Zeavola – EcoLiving In Thailand

This Tuesday, let’s travel to the lush rainforest on the Phi Phi Island of Thailand.  There you will find an environmentally friendly luxury zeavola08hotel with suites made of teakwood connected by a tranquil white sandy beach.  Zeavola- Koh Phi Phi has engaged in an energy conservation system, water is sourced from local wells and rainwater collection systems.  Waste water is treated before being used to water the jungle garden, natural waste is composted, and the resort is engaged in beach and coral cleaning programs. Even further, Zeavola participates in first aid and survival assistance for birds.  All of this lead Zeavola to be recognized as the world’s top sustainable boutique hotel.

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The villas are spaced to give some privacy and offer some variety.  Options are beachfront, village garden or on the hillside.  And during your stay you can relax on the beach, scuba dive in the Andaman Sea, take a cooking class, or enjoy the spa.  Zeavola is just the type of EcoLiving adventure we would love, how about you?

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What’s my house worth?

You may have just started considering the idea of selling or you have been wanting to take this step for a long time.  One of the first things you want to know: how much is my house is worth?  As licensed real estate professionals and investors we want to help property owners in Kansas City with as much practical information as possible.  Whether you sell your property directly to us or we help match you with the right buyer, we can help you with honest information.  Enter your address below and get an idea of what the fair market evaluation would be for your house.  Please keep in mind, this does not include any updating or repairs currently needed on your house.

https://hollyjackson.exprealty.com/sellembed.php

Planting Seeds

At the inception of EcoLiving Property, we aimed to have a positive impact on the properties we touched and the communities surrounding them.  We wanted to inspire others to follow our influence and see how homes can be renovated in a mindful way which reduces harm to the environment.  We knew with every project we would find ways to improve our own system; increase the sustainable ideas and decreasing the waste.  We knew we would face challenges and that others would doubt our ability to accomplish our goals.

What I failed to realize is the positive impact we would have within our own house and with the next generation EcoLiving home rehabber.  My daughter has absorbed so much of the business from how we preview a property and estimate repairs, to what products we use in our projects and how we market.  She can recite many of the things I tell to real estate agents, contractors and fellow investors about our business.  And she is excited about some day being responsible for her own project.  Now if she could differentiate between colors/patterns of her own preference and the preferences of the majority of buyers I would say she is about ready.

This knowledge and experience will give her financial security early in life by recognizing the value of real estate and understanding the business.  Even better, she identifies the desire to protect the environment.  I have no doubt my daughter will continue to improve our processes and share the positive influence until the environment will no longer need protection.  I’m just grateful to be planting the seeds.

This Week’s Head Ache

There are bound to be hiccups during the home redevelopment process.  Sub-contractors quit, wood flooring is too thin to be sanded and refinished one more time and lumber for decking disappears – unfortunately all of these things have recently occurred and we have worked through them and kept going.  This week one of the head aches we have struggled with the most is trying to find a way to reuse the clawfoot tub for The Genessee Project.  As Kansas City’s environmentally friendly home redevelopment company we aim to repurpose what’s existing instead of buy new whenever possible.

The tub was left in the house by the previous homeowner but had never been installed.  Screenshot (15)Seeing as it goes with the character of this century old victorian property, we opted to reintegrate it into the hall bathroom.  With naive optimism we assumed finding hardware and installing plumbing would be as easy as a Sunday afternoon soak…  Select a tub faucet, handle, shower faucet done – right?  Let’s just say, after hours of searching, conversing about and re-searching faucet options – we still don’t feel like we have determined how this bathroom will take shape.

Vintage-clawfoot-bathtubIn place of continuing to shop for faucets that don’t exist, I turned to a google search for “clawfoot tub images.”  This will help give me some direction for what to look for, I thought.  It didn’t take me long to find almost exactly the tub we have in the house with the same three holes and where they are positioned.  Enlarging the image showed it was attached to an article link entitled “Why You Shouldn’t Install A Clawfoot Tub.”

Oh the irony…  If we hadn’t already invested so much time and been so stubborn about making it work – it may have ended up out in the yard as a planter.  I’m making this declaration heard:  We will be conquering the clawfoot and this bathroom will be a masterpiece!

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What’s happened to Midtown Blue?

This project is about ready to be listed.  We are indescribably proud of the energy and effort we put into this property to maintain the integrity of this 100-year-old shirtwaist home.  It is in a fantastic location just a few blocks South of the coveted Union Hill neighborhood and will have an easy connection to hop onto the Kansas City Streetcar as the expansion continues down Main Street.  This property is ideal for anyone who wants the luxury of their own house with easy access to downtown Kansas City.

The renovation of this house was not an easy project to tackle, however, we wanted to stay true to our mission and make environmentally sound decisions.  This meant we took time to hold an estate sale to sell off then donate remaining belongings in the house rather than send everything to a landfill.  We replaced all the windows to reduce energy loss and ensured all the new appliances carried an energy star rating.  Instead of tearing out the interior down to the studs; we worked to preserve original lathe and plaster, trim and flooring where possible.  This reduced waste and also maintained the character and charm.

The following are some before and after pictures of some of the improvements.  If you would like to know more about this property you can text 1632 to (913)246-5566 

Livingroomb&aOne of the first tasks to this project was reinforcing the main beam in the basement of the house to ensure it will continue to be structurally sound for another century.  The house had a noticeable droop in the middle and walls were cracking and some doors were not level because of this.  Then, throughout the main floor we refinished the wood floors and trim.  We fixed the pocket door between the dining room and office and opened part of the wall between the kitchen and dining room.  We removed the drop ceiling and paneling, updated all of the electrical and added new light fixtures.

kitchenb&aBeyond opening the kitchen to the dining room, we also reduced the full bathroom to a powder room in order to add more cabinet and counter top space into the kitchen.  The new cabinets, counter tops, tile and paint compliment the classic design of the property.  It was important to us to maximize the kitchen design to include the most storage space as possible while not interfering with the back entrance to the house or basement door.  We overcame this challenge while still maintaining the big open feeling everyone desires in a kitchen.

officeb&aThe office is on the main floor with access from three doorways; the front hall, dining room pocket door or the kitchen.  It was also a victim of the drop ceiling and paneling.  We also had some damage to the wood floors in this room which was able to be remedied to blend.mastersuiteb&aOne of the greatest improvements to Midtown Blue is the addition of a master suite.  Fortunately this room already had a grand size walk in closet which we know is not always the case in houses built in this era.  Once the clutter was cleared we were able to construct a plan to open a doorway between two bedrooms to add an en suite bathroom.  The second bedroom (the blue room) also provided a stairway to finish the attic into livable space.  The master suite is stunning and we are slightly jealous of the future homeowner who will get to lay their head down here each night.

This house will hit the market very soon so if you or someone you know is interested in a fantastic midtown location with a house you can be confident is redeveloped with integrity reach out to EcoLiving Property.   If you would like to know more about this property you can text 1632 to (913)246-5566. 

#Travel Tuesday: EcoLiving In Japan

Today we are highlighting an environmentally genius home in Kitasaku District, Japan.  This structure was conceived by Kotaro Ide / ARTechnic architects and constructed in 2008.  This house is not only a unique architectural marvel, it also is intended to coexist with nature as a weekend retreat to escape busy weekday life in Tokyo.

What Makes it Energy Efficient:

  • Due to the humid climate it is constructed mainly of steel to reduce deterioration.
  • Custom made floor heating improves the energy efficiency and prevents the growth of mold.  By dividing the oval section with a flat floor, a bow-shaped space  serves as a heat chamber.  Warm air blows from locations of frequent use will efficiently heat the flooring.
  • Since the house is not utilized full-time, other measures were added to automatically kick in to run an antifreeze procedure, dehumidification and ventilation as needed.

 

Don’t let a bank ruin your house.

Observing the flooding from hurricanes leaves everyone with a sickening feeling.  We understand the rising waters will ruin homes and require replacing most if not all of their belongings.  There is a shared sadness felt across the country, especially when considering many homeowners are not insured to cover the damages to their properties.  Thankfully there is an abundance of effort to help those in need and some government support which can be offered during natural disasters.

At EcoLiving Property, we see another kind of disaster and it affects families and houses just the same.  According to Realty Trac there are over 600,000 homes in some stage of foreclosure in the United States today.  There are so many reasons good, hard-working Americans begin struggling to make their mortgage payments.  Unfortunately job loss, medical problems, separations and so many other problems can become the financial constraint.

During the foreclosure process a bank will not be patient with a borrower on a human level, they don’t care to understand what the circumstances are.  Banks rely on a set of rules and numbers, they eventually will evict homeowners no matter how much equity they may have in the house.

What follows is the “natural disaster” to the house.  A once loved home can sit vacant for months or even years before it is processed by the bank to either resell or put onto an auction.  Over time all the regular upkeep a homeowner would do goes undone and begins to eat away at a house.  Wood rot sets in, sediment develops in pipes, termites can go undetected and moisture grows to mold.  A vacant house can even draw vandalism and lower property values in the whole neighborhood.  The longer it sits, the more damage is done.

Below are photos of a home we recently viewed.  It is a split level family home in a cul-de-sac in a nicely kept suburban area.  It was clear the property had sat vacant for too long and will likely stay on the market for much longer.  In this case, like many others, the bank wants a certain price and won’t take any less.  It is lower than retail price but can’t be financed through a traditional loan due to needed repairs, eliminating most retail buyers.  And the cost of the necessary repairs makes the bank’s asking price too high for investors.  Unfortunately houses like this will sit and deteriorate further.

As residential redevelopers and real estate agents we see a lot of houses in horrendous conditions.  It’s always a curiosity to wonder if there was something we could have done to help, if we could have been of assistance to the homeowner during a difficult time?

We buy houses quickly with cash and can help prevent the damage a foreclosure can do to credit.  Buying houses this way even prevents the damage a bank will cause by allowing a house to sit vacant following a foreclosure.  If you or someone you know is struggling with making mortgage payments, don’t worry you’re not alone.  We want to help you and lessen the impact of the disaster in your life.

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Lessons in the Real Estate Market

The first house we bought this year took longer than expected to rehab. We overcame obstacle after obstacle like long distance trail runners, clawing and scratching our way to making things right.  It was important to us to complete this project with integrity and ensure it was solid, safe and beautiful inside and out.  We went above and beyond to improve the comfort and functionality of the house, even if it meant costing us more money in the end.  We ensured permits were used so the house would be properly inspected and we called in trustworthy sub-contractors to complete their own specialties. Throughout the project we stayed mindful of measures to improve the efficiency and re-purpose materials to be as environmentally friendly as possible.  I am proud to say we achieved what we aimed for, as you can tell from the listing photos.

Mirroring the challenges we overcame to rehab the property we are also facing obstacles in the real estate market.  It had been our goal to complete this rehab in the spring, assuming it would sell quickly in the hot spring market and be closed by early summer. Unfortunately due to so many complications, the construction delays meant we were set back from completion a few months.  By the time we were almost finished, we were over eager to have it sold and went ahead with listing prior to the final electrical touches being completed.  We disclosed the work yet to be finished and crossed our fingers buyers would understand.

Within two days of being “live” on MLS there had about a dozen showings and two offers – it was exactly the response we had planned for and were so thankful others were seeing the 828livingroombeauty in this property.  We were under contract by the weekend and looking forward to closing by mid-August.  During the inspection, we held our breath anticipating the report, knowing it is an inspectors job to find imperfections not to reassure buyers and encourage sales.

Sure enough, something had gone horribly wrong.  During the inspection the buying couple, realtor and inspector all smelled the aroma of burning on the main floor.  They canceled the contract.  I don’t blame them, it would have panicked me too if I had been in their shoes.  But from where I stood, it was beyond frustrating to have this burning smell occur on inspection day instead of any other day in the last six months.

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What the buyers were likely imagining behind the walls. (not an actual picture from the house.

Thank goodness we already had an electrician scheduled to work at the house the following week. We removed our listing from MLS in order to complete what was already planned and to find the source of the smell.  In hindsight we should have waited in the first place to list it until we knew for sure it is 100% ready, this lesson is just added to the 4,593 other lessons this house brought us.

It was necessary for the city shut down power to the house to complete the scheduled updates. Unfortunately the timing of this work synced with major power outages across Kansas City with storms and flooding rain.  Inspections and restoring power to the house took a painful and agonizing two weeks.  Finally with the power back on, the electrician was able to sniff out the source of the burning smell.  He found the issue in the master bedroom with the original light/fan.  While the fan was trying desperately to turn the blades, instead it was burning its motor and causing the frightening smell.  He was able to replace it the same day and the source of the burning smell was extinguished like the original contract.

Finally feeling confident in the completion of this project, we once again returned to live status on MLS.  Only this time we were without the big rush of “first day on the market” excitement.  In the last two weeks since we resumed showings, we have had steady traffic and received a lot of positive feedback.  There has been compliments about the finishes and various reasons why the property won’t work for certain buyers.  On a few occasions we heard the house was being considered between two and on those few occasions those buyers opted to make offers on their other choice based on square footage or location – things out of our control.  We know we will have buyers for this house who will love it and make it their home, so for now we wait.

This house brought so many lessons, including growing patience preparing for the real estate market. There are so many unique people in Kansas City and so many redevelopment companies.  Unfortunately, not everyone or every company is honest and knowledgable about what they are doing to their properties. Buying a house is typically the biggest investment anyone will ever make and because of this there are measures in place to help protect people and their decisions, like backing out of contracts. No one can take our word for the work we have done or what we plan to do before signing at the closing table.  We have to demonstrate the ethics and trustworthiness of our company and the houses we redevelop by making a good first impression, because with other houses on the market to compete with we may not get that opportunity again.

 

 

Consistent Distractions

We take our job very seriously.  We have invested a lot of time and energy into learning our trade and understanding the business.  Naturally we love the design aspect, shopping, checking out properties, educating about creating a healthier earth and watching  home transform.  And it’s critical we understand the systems to doing things the right way and avoid unnecessary risk.  When it boils down to it, it’s crazy fun.

Life as a real estate investor means we live on the fly, how we spend our days often gets made up as we go.  The best scheduled plans can quickly get detoured when a potential deal needs to be accessed because offers are made quickly.  Part of the excitement of the business is the unpredictability and it can also be a source of frustration.  At times we have found ourselves distracted by the excitement and wasting time on the wrong tasks.

Because of the tendency to chase shiny things, we have begun to emphasize improving our systems to implement tasks and routines with flexibility.  This allows us to keep focused on structure while still allowing for unplanned events.  We time block when to work on marketing, communications, renovation tasks, analyzing deals, education and networking meetings.  We keep each other accountable for sticking to assigned tasks and staying focused.  Our business is more productive because of this method.

Keeping in mind the necessity of avoiding distractions, I stood in our construction zone making a mental note of all of the duties which would need to be worked on over the next few days.  Tile on the kitchen floor to be repaired, trim around the windows, installing appliances, paint etc.  I placed a phone call to the contractor to go over what I was seeing when outside the window I spotted a flash of white.  Grateful to have the major part of my conversation completed, my focus wavered from his words to narrow in on the bright spot across the street.  I darted to the window like a labrador retriever and there it was, a small furry ghost on the tree, the neighborhood albino squirrel.  Okay, so we are not perfect.  We can’t time block everything and may still chase ‘shiny things’ on occasion.

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Not the actual squirrel, you would stop to look too wouldn’t you?

Kansas City Home Sales

soldimagesWith a decrease in inventory and an increase in sales price, Kansas City is currently in a hot seller’s market.  According to the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors there are 27% less homes listed for sale in the Kansas City then there were just three months ago.  And the median house price reflects the greater demand by increasing 6.7% in the same time period.  If you are hoping to buy this spring, you have a lot of competition.

On the opposite side, this is great news if you are considering putting your house on the market.  You may have heard some extraordinary stories of people who list their home, have dozens of showings and multiple offers within days.  Ordinarily we would think this kind of house would be in a prime location and listed below market value to gain this kind of response.  However, this situation is occurring all over the metro and in every different price point.  The offers have been flooding in for home owners over asking price, no contingencies, with high earnest money checks and all kinds of additional bonuses to get contracts to stand out above others.

If you want to get in on the real estate action, now is the prime time to sell.  There is some up front work to consider as buyers love clean, updated homes with great curb appeal.  However, being a sellers market means buyers are willing to put money into some updating and landscaping just to get themselves to the closing table with a home.  It still would be unreasonable to think you could sell a house at a premium if it needs a complete overhaul or major repairs.

But what if your house needs updating or big repair and you still are interested in taking advantage of the current market?  It may seem overwhelming to replace a roof, repair foundation, install new carpeting or update bathrooms or a kitchen.  We may be able to help, we won’t ask you to clean, we won’t expect you to declutter for showings, and we won’t ask you to make any updates or repairs.  We make fair market cash offers, pay closing costs and close on your timeline.  And as license real estate agents, we may recommend it would be to your benefit to list your property in the traditional way to maximize your profit and can refer a great agent to serve you.  Reach out to us for more information at contact@ecolivingproperty.com or (913)333-9643.  We would be happy to answer your questions and help you with real estate solutions.