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Buying a house that is Christmas Light Friendly


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You are not crazy Richard When I first moved to Atlanta 18 years ago we were looking for a house that had a good basement for a workshop and my office. The realtors thought we were crazy because we always looked a the basement first. After all if that didn't work for us then the rest of the house did not make any difference. We bought a big two story house, but one of the things I missed was putting lights on the roof because of a very steep slope. When I bought a smaller house 9 years ago one of my criteria was for a roof that I could get up on and outline the whole house in lights. I got my choice and it has been great. Now I'm moving to LOR and getting ready to take things to another level of decorating. Everyone has different criteria for picking a house and you must follow your head and heart.

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J.D. wrote:

Richard,

Doy ou know ifyour HOA is changing the access rules because of resident complaints about your display?

J.D.

Our community was suppose to be a Gated Community from the start. I was one of the first houses in th neighborhood and there was not a gate yet. A gate was built after I lived here for about a year. The gate was removed about a year later because a new neighborhood was going in that had to be accessed by a road that was after our Gate.

A new gate was suppose to be built where our neighborhood starts but there was a slight problem because somehow the city owned about 20' of land we needed where the gate was suppose to be built.

Most people in the neighborhood wanted the gate but we keep waiting on the city to give us approval since they owned a small sliver of land where the gate needed to go. So for about 3 years we did not have a gate at all and a lot of neighbors did not like this.

During this time with no Gate, I started my Christmas Display in 2006. About 4 months ago the HOA finally got permission to install a Gate from the city. The Gate is about done now (it was not working for the 2007 show which was nice so people could still get in). Now that we have a gate again, a vote was taken of when it would be closed. Most of the people voted that it be closed 24/7 INCLUDING the entire month of December and they fully knew that by doing this it would not allow people to see my Christmas Display. I will not get into all the details but I talked to them about the display and we even talked about the $10,000 that was raised for Make-A-Wish before the vote.

Many of the people that wanted it closed 24/7 wanted it to be open for December so people could see the Christmas Light display, we just did not have enough votes.

So in answer to your questions, No a rule was not changed because of my Display. Since the gate was finally going to be installed and finished, it was a vote on what hours the new gate would be closed.

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Man, I feel for youwith yourinvestment money-wise and time involved.But moving, wow! I'm sure I'll enjoy this new hobby, but moving to another house, ripping the kidsfrom the schools, etc., I doubt I'd be able to go that route.At least you have neighbors thatare on your side and tried to support your display.I'm really worried about my neighbors.So much so, I plan tovisit the closest five houses in November and offer to install a lighted fencealong the edge of their yardwhere it meets the street (nothingfancy, just two or three wood posts and a strand of lights between them - we don't have curbs or street lights). This will hopefullykeep visiting vehicles from trying to pull off the roadinto theiryards.

J.D.

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J.D. wrote:

Man, I feel for youwith yourinvestment money-wise and time involved.But moving, wow! I'm sure I'll enjoy this new hobby, but moving to another house, ripping the kidsfrom the schools, etc.,

If I was going to move, it would be best to do it in the next year or so. I have two Children, one just turned 4 and one is almost 1 year old so right now would be the best time to do it before they start any school.

-Richard

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hey rich theres a house right up the road from me if you want to move in! HAHA, nah the houses around here wouldnt be big enough to handle all the lights you have in your display, and i doubt you want to truck everything up to PA HAHA, Hope you find a nice house or property to build one. I would make sure you meet the neighbors to make sure they wont complain and be like some of the peoples neighbors around here.

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RichardH wrote:

snowlovergeorgia wrote:

You are probably right.

I just know that I could get more if I finish a few projects like finishing the basement and doing some other things. Just not looking forward to doing a bunch of home improvements on a house and then move. :)

Richard, no, you're not nuts. My husband and I plan to sell and move once our son goes to College and buying the perfect Christmas house is the major topic of conversation.

As to finising your basement, I can tell you from experience (I've been a licensed real estate agent for 18 years) statistically speaking, you probably won't get all your money out. Finished basements are a nice selling point though. Without knowing the rest of the interior layout of your home (do you have a good sized family or hobby room, large bedrooms, etc.), its hard to say exactly how much, percentage wise, you'll recapture or increase your overall sales price. If you were to do the bare minimum and do the install yourself (walls, floor covering, drop ceiling) you might break even ora little better. But if you go all out, I can honestly say, at least in the Chicago area, the seller usually loses money. One thing that does increase value, every single time, upgraded kitchens and baths..;)

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It is ironic this post came up this week. I’ve been looking for a larger home for the past few years, with a pretty specific set of criteria. It has to be in a particular school district, 4-5 bedrooms, minimum 3 car garage, large back yard, etc.. This partuclar area isvirtually completely built-out so there are no new home alternatives.And the speculator-driven run up in home prices made the situation even more difficult. When a suitable home came on the market, it was snapped up within a few days. Now that prices are starting to come down and the market has slowed, I’m able to take my time and find just the right home. Yhis past weekend,my realtor found a house that looked like it might be 'the one'. We really liked the house – beautiful remodeled kitchen and bathrooms, nice yard, pool, etc. It met all of my criteria. But in the back of my mind, I was trying to envision how I would decorate this house. The house is on a cul-de-sac and it sits at somewhat of an angle relative to the street. So despite everything else, I had to reject this house based on the fact that it wasn’t ‘Christmas light-worthy’. While my girlfriend thinks I’m borderline insane, in the back of her mind she knows I did the right thing. She just recalls of all the smiles and compliments we received this past Christmas from those who enjoyed our display.

So now I have a few new home criteria right up at the top of the list:

  1. Can’t be in a gated community – I don’t want to limit access to my display to just the neighbors or those I invite.
  2. Front yard needs to be wide with the house set back a good distance from the street. I’d like to have a 20 foot mega-tree in the future, and I feel it shouldn’t be too close to the spectators.

Mark

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RichardH wrote:

The last 2 years, builders starting building like crazy in this area because everything was going up and they were hoping they could make some quick cash. They built way to many houses and a lot of them have been vacant for about year and they keep dropping the prices. Usually you save some money if you build yourself but with the housing market right now, it is cheaper to buy a pre-built house in this area.

The bad thing about rapidly rising prices in an area is there is a lot of money to be made when property values are on the upswing. Everybody and their brother want to get in on it too and build houses. Before you know it you end up with oversupply. Then add to it a handful of years ago interest rates were very low, everyone got extremely sweet interest rates and then a few years later the fed raises the rate and nobody wants to move because moving and getting new loan costs a lot more even if you were moving downward to a smaller house. The run away housing market ruined itself by causing a very good reason to stay put in the house you are in but also develop an oversupply at the same time.

In our area downward movements in sales prices are occurring and once a downward shift happens there is a momentum to it and it will continue sliding. Problem is the house you want to buy might be cheaper, but at the same time you might not get as much as you think trying to sell your house in today's market.

And hey you got a very pretty house now for Christmas lights... I hope the next one is pretty too.

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The housing market is still doing well in Utah. It's one of the strongest markets in the Country right now. However, it will come to an end. My dad is in the mortgage industry and they don't expect this market to be nearly this strong in a year from now.

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caimakale wrote:

The housing market is still doing well in Utah. It's one of the strongest markets in the Country right now. However, it will come to an end. My dad is in the mortgage industry and they don't expect this market to be nearly this strong in a year from now.

It is a buyers market right now in Utah. Some people are loosing their shirts. My friend just bought a home last week that was the market for over 1 year. He bought it from a lady who built 4 homes in the neighborhood to try and make some money. She started the houses pretty high and had to kept coming down and is ending up selling them for pretty much what it cost her or a little less. With all the intrest she had to pay on the homes, she ended up doing pretty bad.

The Mortage industry is not as bad because you get a cut on every loan you can get for the bank. Not as much risk of building houses and trying to get a profit.

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RichardH wrote:

caimakale wrote:

It is a buyers market right now in Utah. Some people are loosing their shirts. My friend just bought a home last week that was the market for over 1 year. He bought it from a lady who built 4 homes in the neighborhood to try and make some money. She started the houses pretty high and had to kept coming down and is ending up selling them for pretty much what it cost her or a little less. With all the intrest she had to pay on the homes, she ended up doing pretty bad.

The Mortage industry is not as bad because you get a cut on every loan you can get for the bank. Not as much risk of building houses and trying to get a profit.

I assume these were houses that exceeded the $350,000 price mark? While there has been a slow down, it seems to affect those who built really expensive homes. Houses around me aren't selling as fast as they were before, but they are still selling without sitting for months and months, and only a handful of people are getting less than asking price. Do I think this will sustain? Absolutely not, but for the time being, it seems to be doing much better than markets where people are taking a six figure loss on the sell of their homes.

New construction has come to a grinding halt. I know because I am in the business where I use tons of contractors. For years it was hard finding a decent GC because they were making their money building houses. Now they are lining up, begging for work. Unfortunately for them, the few that stuck with me during the housing boom will get the steady stream of income that I will provide, while the ones who abandonded me get nothing.

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caimakale wrote:

I assume these were houses that exceeded the $350,000 price mark? While there has been a slow down, it seems to affect those who built really expensive homes. Houses around me aren't selling as fast as they were before, but they are still selling without sitting for months and months, and only a handful of people are getting less than asking price. Do I think this will sustain? Absolutely not, but for the time being, it seems to be doing much better than markets where people are taking a six figure loss on the sell of their homes.

This statement is true of many places. On the news recently Tampa and Miami were noted as being the 2 worst cities in the nation for the biggest declines in value, and yet reality is there are very large portions of both towns that have decent resales, very little or no downward movement, some ocean or bayfront locations are still going up in value. It seems the bigger houses have more limited number of potential buyers and have a harder time selling but in RichardH's situation, sometimes its good to be the smallest house in a neighborhood of big houses. Right now sales in some places are brisk for this type of situation, but I bed the biggest baddest mansion in town are going to have some difficulty selling.

And of all recessions, many of us remember the last recessions... One thing that is common each time is everyone feels this is the worst we ever had it when the population at large realizes we might have a recession. Gloom and doom feelings are contagious, good thing is it doesnt take much to cheer things up, a little good news and American once again have money burning holes in their pockets and anxious to go on shopping sprees. Reality is in my area, we seen much worst in the last recession and real estate deflation then we see now, and the last one was nothing like the Carter/Reagan recession where unemployment hit double digit levels. Of course I hear the state of Michigan is very close to 10% unemployment and the mass exidus of people leaving Michigan is getting a lot of attention. But thats isolated, Michigan is in almost double the trouble of any place else.

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I agree with Carrie....If you want to do any upgrades to your home.....upgrade the bathroom and kitchen if it needs it..Dont worry about the basement right now...

I bet you might even get a good bite right away from someone who saw your light show with all those people who saw it this year...;)

I would move while your children are not effected by school changes...

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I think your making a great decision, in wanting to move. I would hate to have to have my display and hard work in someone elses yard. It is great you have afriend that will allow you to do this, but it just isnt the same.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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Richard,

I hope everything works out for you. If I were in your shoes I would be doing the same thing. It is too expensive of a hobby to not have the public enjoy it. Looking at your pictures you have some great opportunities. I believe you will be glad you made the move.

We are in the process of looking for a new house and "christmas friendly" is high on our list also.

Good Luck

greg

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Guest Jeff_Womack

Richard,

I haven't read this entire thread so I apologize if I step on what someone else said but I think you have learned a valuable lesson with this experience. Before purchasing or building a new home, get the covenents up front. Check to see if the streets are owned by the HOA, if they are that is a sure sign that a gate will be forthcoming. City owned streets can not be gated. I think I mentioned it before but my realor showed us a new neighborhood that offered 1/2 acre lots and nice homes at a reasonable rate. The problem was the streets, they were owned by the HOA and development company. I was assured that the gate would not be coming until the neoghborhood was built out but that only meant the closing down or limiting of my display was just a matter of time. No thank you. We decided to move further out of the city and get 2 acres. My lot is now 450 wide at the street so only the electrical service limits me. Plus there is not enough room across the street to build due to our location in the development so I will never have a directly across the street neighbor. The only down side is the number of people coming will be greatly diminished but that's ok also! A fresh start! Good luck with the search.

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And not that moving could ever be enjoyable ... but moving before your kids get into grade school would be wise. We moved when ouroldest was getting ready to start 1st grade ... and the timing was almost perfect. Now they are in 3rd and 1st grades ... and can't remember anything (or anyone) from a school/preschool prior to when we moved. Having a consistent home base for the kids was important to us ... and I'm sure it will be to you as well.

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I am lucky then. I justmoved to this neighborhood in Orange County, CA where the whole neighborhood do Christmas light every year. People from different city comes here every year and the City even block the road. This year, I am planning with LOR 32 channels. 1 Mega tree 20', 1 train 20' long, 3 big Wreaths from SAMSCLUB, multiples arches inside the train.

I got a lot of lights after Christmas and I am working to get 4 dedicated 20A circuit just for Christmas lights. Hope that I will do well this time.

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BOMCA3 wrote:

I am lucky then. I justmoved to this neighborhood in Orange County, CA where the whole neighborhood do Christmas light every year. People from different city comes here every year and the City even block the road. This year, I am planning with LOR 32 channels. 1 Mega tree 20', 1 train 20' long, 3 big Wreaths from SAMSCLUB, multiples arches inside the train.

I got a lot of lights after Christmas and I am working to get 4 dedicated 20A circuit just for Christmas lights. Hope that I will do well this time.

I would say you have probably gotten very lucky with your new neighborhood. Were you there for this past Christmas? If so do you have any pics you can post? Anxious to see pics of this coming year.

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Richard, you know no one on here will think your crazy for wanting to buy a new home to keep the lights at your house. I think most of us would do the same.

My wife actually said today she wanted to move. Not going to happen right now though. The Metro Atlanta area, like your aea, saw a good many years of growth and new house builds. Like there, the market is garbage and all the new homes are setting. Heck, some builders are getting their houses for closed. If you can sell your home, now is the time to buy. Interest rates seem pretty good and many new homes are selling thousands less than what they are worth. Some builders here are lowering prices from $30-100,000.

Carrie and Michelle have good points. Finishing your basement in order to sell is probably not a good idea. But doing the little things around the main living areas would be smart. When our house was appraised two years ago I had started finishing our basement. The appraiser told me having the basement done is a good idea, but in all actuality, it does not add that much value to your home. And if not done right (like high ceilings and the like) it will make little increase. I personally wouldn't go through the hassle of doing the basement. People will be more concerned with the condition of the carpets, tile, the yard, etc.

I think now is the time to move, especially with your little one not in school yet. It gives you a chance to look for the best school you can and find your Christmas friendly house. I know if I buy another home, I will make certain it fits the bill for the lights. Good Luck man. Your a smart guy, I do not think you are making a mistake, or have not thought this through thoroughly.

PS. If you decide to buy a house that has been setting, check the drywall for mold very very closely. Our house sat for a year before we bought it and we found out the drywall in the basement stairwell was covered in mold. Of course the builder didn;t tell us, a neighbor did.

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