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 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!