The One “Perfect House” Feature Missing from the List of 9
It has been largely unchallenged since its debut in 2014: the list of nine elements that make up the “perfect” house. Originally formulated for a Houselogic feature by builder John Riha, the nine features that comprise an “ideal” house make a more meaningful list than most similar compilations. It can serve a thought-provoking checklist for house hunters weighing today’s Fenwick Island, DE offerings—if for no other reason than deciding which listed items are personal priorities. The nine (with a few of my parenthetical asides):
1. Single level (unless there is a killer view from a higher floor)
2. Nine-Foot Ceilings (except in grand rooms)
3. Southern Exposure
4. Outdoor Living Spaces
5. Maximized Insulation
6. Separate Master Bedroom (understood to mean“suite”)
7. Low-Maintenance Siding (for practicality, certainly—but aesthetically, maybe not)
8. Great Storage (absolutely!)
9. Ergonomic Touches.
Author Riha cheated, though, by adding as a postscript an unnumbered 10th feature. It’s one that I agree with (and I bet most Fenwick Island, DE house hunters will, too). The extra element for the perfect Fenwick Island, DE house is an “intangible” dimension—defined as the quirks that provide individuality and personality. They serve to “keep a house from being cookie-cutter.”
- Written by Jimmie Bachand
Showing a Frankford Property Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Occupied or Not, it's a Balan
In a perfect world, before you set about selling your Frankford property you would have emptied it of all evidence of human habitation, called in the best staging pros on the planet, and set off to vacation in a Caribbean island spa-hotel so you could sift through the dozens of offers in comfort.
“Let’s see,” you would soon be musing to no one in particular, sipping your first mimosa of the afternoon as you thumbed through the sheaf of faxes from your Frankford agent; “should I accept this all-cash offer for 150% of comparable value—or hold out for this one for 200% of comp that came in with only 50% earnest money…?”
It is here where we might best depart from this reverie to point out that in this less than perfect world—the one that we actually live in—the more probable situation is one where your Frankford property is fully occupied, either by your own family or a tenant.
How do you make the most of that mimosaless situation? If you and your family are the occupants, your Frankford property fits the most common profile, so the standard to-do’s apply: you will want to clear the clutter and store any non-essential furnishings; de-personalize as much as practical; deep clean; and work with your agent to make showings as routine as possible.
But what if you have a tenant? It’s going to be a true balancing act that affects four parties: seller, listing agent, tenant, and buyer. Of these, the one with the least to gain is the tenant, who is paying for the privilege of tenancy while being asked to keep the property clean and showable on the others’ schedules.
Let’s face it: this could be a minefield. Almost any tenant’s interests lie elsewhere. In fact, they may very well like your Frankford property so much they would just as soon discourage prospective buyers—and there are subtle (and less-subtle) ways to go about that!
One solution that is sometimes offered involves this creative procedure:
Compensate the tenant for their cooperation by offering a significant bounty (say, 20% of the monthly rent) to be placed in an escrow account. It’s a meaningful award for the tenant’s full cooperation—one that will grow with the payment of each month’s rent. It will be turned over upon the completion of the sale. This ingenious plan has the effect of reversing the natural order of things. Since the amount in escrow grows with each passing month, rather than becoming increasingly annoyed with each ensuing showing, the tenant is increasingly incentivized to make the property ever more appealing. There’s cash on the line! In fact, as the escrow account builds, who’s to say the tenant won’t start doing some arithmetic…and start considering becoming the buyer himself…???
In any case, the best results for selling your Frankford property happen when there is rock-solid communication between the listing agent and owner—and when a tenant is involved, that’s another party who should be included as well. It’s the best way to insure that everyone can go about their business with a minimum of disruption and inconvenience.
- Written by Russell Stucki
Four Foolproof Steps to Increasing Your Frankford Property's V
As soon as you decide that you will be putting your Frankford property up for sale—whether soon or at some point in the foreseeable future—it’s also time to get strategic about growing your property's value—starting with a generous dollop of objectivity.
The difficulty stems from a truth about how everybody perceives much of their property’s value. We escape from hurly-burly of daily living by retreating to the comfortable confines of our home—our place. A good part of its value to us and to our family is its sheer familiarity—the “hominess” that makes it our personal haven. But some of the very things that make it so comfortable to us will be off-putting to outsiders—and they are the prospective buyers.
Our great leather easy chair (the dark brown one that’s gotten a few shades lighter where we sit, and a little off-color where the spills happened) may look a bit peaked to the untrained eye, but it’s been that way for years: who cares? The back door needs to be bolted to stay shut…we do that without even thinking about it—hardly an issue! The sofa may sag, but it sags exactly right (for us)! The bathroom window that’s sort of stuck (okay, maybe it’s painted shut)…etc. etc. etc.
Professionals are of one voice about the real value you add to a property when you go to the trouble of systematically depersonalizing it. It helps to approach doing that seriously and deliberately—to tackle it in an organized manner. There are any number of ways to go about that, but here is one way that will pay off:
Make a list. Starting from one end of your Frankford property, note with pencil and paper every nit-picky detail that is other than what you would expect to find if it were a brand new home. This is not as easy as most people assume, because there will be such a great number of details, that
a) it will be very tempting to start skipping some of the minor ones, and
b) you will find it hard to resist the urge to start fixing the easy ones as you go along (don’t do it: you’ll derail the list-making!)
After a decent interval, sit down with the list and re-classify each item into an Easy Self-Fix List and a Professional-Attention-Needed List.
Step 3 Get bids from the appropriate Frankford professional tradespeople, calculate which fit your budget, then schedule the work.
Step 4 Get started on your own endeavors to address the Easy Self-Fix List. You’ll be able to organize your own efforts to finish up about two weeks after the last of the tradespeople are scheduled to finish their projects (a two week grace period is realistic: you are aiming to finish everything about the same time).
- Written by Russell Stucki
Title Issues to Examine before Decisions are Made
When it comes to making legal distinctions, the ones connected with buying and selling Frankford houses have lasting consequences—so it’s important that they be the intentional kind. Although Three Dog Night might have sincerely believed that One is the Loneliest Number—that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to the title of an Frankford home.
The majority of Frankford houses are purchased by married couples. Families that remain intact can make property title issues relatively straightforward. But as the second half of the 20th century progressed, the culture became more accepting of people living together prior to marriage. Because of its impact on how people—especially couples—apply for home loans and refinances, the matter of legal title more often came into play.
I don’t offer legal advice, so will simply point out that there are key differences when you hear terms like Tenants in Common, Tenants by the Entirety, or Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship. Being aware of those distinctions will allow future homeowners to choose which form will serve them best. Couples—especially those expecting to be married down the road—need to consider how things might change should they decide to refinance. It can make a difference if, for instance, a co-signer should later be required. When a Frankford homeowner refinances and adds a spouse who was not named on the original mortgage, the spouse may be added to the title or deed. Those and other changes to a property’s title then has tax implications. Married couples may acquire title automatically through Tenancy by Entirety, as well as through rights of survivorship.
The key is to understand the implication of single and joint ownership. In the event of divorce, as with any material change, other rules may apply, too—which is another reason to recommend a consultation with counsel to clarify all related issues.
It’s always an exciting moment when you are about to take on the ownership of a home—certainly cause for celebration. Yet it’s also important to have an honest discussion with your spouse in order to put any existing issues on the table. It's amazing how many couples embark on home ownership (or refinancing) while dealing with significant relational issues. Some meet the issue by drafting a legal agreement that lays out what will happen with the property depending upon specified contingencies. Such agreements won’t carry weight with a mortgage company to effect removal of a person's name from a mortgage in the case of divorce—in most cases, a home would have to be refinanced again to remove a spouse's name from a mortgage.
- Written by Russell Stucki