When Do It Yourself Only Gets You So Far

We’ve lived in the same house since 2003. When we first moved in, we were determined to take down the wallpaper infesting the hallway, the master bath, the border in the master bedroom and, steamer in hand, started work shortly after we unpacked the boxes.

As of today, there’s still wallpaper in some of the master bath. And a little bit of that hallway. And pretty much the entire border in the master bedroom remains intact. There’s also a partially-tiled closet which I have vowed to complete. It’s only been about six years so there’s no huge hurry at this point, but I’m thinking some day I may want to get a tile cutter. Or at least make sure the rest of the tile’s still available.

Mr. Handy, I’m not. Not even close. I’m great at beginning projects, as anyone who has visited this site at the beginning of a redesign can attest, but I’m also prone to throwing up my hands and surrendering when it’s clear I’ve gone as far as I could.

Searching for homes online is much the same, especially if you have very particular needs. For instance, I’m currently working with a veteran who’ll be financing his purchase through a VA loan. This isn’t a particularly complicated situation but it does limit the pool of homes in as much as VA has certain expectations of the quality of the home to be purchased.

Just because a home has been marked in the MLS as eligible for VA funding, that doesn’t mean that it really is … there’s a decent chance the agent’s clicking buttons without really knowing. And just because a home hasn’t been marked as VA eligible doesn’t mean that it’s not … some agents don’t click the VA box because they don’t know how to want to deal with a VA transaction.

VA doesn’t exactly make it easy either. There’s a long-standing debate over whether there has to be a stove in the home for VA to approve the loan. Want to know the answer? It all depends on whether the appraiser says a stove is necessary. If he does, it is. If not, it’s not. If that doesn’t make for great planning on the part of a buyer and agent, I don’t know what does.

In this wonderfully wired age, it’s not uncommon for me to send a list of homes to my buyer and then get a list in return with homes I have “missed.” Sometimes, it’s absolutely legitimate – I’d like to think I’m good but none among us are perfect. Except Tobey. More often, I can eliminate 90 percent of the homes for one reason or another based on what the buyer already has told me their criteria might be.

There are endless tools for the real estate do-it-yourself buyer. But if there’s a particular need that needs to be met, at some point it’s worth bringing in an expert. Which reminds me, I may want to see about a tile guy …

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at allphoenixrealestate.com.

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