Expect the Unexpected
Have you heard of the phrase, “house poor?” I never like my clients to use all their cash for down payments and closing costs. It is important to have access to cash and expect the unexpected. When you own a home, you need to be ready for anything to cost you money.
You probably have prepared yourself for buying new furniture or a refrigerator. You may have even budgeted for new blinds or carpet replacement. But what about plumbing or electrical issues or window replacement? That was probably not on your wish list when you signed on the dotted line.
Picture this: You want to add a beautiful wood deck off the back of the house. You want it landscaped beautifully and have some twinkle lights inside a pergola framing the deck. Your daughter’s baptism is next month and the whole family will be in town to celebrate. You can’t wait to show off the house and the new deck. You envision evenings on your deck, under the stars and the twinkling lights with a glass of wine in your hand, breathing in the sweet smell of having put your stamp on your new home. Screech – halt!
You pull a permit for the deck and the electrical and it is discovered that the existing out-building was not built with a permit and the electrical that you were going to tap into is not up to Code, so now what? Now you have to have that electrical box redone so you can have your twinkle lights on the deck because the house box is maxed out. Ok. Not so bad, but it’s going to add about $1000 to the total cost. But you proceed.
Once the deck is in full swing, you begin work on the landscaping. While holes for the shrubs are being dug, the septic line is uncovered and, unfortunately, so is a leak. It could be worse, you think. It could have began sweeping into your house and causing real issues and that does explain the rotten smell in the air off and on for a couple weeks. You pause the beautification and call the plumber. It won’t add too much to repair the leak and you are glad you found it before it caused more trouble. The project continues and it is smooth sailing now. Or is it?
The deck and backyard is complete and you are enjoying a warm evening outside only to go inside and realize that someone must have turned the AC off. It’s hotter inside than it is on the deck and your family is arriving in 36 hours. UGH!!
You guessed it. You need a new HVAC unit and there’s nothing you can do about it except pony up the thousands it is going to cost. This isn’t the way you expected your weekend to begin and you now wish you hadn’t ever started the project in the first place.
You may think this is far fetched but, trust me, I have heard of far worse in my real estate career. The moral of this story is to expect the unexpected. Don’t deplete all your cash and be house poor. Make sure you have access to money when the unexpected happens because it will. At the most inconvenient time. And it will only push the knife deeper if you have to worry about how you’re going to pay for it.
Michelle Froedge is a residential Realtor and Principal Broker in the Greater Nashville and Williamson County areas of Tennessee. “Mom” to four-legged fur baby, Tyler, Auntie to Zelamie, she is a vegetarian and sings in her spare time. Michelle has lived in Nashville and Franklin since 1997 and has been selling homes since 2004.