Thursday, November 8, 2007

It’s Hard to Show the Unhandy-Andy, Weasley Burrow!

As a Realtor, showing homes can sometimes be more of an adventure than others. This past summer, I had a wonderful family of clients looking for a hobby farm so they would no longer have to board their horses. They wanted to be located near the schools and employment in the Twin Cities, needed a minimum of 5 acres and the ability to keep at least 2 horses on the property. Age and condition of the home were secondary considerations as long as it was in the price range and met the three main criteria.

So we began the journey! We scoped out homes from Scandia to North Branch! We trekked all over Washington, Anoka and Chisago Counties and checked out properties from Linwood to Stacy, even a few in northern Ham Lake and East Bethel.

On one such adventure, we visited a home that sounded in the MLS like a real find. A 1998 built split level home with a 3 car garage, 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, and a mother-in-law apartment. Pulling up to the home, we noted the unique layout…A standard split level home was enhanced with an additional third garage stall and an apartment above. Since the home was a walkout, the third stall was at a lower elevation than the other two. It was unusual but not concerning.

Entering the main front door, the home did appear to be a standard 2 bedrooms up and two bedrooms down split but that is where the normalcy ended. The upper level deck was an obviously-abandoned, work-in-progress, missing railings and several floor boards. When you walked through the two car garage of the main home, there was a service door that lead to a long dark hallway. If you took a sharp right, you would fall down steep stairs. We headed straight and went into a weirdly designed mother-in-law apartment complete with swinging saloon-style doors to gate off the kitchen and fake parquet inlayed floors. At this point, I turned to my sellers and stated, "Oh my gosh, we are in the Weasley house!"
Okay, maybe it was because I had just stayed up several nights in a row to finish the final installment of Harry Potter but this home hit me as a knock off of
the Burrow. If the Potter Series is only in film version in your mind, you might miss the analogy as the Weasley home only makes a quick appearance in one film. J. K. Rowling gives architecture a whole new meaning in the wizarding world with moving staircases and disappearing/appearing townhomes. (Can you even imagine a muggle Realtor trying to find Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black’s family estate at 12 Grimmauld Place?) But the description of the Burrow is very vivid in the literary version as a convoluted maze of a home.
My clients agreed and couldn’t leave the property fast enough. It actually took longer for the homeowners to leave the house than it did for my clients to view the home and make their decision.

The sad thing is this wasn’t the only Weasley home that we visited before the clients located their dream home. In many country homes people are foregoing common sense, reason and building permits when putting an addition on a home or making home repairs. We saw an odd, 3-story home where the additional floors got smaller just like a home created by Dr. Suess. Then there was the home that had a spiral staircase removed to put in hardwood but the owner didn’t make the opening large enough for an adult human to go up and down. In another home, with a very rustic interior must have been a bit drafty in the winter winds as they had used expanding foam insulation between the boards in the main family room!

I avoid listing Weasley homes. If an unhandy-Andy did improper home “improvements” or added onto the home without permits, I won’t list the home until the repairs are made and properly documented.
We are still in a buyers market in the Twin Cities. There are dozens of properties listed that buyers can choose from. Homes with weird layouts, mismatched siding, unfinished decks and stairs that go nowhere, don’t sell. Buyers have options and will move on to the next home. So before you head out to Home Depot or Menard’s for the next weekend project, ask yourself if relocation is possible in the near future. If it is a possibility, make certain the work is done correctly and properly permitted.

As much as the Weasley family loved their home and it worked for them, I wouldn’t want to have to sell it!


Featured homes in Ham Lake and Forest Lake:
If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

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