the truth.  All realtors are being bombarded in professional-type periodicals and to start blogs as a way of marketing one’s self to potential clients.  Fair enough.  That is kind of why I jumped on the blog bandwagon, but in the truest sense, I think my mission has always been a little purer than soft marketing, and each day I see this blog as less about where my standing is on activerain.com and more about being honest and forthright about just how challenging and pecuiliar the Athens Regional Market is to navigate.  And it is enjoyable.  If customers come out of it, so be it.  Dana, the tech guru, and I talk about the other RE bloggers here in Athens, and invariably we end on the same low note.  Lots of fluff and little guts.  Sorry.  It’s out there.  I said it.  And with that last comment comes the attendant responsibility to be a little more gutsy. 

I feel like every time I have to stop and consider who I might accidentally offend as a potential buyer or a potential seller is a moment that keeps me from being who I am.  Joe P., the Athens Real Estate Guy, who might or might not sell you a house or help you buy a house, but a guy, who will always lean toward listening to you and telling you his honest opinion rather than some concocted stance based on being desperate in business.  Seems the more honest I am in my personal life and in business, the more those two areas of my life improve.  Go figure.

In my past as a realtor and other professions, I have experienced too many times the urge to say something I don’t mean or agree with simply to generate business.  When it comes down to it, shouldn’t we conduct business in a way that reveals tact and personal constitution?  Align who you really are with the business you are involved in and success is bound to prevail.  And for crying out loud, the Athens Area is small, so be who you are…

And now on to the challenge:  A blog a day until November 30th.  Blogs from the heart but blogs that educate. 

See you on the other side, but what I would really love is to build a community this month, one that might last longer than these 27 days left in November.


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