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Stephen Keohane's Advice

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Stephen Keohane wrote:

How often should you pump your septic tank?

Answer
Beware of doing it too frequent - if not needed.During a Title V inspection, the inspector is supposed to go into the local Board of Health (BOH) or equivalent office and search the records there - as to how frequent the waste disposal system was pumped. If a septic was pumped more than 1x in a year a "red flag" goes up. The next question - is there a leak in the tank?It used to be that the septic pumping companies had to provide a document to the local BOA every time they pumped a septic tank. But what if they hadn't?
February 16 2011
(1)

How can I increase the distance for coparable homes when making an estimate?

Answer
In the "good ole" days when values kept rising, lenders wanted competing / comparable sales that sold in the past 12 mo and were within a mile. That got dwindled down to 6 mo, and now they "dream of" sales that sold in the past 90 days.  That having been said, Usually it is important to target all your sales comps from within the same historic district or from a competing / comparable historic district neighborhood in the same town. Then as a last resort from within a similar neighborhood from a competing / comparable town or city.  They'll always want at least 1 sale from the subject's historic neighborhood even if you need to go back beyond a year.  Go back as far as you need to and just Explain, Explain and Explain.What is a competing / comparable neighborhood. For Andover you would likely have only 1 other alternative as Lawrence, Wilmington, Tewksbury and North Reading are different markets.  Even if a market adjustment is needed - if you absolutely can find nothing in Andover, search around in North Andover.It's important to remember that just because a home is an "historic home" or antique home, it doesn't always equate to higher value.  It depends where it is, and what are the present market conditions. Also, a huge home doesn't always sell higher than a smaller home.  What would you prefer? A huge home where a lot of money is needed to get it into Average condition. Or a smaller home that already is in Average condition?  That depends if it isn't "daddy warbucks" who is doing the buying I guess.
February 16 2011
(0)

Where does Zillow get the home square footage data?

Answer
When you get to condominiums, gross living area (GLA) gets even more "hairy" and muddled.  That's why, as an appraiser - brokers and homeowners should not be too shocked to see me actually quickly measure the insides of condominiums (not each room, just the interior dimensions from front to back & left to right).  Assessor records frequently just agree with the original architecture's GLA. Well, very frequently I've found that the local Assessor records incorrectly include in the GLA things such as a balcony or a deck - and sometimes even a finished basement or a storage area. Not long ago I did an appraisal for a sale on a 1-story garden-style condo in Melrose. My interior measurements came up with 602+ square feet (GLA). The MLS listing showed 710 square feet (GLA), and the assessor records also showed 710 square feet.  The architecture's 1985 drawing also showed 710 square feet. But the dimensions on that same drawing added up to 603 square feet - the same as I measured it to be.  From an appraiser's standpoint - since we are looking for "apples-to-apples" this large discrepancy of GLA required that I seek out all the architectural sketches for the comparable sales I used as well.  They too needed GLA square foot adjustments downwards. In general, I think this lack of attention to detail by most Assessors regarding condominiums GLA's (not so often with 1-4 family non-condo homes) is pretty well widespread in my North Shore market areas.
February 16 2011
(0)