I’ve Got a Guy

Painter“Do you have an electrician that you can recommend? How about a plumber? Floor refinisher? Painter? Kitchen designer? Landscaper?”

A peppering of questions came from a buyer client this past weekend. They’re looking to buy a place that needs some work and feel somewhat overwhelmed by the number of contractors they need to find and hire.

Well, let me tell you, I’ve got a guy. In fact, I’ve got a lot of guys. They live in a spreadsheet on my computer, organized nicely by category, with little notes I’ve made about each of them. Who’s responsive, who’s reasonable, who’s nice and who’s gruff. Sometimes guys get added to the list and sometimes they get taken off the list. Sometimes they get reprioritized. Sometimes, imagine this, they’re girls!

If you’d like to be on my “I’ve Got a Guy” list, you need to have your act together. You need to do good work, be reasonable and responsive, and care about your clients as much as I care about mine.

I’ve got a guy for just about everything, so if you need someone, just ask and I’m happy to pass along their information. And if you’re a guy, or girl, that would like to be added to my “I’ve Got a Guy” list, let’s chat about how you could help my clients. I’m always looking for good contacts.

Winter: For Reals

2015-01-04 Winter

Today is sort of messy, but we’re about to have a blast of real winter. The local forecast calls for lows close to zero on Wednesday night of this week. Highs on Thursday are only expected to make it up to the teens. That’s some seriously cold weather for Greater Hartford.

Take a minute to make sure your home is ready. Check your heating oil level and call for a fill up if needed. Double check your outdoor spigots to make sure the water supply is off and the line is drained. Bleed your radiators to get all the air our of the system. Make sure your firewood, or pellets, are easily accessible if you use a stove for extra heat.

Stay warm, and take the appropriate precautions.

Removing Graffiti

Some graffiti is interesting, thought provoking, and requires talent – it’s a form of art.

We don’t find artwork on the silver MDC box in our front yard. No, the tags we regularly see are just vandalism. For a while there was an individual called “Shot One” who marked up our box, and other boxes in the area. Not sure what happened to him, but now there is a new tag that I have yet to decipher.

MDC Box - Before

Rather than putting in another request via See Click Fix to have the City come deal with it, I took a ride down to the home improvement super center to investigate my options. They had two products advertised for graffiti removal, so I got one of each to see how they would work.

First up was Mostenbocker’s Lift Off Spray Paint Graffiti Remover. It did a very nice job. I sprayed it onto the box and the paint started to dissolve almost immediately. It was very easy to wipe the paint off with a rag. It worked so well, in fact, that it began to remove the silver paint that had been used to cover the previous tag.

MDC Box - After

The next step in our anti-graffiti effort is to continue treating the older paint to see if it can all be removed down to the original finish.

The Rising Bar of Move-In Ready

Nice homes are always in demand in Greater Hartford. Despite what we hear reported about a wholesale exodus from the state, fully updated properties tend to sell. There are people who want to live in this area, and many of those people would prefer to buy a home in which they don’t have to make many repairs.

LovelyHomeWe recently wrote about a decrease in buyer demand in core price points. The buyer pool doesn’t seem to be quite as deep as it has been in past years. One of the consequences of this trend is that buyers are able to be more selective in the homes they pursue. What qualified as move-in ready as recently as last year is no longer good enough. Today’s buyers want a home to be perfect. Done. Literally just unpack their suitcases.

I’ve heard a surprising number of stories from agents this year about how their buyer clients couldn’t get over trivial “problems” with a home. As an extreme example, someone told me a home was ruled out because of the paint color of one of the rooms. Really?!? Painting a wall is as basic as it gets. Everything else was fine, but the bright pink master bedroom was a dealbreaker? On a related subject, someone with essentially zero tolerance for repairs shouldn’t be buying a home.

Homes are large and complicated structures with many systems working together. Only a small percentage of the properties that are listed for sale can be considered move-in ready. Buyers are even more picky this spring than they have been in the recent past, setting the move-in ready bar extremely high.

What Kind of Home Do You Want?

Some buyers set out to find a Complete and Total Disaster when they are shopping for a new home. Is that what you’re looking for? Because we come across them periodically and can point you in the right direction.

Houses that are for sale

Most buyers don’t want to do quite that much work on their new home, so they stick to the upper half of the quality chart shown above. The real challenge is knowing whether the home you like is actually move-in ready or if the seller has spiffed up the most visible areas to try to trick you.

My personal favorite home type is the Time Warp. These homes are often single-owner properties that have been loved for decades. The owners took extra good care of them – replacing the mechanical systems as needed and doing all the annual maintenance. But what they haven’t done is modernize. Everything is original, making it seem like you’re walking through the set of a TV show.

Most homes fall somewhere in the middle of the chart. Owners have done an okay job of maintaining the property, and maybe they updated the kitchen, or a bathroom, or whatever at some point along the way. Other parts of the home will need attention sooner rather than later. Buyers have to sort through the pros and cons to figure out if the place will work for them.

One of the first steps in a home search is figuring out what you hope to find. And for most, that involves trade-offs between size, price and the types of repairs you’re willing to take on.