Your home: I’ve got water in my basement!

water on windshieldWhether it is your first experience with water in your basement or not, the discovery is never fun. No one wants water in their basement. It is a royal pain.

That being said, I am confident that over half of the homes that I have encountered in our area have had water in the basement at some point. I used to know an inspector who would say, “There are two types of basements in Kansas City: those that have had water in them and those that will.” I don’t necessarily believe that to be true, yet the point is not lost on me.

Homes are a moving, shifting, and settling organism. They are constantly keeping you guessing. This is why homes that have never had a problem with water intrusion can all of a sudden have a water issue. Not only is your home in a constant state of change, more importantly the soil around it is as well. Here in lies our biggest regional challenge: expansive soil.

Expansive soil does just what it sounds like it would: it expands when water is added and it contracts when water is removed. The soil around your home can create opportunities for water intrusion, cause your foundation to shift and crack, and yet is completely manageable.

By manageable, I am speaking of the grading of the soil around your foundation. Proper grading should slope the soil around your home away from the home to carry ground water away from your foundation walls. This simple process is a must to maintain a dry basement. You should also monitor the soil right up against your foundation. During extremely dry seasons, the expansive soil in our region will contract and pull away from the foundation walls. You might have seen this around your home a couple of years ago. Essentially this contraction leaves a gap around your foundation. This gap then becomes a funnel during the first big Spring rain. And because water will always seek the path of least resistance, water will fill this gap (or funnel) and then find any little crack in your foundation to gain entrance to your home.

In most cases, homes that have water issues usually have a grading issue, a gutter and downspout issue, or a combination of the two.

Proper gutter cleaning and maintenance is just a way of life here in KC and is probably one of the most neglected projects that I see. Almost every home inspection that I have attended has mentioned either a buildup of leaves and debris in the gutters or that the downspouts dispense water right next to the foundation walls. Either way you are asking for trouble.

When gutters fill up with debris, you can experience the “water fall effect” when your gutters spill over with water creating a lovely waterfall look all around your home. This waterfall is allowing water to fall right next to your foundation walls instead of being carried away from the home as it is intended. Thus facilitating an opportunity for water intrusion.

When it comes to downspouts, most inspectors and drainage companies recommend that your downspouts be extended eight to ten feet away from your home before they dispense. You can also look at burying your downspouts as well and running them underground and away from your home. Usually the solution depends on the slope of your yard.

If you have suffered from a wet basement over the last couple of weeks, I would certainly start with evaluating your grading, gutters and downspouts. There are companies that specialize in drainage who could be good source of information as well.

One last thought: Please be careful when getting bids to water proof your basement. I say this because I have encountered numerous clients who have been sold a dry basement product (which cost thousands of dollars) and yet the cause of the water problem outside of the home was never addressed. I am not a foundation specialist. I have never claimed to be one. However, in my experience, a water problem solution is usually more simple than it appears and the solution should address the cause, not the symptom.

If you would like a referral for a drainage specialist or a foundation company, please feel free to email us. We are here to help.

Photo credit:
Andrew Basterfield on Flickr.com

Your home: A Shifting Market = Better Condition and Lower Prices

That’s right folks. The market shift is here. You have probably seen the signs already, no pun intended. Have you noticed more homes for sale recently? That is the first sign.

The second sign that it is not as easy to see is that the absorption rate, the number of homes selling per month, is slowing down. With inventory increasing, and the demand decreasing, the outcome is a shifting market. Currently we are following a pretty normal seasonal cycle. One in which the number of homes for sale increases for the majority of the rest of the year and median sales prices begin to drop slightly.

More competition equals more competitive pricing. Think of it this way. To be competitive a home should offer “more (features, space, upgrades) for the same price (as the competition), or the same for less.” This is what buyers expect in a more balanced market. More for the same, or the same for less. It makes perfect sense.

In-the-Market

As we look at condition in a more balanced market, a buyer’s forgiving nature tends to disappear when they have more options. The best time to sell a small home, an outdated home, or a home that suffers from functional obsolescence is when you have very little competition. As we shift into a more balanced market, buyers out there will pay close attention to their options and what they have to offer. Things about a home that would have been forgiven or overlooked earlier in the year, may now need to be addressed.

The market expectation of condition shifts very quickly. Remember that a new buyer is entering the market almost daily and they only have the homes that are currently available to compare. This is why on occasion I meet with a seller who says, “But my neighbor down the street sold just a couple of months ago and his house was nowhere near as updated as mine. And he had multiple offers.”

That could be absolutely true. Keep in mind, two months ago (in March) there were no homes for sale at all. The neighbor down the street capitalized on the fact that he had no competition. However, today’s buyer will only see what is actively for sale. Thus, a sold comparable from 60 days ago, when 60 days ago was the hot early Spring market, is not a fair comparison.

Please don’t read this column today and take from it that the market is not good anymore. Far from it. The market is still great. Just different. There in lies the magic and mystery of real estate. The market is constantly shifting, and it works well for everyone, as long as you play by its rules.

If you are planning to sell this year, here are some things to consider:

  • 1. More for the same, or the same for less. This simple sentence will prevent you from over pricing in any market.
  • 2. As the market continues to shift, we are in a price war and a beauty contest. A little more time and money spent on conditioning your home for sale could go a long way.
  • 3. To sell quickly, price your home at or slightly below fair market value. If you price your home too high, you may end up chasing the market by making price adjustment after price adjustment.
  • 4. You are only new once, and for a very short period of time. Make sure that all condition challenges have been met and you are priced right on day one. Don’t let one buyer see your home until it is perfectly positioned for the market.