Buying a House Made Easy – Part 3, a Series about Home Shopping

In the last post I covered “The Land Your House will Sit On”. Today I’ll discuss what you’ll be looking at “Right Outside Your Door”.

When home shopping, it’s important to take a broader perspective. Don’t get so caught up in the design of the house, that you forget to look at your surroundings.

Note: Since Special “Finds…” deals only  in unique homes and unusual houses, the items that I’ll focus on in this post will be broader than if you are looking for a house in a development. I’ll   cover in-depth the choices, or variables that you might need to make an upfront decision about. Thinking through the following questions will help   you fine tune what you are really looking for in your next real estate purchase:

Part 3)  Right Outside Your Door

Do you want your next home to be in a specific kind of community? As a home buyer, are outside activities important to you, and/or do you like to get involved in community activities?
  •   gated
  •   golfing
  •   artistic
  •   spiritual/holistic
  •   less populated area
  •   skiing
  •   fly-in
  •   waterfront
  •   retirement
  •   historic district
  •   farming
Do you want privacy?  What does privacy mean to you?
  •   do you like total isolation;
  •   neighbors within yelling distance; or
  •   neighbors next door, but you can’t see their house


While home   shopping, when you envision the house of your dreams, how does it look from the outside?
  •   quaint
  •   eclectic
  •   charming
  •   stately
  •   peaceful
  •   dramatic
  •   totally unique
  •   indescribable
 When home shopping, how you envision your home looking on the outside is often a reflection of how you envision your life.  During the home shopping adventure, notice how a certain type house design affects you.  This historic farmhouse is a sought after design when home shopping.
As you drive up to your house, how do you “see” your driveway? What does it look like?
  •   Are you okay with a driveway that goes steeply up or down?  (As you are home shopping,   remember that as a “home buyer”, there is a strong likelyhood that you will eventually be a “home seller”. Steep driveways can greatly impact your potential resale.)
  •   Do you mind sharing a driveway?
  •   Are you able to share in the cost of maintaining a shared road/drive?
 las predaras drive  An property entrance such as this one can instantly relax you during the home shopping experience.  Notice while you are home shopping that the entrance to a property makes a big difference in your expectations.
Of what material is your driveway constructed?
  •   Gravel
  •   Cobblestone
  •   paved
  •   Brick/pavers
  •   Concrete
  •   dirt
Do you want to see water from your house?
  •   broad fishing stream
  •   stocked pond
  •   river
  •   man-made pond
  •   small brook
  •   lake
  •   natural waterfall
Other than water, are views important to you? What kind?
  •   farmland
  •   of layers of mountains
  •   360 degree views
  •   sunset
  •   sunrise
  •   city lights
  •   ski slopes
  •   golf course
When you look out on your grounds, what do you see?
  •   manicured lawn
  •   shaded areas
  •   open pasture
  •   organic garden(s)
  •   huge trees
  •   grounds in natural state
  •   herb gardens
  •   specimen plantings
  •   low maintenance grounds
  •   formal gardens
  •   perennial gardens
  •   a greenhouse
  •   tool shed/barn
Do you need a fenced yard or area?
  •   total fencing
  •   partial fencing
  •   invisible pet fencing
  •   privacy fencing
  •   white picket fencing
  •   wrought iron gates
  •   chain-link fencing
  •   a fenced back yard
  •   cross-fenced pastures
In summary, as you are home shopping, knowing what you’re looking for makes the buying process more enjoyable for you, and enables your Realtor® to do a better job for you!Be sure to drop by tomorrow to read Part 4 of Buying a House Made Easy series, where I’ll focus on how you envision “Your Perfect House”.
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Buying a House — Made Easy: A Series about the Home Buying Process

This is Part 2 of the 4-part series:  Buying a House — Made Easy

The home buying process can be daunting, but doesn’t have to be!

In the last post, I covered  “The Kind of Area” best suited for you.  Today I’ll discuss the The Land Your House Will Sit On.
Note:  Since Special “Finds…” deals only in unique and uncommon real estate, the items that I’ll focus on in this post will be broader than if you are looking for a house in a development.  I’ll cover in-depth the choices, or variables that you might need to make an upfront decision about. Thinking through the following questions will help you fine tune what you are really looking for in your next real estate purchase:


Buying a House – Part 2 

The Land Your House Will Sit On

How much property do you want, or need?

  •   An acre is about the size of a football field.
  •   An open acre without trees, will appear visually smaller   than a wooded acre.  So if you’re   standing in an open field and think you need more acreage, reflect seriously   on the amount of work associated with maintaining open land.

        When you area home buying, a house out in the country, consider how much ground maintenance is required.

“When I was going through the home buying process, I   bought a farmhouse on 14 acres in Barnardsville, NC without recognizing that   I would need livestock, of some sort, to keep the grass down.  I purchased 10 Angora goats and 2 pregnant   cows.  The goats quickly turned into   35, the cows had calves.  I became a farmer!”
 When buying a house in a developed area, it's still possible to have privacy with trees. Consider this when home buying!
What kind of land do you want or need?
   If Open pasture land?
  •   Do you have horses, and need a barn appropriate   for horses, and fencing in place?
    • Are you   particular about the type of horse fencing?
    • Do you need to   be near trails?
    • Are you   willing to trailer your horse to trails?
    • Do you need to   be near a boarding stable?
  •   Do you have cattle or other livestock that require   special consideration, such as a natural water source?
  •   Do you plan to have a garden — large or small?
 Or, do you prefer:
  •   wooded acreage
  •   part open/part wooded
  •   low maintenance
  •   manicured grounds with specimen plantings or   Japanese gardens
Is the topography important to you?
  •   gently rolling
  •   hilly
  •    steep
  •   mountainous
  •  flat

In summary, when when involved in the home buying process, it’s very important to determine what kind of land is of interest to you, before you meet with your Realtor®.  Being able to explain that to your agent makes the process of buying a house more enjoyable for you, and enables your Realtor® to do a better job!

Be sure to drop by tomorrow to read Part 3 of Buying a House — Made Easy, a Series,  where I’ll focus on what you want see “Right Outside Your Door”.







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Buying a House — Made Easy: 4-Part Series

Buying a house requires upfront “mental legwork” — more than you realize. Unless you want to invest your time in riding around looking at properties of no interest, it’s very important to know what you’re looking for, and to be able to describe it, before you make the first call to your Realtor®.

Doing this will save you time, prevent lots of frustration, and even potentially save you from buying a house that you’ll regret later.

This is the first of 4, in a series to make you really “think” about your next property purchase.

Note: Since Special “Finds…” sells only unique homes and uncommon properties, the items that I’ll focus on in this post will be broader than if you are looking for a house in a development. I’ll cover in-depth the choices, or variables that you might need to make an upfront decision about. Thinking through the following questions will help you fine-tune what you are really looking for in your next real estate purchase:

Part 1) Buying a House — Made Easy


General store shopping may offer limited clothing selection! Buying a house in a remote area has its challenges, but is often very worth the choice.

General store shopping may offer limited clothing selection!

What Kind of Area Do You Want to Live In? Figuring out the type of area where you’ll be happiest is definitely challenging. Try to seriously answer the following:

• How many times a week do you eat out? Are 4-Star restaurants your daily fare?
• How far are you willing to drive for a quart of milk?
• If you’ll need to do renovations, how far is it to the hardware store?
• Are you willing to wear clothing available at the General Store, or are you a mall shopper?

What is important about your next geographic location?

• near a medical community
• close to churches & synagogues
• near horseback riding trails
• near restaurants
• near hike and bike trails
• near an airport
• near a major city • near Nat’l parks
• near shopping
• near ski resorts
• near rivers, lakes

Do you want your next home to be in a specific kind of community?

• gated
• golfing
• artistic
• spiritual/holistic • less populated area
• skiing
• fly-in
• waterfront • retirement
• historic district
• farming

Do you want privacy? What does privacy mean to you?

• do you like total isolation;
• neighbors within yelling distance; or
• neighbors next door, but you can’t see their house

In summary, knowing what you are looking for makes buying a house more enjoyable for you, and enables your Realtor® to do a better job!
Be sure to drop by tomorrow to read Part 2 of Buying a House — Made Easy: a Series.  Tomorrow, I’ll focus on the type land that interests you: “The Land Your House Will Sit On”.

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Grow a Living Roof or Green Roof | Sustainable Living

grow a living roof on your homeThe thought to grow a living roof is becoming more and more common in the United States but living roofs are not a new idea.    

A living roof or green roof is one that has a layer of earth allowing vegetation, perfect for a simple lawn, flowers, trees or a vegetable garden.  

They have been an important part of architecture in European countries for more than 60 years.  Some countries have recognized their benefits to the extent of requiring that all new flat roofs grow a living roof.


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Historic Victorian Homes | Charlotte

Historic Victorian Homes in Charlotte

historic-victorian-homeThe noteworthy area of the Fourth Ward sophisticatedly blends restored 100-plus-year-old historic victorian homes with urban apartments, parks, restaurants, and businesses. Wandering through the bright, airy, narrow tree-lined streets, visitors delight in seeing the grand old picturesque historic victorian homes with charming front porches and courtyard gardens.  Go ahead and take a stroll through the beautiful Victorian neighborhood, don’t rush though, slow down take your time and enjoy.


In 1886 trolleys became a focus of public transportation in NC.  You can read about it here.  In the early months of 1887, the trolley came into use in Charlotte, bringing communities that once seemed far away, within easy reach.  The Fourth Ward became a sought after area and tended to be inhabited by business owners, clergy, and doctors.  The area represented an affluent area of Charlotte but over the years as commerce transitioned, and certainly by 1970, the area had become neglected.  It was common to see vandalized or even burned-out homes.  Thankfully, in the late 20th century the Fourth Ward saw a restoration and has now become a thriving part of Uptown Charlotte.

Today, the entire Fourth Ward is a great place to visit and an active, charming community of stunning Victorian homes, luxury condos, urban-style apartments, green spaces, and businesses.  There are plenty of cultural, religious and educational things to do, all within walking distance of the thriving  uptown business district of Charlotte.

Noteworthy Historic Victorian Homes in Charlotte’s Fourth Ward

Historic Victorian Homes

Historic Carr House

John Price Carr House, built in 1904 is a stunning Queen Anne style Victorian home and is a discussed on the Charlotte Landmark Commission’s website.

Historic Victorian Homes

The William Overcarsh House

The William Overcarsh House was the home of a local schoolteacher and minister who influenced the religious development of the Mecklenburg County. It exhibits a tower, sun burst gables, carved doorways, and etched windows. The 3,435 square feet, five-bedrooms and two-baths home is a good example of the Queen Anne style of architecture. It was last sold in 1994 for $566,500.

Historic Victorian Homes

The Berryhill House

The Berryhill House was built in 1884 by John H. Newcomb. It is one of the few remaining examples of Victorian architecture in Charlotte. The exterior trim is elaborate, as is a common Charles Eastlake feature. 

Attractions in Fourth Ward

The Fourth Ward is made up of mostly residential Victorian homes, it is an official Historic District and is the location of Old Settlers’ Cemetery as well as the three acre Fourth Ward Park. For a great overview of the neighborhood’s past, present and future, hop on a horse-drawn carriage ride with Charlotte Center City Carriage Tours.

Historic Victorian Home For Sale

Historic Victorian Home

119 N Piedmont Ave, Kings Mountain

The Rev. John D. Mauney House is a Victorian Painted Lady near Charlotte NC, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Cobblestone paths meander through ancient English Boxwoods, past pretty gardens with seating areas. A few of the amenities inside are heart-pine floors reflecting the warm glow of a pretty crystal chandeliers hanging from tall ceilings, 4 roomy bedrooms, three and 1/2 baths including a main level master bedroom with private bath, three fireplaces, large kitchen with hidden appliances, enormous game room with burnished terrazzo floor and a bar with appliances, lots of built-in shelves and cabinets with leaded or stained glass doors, a separate garage and carport. Click here for more information about this beautiful home for sale.


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Sustainable Living | Underground Homes

Underground Homes

As the cost of living increases, people are rethinking the way they live. Many people are turning to an energy efficient lifestyle. Not only is green living economically savvy but also environmentally friendly. Underground homes, also known as earth-sheltered homes are becoming a much more popular choice to those who are attracted to sustainable living. It’s truly a unique and exciting way of life!

The main component of an earth sheltered home is its infrastructure. Being built out of concrete, the home’s temperature will mimic closely to the internal temperature of the soil, the ground acts as a blanket. For example, If the soil in your area has a consistent temperature of 50 degrees you would expect your home to remain at a steady 50 degrees. Making heating the home much easier and affordable.

The benefits of owning an Earth Sheltered Home are numerous. They include: protection from temperature extremes, energy efficiency, economically feasible insurance breaks, water lines will never freeze, termite proof, and protection from nuclear fallout.

Notable Underground Homes Around the World

Picture of one of the Interesting and beautiful underground homes in the village of Holme in England

The above underground home was significant enough to be featured in Architectural Digest.  Located in the village of Holme in England, Architectural Digest referred to it as describes the significance of a home such as this here.


There are few underground homes, but this is an excellent exaple of one in Gimingham, North Norfolk, UK

The above house, known as The Sedum House, is an underground home located in Gimingham, North Norfolk, UK.  Featured on the Underground Home Directory, their description is “This home, innovative even by green roof standards, represents a great fusion between an unusual curved green roof and Geothermal design.this home “.  By the way, the Underground Home Directory is a great resource for unique homes.  Visit their site to learn all kinds of info about underground and earth-sheltered homes.

Underground homes located in Lyme, New Hampshire

The Pinnacle House

The above “Pinnacle House” is an award-winning, sustainably-designed underground home in Lyme, New Hampshire. It was featured on Wilder Utopia, where they describe earth-sheltered homes as Earth Sheltered, energy-efficient houses are bright, airy, dry and quiet.”  Visit their site to read about all kinds of unusual properties.


One of the Underground Homes For Sale

few underground homes are available, but this one near Asheville NC at 6 Stonegate Trail, Leicester, is currently for sale.

6 Stonegate Trail

Special Finds has been given the opportunity to list one of these amazing underground homes located just 20 minutes west of downtown Asheville. This specific house is built directly into a hill leaving only the front of the structure visible to the outside world. The design is extremely energy efficient thanks to the earth that is surrounding the home. Never too cold in the winter and never too hot in the summer. This home is environmentally friendly with low maintenance.  To learn more about this home click here.

Around the world, earth sheltered homes have become more and more popular with individuals wanting to live a more sustainable life as well. There tends to be little to no maintenance needed on these homes since they are often built out of concrete and protected from the elements by the earth itself.

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Tips on Selling Your Unique Mountain Properties

If you own a unique house, consider yourself lucky! You have something to advertise that other properties may not have. Use your property’s uniqueness to make it stand out from the crowd.

One of a Kind

When selling an unusual property, recognize that there is a value in having something that is one-of-a-kind. Make sure to feature all of the special characteristics in marketing the property and don’t waste time and money in trying to market to ordinary buyers who aren’t looking for something unique or unusual. I would encourage sellers to make sure their agent has a plan on how they will market to buyers who are seeking a unique property.

How Do You Price Your Home?

One of the first things sellers of unique properties want to know is: “How do I price my home?” Pricing unusual properties is not quite the same as (more…)

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How to Market a Unique Property – Interview with Brenda Thompson

Brenda Thompson owns the boutique real estate agency, Special “Finds…” in the mountains of western North Carolina. Just like the properties she sells, her agency is truly one-of-a-kind, with a specialty focus on unique properties with a lot of character. In this interview with Bill Kopatich, Brenda discusses her how to market a unique property and her unique marketing approach to selling unusual homes.

Bill: Brenda, thanks for sharing your story here today. You have created a true specialty in the real estate industry – marketing unique properties that you call Special “Finds…”. What qualifies as a Special “Find…”?

Brenda: A

Special “Find…” doesn’t have to be expensive; it just has to have its own unique character. We’ve listed everything underground homes to converted barns, even a French Chateau. (more…)

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Brenda Thompson, Asheville Realtor® Helps Buyers Find Unique Properties

2015-01-28_19-04-48Brenda Thompson, owner of the boutique real estate agency, Special “Finds…”, helps buyers from all over the globe find unique properties in the western North Carolina. Like the properties she sells, her agency is truly one-of-a-kind with a focus on unique properties with a lot of character. She has owned the agency for nineteen years and has personally always owned unique houses. Thompson is the former director of marketing for the New York Stock Exchange.

Thompson’s agency, centered in Asheville, NC, helps buyers find unique properties within two to three-hour radius of Asheville, covering the entire western North Carolina mountain area. She combined her creative and poetic voice along with her marketing background and her love for (more…)

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