No Comments

Buyer bloopers: 4 of the biggest mistakes homebuyers make

On the list of major life decisions and stressors, buying a home is right up there alongside of choosing a college major, getting married or deciding to have children. If you make a poor decision, you can reverse it—but it’s expensive, time-consuming and more than a little stressful. The good news is that many buyer blunders are easily avoidable with a little research on the front end of the process.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes I see buyers make.

More tips

The Consumer Reports video embedded above offers more mistakes for buyers to avoid.

Settling
Don’t pick a house that’s just “good enough.” Keep looking. Many times, buyers are driven by the discomfort of their current living arrangements. Maybe it’s you, your spouse, two kids and four dogs in a two-bedroom apartment; maybe you’ve moved back home and are living in your mom’s basement—but don’t let your eagerness to leave one unpleasant situation land you in another one.At some point, your home will hit the market. The homebuying process requires patience, and looking is the cheapest part of the process. It literally doesn’t cost you a dime to look at everything on the market, and a seasoned and wise real estate agent will encourage you to do so and skillfully guide you through the process. (If the agent doesn’t, replace them with a better one.)

An experienced Realtor brings market context, negotiation, and financial and legal expertise to your  homebuying process—and doesn’t cost you a penny. (Photo: Mark Moz, Flickr)

Going it alone
Smart people hire smart people. Don’t go at it alone. It will not cost a buyer to engage and hire a Realtor to work on their behalf. Yes, HGTV makes everyone an “expert” … but seriously, hire someone who is in the trenches every day, and let them do what they are good at. The right Realtor can save you a tremendous amount of time, money and frustration with their knowledge of the local market, price points, trends and conditions or circumstances around the various properties that are available in the inventory.

Relying on family and friends
Your uncle Joe may have been a contractor in the late ’80s, your dad may have built the deck on your family home, your best friend’s fiancé may work at TVA … but those facts do not a home inspector make. You need to hire a professional home inspector who is seasoned, knowledgeable and has a comprehensive approach to the inspection processes. Find the best available inspector(s) through your real estate agent, not through the yellow pages or a random internet search. Remember that the best agents will know multiple home inspectors with solid reputations to help you make sure your future home is in good condition before you move your family and your prized possessions into it.

Overusing social media, technology
Don’t overshare. Make no mistake: Sellers are investigating every buyer who makes an offer on their property. The more you or your family posts online, the more negotiating power and leverage your Realtor loses. “Pipe down, Turbo”; this is the time to be thoughtful and strategic. You can share later. Another mistake buyers make is contacting the seller via social media. This is a bad move that compromises your Realtor’s ability to navigate you toward the best deal. It can be critical to your transaction—legally and financially—to let a professional Realtor serve as intermediary between you and the seller. Don’t try to talk to the seller without a buffer. Sadly, I’ve seen this complicate and kill otherwise-good deals. An additional technology-related item to now be aware of is that the sellers, and many times do, watch or listen to you via camera as you tour their home. Be careful with your comments, both positive and negative. The last thing a buyer wants a seller to know is that they “love this home.”


Buying a home is one of the most exciting times of a person’s life, but it can also be overwhelming and frustrating. Don’t let this intersection of positive and negative emotions lure you into making a bad, expensive, impulsive decision. The right home for your budget and needs is out there, just waiting for you to make memories in it.

Todd Henon Properties is a top Chattanooga-based real estate team serving Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama since 2000. Specializing in homes, land, farms and estates, Todd’s seasoned neighborhood and acreage specialists are known for their expertise in the sale and purchase of traditional and unique properties. Todd’s credentials as a general contractor and visionary land consultant give his clients a daily edge. A lifelong Chattanoogan and avid outdoorsman, no one knows the market better or loves the region more than Todd and his innovative team of respected agents. Headquartered at Keller Williams Realty–Greater Downtown Chattanooga (each office is independently owned and operated), the Todd Henon Properties’ team invites you to search for your next home or investment move at ToddHenon.com.

No Comments

Seller slip-ups: 5 of the biggest mistakes home sellers make

Statistics show that selling a house “by owner” results in a lower sales price than using a Realtor. (Photo: Mark Moz, Flickr)

Putting a home on the market is so much more than applying a fresh coat of paint and putting a “for sale” sign in the yard. Selling a house is, arguably, even more difficult than buying one. No matter how pristine your home is, how updated or how many times you share it on social media, you have to find just the right buyer, at just the right time, at just the right price. It’s a complex, delicate balance that, with the help of the right professional expertise, can save you time, money and immeasurable stress.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes I see sellers make.

Emotional equity, failure to neutralize
Your child took his first steps in the living room, your daughter’s wedding pictures were made on the back porch, your husband surprised you with a new car in the driveway one snowy Christmas morning—but all these emotional ties to the home are not seen by the buyer and do not increase the price point at which the property will sell. These memories mean the world to you, and I totally get that. I understand. I love hearing those stories from my sellers. But it’s a Realtor’s job to help you understand that as soon as the “for sale” sign goes in the yard, your home becomes a commodity that the marketplace will now begin to scrutinize. Refusing to acknowledge this, either by insisting your home is worth more because of things that appeal to you or refusing to make cosmetic changes to neutralize the property, will slow the sale of your property.

Overpricing for condition
Buyers, AKA the marketplace, expect homes to be reasonably well-maintained and in good repair, or the selling price will slide downhill. While buyers won’t necessarily pay more for your personal taste upgrades, they will pay for key updates well-executed. Updated kitchens and baths provide the highest rate of return. However, it’s important not to over- or underspend on the quality of materials used in your updates. You want to be right in line with other homes in your local area. When deciding the type and quality level of updates, it’s best to consult a professional Realtor to understand what the return on investment is in your specific neighborhood.

Not hiring talent
Chattanooga has a number of seasoned real estate agents who are able to wisely walk you through the detailed processes—from pricing to timeline, from marketing to inspections, from negotiating to closing. While it may be tempting to hire your best friend’s uncle or your college roommate’s brother, do your due diligence before hiring your agent. You are putting a lot on the line with them. How many homes have they sold in the past year? How long have they been in the business? What do their past clients say about them? A professional Realtor should provide to you in-depth market research to assist you with the accurate pricing of your property; they should have an aggressive marketing budget, assist you with staging, use a professional photographer, be efficient in coordinating showings, serve as your liaison and negotiator with buyers’ agents, and connect you with other professionals to help you get your home in good repair to sell. Hire talent and experience; it pays off every time.

Not decluttering
Box up, pack up and put away. It’s a wise investment in the speed and price at which your home will sell. Declutter—yes, the pictures, knickknacks, trophies, books and, chances are, some of the furniture should be boxed up and moved out. Items and clutter become distractions, and distractions create conversations that pull buyers’ concentration away from what you want them thinking about the most: seeing themselves living in your home! It’s not a matter of taste or what you as the seller thinks; it’s an attempt to have that buyer focused on all the attributes of your property, not the things in it.

Forgetting about a “runway”
If you’re considering selling in the next six months, the time to contact a Realtor is now. People who want to sell next month but haven’t yet contacted a professional are cutting it pretty close. Very few homes are market-ready; it is the astute and thoughtful owner that reaches out to a Realtor early and begins conversations around the “to do” list. Tweaking the landscape, removing some wallpaper, decluttering, painting the garage, pressure washing the deck—these all take time. Your agent will have insights and contacts that will serve you and the process well. Allow time enough to get the list done without causing a massive amount of stress for you and your family.


Avoiding these seller slip-ups can help you achieve your timeline and price point, getting you on the road toward your next exciting season of life.

Todd Henon Properties is a top Chattanooga-based real estate team serving Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama since 2000. Specializing in homes, land, farms and estates, Todd’s seasoned neighborhood and acreage specialists are known for their expertise in the sale and purchase of traditional and unique properties. Todd’s credentials as a general contractor and visionary land consultant give his clients a daily edge. A lifelong Chattanoogan and avid outdoorsman, no one knows the market better or loves the region more than Todd and his innovative team of respected agents. Headquartered at Keller Williams Realty–Greater Downtown Chattanooga (each office is independently owned and operated), the Todd Henon Properties’ team invites you to search for your next home or investment move at ToddHenon.com.

No Comments

Do I rent or buy? Advice from a real estate expert

To rent or buy is a complicated question that doesn’t have a “one-size-fits-all” answer. (Photo: Mark Moz, Flickr)

Many people, be they “experts” or not, have strong feelings about renting versus buying homes. Most lean heavily toward one or the other and rarely stray from their positions. But there are actually many factors to consider in the choice—and there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer.

Here are some tips on how to evaluate the pros and cons of renting versus buying, and why they ring true in the current market.

Renting
Renting may be the perfect option for those who are new to town. It’s certainly wise to learn the “lay of the land,” figure out the neighborhoods, spend time in the communities and decide what you love about your new city before diving into the homebuying process. If you move to town and immediately buy, you may miss the opportunity to learn commute times, traffic patterns, schools, walkability, neighborhoods, shopping—all things that can affect your happiness in your new home and community.

Renting could also be a great option for “short timers”—those uncertain about the future. This could include older people who may be considering assisted living or moving closer to their children, younger people who are not yet fully committed to a job or town, people “in between seasons” (marriage, divorce, job changes, etc.), and those who value flexibility and convenience over the permanency of a mortgage and maintenance.

The argument against renting is often that rent can cost more than a mortgage payment (especially on a short-term lease). That may be true, but renting is definitely going to cost less than buying a home you end up unhappy in and put back on the market a short time later. Once you close on a house, it’s a done deal—that’s an expensive day, and not one you want to enter into lightly or without as much intel as possible.

To rent or buy is a complicated question that doesn’t have a “one-size-fits-all” answer. (Photo: Pixabay)

Buying for a lifestyle
With mortgage rates as low as they are, those who are familiar with their city and plan to stay for a few years, should, in most cases, seriously consider buying. House payments can be as low, or possibly lower, than rent payments in some situations, and homes generally appreciate in value over the long haul—whereas you can never recoup what has been spent in the form of rent.

The lending environment is favorable to borrowers right now and may be a wonderful opportunity for many aspiring homeowners. Contrary to popular belief, you just might not have to have a huge down payment—the option of a small one or even no down payment may be available in the right set of circumstances. Anyone pondering home ownership owes it to themselves to reach out to a Realtor, begin asking questions and investigate all their options.

Buying as an investment
Another reason to consider buying a home is as an investment. When home prices dipped in the Great Recession of 2008, we began seeing numerous home purchases for the purpose of converting to rental property. We also see more and more parents buying homes for their children in the city where the child goes to college, in lieu of student/dorm housing. This has worked well for many years in Chattanooga with UTC and other colleges nearby. With this strategy, the parents are able to offset the mortgage cost by renting some of the bedrooms to other students. Post-graduation, the property remains in the rental pool or is sold off to a third party—or in some instances to the child, now graduate/young professional, which serves as an investment in their child’s future and an investment in the area the college is in.

Pros vs. cons/truth and lies
Certainly a common argument against renting is that you’re missing out on a potential home’s appreciation and you are “throwing your money away,” but that’s not always true. Market appreciation happens over time, not overnight. Taking the time to decide exactly where and what to buy, with the help of a professional Realtor, will far exceed any short-term appreciation. So the decision to buy should never be driven based on fear of “missing out.”

Likewise, a common reluctance about buying is that it costs too much, but years of unrecoupable rent payments can far exceed what you’ll spend on closing costs, home inspections and the other factors related to buying a home. With mortgage rates as low as they are, anyone who plans on staying put for the foreseeable future should consider themselves a strong candidate to buy a home.

Recouping your investment
People often ask me, “How long do I need to stay in a home to recoup my cost?” In a nutshell, I would advise knowing your area’s rate of appreciation first. If your values are growing at 3–4 percent per year, then it may take two to three years to cover the transaction costs associated with selling (commissions, taxes, closing costs). A word to the wise: Always consult with your CPA or tax professional and always touch base with your real estate agent to lace together your strategies and tactics before selling. Decisions made in a vacuum will not serve you well.

Todd Henon Properties is a top Chattanooga-based real estate team serving Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama since 2000. Specializing in homes, land, farms and estates, Todd’s seasoned neighborhood and acreage specialists are known for their expertise in the sale and purchase of traditional and unique properties. Todd’s credentials as a general contractor and visionary land consultant give his clients a daily edge. A lifelong Chattanoogan and avid outdoorsman, no one knows the market better or loves the region more than Todd and his innovative team of respected agents. Headquartered at Keller Williams Realty–Greater Downtown Chattanooga (each office is independently owned and operated), the Todd Henon Properties’ team invites you to search for your next home or investment move at ToddHenon.com.

No Comments

Cold weather curb appeal: Simple ways to make your house stand out all winter long

Green grass, a colorful front door and a clean facade all add to the curb appeal of this home. (Photo: Todd Henon Properties)

Many of us enjoy being outside during the fall, partaking of the moderate temperatures and lack of humidity after a long southern summer. And although spring is often considered a more popular season to do beautification projects to your home’s yard and exterior, fall is also an excellent time to add curb appeal that lasts all winter long.

After the leaves come down, winter and early spring can be the most aesthetically unpleasing times of year, but there are steps homeowners can take to combat the lack of natural beauty. They require a little bit of time, money and effort to execute, but they’re worth it if you like to have one of the prettiest homes in the neighborhood or if your home is on the market for sale.

Adding grass, flowers, more
Ryegrass will green up a yard in only 14 days and stay green all winter long. Adding a bag or two (depending on yard size) to your landscape will immediately set you up for a beautiful yard. All you have to do is spread your seed (overseed existing lawn) and give it a bit of water. Two weeks later, you will have a beautiful green yard … and some “immediate gratification” rarely associated with landscaping projects. After a drought-filled summer, your home’s natural grass is probably already brown and in need of some TLC, and ryegrass is a great solution.

Winter flowers are also an easy option. After a spring and summer of maintaining flowers and vegetables, most people probably want to take a season or two off—but winter flowers provide all the aesthetic benefits of spring and summer blooms at a time of year when color is needed most. Pansies and violas are two vibrant, weather-resilient options, along with a number of wintertime decorative grasses and greenery like variegated sweet flag, northern sea oats or pampas grass. All these work well in flowerbeds, outdoor pots and window boxes. And as you’re planting new flowers, remember to remove or prune the dead flowers from your beds. Not only are they unattractive, but doing it now will give you one less thing to do in the spring.

Winter curb appeal: Everyone wins

Communities where everyone maintains curb appeal have increased individual property values.

Also, don’t forget about your mulch in the winter. After a summer of being faded by the sun and blown around by the mower, some areas will inevitably need to be touched up.

Addressing cosmetic imperfections
You had enough on your plate to address during the summer—mowing, weed eating, watering, trimming and staking—but now that your yardwork has died down, winter is a good time to address some of the aesthetic issues on your house. During the summer, bushy trees, flowering shrubs and a lush lawn helped camouflage some of your home’s cosmetic flaws, but winter tends to reveal the parts of the “honey-do” list that went undone. We frequently remind our clients selling their homes that, in the wintertime, it’s easier to see your home’s flaws, and fixing them definitely adds to your curb appeal. So it’s time to repair that cracked window, broken shutter and split bannister railing.

Another cosmetic imperfection that happens to all of us is grime and dirt buildup. Spring is a better time to pressure wash your home, porch and/or driveway, but if you have skipped that process for a couple of years, or if you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, you should consider pressure washing now.

Decluttering
For spring and summer, you probably pulled out flowerpots, pillows for your porch swing, garden flags, etc. But put all this up for the winter—not only will the cold weather, rain, snow, etc., take a toll on these items, but it doesn’t look good to have nonseasonal or weathered items out during the cold winter months.

“Box up, clean up and put up” is a common mantra my real estate team shares with our sellers, but this is a great rule for all homeowners in general.

Likewise, clean up your fire pit, remind the kids to put their bikes and toys in the garage, carry the out-of-season flowerpots to the back porch, cover the sandbox and make all the other things you won’t use again until spring as “invisible” or aesthetically pleasing as possible.

Enhancing your neighborhood, protecting your investment
Why let your home get drab in winter? Even if you’re not putting your home on the real estate market anytime soon, curb appeal is a wonderful thing to add for your family, your home and your neighborhood. It can make you fall in love with your house all over again. Plus, communities where everyone maintains curb appeal are more desirable to future buyers, which helps you and all your neighbors maintain and increase your property value. Everyone wins. Happy winterizing!

Todd Henon Properties is a top Chattanooga-based real estate team serving Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama since 2000. Specializing in homes, land, farms and estates, Todd’s seasoned neighborhood and acreage specialists are known for their expertise in the sale and purchase of traditional and unique properties. Todd’s credentials as a general contractor and visionary land consultant give his clients a daily edge. A lifelong Chattanoogan and avid outdoorsman, no one knows the market better or loves the region more than Todd and his innovative team of respected agents. Headquartered at Keller Williams Realty–Greater Downtown Chattanooga (each office is independently owned and operated), the Todd Henon Properties’ team invites you to search for your next home or investment move at ToddHenon.com.

No Comments

Acquiring acreage: Demystifying the dream of land ownership

Currently available: 140-acre farm in Chickamauga, Georgia, listed by Todd Henon. (Photo: Todd Henon Properties)

Owning a piece of land is a fundamental American ideal. Many of the country’s first settlers came here with that dream in mind. As the eastern United States started to become “crowded” in the latter part of the 1800s, pioneers headed west to appropriate a slice of land to call their own. Even today’s American dream, for most, includes at least a little parcel of acreage to cultivate.

For many folks in our tri-state region, that dream is bigger than “a little” piece of land—yet they don’t realize just how obtainable their dream is.

Friendly financing climate for land
Many people are surprised to learn that you can mortgage land just like you can a traditional home. Today’s current lending landscape is just right for people who want to own land and need to mortgage it. Interest rates are low (3.5–4.5 percent) and lenders are aggressive, which allows room to negotiate a favorable rate.

However, it’s important to factor into your planning that land loans typically require a down payment of about 25 percent, with a shorter financing period than with a traditional home.

Land can provide income and enjoyment now, as you plan for the future
Even younger people who dream of building their own places someday may want to look into buying land now rather than later because of the income streams land can provide in the interim. For example, buying a wooded parcel may provide you the opportunity to harvest timber that can be sold at market price. Another strategy is to invest in a piece of land larger than what you need, giving you the option to split it up and sell off a portion to help recoup some of the original price.

In the meantime, before you build, the land can be used for recreation, get-togethers, parties, even a tiny home or mobile home to live in or rent.

I’ve found in my close to 20 years in real estate that owning land is a box that a lot of folks want to check in their lifetimes. There’s something very primal about owning a piece of land. Many find value in the organic, fundamental joy of “working” the land, hunting on it or simply being a good caretaker of God’s unique creation on the Cumberland Plateau.

Remember that, just like with a residential home, there are ongoing costs associated with owning a piece of land, such as property taxes and maintenance. (Photo: Todd Henon Properties)

Location, location, location
Another common misconception is that a land purchase means moving far away from Chattanooga city limits, or even Hamilton County. That’s just not true. Although the lots are smaller and the prices higher inside the city limits, the options are still there.

There is currently a large supply of land on the market in Hamilton County within 30 minutes of downtown Chattanooga.

Thinking outside the box
Acreage, more often than not, returns its value. Purchased at the right price, land appreciates, and sometimes very quickly. “Purchased right” means that you are smart about the dollars, zoning, soil quality, conservation regulations and future development around your acreage. It’s also important to think through how to maximize the land, including best home sites, pond and pasture development, potential subdividing, and income generation. Enlisting the help of not just a Realtor, but a land specialistRealtor, can be critical in guiding your decisions.

Keep in mind that if you see something you like, you can even approach landowners about buying acreage that isn’t technically for sale. Again, working with a land specialist enables you to bring a level of knowledge and sophistication to the process, and helps protect your interests.

In the words of a philosopher
My team and I find that folks are amazed at the acreage opportunities and variety of price points within easy driving distance of Chattanooga. There’s more out there than you likely suspect that’s both attractive and affordable to people of all ages, in all seasons of life. As a land specialist and lifelong outdoorsman, I agree professionally—and personally—with the simple wisdom of Mark Twain, who said, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”

Todd Henon Properties is a top Chattanooga-based real estate team serving Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama since 2000. Specializing in homes, land, farms and estates, Todd’s seasoned neighborhood and acreage specialists are known for their expertise in the sale and purchase of traditional and unique properties. Todd’s credentials as a general contractor and visionary land consultant give his clients a daily edge. A lifelong Chattanoogan and avid outdoorsman, no one knows the market better or loves the region more than Todd and his innovative team of respected agents. Headquartered at Keller Williams Realty–Greater Downtown Chattanooga (each office is independently owned and operated), the Todd Henon Properties’ team invites you to search for your next home or investment move at ToddHenon.com.

No Comments

Unique Properties: A look at some gems in the Chattanooga real estate market (with photos)

Chattanooga is one-of-a-kind in many ways … from its outdoor opportunities so near its downtown cityscape, to its gorgeous mountain scenery, to its rich historical value. And the Scenic City’s real estate opportunities reflect the originality of this gorgeous city. Take a look at some of the most unique properties on the local market right now:

Vibrant city life

This Chestnut Street corner unit, located above Blue Plate, offers scenic views of the Tennessee Aquarium, the Riverfront and other downtown favorites. This home is filled with natural light, and the covered patio offers enviable access to Riverbend, Ironman, 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival and much more. It’s a little over 1,200 square feet, and has one bedroom and 1.5 baths.

Turning a passion into a lifestyle 

This Copperhill property is a true mountain escape on over 100 acres and is perfect for horse lovers. The custom home is surrounded by wooded trails, pasture, a barn with riding ring, bunkhouse for guests and more. This is a working equine estate that offers breathtaking views of three states to be enjoyed as a family getaway, or turned into a group retreat center or equine training facility. It’s 4,800 square feet with six bedrooms and five bathrooms.

Scenic acreage close to town

The river and mountain views on this 150-plus-acre property will literally take your breath away. The spacious home has three bedrooms and three bathrooms, but you won’t want to spend that much time inside when the Tennessee and Sequatchie rivers—and a beautiful swimming pool—beckon you outside. The property offers daily wildlife viewing, farming, ranching and more. It’s hard to believe that this much outdoor luxury is only 20 minutes from downtown Chattanooga.

Luxurious lodge

You’d feel like you’re perpetually on vacation—maybe in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, or Aspen, Colorado—on this North Georgia estate. It’s hard to imagine how a home can be both rustic and luxurious, but this one certainly is (can you say “media room” and “chef’s kitchen”?). This home/pool/barn “compound” sits on about 20 acres and is only 30 minutes from downtown Chattanooga. The inside offers over 5,500 square feet in four bedrooms and five bathrooms. The barn doubles as a guest house with a second-floor master suite. The backyard offers 360-degree mountain views, in-ground pool, stone fireplace, and generous porches and patios to enjoy the lifestyle unique to our gorgeous tri-state area.

Todd Henon Properties is a top Chattanooga-based real estate team serving Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama since 2000. Specializing in homes, land, farms and estates, Todd’s seasoned neighborhood and acreage specialists are known for their expertise in the sale and purchase of traditional and unique properties. Todd’s credentials as a general contractor and visionary land consultant give his clients a daily edge. A lifelong Chattanoogan and avid outdoorsman, no one knows the market better or loves the region more than Todd and his innovative team of respected agents. Headquartered at Keller Williams Realty–Greater Downtown Chattanooga (each office is independently owned and operated), the Todd Henon Properties’ team invites you to search for your next home or investment move at ToddHenon.com.