A home where everyone is welcome!

(written for the Pet Gazette, Nov-Dec issue 2017)

I heard a sad story yesterday about a couple who had to re-home their beloved dog. They had moved to a new neighborhood and the Home Owners Association did not allow dogs as large as their Siberian Husky.  This could have been prevented by doing a bit of research and turning to a professional for assistance.  If you are in the market to buy a home, it is a smart decision to hire a Buyer’s Agent that is representing you and your best interests. This real estate agent will uncover any covenants and restrictions that might affect your pet owning family. They will make sure that your next purchase fits your needs so that Skippy isn’t out on the street.

Home Owners  Associations are governed by the rules set forth and recorded in the Covenants and Restrictions. These are on file at the courthouse and any real estate agent knows how to dig around and find them.  Not all C&R’s are written the same. They often address fencing, number of pets, type of pets and what you can do with your pets. If you breed dogs (responsibly, of course!) you don’t want to move to a community that prohibits dog breeding. If you run a rescue or you foster pets, a home in a community that limits your number of companions won’t work. And fencing……don’t get me started.

I once had a discussion with a developer who was in the process of writing restrictions for a new development. He told me that these would be luxury homes and he didn’t want fencing. I told him to specify that chaining and tethering was also out because this would then be the option of choice for some people.  He said he preferred underground fencing. That’s fine until one home owner has a thick-headed pooch that ignores the beep beep of the collar and charges the fence to freedom.  It only takes one time to have an escape artist who then goes visiting the neighborhood. Or how about coyotes, bears and other predators that have free access to your back yard? Underground fencing does not keep them out and puts your pets and children in danger. Fences make good neighbors. They keep your pets safe and your worries are minimized. The best solution for a developer is to put the fencing under architectural approval and specify what type of fencing is allowed.  As a home buyer, look at the restrictions carefully and make sure that any fence you put up conforms to the neighborhood rules.

Pet limits are always difficult. Some developments think that restricting the number to two household pets is reasonable. It’s not reasonable when those two pets are a different species. A much better compromise (if you are head of an HOA and you are reading this) is to limit homes to two or three pets per species. One development had a very caring restriction; they limited homes to 3 household pets but if any of those pets were over the age of twelve, they did not count in the total. That developer is concerned for our seniors. Good for them! Be careful also of restrictions on dog breeds. Not every development is happy to welcome bully-breeds into its community.  As dog lovers, we know this is unreasonable but we also know that sadly, not everyone agrees. Watch also for weight limits. Often communities are ok with dogs under a certain weight and no larger. Don’t find yourself in the same position as the Siberian Husky owner.

My best advice has always been to ask for and read any covenants and restrictions carefully BEFORE you make an offer on a home. If you have a hard time locating them, ask your real estate agent. Sometimes we have to dig a bit but these are important documents and it’s worth the time spent looking for these restrictions and any recent amendments that may have been recorded. You are buying a home for the whole family so let’s make sure it works for the whole family!

Pet Gazette Nov 2017

Details, Details, Details

A little rant here. I love details and I prefer to get them right so yes, it’s a pet peeve when another real estate agent gets it so wrong.

I was driving around previewing properties today for one of my clients. He has several pieces of land that he is interested in. One is on a gravel road and the land lays “behind the light yellow modular home”. All fine and good except there are a whole lot of tan homes and none were yellow. I couldn’t find the property. Wasted trip

My husband recently looked at a home that a potential client is buying. It needs extensive remodeling and on the clients wish list is a gas stove. She was disappointed that the house did not have gas which had my husband scratching his head. He was looking at a gas meter on the back of the house. The MLS detail sheet that the listing agent filled out stated the heating system was a heat pump but the Residential Property Disclosure that the home seller filled out said it was a heat pump with a Natural Gas back-up. Luckily this was a happy mistake but one all the same……….

Then there are the little every day details that I run into with real estate. I hate to see crooked photos, dark or over exposed photos, photos of toilet seats that have not been closed or photos of just a chandelier. Really?  You have a 24 photo limit and you are going to use one spot on just the chandelier? Unless it’s some priceless antique, you are wasting your story time. Because that’s what this is, it’s story time. Your verbiage and photos tell a story about a home. Use that information wisely!


Farming Communities in the City

This article explains an interesting concept. We have all seen golfing communites where housing is developed around a golf course. There are also equestrian developments where horse lovers can share a barn, pasture space and have access to riding trails. This is a farm community in the city and suburbs where people can enjoy farm fresh food right out their back door.  What do you think?

Farm Life in the ‘Burbs

21 Highland Cows (5)

Take your dog to work..…every day

Around the Asheville area, it’s very common to walk into a place of business and be greeted by the office dog.  For many of us, we immediately get a good vibe about the company. Of course, they must be good people if they love dogs!

Being a Real Estate Broker I have been blessed with the ability to bring my dogs to work with me. Sometimes they even get to help out.  A few years ago I marketed and sold a Boarding Kennel / Training facility where two of my dogs helped with the photo shoot to advertise the property. On another occasion, I was asked to bring my Tag along when listing a home. The owner was in her 80’s and the thought of selling her family home was very stressful. Tag sat at her side and gave her comfort through the process. A friend of mine is a home health nurse and often takes his dogs along when visiting home-bound patients. He says this always brightens their day.  A photographer that I know in Florida has used his dog in many photo shoots for jewelry and other items.

When I decided to change real estate offices, I interviewed with several companies. Everyone is positive that I picked Town and Mountain Realty because they have truly gone to the dogs. On an average day, you will see a half dozen different dogs trotting around. As cute a Frankie Doodle is, he really isn’t the reason that I picked this office but he told me a lot about the office. He told me the office has a heart. This is a place that cares about every person that enters the door. Just the other day I was greeted by the secretary Kassie as I pulled in the parking lot. She was walking two visiting dogs while their owners were discussing an offer on a potential new home. How many employers would tell their secretary “Yes! Go play with the customer’s dog so they can concentrate”. Not many people get the significance of that one little act of kindness.  It says a lot about the office I work at and the people I work with. It makes your work environment feel much more inviting. And it doesn’t hurt to always have a fuzzy face to cuddle with when you are having a bad day!

Tripp at my desk


Selling your home when you have pets. A balancing act

(I wrote this article for the next Pet Gazzette Magazine but here is a sneak peak!)

56% of homeowners share their home with pets and in the Asheville area, it’s a pretty good guess that this number is higher. WNC loves their dogs and when it’s time to sell our home we have to balance our companion’s needs with the needs of a potential buyer.

Most internet articles will tell you to send Skippy on a vacation. That’s as likely as sending the kids to boarding school so the house can stay organized. Skippy isn’t going anywhere so we need to work around this. There are two aspects to selling a home with pets that we need to look at; cleanliness and logistics.

This is the time to be honest with yourself. Even if you groom your pets daily they still bring dirt into your home. Give everything a good scrub down. Vacuum daily to remove pet hair. Wipe down base trim and wall corners that your dogs rub up against.  Remove nose prints from windows before each showing. Repair any damage that your pet has done to your home. Clean litter boxes multiple times a day and use high-quality kitty litter to help mask the smell. Put away toys and remove any pee pads. Pay attention to odors. We get used to the odor our own pets bring to our home but be sure that buyers will smell it. Use Fabreeze liberally, baking soda in litterboxes and carpet cleaner on the rugs. In the summer, run your air-conditioning during showings and put a good HEPA filter on your furnace to help filter the air. Even if a potential buyer is also a pet owner they will be more grossed out by other peoples “dirt” than they are by their own so eliminate it as much as you can. Don’t forget the yard. Buyers look for omens to tell them if this is the house for them and stepping in Skippy’s little “gifts” is not a good omen!  Lastly, don’t be surprised if your pets start having house training issues. They feel your stress plus the added stress of strangers coming in when you are not home.  When pets get stressed, accidents happen.

So what do you do with your pets while your home is being shown? Cats will pretty much disappear but if you have one that might be an escape artist then invest in a large dog crate or cat pen for extra security during showings. Locking Kitty in a bedroom is not a good option. We want buyers to have full access to your house and not have to worry about letting your pet escape. Dogs are another story. It IS NOT ok to let your dog loose in the house when it is being shown.  This is a very bad idea. Even people who love dogs will be nervous around a dog they don’t know and you know what? Your dog will be afraid of them too. I don’t care how friendly and well socialized Skippy is, their home is being invaded by strangers and this puts them in a bad spot. Do I guard the house? Do I let them in? This is not fair to Skippy and it’s unfair to put him in this situation.  You have the ability to set your showing instructions to give you some lead time when your home is being shown. Give yourself enough time that you can run home and crate your dog or remove them all together. Maybe this is a good time to check out a doggy day care in your area or maybe a dog walker that can run over and get Skippy out of the house for an hour. If they must stay home and a crate is not an option, put them in the laundry room or a bathroom (think small, easy to view from the door) and put up a secure baby gate. This confines your dog and gives them a barrier between them and the intruder, hence a sense of security for everyone.

Selling a home is stressful for everyone but with some planning and a game plan, you can balance this and make it work for everyone!

– Susan M. Young is a long standing Asheville area Real Estate Broker and has been active in dog sports with her Golden Retrievers for over 20 years.

Asheville Architecture

My husband and I were strolling through downtown Asheville the other night, enjoying the evening until I saw this…………………..


I knew the Asheville Art Museum was renovating their building but this looks like a tear down. To make matters worse, there was a banner on the fence showing what the new building would look like……..


I was horrified. It ruined my evening. One of the many things I love about Asheville is the architecture. I love old buildings. I love the creativity and the imagination that was put in to their design. This particular building was built in 1925 by New York Architect Edward Tilton. He built it in the Renaissance Revival style to house the Pack Memorial Library. It was in use until 1978 when the library outgrew it’s space and moved across town. This beautiful building stood mostly vacant until 1992 when the Pack Place Education, Arts & Science Center took over the space. They remain the current occupants today with the Asheville Art Museum being the main driving force.

As I read the history I learned a few things about this building. First, the way I know the building is different than when Tilton designed it. It has already been changed from the original design. Second, this new remodel is restoring the exterior and the hideous glass wall?  It appears it will be in front of the original facade, combining old and new. I will admit, this could be interesting. I will keep and open mind and wait until the grand opening before I will shed tears over the demise. Maybe this change will be a good think.

To read more about the history of the building and it’s future, please visit the Asheville Art Museum site, North Wing Project