Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Growth Control Douglas County

You have never written about Growth Control in Douglas County … why?

We do not write a political column and it is our belief that the Growth Control matter as it has been rabidly contested locally is a battle of propagandists engaged in a political dispute. We are, however, long time members of this community, active professionals in a profession with direct knowledge of the matter, and are now compelled to comment … professionally, not politically.

Central to the core of the matter is the subject of private property rights. It is a fundamental right of every property owner, the protection of which every Realtor commits to when getting their “R”. Private Property rights must not be trampled by mass hysteria which would be no different than burning people in the town square for witchcraft because of public demand. A real threat to natural resources, or matters related to the community safety/well-being can impact individual private property rights for the public good. Studies supporting or denigrating positions in the local debate have been completed, and we suggest that you look for yourself at what the truth is, not rely on the “sound bite” headlines the proponents and opponents put forth with regularity. Dismissing science with arbitrary unfounded comments to effect a desired political result is not only immoral, it is unfair to the public using that speaker as a reliable source.

The real overall ramifications of growth restrictions should be detailed and understood by all. Unfortunately, locally the financial impact is not widely known, and when the reality hits a few years from now, there will be an outcry. The outcry should be now to prevent the intervening pain. Look at the numbers, folks. Ask your public officials what the fiscal reality is. The information is coming in dribs and drabs, but a complete financial impact analysis is not available. If it is not available then how can a law making decision be made without it? If it is, then why isn’t it available to the public? Ask for it – it is an important part of the process.

Many are is tired of the matter, but that is not a reason to rush to law. When the County tired of the Master Plan process in 1996 it was rushed to completion. One of the unresolved matters tagged on to finish a long, expensive, controversial project was the Growth component- the same Growth component that is now treated as if it were etched in stone. Some of our Commissioners are tired of this Growth matter, but they shouldn’t rush bad law just to get it off of their agenda. It will continue to rear its ugly head for years to come if they don’t take the time to craft a legal, moral, ethical, and practical law for controlled growth today.

Our Advice: If you are making law regarding real property, it makes sense that one would consult the real estate industry – builders, Realtors, bankers, engineers, developers, etc. There has been a concerted effort to stigmatize these professionals rather than listen to their wisdom and experience. It is time to stop all that, look at what the community really wants to accomplish, and make a plan that really works for everybody – fiscally, aesthetically, and legally. Now is the time to get involved – it’s the fourth quarter and your input is needed for the future of our community. Whether you are pro-growth, anti-growth, or want smart growth – email the Commissioners right away to ask them to do the right thing according to your view. Get your voice known to help them make the right decision. Email the Commissioners at

Our wonderful community must work together on this, not rely on a few impassioned individuals to carry their respective torches. Let’s take the time needed and work together so everybody wins … for the long term. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781- 5472

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My neighbor doesn’t understand our boundary.

My neighbor doesn’t understand our boundary … what can I do?

This can be troublesome as is any dispute with a neighbor. Though a home is recognized as our proverbial castle, neighbors can have a major impact on the total enjoyment, or lack thereof, that you will experience with your property. How you approach the problem will depend on the nature of the problem, and what the urgency for resolution is.

If you are looking to do something near the boundary, i.e.- install a fence, driveway, etc., then you’ll need to resolve the matter quickly so you can proceed with your plans. If your neighbor is installing something incorrectly, on your property, you can’t stand by and watch them do it. If you watch them put it in the wrong place you can’t then ask them to remove it. You must act and act quickly. It might involve getting an attorney and getting an injunction to stop the work until you can resolve the matter. Nobody really wants to bring in an attorney to deal with a neighbor, but it might be necessary if they won’t reason with you and action is required. Hopefully, when they see the error of their ways they will appreciate what necessitated your decision.

Usually, boundary line disputes are resolved by a correct survey. With their fancy new electronic equipment surveyors are pretty accurate these days. Once in awhile a property owner will remain belligerent even in the face of a professional opinion contrary to their belief. Not much you can do if their ego won’t allow them to admit a mistake, but don’t capitulate on your position as it could affect you when you go to sell the property.

Not all boundary problems are survey matters. We were recently apprised of a situation involving a friend in another state. He was installing a driveway in an easement and the neighbor said he couldn’t – she owned it. The neighbor, a real estate agent, was interpreting the word “except” as “accept” and figured that property was in her deed, not excepted out of it as the deed stated. It is a simple matter of interpretation, but the agent, in her infinite wisdom, got excited and hired an attorney. Our friend got the appropriate “proof” documents from the Title Company that insured his purchase and has delivered them to the attorney. He shouldn’t be delayed much longer, and hopefully the smart agent neighbor will accept the results and appreciate all is well except her document interpretation skills.

Our Advice: All is not what it appears. Make sure you know your boundary lines, as they appear and as they really are, before you close escrow. This is real estate – boundary lines to real property are a vital component of ownership. Sometimes it might require having a surveyor confirm the boundary as an insurance policy. It can be well worth it for your overall peace of mind and quiet enjoyment of your property.

There is nothing finer than a good neighbor. It will affect your quality of life and that of your family. Work to resolve differences, but don’t concede just to make peace – you could be stuck in the long run.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781- 5472

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What is a "Spec Builder"?

I hear the term … What is a spec builder?

A spec builder is a General Contractor that builds a house on speculation. They take the chance that the lot they selected, the floorplan, elevation, colors, appliances, quality, and the many features they elect to include or exclude in their home will appeal to a Buyer. It is a risky and vital part of the construction industry and housing market. Spec builders are entrepreneurs in the truest sense, risk takers that are investing in their own vision and ability.

Spec builders’ homes are often contemporary in their design and accoutrements, pushing the envelope of consumer trends. The features are quite true to the market – a boom market yields higher prices for the spec builder and less is usually offered, i.e.- landscaping, fencing, etc. In a competitive market the individual builder will adjust his product offering to get an edge on the competition.

The tract builder and the spec builder keep one another accountable … to each other, to the market, and to their profession. They keep it real in the industry. Each has a niche market be it affordability, size, location, style, etc. When they begin to cross over, move out of their niche, their success can be impacted. It can be enhanced, or diminished. This keeps them keen.

The spec builder usually builds 1-3 homes a year. Their success hinges on selling the home in a timely manner. They often have hard money constructions loans, high interest rate loans that make them hear cash register bells when their alarm clocks go off in the morning announcing another day of interest. Financial risk is inherent in the industry making spec building not for the faint of heart.

The spec builder provides a variety in the product, and employment in the Valley. They build for all economic levels – some build medium housing, and others ultra custom homes. They are all, however, built on speculation, taking a chance. The many jobs they create in their risky endeavor are essential to the overall financial stability of the Carson Valley today.

Our Advice: The spec builder is an essential component to the real estate market. As the spec builder goes is a good indicator of our market. If you consider changes to affect the real estate market by social, political, or financial means we strongly advise you to look at the resulting impact on the very important spec builder. Their product has character, individuality, and is usually more aesthetically pleasing than rows of look-alike tract homes. Even the Hereford, a Carson Valley historical icon, has uniqueness and individuality from cow to cow.

Let’s keep our houses “spots” varied and interesting – thank and encourage the spec builder for their contribution to our community. Sending them “home” is not a viable option.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Landlocked property and easements

We are looking at a property that has no access…how can that be?

Nevada law allows for property without access to be landlocked. Be aware, however, that just because you are being told that there is no access, it doesn’t mean that there is no legal access or way to gain legal access. There are, on occasion, ways to favorably solve the problem.

The first course of action is to look at the chain of title, and maps or deeds that created to subject property. The chain of title will show you the past ownership of the property – everybody that has ever been in title. If there was common ownership at one time, the public domain excepted, then you might be able to obtain an easement due to the function of law known as Way of Necessity. Your attorney will help you evaluate this possibility.

For many years access was granted in deeds or notes on the map when the property was created and/or sold. These are often overlooked, but with a little research you might change the value and function of a property. This work might involve reading the deeds of the property you must traverse if the easement was granted as an exception on that deed, not a “together with” on your deed. It’s a great feeling when you find an easement in the deed of the neighbor that has locked you out.

If you can’t find existing legal access you might consider approaching the proposed servient property owners – those that own the property you are looking to traverse, for access. There are many ways to evaluate what such an easement is worth. We’ve seen them granted for free, and others cost as much as $725,000. There are many variables, details, and motivating factors that contribute to what an easement is worth to a property owner. You will have to make a comprehensive assessment of your options and situation to make the final determination. Your agent can help you compile the information and make your decision.

Our Advice: Do the homework. Find out what is really going on. Solving the problem is where money is made in real estate. When you “unlock” a property you can realize dramatic results. You should contract for a property up while you research it. That way, if you do find the “key” to unlocking a landlocked property, you will realize the gain for your efforts. Don’t close on a hope and a prayer if you aren’t sure that you can get access. The price must reflect the risk you are taking … before you get results.

Be careful when dealing with landlocked property… unless you own a helicopter. There is risk, and there is the possibility of a good return. Respect private property rights while you do this, and don’t trespass! Nevada law applies in Nevada – don’t base your decision on your experience or knowledge of State law elsewhere – you might be very disappointed.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781- 5472