Home Tour

In case you missed it, this past weekend was the Broad Ripple Home Tour. Thousands descended upon our neighborhood to take a peek into some of the best examples of Broad Ripple Real Estate we have to offer. The home adjacent to my own was one of 7 featured on the tour, and if their traffic was indicative of the tour on the whole, Saturday must have been a huge success! 

When our neighbors notified me that they would be featured on the tour, I was very excited for them. I was also mortified. Hundreds of people would be cycling through their backyard and looking in to ours. They are both recent retirees, no children, one cat. Their lawn is immaculate. Their landscaping is divine, Their garden is perfect. We have very large dogs, a very rambunctious 2 year old, and a lot of projects. Mortified is a good word.  

Long story short, I spent the last 3 weeks cleaning, scraping, and painting our garage, as well as pulling weeds, tossing trash, and generally just cleaning up. It made me think, what is your relationship like with your neighbor? Are you the one who could do a better job of keeping up on things? Do you find yourself wanting to mow your neighbor's yard for them? I would love to hear your feedback.

Goats!

I am going to take this post in a bit of a different direction. Last Summer, I built a coop and we added 4 chickens to our growing family. Within a week or two, our dog, Rocky, had busted through the coop and gotten ahold of one of the girls. She made it a couple more days before she eventually passed on. Our 3 hens weren't quite old enough to give us eggs, but they were growing a bit each day, and we could tell they were close. While I was out of town on business, a fox/raccoon/cat slid into the coop and slaughtered the remaining three hens. Thus ending our urban chicken experiment. The coop was recently turned in to a nice bench for our front porch, and the area it previously inhabited has been cleared out. 

Recently, a store called Agrarian opened up around 49th and College. It is sponsored by Naptown Chickens and features all the supplies necessary to keep your own urban homestead. With the popularity of Naptown Chickens, the Broad Ripple Farmers Market and the Slow Food Movement before them, and others, what other animals would you be alright with seeing in a back yard? I know that the owner of Patachou keeps goats, however, city code restricts much more than that. Horses, llamas, donkeys, etc... have certain lot requirements and pigs are strictly forbidden. What is your take? How would you feel about your backyard neighborhood keeping a pig as a pet? What about a mini-donkey or an alpaca? Let me know! 

Solar Panels

I am trying to get in the habit of posting early in the week, and I was just reading an article that got me thinking.

The author was discussing the recent trend of solar panels becoming customary on new home builds around the country. My first thought was, "Of course, if around the country means "California." 

All skepticism aside, this got the gears rolling in my head. I have been looking at properties to rehab over the last couple of months, and I have poured over different kitchen designs, landscape architecture, and the conversion of half baths to full. One thing that I haven't given much thought to: solar panels.  

There are certainly benefits to installing panels. New designs allow them to be integrated seamlessly into the roof of a home, the costs of installation are going down each year, and they can certainly help lower energy costs. However, I think the biggest benefit is that they add a certain amount of sex appeal to a home. In an age of green "this" and hybrid "that", it would be enjoyable to tell your friends and family, "Oh yeah, we actually produce about $150 a month of our own electricity." 

However, despite the price gradually decreasing, panels are still very expensive. With installation costs factored in, an average setup would take 5 years or so to earn back what you spent. If you don't plan on staying in the home at least 7-10 years, it really would not be worth it. Plus, if you are rehabbing a home, are you really going to recoup the money spent on panels at the sale of the home. Of course not. You might be able to recoup 40-50% of what you spent, but not much more.

I will put it to you. Would you install solar panels, if so under what conditions? Let's hear it folks!

Freshen Up in Fall

When the snow starts to melt and the days are a bit longer, you know that Spring has arrived. With it comes the inevitable weekend or two of completely landscaping overhaul. We plant gorgeous annuals, perennials, exotic shrubs, and we mulch the living heck out of that yard.

Most are able to keep up with the work throughout the Summer, with only a little bit of drop off through the dog days of July/August when the mercury tops 100. I believe that just as important as that initial work that is done in April, is the work that must be put in during November. Ideally, you will want your yard to look as identical to that first Saturday as possible. Every weed pulled, and every chunk of fescue fertilized. 

So often, by the end of the year we are tired of the work involved and we just "leave" the yard, assuming the snow will clean things out. When this is the case, the weeds go dormant like the grass, and the problem will arise again. Clear out everything, and tell yourself that you plan on taking a picture. This is just a little accountability piece that I have found works very well for me.

Maybe this is a bit of a metaphor for life. Who knows? Stuart Drake, dropping a little knowledge.

Did I Miss My Window?

There is a wide belief that the time to sell your house is in the Spring/Summer. If you put your house up on the market in November, it surely will not sell. While there is definitely some credence to the notion that the Spring season can help with home sales, you shouldn't feel that your home is a lost cause if you list it later in the year.

The first thing that you need to think about is your prospective buyer. If you live in a nice neighborhood with a 4 bedroom/2.5 bath home, it is likely that your buyer is going to be a family. A family usually centers it's schedule around the kids, and as such, is more likely to move during the summer before school starts. If they do choose to move during the school year, it will most likely be lateral (within the area). Personally, I live in a more urban setting, with smaller bungalows and young professionals. It is unlikely that a family a five will want to move in to my 2 bedroom home. The person that is buying my home is a recent grad, might have been renting the last couple of years, under 30, etc... I should not feel uncomfortable listing in October.

There are a myriad of issues to consider when deciding to sell your home. While the date is something to think about, it should not be a deal breaker!

Remodel Ideas

I will go ahead and preface this post a bit by giving a little back story to my weekend. Our neighbor two doors north had an open house yesterday. Naturally, I was interested and I decided to poach a few of their better ideas. Looking at their kitchen, it got me thinking about remodeling my own. Add to that, my wife recently spoke with another neighbor who is a contractor. This got us talking about what we would like to do.  

We have a very small space. I believe it is 10x8, but with three door ways and two windows, there just isn't a ton of space for kitchen necessities. We would like to cut a wall in half to open it up to the rest of the living space and minimize the confined nature of the room.

I want to pose two questions, and see if I can generate a bit of discussion.:

1. How do you feel about concrete countertops? They have a cost similar to granite (a bit less expensive), and in an area of younger buyers they offer a unique and contemporary feel. It would also be an interesting way to integrate the sink. 

2. Our home is 70+ years old. It has plaster walls, original doors, and a pair of arched walls. If we knocked down an archway to open up the living and dining room, would that be a negative as a potential buyer? 

I appreciate the feedback!

Back to School

After taking the summer off from posting, I think that now is an apt time to write about school systems and their effect on the housing market.

When the vast majority of families are searching for a new home, one of the first criteria that is mentioned is the school system. We want our children to be in an environment that is supportive of their needs and develops their skills as problem solvers. We also want to an area that "has a good reputation" and "easy resale." Inevitably, this is almost always linked back to the schools. 

Schools have the ability to raise the value of a neighborhood unlike anything else. With strong schools come parents who value education. These parents are typically more stable in both their employment and housing. With lower turnover in the market, demand increases. Forest Hills is a fantastic example of this. The neighborhood is relatively small, features established, pre-WWII homes, mature trees, and large lots. It also has access to several strong schools including both private and public options. There never seems to be more than 1-2 homes available in the area at any given time, and as a result, demand is extremely high. Without access to these schools, the market for Forest Hills would be diminished as raising a family would not be feasible.  

Starting to ramble...

Here is my point. When you are looking for your next home, please do your research on the schools in the area. Check the Department of Ed's website and review their test scores, high school and elementary school. Look at the trends over the last 5, 10, 15 years. As important as it is to make sure that you have 4 bedrooms, 2 and a half baths, and a chef's kitchen, I would posit that it is just as important to have a school system you can be proud of (I hope you can appreciate that joke: talking about strong schools and then ending my last sentence with a preposition.) 

Spring has sprung!

Spring has arrived! I am sure that anyone reading this has welcomed, with open arms, the beautiful warm weather and sunshine. As a matter of fact, my wife even got a sunburn from spending too much time outside! After a long hibernation through the winter, it is time for sidewalk chalk, kiddie pools, and basketball hoops.

So this brings up one of the most dreaded parts of home ownership, landscaping. A lot of us want to do something new to spruce up the curb appeal of our homes. Most of the time this means mulch, a few flowers, and an occasional shrub. I will offer two pieces of advice.

For the conservative...

Split mulch with your neighbors. I know it sounds really simple, and a lot of people already do it. I am putting this out there for all of us who buy 20 bags of mulch from the local big box store, make several trips back and forth, and finish the day with a strained back. This weekend we were sitting out back with our neighbors, and we tossed around the idea of splitting mulch. We hang out with our neighbors fairly often, but we do not take the time to speak with neighbors that are 3-4 doors down. I think that a simple act like splitting mulch is  a great way to save a little bit of money and help strengthen that bond between neighbors. When you have those relationships with the people who live around you, you are more vested in your property.

For the more adventurous...

Paint your door. Simple, I know. But, to make it pop, pick a bright (preferably primary) color. That means yellow, red, or blue. It will help to break up the monotony of the neighborhood and draw the eye to your house. The best part, you can always paint it back if it is awful. Try something new, be different. If you hate it (or your neighbors hate it), simply apply two coats of white paint and you are back to where you began. No harm, no foul.

Marott Park

69052178.jpg

With the weather breaking, more and more people are out exploring. I would hate to call Marott Park a "hidden gem," but in my 5 years in Broad Ripple it has come up in conversation exactly one time. I do not hang around with the most outdoorsy crowd, so for me the park is exactly that, hidden. Today, I had the opportunity to bike up the Monon, stop off at the park, and explore with our son, Tedy. He was absolutely thrilled. We through rocks in the creek, picked up sticks, sat on tree stumps, and ran down hills. I couldn't have been more proud watching my boy explore a felled tree.

It got me thinking. Why have I not been here more, and why is there no one else around me? It was a warm, albeit cloudy, morning, and there wasn't a soul anywhere near us. I would encourage all of us to take a few minutes and find a park nearby. Once you are there, you need not do a thing. Just sit. Take it in. Quiet can be a deafeningly beautiful thing.

First Post!

This is the first post, of what I intend to be a very active blog. I am fully aware that I am only writing to myself (and perhaps a few close friends), but my goal is to market myself well enough that this becomes a well-traveled website.

Since this is the first post, I think it is important to do some introductions, and perhaps give you a bit of background about myself. I am a native Hoosier, and I have called this beautiful state home my entire life. I received my degree from Indiana University, and I have resided in Broad Ripple for the past 5 years. I am married to my lovely wife, Kathy, and we have a son, Tedy.

After leaving college, I taught elementary school before moving on to a career in the non-profit sector. I worked as a fundraiser and volunteer recruiter/manager, and I developed a toolbox of skills that I think translate well. A few things I learned:

  • Communication is key. It is very easy to back off when communicating too much, it is much more difficult to ramp up when communicating to little.
  • Reach and Frequency. When marketing anything, you have to make sure you reach your target audience as often as possible.
  • Simple, but significant. Your message should be memorable and succinct.
  • They can only say, "No." You should know what is fair, and demand it during negotiations.

To help me with this new endeavor, I have teamed up with Bill Mitchell. He has close to 10 years of experience in the business coupled with 20 years of marketing experience at a Fortune 500 company. We can provide clients with a unique combination of passion, knowledge, expertise, and care.

I hope that you all continue to come back to the website to watch it develop. The listings page should continue to grow, please comment as you see fit, and I would love to receive any feedback you would be willing to offer. I look forward to hearing from you!