Happy 4th of July!!
This holiday seems to become more and more controversial every year, and this year the furor surrounding it has exponentially grown. I, however, love Independence Day in all it’s American glory. Hot dogs, sunscreen, family, flip flops and tank tops, parades, and especially fireworks.
An unpopular opinion these days, I know, but I just can’t help myself. Here’s why:
- They’re BEAUTIFUL! – Bright bursts of color against a black night sky? Yes, please! There is a reason they have been around for centuries, the wide range of chemicals that can be used to make stunning colors and shapes is an art form all to itself.
- You have to be there. – Fireworks are some of the hardest things to snap pictures of, so really the best way to enjoy them is to put down that camera and be fully in the moment.
- Americana, for me. – When I think America, a small part of me is drawn to the down-home, redneck, country element of my childhood. There is something about four-wheeling through open fields, county fairs with sketchy rides and handmade quilts, hunting weekends, Budweiser, and sitting on the porch watching guys blow things up that just feels like home. Bringing me to my next point….
- Displaced PYROMANIA. – I may have a small fascination with fire. As an element it is the all consumer, the ability to make something that was here, here no longer. Because of that, it absolutely terrifies me. So I like to let others do the lighting (preferably a professional), I just like to watch.
- Celebrations! – We don’t just shoot them off for no reason, duh! We are usually celebrating something spectacular: a wedding, a festival, the birth of a nation that began the push for modern democracy across the globe, no biggie.
- Fireworks are like bombs. – What!?!?!? Yep that’s a positive thing. We started using them to celebrate a victory because they looked like the explosions of war. We are a nation born out of a really cool idea and a whole lot of gun powder. Watching them, I am fully aware of their terrible power. I am reminded that this terrible power can destroy many things, tear families apart and leave a mess behind. But out of the ash of that destruction can rise amazing strength and and creation, just like our country has done more than once.
While I am aware that for some these “bombs bursting in air” can be really scary and a reminder of times they’d like to forget. For me and many, they are a reminder of those that have put themselves in harms way to protect us at home through all of American history. I think now more than ever we need fireworks, to remind us of the power we hold in the world and, like the bursts of color, how fleeting this all can be. So let’s enjoy them tomorrow for all the reasons we may have, be considerate and careful in how we set them off, and if someone is frightened, help them.
E Pluribus Unum, y’all.
If you have been paying the slightest big of attention to the Lexington housing market, you know we are in a steep Sellers’ Market. Great homes are selling within hours of hitting the internet, if not before. Mediocre homes, ones with small yards, basic flooring, minor flaws, are selling within 1-3 days. And on top of the quick timeline, often they are going at full or over asking price. What is causing this?
The nation as a whole is seeing a rise in home sales due mostly to the low interest rates that Buyers can take advantage of. Yesterday’s rates were at the lowest they have been since November, even with the Federal Reserve’s threat to raise them looming over our heads, it makes Buyers very confident. In Kentucky, there are several programs that, when paired with these great rates, are almost unbeatable for families in rural areas or with limited incomes. We are reaching the point now almost 10 years after the Great Recession, when we saw so many loose their homes to foreclosure, short sale, or bankruptcy, that folks are bouncing back. The prior issues have expired and they are now eligible to buy. Our baby boomers are downsizing, Gen-Xers are buying homes homes for growing families, and the Millennials are the largest group of home buyers out shopping today.
But the biggest reason Lexington is such a fast paced market is that we are feeling a huge population boom that we do not have housing for. In a recent study released by the Lexington-Layette County Urban Government it was found that over the next 10 years we need almost 22,000 more residences to house the expected population growth. (View the first draft here.) We have limited our city’s expansion with several programs such as the PDR Farms that are paid to protect the green space that makes our city so special. We have zoning rules that require any undeveloped or platted land must have 10 acres to build a home and in some places 40 acres. And ultimately we as Lexingtonians have almost a gag reflex when asked to consider living out-side our county, even just across the county line in the neighboring more rural communities. The city planners and powers that be are beginning to create a comprehensive plan for our city that will help to solve this housing crunch and release some of the boiling point pressure in our market. Until then if you are planning to buy a home in Lexington you better be prepared to offer high and fast to get most homes.
Yesterday was the first day of the Major League Baseball season, the Men’s NCAA Basketball Championships were last night (though I did not watch in protest to my Cats being bounced), this weekend the Masters begin at Augusta, as does Keeneland’s Spring Race Meet. Spring is a busy time for sports and Lexington seems to center many of its social occasions around them. But when you stop to think about it, in a sports focused community, why don’t we have any major league sports in the ENTIRE state of Kentucky?
At first glance it could be that our population couldn’t support one with our meager 4.5 million people. It could be that our rank of 47th wealthiest state per median household income can’t finance the stadium and upkeep that would be required. Or it could be this little game we like to call college basketball.
The state of Kentucky has 7 universities that have received bids to go to the NCAA Tournament. It was a grand total of 154 bids by Kentucky schools, including 2017. Complete List Here That’s a lot for a state of 4.5 million people. Universities of Kentucky and Louisville are ranked in the top 5 most profitable basketball programs in the nation year after year, often holding the the top spot. Games for both schools are major social occasions and family traditions that many in the state hold dear, passing down reserved seats through generations. Your CATS or CARDS fandoms are fierce battle lines in the state, but everyone supports the Murray State Racers when they earn a spot in the national spotlight. Because in Kentucky basketball is community and pride, it’s homegrown kids who bring positive recognition to our state. It’s a powerhouse of NBA stars who have called Lexington home and come back to visit. It is two coaches, Pitino and Calipari, who have fully embraced our state and it’s people (as proven by their horrid pizza and car commercials). If we had a professional team, it would be hard to love them quite as much as our college athletes that have come here to work hard and play a game they love.
(7 Universities that have received bids to the NCAA Tournament: Kentucky, Louisville, Western Kentucky, Murray State, Morehead, Eastern Kentucky, and Northern Kentucky)
Note: I didn’t include the Women’s teams, purely because this blog isn’t long enough to contain my love for both.
Yesterday was the first Sunday of Spring and I was busy, showing 10 houses in one day kind of busy. It wasn’t really planned like that, but with an out of town client with 1 day to find a home we had originally planned to see 6. The buyer fell in love with 1 and in the hour they took to eat some lunch, the sellers finished up a negotiation that had started on Saturday. So I had to start back at Square 1 to find more very similar homes in 20 minutes to show my buyers before they ended their only day in town.
I am telling you this story for a couple reasons. Yes, the market is a HOT Sellers’ Market. Yes, you can’t wait even for lunch to decide. But mostly it is to clearly show why even in this Sellers’ Market, you NEED a Realtor (You will not “save” money in the transaction because the seller doesn’t have to pay 2 agents commission, more on that another day). And not just because they know the market better than you ever can (because that’s what they do every single day) or just a negotiate and fill out the forms (because, again, that’s what they do every single day), but rather the fact that you are preparing to make one of the largest financial decisions of your life and choose the structure you and your family will call home for the foreseeable future. You need to focus on making the right choice, not spend your time driving around neighborhoods, scouring Zillow and Realtor.com, setting up appointments, making crazy schedules work with sellers to let you in, or wondering where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there.
My job, as a Realtor, is to make it easier for you to focus on the houses you like and work out the logistics of getting you into the right ones to make the best decision. I can give you information immediately about the home, how it compares to the others around it, and get answers to the questions you have about adding a garage or running gas lines for a gas stove. It will save you time in a market like we are experiencing. It will help you not overspend when you are emotionally excited about a property and forced to make fast decisions. Even if you’re not an out-of-town buyer on a time crunch and even have the internet savvy to find your own answers, having someone who works with homes on a day to day basis will save you time energy and money in the long run and make this an empowering experience that you will look back on positively.
One of the biggest foes any home can face is poor drainage around the foundation and with as much precipitation as Central Kentucky has had this past winter many of you are seeing the effects. Poor drainage can lead to many issues over the life of a home if not cared for properly and is an issue that comes up in many home inspections.
All homes have some sort of gutter system that funnels water into downspouts around the edges of the structure. These down spouts then empty out at the foundation/ground level, like in the picture above. The force and amount of the water at these points is much greater than other areas around the structure, which can lead to erosion of soil, break down of foundations, unnecessary settling of the house, leaky basements, wet crawl-spaces, and other various issues. So how do you prevent it?
1) Protect the ground where downspout empties with a Splash Guard. They can be plastic costing about $5-$10 at home improvement stores or you can opt for the longer lasting concrete ones that will run you about $25 each. These don’t get the water very far from your foundation but they do help and blend into your yard.
2) Get the water as far away from your foundation as possible. Most home improvement stores sell long extendable hoses that fit nicely onto the downspout end and you can direct them around your yard to get the best run off direction that you need. In the picture below, they are hiding them in the garden near the house. Probably will cost around $10-15 per hose, various colors and lengths. These may best for homes on hilly or sloped lots, but you will have to move them when you mow which can be a hassle.
3) The best of both worlds is to use the extendable tubes that connect to your downspout, but dig a trench and place the tube in the ground. Cover it and replace the grass or put a cute flower bed over it. Visually, no one will notice them. Lawn mowers won’t eat them up, and they will move the water away from your foundation and out into a better location for it to seep back into the ground. Just be sure to install them on a slight downhill slant so that gravity can to the work for you and you avoid back ups.
Bring it on April Showers!