I know a number of folks in property transition at the moment. They are buying foreclosures to fix up for rent/resale, selling their home to downsize or looking to purchase a first home. They are fired up by reasonable mortgage race plus the overload of TV home improvement shows on everything from crashing a bath to the rocky realities of doing it yourself.
As a homeowner of many years, I know what a joy it is. I also know what a big, yawning, money-sucking pit it is. So a few friends and I came up with some helpful terminology – call it Realtor©-speak – to get them through the morass known as the home buying process. Hey, the American dream is to own your own place, your little patch of dirt with four walls, a roof and all the personal electronics you can stuff inside without causing a massive meltdown.
Here are some common phrases neophyte home buyers should know, and what they really mean:
- Cozy: Tiny, AKA Stupid Small.
- Eclectic : !&$#!* up floor plan.
- Whimsical: Paint scheme chosen by someone on acid trip.
- Needs TLC: It’s a dump.
- Handyman Special: Should be condemned.
- Historic: It’s a dump and huge and you can’t afford it.
- Historic Neighborhood: In the hood.
- Exclusive Neighborhood: Your neighbors are snobs.
- HOA: You can’t have a clothesline, a volleyball net or more than 1.75 cars in your driveway.
- Beautiful gardens: You will spend your life weeding.
- Perfect Starter Home: Previous owners lived here until the growing horde of children and pets made it uninhabitable. That carpet wasn’t brown originally.
- Established Neighborhood: All your neighbors have lived there for at least 50 years and will yell at your kids to stay off their lawns.
- Close to shopping: There’s a 7-Eleven right next door.
- Seasonal view: There’s a nudist colony next door.
- Waterfront property: Septic tank overflows often.
- Upgraded electric: Property previously used as a “grow house”.
- Roof in good condition – Only half the tiles were taken out by the last hurricane.
- Natural landscaping : The place hasn’t seen a weed whacker or a lawn mower since Moses parted the Red Sea.
- Stylish bathrooms: Pink tile, tub, toilet, and sink.
- Great curb appeal: Inside trashed beyond belief.
- Potential income property: Basement apartment has been rented out to tenant who cooked meth every night.
- Separate In-Law Cottage: Pop-up camper with flat tires.
- Price is firm: Owner lives in a fantasy world and believes their home exists in a world not touched by the economic downturn.
I’m reminded of how important this list is, since the house next to mine is vacant and up for sale – again. Twice it’s been rented out by the owners, who are nice people. But landlords they are not. We’ve had some decidedly unsatisfactory renters, including the father-and-son duo who partied like no one else on the block had to go to work (because apparently, they didn’t) and had a little side business stealing from neighbors’ garages for cash resale. So while it’s good to know that the foundation is sound, the walls straight and the pipes well-sealed, you also need to know that the house next door has several rooms of seventies-era wood paneling, the last tenants were heavy smokers (we could smell cigarettes when they opened a door or window), and nearly every room has white carpeting.
Other than that, come and take a look. Might be a bit of a fixer-upper, but for the right buyer (with patience and a healthy renovation budget) it’s a honey that’s worth the money. No lie.
- Looking for a Starter Home close the Waterway? (trentonrealestate.wordpress.com)
- Minimizing Risk of Non-Paying Tenants (incomepropertyblog.ca)
- The Little House on Prairie Avenue (abreakfastserial.com)