How to Seal Your Real Estate Deal

You’re investing lots of time and mental energy into house hunting, and you don’t want all that to be for nothing.

Last week, we talked about some ways to know when to walk away from the real estate deal. This week, let’s flip the coin and look at some of the ways you can sweeten the deal to get your dream house. Read on to find out more!

You’ve done it; you’ve searched countless properties online and in person. You’ve weighed out the pros and cons, double checked your budget, gotten preapproved and now … you’ve finally found the perfect property! The problem is, if it’s a great house, in a great location, with a sweet price, then you might be up against some buyer competition.

Do a little research.

Find out why the seller is selling, if at all possible. Often, this is as simple as asking your realtor to relay your questions to the seller’s realtor. If they are highly motivated to sell because of a death in the family, a job transfer or divorce (for example), then you know you have some negotiating room. If they are certain they’ll get asking price and have all the time in the world to get their house sold, then you’ll have to shift your strategy. Also, find out what the seller’s least and most favorite aspects of the house are. Their answers might direct you to see how perfect the property is for your family, or they might give you reason to move on, plus add to your checklist of things to look out for during your house hunt.

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Compare this home (and the asking price) with other homes in the area.

Even if this is an amazing house, if it’s located in the heart of the city vs. in the middle of the country makes all the difference in price. Be very aware of the market values in all the places you’re searching; house prices can change from town to town. Again, this is something your realtor is well-equipped to help you figure out.

Offer asking price.

If the house clearly has some wiggle-room built into the asking price, then maybe offer a few thousand less. But, if it’s a great price and you’re certain you want the property, go ahead and offer asking price–or even a few thousand above. Your offer is possibly being weighed against other offers, so the more money the better, from a seller’s perspective. Your realtor will be able to help you determine how stiff your competition is, so you can come up with a strategy.

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Get pre-approved!

Your realtor has probably already advised you to do this. It protects you. You’re investing lots of time and mental energy into house hunting, and you don’t want all that to be for nothing because you find out you can’t secure a loan. But, the preapproval letter also communicates your level of seriousness to the seller. It says you’ve already taken steps toward buying a home. It also says the deal is less likely to fall through in beginning stages; you’re a buyer backed by money, so the seller is more likely to get paid quickly for their home and not have to wait around for the bank to approve the mortgage.
Good luck! And visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com for your East Tennessee realty needs.

 

When to Walk Away from the House

How do you know when it’s time to walk away from a real estate deal?

We’ve talked about a lot of considerations in buying a house, such as how to approach buying a house in busy months. But how do you know when it’s time to walk away from a real estate deal?

This article on Zillow gives a few great examples of when not to sign on the dotted line. Read on to hear our take on the subject:

The house appraises for below the contract price.

If it’s really your dream home, in your dream neighborhood, then maybe this doesn’t matter to you as much. But, it can cause a problem with your lender: they won’t want to put up more than the house is worth, so you might have to come to the deal with more cash in hand. If you get the sinking feeling that you’d be paying too much for the house, or if you just don’t have the extra money to pay up front, maybe this is a sign you should walk away from the house.

The house doesn’t pass inspection.

Sometimes, a seller will fail to disclose serious problems with things like the foundation, roof or electrical or plumbing systems. If they are willing to renegotiate the price of the house to accommodate fixing these things, or if they are willing to fix the problems before the signing date, then maybe this isn’t as big a deal. Some buyers still get a bad taste in their mouth when sellers fail to disclose big issues, though. It leaves them questioning: “What else aren’t they telling me about the house?”

If the seller isn’t willing to fix the problems or sell at a lower price to help you finance fixing them, this is definitely a good time to walk away. Again, the exception to this rule is if the house is your absolute dream house, and you’re willing and able to foot the bill for major renovations.

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Keep in mind, if you’ve already signed a contract agreeing to buy the house, you might have difficulty backing out of the deal. The above-mentioned reasons to walk away can be exceptions to this rule: most contracts will state that if the house doesn’t pass inspection or appraisal, the contract is no longer valid. Your realtor will help you navigate the legalities of this.

The house is almost good enough.

Before you put in an offer, think hard about what your gut tells you. Is it a nice house, but nowhere near where you actually wanted to live? Is it in a great neighborhood, but way too small for your family’s needs? Would it be an enormous effort to fix up, and you’re just not the DIY type? Many realtors adopt this philosophy: If it’s meant to be, it will be. Don’t settle for a house that makes you compromise too much. It’s normal to have cold feet before plunging into such a big investment, but if your gut is telling you the house isn’t right, then it isn’t right.

Your partner isn’t into it.

Kinda like the above reason, if your partner’s gut is telling them it isn’t right, then it isn’t! Even if the house checks all your boxes, if your partner doesn’t love it, the house might just become a sore topic for as long as you both live there. It’s just not worth signing on the dotted line if you’re not both on board.

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The house is out of your range.

You’ve already checked your finances and been pre-approved for a certain range. You’ve done your homework, and you know what your budget can bear, but … then you see your dream home, and it’s just out of reach. You could always offer below asking price and see what comes of it, but if you can’t get the house within your league, don’t make yourself house poor. It’s not worth the ulcer your future self will curse you for. Instead, hold out for something you can afford now, and save for a down payment for your future dream home. With the equity you build now, it could be within reach sooner than you think.

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As always, for any questions you might have about this article or other real estate needs in East Tennessee, contact Darlene Reeves-Kline!

Spring Festivals in East Tennessee

Once the warm weather starts, it’s officially festival season.

Now that spring is here, it’s time for one of the best parts of family life here in East Tennessee: the festivals! From car enthusiasts to artists, people around here love to get out for more than just hiking in the Smokies. Once the warm weather starts, it’s officially festival season. We’ve rounded up a few happening in the area. Read on to find out more:

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Morristown:

Annual Spring Thyme in the Garden

Located at the Rose Center

On Earth Day: April 22

Presented by the Garden Thyme Herb Society, this annual event is the perfect kickoff to the year’s gardening season! Buy your herbs, flowers and other plants, as well as yard art, signs, pottery and other art. There will be live music and food available, and more! Visit rosecenter.org for more information about this and other Rose Center events.

13th Annual Strawberry Festival

Located at 510 West Economy Road

This free community event features family friendly vendors, food and events, all geared toward celebrating the year’s strawberry harvest. Visit their website for more information.

Sevierville:

Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass

May 19 and 20

Do you enjoy live bluegrass music, world-class barbeque (seriously: this is a World Food Championship qualifier event!) and other fun festivities? Head to Sevierville this May! This year, Ricky Scaggs and Kentucky Thunder will be live on Saturday! Think you’ve got what it takes to win the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition? Then bring your pipes and your favorite Dolly Parton songs to sing. And don’t forget to try some amazing barbeque while you’re here. Click here for more information.

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Knoxville:

Dogwood Arts Festival

Located on Market Square

April 28-30

This one is a regional favorite, celebrating spring and the arts! It’s a beautiful combination. This festival has plenty to do for adults and children, with public art displays, cooking demonstrations, entertainment and activities for the family, and more! Check out the site for more information.

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Located at the old Candoro Marble Building in South Knoxville

Mother’s Day Weekend (May 13)

Music, art, food, hand-crafted goods and tons of history abound at this annual event. The Candoro Arts and Heritage Center was once central to the Tennessee Pink Marble industry—a fascinating subject all by itself! Whether you’re a mother or want to honor yours, this is a great event to share. Visit the website to find out more.

International Biscuit Festival

Market Square

May 20

You know you’re really in the south when you find a whole festival dedicated to biscuits. The $15 ticket pays for 5 separate biscuit samples, so come hungry and visit Biscuit Boulevard first thing! Visit the site to learn more.

Be sure to check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com if you’re looking to find (or sell!) your home in East Tennessee.

The Encore Theatre Company

Today we’re spotlighting a community of artists in our neck of the woods.

Enjoying life in East Tennessee isn’t just about relaxing and taking in the sights. Many people who choose to live here work hard to make it a better place for themselves, their neighbors and their children. The Volunteer State was Tennessee’s nickname long, long before The University of Tennessee was ever dreamed up, and for good reason! People here aren’t afraid of hard work, and there are many communities that set out to prove it. Today we’re spotlighting a community of artists in our neck of the woods that helps bring together those with a love of the dramatic arts.

The Lakeway Area is known for many things: farms, lakes (of course), being the “back door” to the Smokies. But a local group of artists wanted the area to be known for more than that. They noticed that more and more artists and creative people were going out of town to practice their craft, and this was dismaying. They had a mission to provide a supportive environment for established and aspiring actors. This group of visionaries became the Encore Theatrical Company.

They believe that the economic health of an area correlates directly with quality of life, and quality of life is intricately linked to the state of arts in the area. So, in 2006, they set about to improve the quality of life in the Lakeway Area for everyone, with a thriving arts scene!

The ETC offers live, local performances throughout the year, as well as classes and workshops for kids and adults. Find out more about their mission, performances and classes here.

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At the end of this month, ETC is performing a drama at the Rose Center in Morristown. Here’s the description of the play from ETC:

“Encore Theatrical Company’s newest play tells the story of a photojournalist and her war reporter boyfriend as they decide where to take their relationship after several tours of duty. From the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies, Time Stands Still is both funny and moving.

One of the masters of contemporary American theater brings us Time Stands Still. Donald Margulies’ outstanding script tells the story of Sarah, a photojournalist recuperating from a tour in the Middle East, and James, a foreign correspondent seeking a change of venue. Both are trying to find their happiness in a world that seems to have gone crazy. Telling tough stories about the world at large collides with the story they have to tell about themselves and their relationship to work and to each other. Now they face tough choices about their future. Can they live a conventional life and still keep a sense of right and wrong, not to mention their sanity?”

Performances will be on April 21-30 in Rose Center’s Prater Hall. You can order tickets at 423-318-8331 or find out more at etcplays.org. Don’t forget to check out Rose Center for more arts events and information.

Visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com if you’d like to learn more about relocating to the Lakeway Area.

Landscaping in East Tennessee

Planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to our area brings many benefits.

Spring is here! Dogwoods and redbuds are in bloom and flowers are popping up everywhere. This is an especially exciting time to be a new homeowner in East Tennessee, because you never know what beautiful plants you’ve inherited with your property until they show their pretty faces in the warm growing season!

If you’re getting inspired by our lovely, warm weather to spruce up your landscaping, consider these ideas:

Go Native!

Planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to our extremely biodiverse area brings many benefits. They are more likely to survive and thrive in our climate, since they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years. They are also more likely to attract the pollinators. Helping pollinators like bees and butterflies with habitat and food helps us, too. Bees and butterflies not only ensure the beauty and propagation of our lovely flowers, they play a big part in growing crops that we need to eat. Check this list for ideas on native plants for your grand landscaping plan.

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Buy From a Nursery

Going native doesn’t mean digging up from the woods. DON’T take plants from public land, like a national park. It’s illegal! If you have access to ferns, trees and other plants you think you’ll be able to successfully transplant on your property, then go for it. But if you’d like a little more help and even a little guarantee, go to your local nursery. Family-owned operations are likely to have great advice on what to plant where, and when. Some places (like Lowes) have guarantees on their plants, which means if you save your receipts and your plant dies within a year, you can take it back and get a replacement.

Think Big, But Start Small

Frederick Law Olmsted, when he designed the landscaping for the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, thought long-term. Like, really long term: he planted stands of trees that would take a hundred years to mature. He knew he’d never see his vision completely realized, but he understood the grandeur of his legacy. If you have an acre of land you’d like to landscape, you don’t necessarily need to think of how it will look to your great-grandchildren, but do pay attention to how things will look in the next few years.

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Ivy and other vines might grow out of control, swamping out other plants and slowly destroying your buildings if they are given free reign. Bamboo certainly goes rampant, requiring heavy mowing. And trees are high on the list of culprits behind unsafe foundations; the roots grow out as far as the canopy, undermining the safety of your home if they’re planted too close. Evergreens are a little safer; their root systems tend to head down instead of out. Even so, that sweet little sapling you plant this year might take off in our mild, plant-friendly climate and become a danger to your roof, sewer or foundation in as little as ten years!

Consider Goats

One of the pervasive problems in rural East Tennessee is the fast-growing, invasive vine: kudzu! The best way to get rid of it? Goats. They eat it right down to the roots.

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Interested in real estate in East Tennessee? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. Happy gardening!

Spring Buying Frenzy!

What can you do to alleviate some of the springtime house buying stress?

Spring is often perceived as the best time to buy a new home. The weather is getting sweeter, so prospective homebuyers are more willing to get out and about, checking out new neighborhoods. Plus, spring is one of the best times to showcase your home if you’re selling. The grass is growing, and trees and flowers are blooming. It’s when nature puts her best foot forward, which makes for some of the best curb appeal. Spring is also an ideal time to get set to move, because the kids will be out of school in just a handful of weeks (so you don’t have to pull them out mid-year, if you’re changing districts) and you’ll be getting ahead of all your summer vacation plans.

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Red Buds will start blooming soon!

But, trouble is, LOTS of homebuyers think springtime is great for buying a new home! That can make for some really frustrating situations for buyers who put in an offer on their ideal new home, only to see it bought out from under them. So, what can you do to alleviate some of the springtime buying stress?

We found this great article about the Spring Buying Frenzy! Read on for the tips we like the best:

  • You can always wait until the buying frenzy dies down. Still tour homes and watch the trends in real estate where you think you’d like to move. Doing this homework will help you feel like you are buying exactly what you want when your deal finally does go through.
  • You can bid up. Offer above selling price to make sure your dream house isn’t snatched up by someone else. This is especially true if your prospective home is a foreclosure. It’s probably being sold below appraisal, anyway, so knock out the competition with a high offer.
  • Get some local help! Your local realtor knows the market, and knows who to turn to for the fastest results and the best loans for your circumstance. Which leads me to the next point:
  • Get pre-approved by a local lender. Although you can get a legitimate online approval, that local name cues the seller that you’re serious, and your offer is more likely to be considered.
  • Practice stress management! Don’t get so caught up in the moment that you lose perspective of the big picture. Take a walk, get a massage, have a cup of herbal tea … whatever it takes to bring you back down from panic mode. It’s easier to make good decisions when you’re calm.

If it really, truly feels like the right home for you, make the offer! That’s good advice for any prospective homebuyer, any time of the year. Conversely, if you’re on the fence, if there’s something not quite right about the property or the location, then wait a few days. The old adage, “If it’s meant to be, it will be,” is probably truer in real estate than anywhere else. You’re better off waiting for the right house to come along than you are tying yourself up in a house that’s “just ok.”

If you have questions about your house-buying strategy, or about real estate in East Tennessee, please visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Uncommon Attractions

If your ideal vacation includes the road less traveled, read on to find out more!

If you’re considering a move to East Tennessee, or you’re a recent transplant, you might be looking around with the question, “What is there to do around here?” This blog has lots of suggestions for close-to-home attractions in the area, but sometimes you’re in the mood for a day trip.

You’re probably well aware of Tennessee’s popular tourist destinations. Dollywood and all the bright lights of Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, music galore in Nashville, Chattanooga’s #1 ranked outdoor adventure culture … all these might sound familiar to you.

But there are a few lesser-known attractions in our fair state. We checked out this page on TNVacation.com and pulled out a few. If your ideal vacation includes the road less traveled, read on to find out more!

Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend

825 Caverns Rd.
Townsend, TN 37882
Phone: 865-448-2274
Townsend is considered by many to be the “back door” to the Smokies. Its pace is much quieter, but there are a few cool attractions there. Like the Tuckaleechee Caverns! These caverns, nicknamed the “Greatest Site Under the Smokies,” are reported to be 20 to 30 million years old. You can take a guided tour to view these caves on lighted walkways. Check out the website to find out more.
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Back Door to the Smokies

Lost Sea in Sweetwater

140 Lost Sea Road
Sweetwater, TN 37874
Phone: 423-337-6616

Just in case you didn’t get enough of caves, Lost Sea in Sweetwater has you covered. The tour involves an underground boat-ride. If that doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what will! The tour takes about and hour and fifteen minutes, and you can hang out in “Old Sweetwater Village” to get your above-ground legs back after. Visit their website for details.

The Salt and Pepper Shaker and Smoky Mountain Spices in Gatlinburg

461 Brookside Village Way Winery Sq.
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Contact Email:

andrea@ludden.com

Phone:

865-430-5515

Toll-free:

20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers. There’s only one other place like it in the world: The Salt and Pepper Shaker sister museum in Spain! Give this place a try, even if you’re not a collector. The entertainment value might surprise you! To find out more, visit the website here.

Briarwood Ranch Safari Park in Bybee

A small, family-run affair, this drive-through safari is great entertainment for families with small kids. Though most of the time you’ll be in the car, collecting nose-prints on the windows from exotic beasts, there is an opportunity to get out at the end, to feed some of the animals, get a snack for yourself and let the kids play a little. It’s a cool opportunity to see exotic animals right here in East Tennessee! Check out the Facebook page to learn more: www.facebook.com/BriarwoodSafari.

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You don’t need a jeep for the drive-through safari!

These are only a few of the lesser-known attractions in our area. Tennessee is full of unique and creative characters, so be prepared to bump into unusual things during your visit!

As always, contact us if you want to find out more about real estate in East Tennessee! The website is DarleneReeves-Kline.com, and we’re always happy to answer your questions.