Maybe you noticed. We had a large snowstorm come through on Friday. Hopefully by now you and your street are shoveled out. Many people remain stuck though. Help them if you can. Be neighborly.
There was plenty of advance warning that the storm was coming, but of course no one really knew just how much snow we would get. Most agents realized that showings on Saturday would be a waste of time, so if they were showing this weekend, they booked for Sunday.
But I had a home inspection scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Would we still have it? When I woke up Saturday morning I clearly wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We had 24 inches of snow in our yard and our street had not been plowed all evening. I emailed the home inspector at 7:30am and said that I expected we would reschedule. He responded almost immediately and said he was still planning on doing the inspection at 1:00pm and he would email me at noon to confirm.
What the heck? Dude, the Governor has closed all of the roads. How are you going to get there and where the heck are you going to park? I emailed him something to that effect, leaving out the “Dude,” of course. No response.
The buyer emailed me at 9:30am to find out what was going on. I was outside, shoveling. We chatted via phone after that and determined that we needed to tell the inspector that we weren’t going to the inspection on Saturday and that we really wanted to reschedule for Sunday at 9:00am. After some arm twisting, that seemed to work.
By the end of the day on Saturday, my street still was not plowed. I realized that I would be walking to my inspection on Sunday morning. It was just a little over a mile from my house and less than that for the buyer. They thought they would walk too.
It was a nice stroll. By morning my street was plowed. My walk was mostly in the street because sidewalks were sporadically cleared and it was just easier to stay in the street. Here is some of what I saw…
What’s worst than signs of a single in-ground oil tank? Thinking that there might be two in-ground oil tanks at the same property! I was beside myself as I saw this sight on the way into the home. Fortunately, once we got to the lower level we could see that there was actually basement space under the front porch (very unusual) and that these pipes fed the two tanks in that space. Whew!
Home inspection after home inspection reveals a few common problems with laundry areas. They’re not big problems, meaning that buyers usually don’t ask the seller to do anything about the issues, but a couple key things are flagged with surprising frequency.
1. Your washer should connect to the hot and cold water supply using steel braided hoses. The rubber hoses that are commonly observed are vulnerable to weakening over time and can potentially rupture.
2. You should turn off the water supply to your washer between uses. This is more of a precautionary suggestion just in case there is a failure within the washing machine itself. Water creates a really big mess, especially if there is important stuff below the leak.
3. Dryer vent ducts should take a direct and efficient route to the outside. Flexible vents should be used as little as possible, with 18 inches as an upper limit. Rigid metal ducting is preferred since it is smooth and will catch less lint, and is therefore less of a fire hazard. Even the rigid ducts should be as short and straight as possible, with horizontal runs sloping slightly downwards.
After hearing these same findings a bunch of times, I’m finally adding them to the list of projects that I should be working on in our home. We’re all set on the first two; we have the steel braided hoses and the ability to easily shut off the water supply. But it is time for me to revisit the dryer vent – we have a very long flexible duct. Tisk, tisk!
Well that stunk. January is in the books and it seemed really slow. It takes a couple days for agents to get all their negotiated contracts into the MLS, so we still don’t know just how much slower it was than recent years. Hopefully we can get that data up by the end of the week.
In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of the listings for the first month of the year. Overall, the number of listings was down 24% from last year. Looking back even further, the number of January listings for this year and the past few has been 702 (2011), 922 (2010), 845 (2009), 1099 (2008), 1129 (2007), and 984 (2006). Most individual towns showed a decrease in listings, but there were a few bright spots. My first reaction was that the more rural towns were more active than the denser urban towns, but I’m not sure that holds up under close scrutiny.
We actually don’t believe that the reduced activity points to the slowest year ever. There’s been a lot of snow this year. Well more than average, and it has consumed much more of people’s time and energy than during a usual January. We think that all the white stuff is postponing the spring market … but it will get here eventually. If I were a seller, I wouldn’t be in a rush to get my place on the market.
Buyers also seem to be taking their time because of the weather. It will be interesting to see what the contracts data tells us, but our anecdotal experience is that buyers are not in a rush. Some are concerned about doing a home inspection with all of this snow on the ground, while others just aren’t seeing any new listings that they like.
We placed a quick call to one of our favorite home inspectors to get their take on the weather. They said that the snow isn’t a big problem. Although it may interfere with some portions of an inspection (looking at the outside of a roof), it actually makes it easier to do other things (look for roof leaks in the attic). They felt it was essentially a wash and that buyers should still feel comfortable that the home inspection would give them a good sense of the overall condition of the home.
Well, off to shovel some more…