The Nose Knows

noseToday I learned the hard way that I need to add one more thing to my official “Seller Do’s and Don’ts” manual.

Today we were out with buyers and walked into a home they had wanted to see. As we came through the front door we were assaulted (no, that is not over stating it) with an orange/citrus scent. It may have been one of those scented air filters or it may have been some over used air freshener. Whatever it was, I was only in the house about 10 minutes when my lungs began to feel like they were in a vise grip and it was imperative that I get outside for some fresh air. It was a little scary, frankly, and my lungs continued to feel constricted the rest of the day.

I have only a mild asthma condition and have never had a reaction to a scent like this in the past, but I clearly had one today. We all commented on the strong smell when we walked in, and luckily, no one else had a similar reaction. The buyers did say, though, that the strong scent made them wonder what the sellers were trying to cover up.

Years ago cologne companies thought it would be a great way to sell their product by putting scented advertising inserts in magazines. It backfired when consumers with chemical sensitivities and allergies to certain scents complained and quit buying their magazine.

The same idea applies when it comes to selling homes. A seller has no idea who is going to be walking through their door. Personally, I ask buyers a lot of questions when we start working together but I’ve never asked a client if they have allergies or any sensitivity to scents. I may start.

For me, the best scent for a house is no scent at all and the best way to neutralize a home is to avoid unpleasant odors by having a clean home. Indoor cats present a challenge of their own but there are remedies for that as well but that’s a blog for another day.

So my seller tip of the day is to lay off the room fresheners and that includes scented candles. Selling a home is hard enough as it is without sending potential buyers (and their agents) running for the door to get a breath of fresh air.

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The world and a two lane road.

This past week we took an overnight trip that involved several stops around Georgia, a night spent in Chattanooga, Tennessee, then back to Georgia the next morning. The trip had a purpose which we fulfilled, but along the way, we discovered an interesting irony.

Whenever we are on a road trip and whenever time allows we take a Robert Frost approach and try to find those roads less traveled. Speeding down an interstate might get you where you’re going a little faster, but besides the pure stress of interstate driving, think of all the things you miss as you go zooming by at 70 mph.

It hasn’t been that long ago that a road trip involved big, cumbersome paper maps that I could never refold correctly. Then we’d have to write down or remember which exits to take and which roads to follow. Today, it’s so much easier, providing you have the right app for that. We happened to load Map Quest on our iPad because it was free, but it’s proven to be the perfect traveling companion. Two years ago we took a round trip drive from Brevard, to St. Louis, to Chicago, to St. Paul and back again and the program got us every where we wanted to go without a single hiccup.

So again we put our faith in our iPad and turned the fate of our trip over to Map Quest as we headed south on SR 281. The early part of the trip, leaving North Carolina and getting into Georgia, is something we’ve done a number of times, but once we started getting further and further into Georgia, the more we relied on that pleasant voice to tell us when and where to turn. We got to Chattanooga just fine and when we prepared to leave the next morning, we popped the address of our next destination in Georgia into Map Quest and headed out. We had some idea of where we were going, but not exactly so we surrendered ourselves to our iPad and crossed our fingers that we would end up where we needed to be…eventually.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions we made on this trip. As we left Chattanooga it wasn’t long before we looked at each other and acknowledged that we had no idea where we were but it sure was pretty. We traveled for several hours on two-lane country roads that took us past old family farms, along a ridge with mountain views so stunning we pulled over and stopped to admire the sight, and through small towns that were no bigger than a blink. There were roads named for people we had never heard of, others that were designated historic and scenic, and some that barely had any name at all. There were tree lined roads with lush canopies and dappled light and rolling pasture land with bales of fresh cut hay. We saw century old gas stations with a neon “Open” sign that seemed to contradict the weathered gray wooden building, but reminded me of childhood summers spent in rural Louisiana. I wanted to stop just to see if any of them had an old chest cooler filled with Upper 10 and RC Cola.

We didn’t say much as we drove along. The songs of Allison Krauss and Trisha Yearwood provided the soundtrack of the day, interrupted only by the woman’s voice of Map Quest instructing us to turn here or there. The afternoon was as if we had been swooped up and transplanted back to a time when things were more simple. A time when a man’s word was as good as his handshake and families still gathered at the end of the day to share a supper with non-GMO vegetables and meat from animals who never saw a growth hormone. It was a time before anyone could conceive of evil anything like what we see today in ISIS. Preppers were just folks who knew how to put up food from the growing season and how to be self sustaining on the land. Kids played outside on swings, had dirt ball fights, played king of the hill, and knew to be home when the porch light came on. There was no such thing as being politically correct. It was a time when people talked to each other and they did it in more than 140 characters. There was no Twitter, no Facebook, no text messaging but there was community.

We arrived at our destination and our dreamy day’s drive came to an end. There was no way we could have routed our trip any better on our own. We could have poured over a crumpled up road map and tried to make heads or tails of the roads, but in the end it was technology that took us on this journey. How ironic that it took a free app and an electronic voice to remind us of life’s simple pleasures and the world as it is when you take the time to travel along a two lane road.

 

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Unlocking the Secret Code of Realtors

I’ve been working with a great young couple who have uncovered the secret code of Realtors.

They will be relocating to the Hendersonville, NC area and have taken a very active role in their search by doing a drive by on every home they want to see. Not only does this save me valuable time, it helps them understand the various communities so they can narrow in on exactly where they want to be. The fact that they are incredibly tech savvy and can find any location on their phone or Ipad…and get there… has been a bonus. When we go out to look at homes together, they have already scoped out the area and are ready to take a closer look.

Along the way they commented that they are learning to read between the lines and interpret the true meaning behind the words and phrases some Realtors employ when describing a property. Here are a few of the highlights that we’ve uncovered during several of their now famous drive bys:

“Serene pond” – Translation: Stagnant body of water. After one particular visit on their own, they described this “serene pond” to me in terms of the murky color, the strange smell, and the zombie fish moving slowing through the still water. We surmised that they were probably preserving their energy because of the lack of oxygen in the water which made us all kinda sad for the fish.ZombieFish

“Private wooded setting” – Translation: You better pack a lunch. If you live in an urban area, a “private wooded setting” may describe a property with some trees and something slightly more than a half an acre. Here in the mountains, it can mean something quite different and you better be prepared for anything. It could mean, just as it sounds, a nice home on a wooded lot surrounded by nature. Or, it might mean you better have 4WD and be able to navigate a steep gravel road deep into the woods where all the neighbors have four legs.

“Unique floor plan” – Translation: The opposite of open floor plan. I’m always leery of any description that includes the word “unique” unless it is accompanied by a picture to explain it. Otherwise, it leaves far too much to the imagination.

“Dine al dente” – Translation: ??. I actually saw this on a listing the other day.
If you are a fan of Italian food you probably already know that “al dente” describes the desired texture of cooked pasta. It literally means “to the tooth”. Perhaps this agent meant to say “al fresco” which means a casual form of dining outside. We may never know for certain, though.

“Creek on property” – Translation: There is some water on the property…somewhere. Finding land with a bold or even quietly babbling creek is a dream for many of our buyers…and I don’t blame them. It’s a very desirable feature. The question is “where” on the property. Is it by the building site or do you need repelling gear to get to it. If you are a buyer, this is where you really need an experienced agent who is willing to get their boots dirty helping you locate the creek.

My intention here is certainly not to disparage my fellow Realtors. When we list a property, it is our job to frame the home or land in the best possible light, highlighting the best features, minimizing the less desirable ones. You have to admit, though, that sometimes a property’s description and what it is in reality can vary drastically and that can set a buyer up for a heap of disappointment. It’s just one of the many reasons why you need the help of a knowledgeable, experienced agent who can translate the code for you and cut through the fluff.

Like this couple I’m working with, today’s buyers are more informed than ever and often know a lot about a property before we ever meet. But no third party web site like Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com can ever replace an agent who is experienced and knowledgable about the area where they do business.

If you are buying or selling a home or land and would like some help deciphering and navigating western North Carolina, give us a call. We are full time, professional Realtors proudly serving buyers and sellers in Brevard, Hendersonville, Pisgah Forest, Asheville, and all the great little mountain communities in between.let's go somewhere

 

July Market Update

Creeks

The headwaters of the East Fork River

Whether it is the mild summer we’re having or the price adjustments we’re seeing from sellers, the market here in the Brevard, NC area saw a nice rebound in home sales in July with across the board sales increases in all price categories. In July of 2014, 50 homes were sold in Transylvania County compared to 33 the same time last year. The bulk of the homes continue to sell in the $150,000 – $250,000 price range but we also saw an uptick in the number of homes sold in the $600,00+ range.

Land sales are up slightly over last year. The majority of the properties sold were in the range of $25,000-$50,000. If you are considering buying land in western North Carolina, your time is coming. We advise buyers to wait until the fall and early winter months to look at land for several reasons. It’s cooler which makes it more fun, but more importantly, once the leaves are down, it’s easier to see the terrain and the surroundings.

Aside from being one of the busiest real estate seasons we’ve had in a while, this summer has been all about the weather. After living in Florida for over 30 years, we clearly remember those hot humid days when it never seemed to get below 85 degrees even at 11 at night. In August, I rarely left the house unless I had to and the thought of living without air conditioning was out of the question. The sweltering heat and humidity of Florida is just one of the many reasons we relocated to the mountains of western North Carolina. By comparison, during the last week of July here in the mountains the average temperature during the day was in the high 70’s and the nights were in the 50’s. We haven’t had our air conditioning on for a month now. Friends who live in higher elevations even fired up their fireplaces on a few rainy days.

If you’d like to receive our monthly e- newsletter with more information about the Brevard, NC area and a more detailed market report, drop me a line at carol@clayteamrealestate.com and I’ll be glad to add you to our mailing list.