ASK THE REALTOR – Why should I have a home inspection?

Q:  We are about to purchase a home and have heard we should hire a professional home inspection company to inspect the house.  My husband is really handy and is an electrical contractor.  Do we really need to go to the expense or trouble to hire an inspector when he can probably just look at the house himself?


A:  Have you ever heard the saying, “two sets of eyes are better than one”?  A professional home inspection is an absolute must when purchasing a home.  Home inspectors are specially trained and licensed by the State of Tennessee in their field.  They look for items you would never even think of, and stay current on codes, safety items, and other issues that can be concerning for a home owner.  The average cost of a home inspector is only a few hundred dollars.  Most inspectors want you to be present during the inspection so that they can familiarize you with important details of your new home.  You can expect to receive a report that is typically 30-60 pages in length.  It will have corrective items they suggest, as well as where your water main turn off is, and other valuable information. Even if there is nothing you would like the seller to repair, the information about your home is an invaluable reference tool.  Keep in mind, the inspection is only an opinion, but the information priceless.  Call several inspectors, read reviews, ask friends and families for references before hiring the inspector of your choice. 

ASK THE REALTOR – Dreaming of building a home?

Q:  We have owned several homes in subdivisions.  We are thinking of building a home on a small piece of land and hoping to have minimal restrictions.  We have no idea where to begin. 


A:  Building a home is not for the faint of heart.  It can be a grueling, yet rewarding undertaking. Financing is key to fueling your dream of building a home.  Some builders will take a Cost Plus approach, others will build the home on their land, or yours, with a full mortgage purchase in the end.  When selecting your land you will need to have a survey, you will need to contact a Soil Engineer for a percolation test (if there is not city sewer hook ups at the street) to determine if and where a septic could go, and how many bedrooms the site is eligible for.  Septic is set up on bedroom count, just to clarify.  Sometimes city water is available at the street, if not, spring water or a well are other available options.  Many like a well to water their acreage, but want city water supplied to the home if it is available.  Tapping into existing utility lines can be several thousand dollars, as do well sites. Septic sites can be approach $10,000+ depending on the size and location.  You will then work with an architect and builder to design and construction the home of your dreams.  That process can take 6 months to a year depending on weather.  Always allow for extra cost and time to finish your project.

ASK THE REALTOR – 55+ Communities

Q:  Our children are grown and our grandchildren are young adults.  We have over 3,500 sq ft in our current home, and are considering scaling back quite a bit.  We are considering a 55+ type community but,  don’t know much about them.


A:  There are many different types of 55+ communities.  Some are exclusively 55+ with no one under that age permitted to live in the development.  Others allow a related individual, over the age of 18, to live on premises with the owner occupant that is 55+.  Your lot will be smaller than one in a typical subdivision, think patio home, or zero lot line, and many times the landscaping is included in your HOA dues. Floor plans are a little smaller, with fewer steps, and most rooms on the main level. The price of these homes are often times a little less than a traditional subdivision, but you can expect a moderate HOA fee monthly. Many 55+ communities have an extensive social network and a long list of regular activities.  Things you will typically see are walking trails, a clubhouse, fitness center and swimming pool.  It is a wonderful opportunity to live a full, independent life, yet have less upkeep on a home.

ASK THE REALTOR – Why do I need title insurance anyway…

Q:  We noticed the title insurance on our closing statement is the biggest cost involved. Do we really need title insurance? It seems so expensive.

A:  There are many reasons why you need title insurance to protect what is likely one of your largest assets. It is a one-time premium that protects you from errors in title (past and present) such as: errors in public records, illegal deeds, unknown liens, missing heirs, boundary/survey disputes/easements, forgeries, undiscovered wills, false impersonation of previous owners, and undiscovered encumbrances, just to name a few. A title search by a quality title company will give you the assurance you need to protect your investment. Although it may seem like a significant amount of money at closing, it is nominal in comparison to the risk you take by not having a solid title policy in place on your home.

ASK THE REALTOR – You don’t live there anymore…

Q:  We are about to put our house on the market. We have lived there for over 10 years and have several children, pets and all that comes with it. What should we do to get it ready to sell?


A:  The first thing you should do when preparing to sell your home is to have a conversation with yourself. You are now a ‘guest’ in your own home. You do not live there anymore. Someone else is going to be living in the house. What would a hotel room look like? A short-term apartment? That is what your home should look like. Remove most pictures from walls, heavy drapery from windows, knickknacks sitting on table tops, and extra chairs and tables. Organize your closets and pantry so that they look spacious. It needs to almost look like you aren’t living in the home. I can’t tell you how many times buyers have looked at me and said, “I don’t think they could be out of here in a month” because so many of the owners’ personal belongings still fill the home. Many buyers cannot imagine a home with their own furnishings in it because they can’t see beyond the current owners’ décor. You can look online for home staging ideas, your Realtor can assist you in deciding on what stays out and what should go away, or you can even hire a professional stager to give it the ultimate appeal to buyers. The rule to remember when you are decluttering to sell your home is: less is more.


Q:  We have heard something about tax savings if you own enough land in Tennessee. How do we find out more about that?


A:  The Greenbelt Law applies to 15+ acres of land used for one of the following: land producing $1,500 a year in agricultural income; land farmed by an immediate family member for the past 25 years; or whether the land was forested with the intent to someday sell some of the timber. There are other open space conditions that may also apply. You do have to apply for Greenbelt status on your property with your local tax assessor. It isn’t automatic. It is recalculated every 3–6 years, so please check with your local tax assessor’s office. Greenbelt status is a fantastic way to save significant tax dollars and preserve our beautiful Tennessee heritage!