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What, what, WHAAAT? There’s yucky stuff in home ownership, Jules?

How could that possible be?

One of the pitfalls into the money pit that CAN be historic homeownership is the sewer line, the mother of all yucky stuff. Anyone who knows me knows that I LURRVE old houses. Along with that love comes a price to pay. I bought my house for a veritable song, so little that I won’t even bother telling you how much (but did you know that it’s a matter of public record?). I knew when I acquired the old gal that lots of work was going to be needed to bring her back to her former glory. What I didn’t know was that, lurking beneath the weed infested lawn, was an insidious force that was going to cost me $5,000 more than I thought.

A broken sewer line.

Was the sewer system/line working when I bought the house? Sure it was. Of course, no one had lived there in a few months so any slow or backed up lines wouldn’t have been apparent anyway.  The sewer line wasn’t actually broken to the point of disconnection, just enough that one part of the break was offset from the other part. Could it still have functioned that way? Absolutely, at least for a while.  But do you really want a monster lurking in your front yard ready to announce itself with sewage in your bathtub? I thought not.

Here’s the thing about a lot of these old houses in Highland Park, St. Elmo & North Chattanooga: many of them got some of the first sewer lines ever installed in Hamilton county. And they are quickly nearing the end of their useful lives. They might even already be broken or cracked and offset like mine was. The only way to tell is to have a camera run through the line. And that’s NOT something that your home inspector is going to do. It’s going to cost you another couple hundred bucks to have it done. If you are planning on a renovation that includes plumbing work, the city inspector is going to want to see that riveting footage before he signs off on the final inspection anyway. So you might as well get it done now when you still got the chance to ask the seller to pay for the repair if necessary.

Take it from someone who knows – you don’t want to add $5,000 to your renovation budget three days after you close. You should save until at least the next week.

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Julia Odom enjoys long walks on the beach, debating the restoration vs. renovation question and hanging out with plumbing inspectors

Visit her website to search for homes.

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These stats are pulled from the 37421 & 37363 ZIP codes

All Ooltewah & East Brainerd Residential Real Estate Sales through the Chattanooga MLS

All active listings as of 11/5/09: 720

Pending or contingent listings (under contract) as of 11/5/09: 155

Residential listings closed (sold) during October 2009: 76

Number of months to sell current actives at October’s sales pace: 9.5

Under $100,000

Active, residential listings: 29

Pending or contingent listings: 9

Residential listings closed during October 2009: 7

Number of months to sell current actives at October’s sales pace: 4.1

$100,000-200,000

Active, residential listings: 266

Pending or contingent listings: 77

Residential listings closed during October 2009: 43

Number of months to sell current actives at October’s sales pace: 6.2

$200,000-400,000

Active, residential listings: 315

Pending or contingent listings: 60

Residential listings closed during October 2009: 23

Number of months to sell current actives at October’s sales pace: 13.7

Over $400,000

Active, residential listings: 110

Pending or contingent listings: 9

Residential listings closed during October 2009: 3

Number of months to sell current actives at October’s sales pace: 36.7

What does all of this mean? It’s been pretty hard to find anything for less than about $125k in this area for a while now and that shows in the 4.1 month supply of homes for under $100k. When something comes on the market it gets scooped up pretty quickly. Even going up to $200k, there’s still only a 6 month supply. Of course, there’s a disproportionate number of upscale and luxury homes in this area so you would expect it to be a little depressed given the state of the luxury real estate market in Chattanooga/Hamilton County. The upper end here is actually faring a little better than the rest of the area with a 37 month supply. Not great, but hey, I’m a glass half full kinda gal.

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With foreclosures and other ‘distressed’ sales abounding these days you see a lot of listings with two little bitty words: AS IS

As Is StampSo what does AS IS mean, Jules?

It means that the seller doesn’t want to hear you (or actually me, your agent) whine about all the little things that are wrong with the place. It means that they have no intention of fixing anything. It means that you know you’re buying this house, warts and all, and you aren’t going to come back to the seller after the fact and say that it’s their fault you didn’t know about the warts. It means buyer be wary.

Well then, what doesn’t AS IS mean?

It doesn’t mean that there’s something horrifying lurking behind the drywall (although there could be). It doesn’t mean that you have to go through with the transaction if you find Jimmy Hoffa’s body in the basement structural or mechanical problems with the house – you can still ask for and in almost all cases will be granted an inspection contingency. It doesn’t mean that this is a bad house.

So if you find that your dream home is for sale as is, don’t be scared but do be aware.

Contact me for more information about anything you see on this blog.

Visit my website to search for homes.

Subscribe to my blog to stay updated on Chattanooga homes for sale,

real estate news and community interest.

Do you have a Chattanooga area image you’d like to share (credit given)

or a community event to promote?

Email me the details: Julia@JuliaOdom.com

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Should you buy a house that needs repairs?

Short answer: No

Long answer: It depends

Should I buy a wreckLonger than you want to hear answer: I often work with buyers who are seduced by the siren song of the house that needs a lot of work. ‘Lot of work’ means different things to different people. A couple of weeks ago I showed a house that needed carpet, paint and a couple of trim pieces replaced. Her thoughts on the place: It needs a lot of work. My thoughts: God help the person who thinks this house needs a lot of work, because that person doesn’t EVEN KNOW ‘lot of work.’

And then there are the people who call me up to look at a particular home for sale and I tell them, ‘This one is going to need a lot of work.’ Because I’m thinking in terms of making this house top notch. And then they show up and say, ‘This doesn’t need much work.’ Because they are thinking in terms of just being able to move in without the floors falling in.

So how do I know what I should do, Jules?

Ask me. I’ll be happy to give you an opinion. With that and two quarters you could probably buy yourself a phone call (they cost more than one quarter these days).

You need to ask yourself these questions:

1. Can I get financing as is?

Because this alone is a total show stopper.

2. What are my goals for this house?

Am I going to live here the rest of my life, the rest of this year, or do I want to fix & sell?

3. What am I willing to live with?

Do I want top notch granite counter tops (or whatever is top notch in counters this year) or am I happy with the existing decor/state of the caulk?

4. What is my budget?

Do I think that I’m going to spend $500 on paint and carpet or do I have an $80,000 renovation in mind?

5. How good a deal am I getting?

AKA, if I have to spend $20,000 instead of the $2,200 that I had in mind, will I get it back when I go to sell?

6. Am I really the handy man/woman that I think I am?

What kind of follow through would my mother say that I possess? If she were answering honestly.

Have you thought long and hard about each and every one of those questions? And do you still think you want a house that needs A. Lot. of. Work?

More power to you. Give me a call. I love these houses. I might even help you work on it. Free of charge. Just because I love them so much.

Not really.

OK… maybe.

Not really.

OK… maybe, if you ask reeeeeeeeeaaaaallllll nice and paint things the colors I think they should be painted…

Contact me for more information about anything you see on this blog.

Visit my website to search for homes.

Subscribe to my blog to stay updated on Chattanooga homes for sale,

real estate news and community interest.

Do you have a Chattanooga area image you’d like to share (credit given)

or a community event to promote?

Email me the details: Julia@JuliaOdom.com

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