How hard can it be?

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Residential

Emmary Simpson (Emmy) had a recent featured post where she talked about a homeowner taking over a home with a septic system, something very new and unfamiliar to them.

It was a post that resonated with me, as I run into these situations all the time.  No, not septic systems as we don't see a whole lot of those in our area.  But buyers who have moved into a home with some sort of a new system that they don't understand and don't bother to investigate.

Someone who buys a house with a pool, and has never owned a pool before.  They figure they can just "figure it out", buy some chemicals at CostCo, or Sams Club and throw it in there, and they'll be okay.  After all, how hard can it be?  Pool ownership is involved, expensive and time-consuming... it's not for everyone.

And while you can hire a service to handle your pool, there's a cost that goes with that.  And there aren't "services" to handle each and every new system.

What about simpler systems?  The former condo owner who's never had a lawn to care for. No problem... I'll go get an old push-mower, and get my exercise at the same time.  (What are those brown spots?)

The client who recently moved from a forced-air system into a home with a boiler and "talkative" radiators.   All that clattering in the radiators... the system must be broken, right?

The downsizing couple who sold their rambling tudor with expansive dormer-ing, who just moved into a small ranch with several flat roofs.  We've never had to worry about heavy snow on the roof... we don't have to worry here either.

The buyers who never owned an asphalt driveway and have no idea that it requires some care.  You just drive on it... right?

Or how about something closer to home.... me.  21 years ago, I moved into a Georgian with a basement and didn't know what a sump-pump was, nor that it needed to be 'plugged in' and working.  (don't ask).  I figured that a sump pump was something semi-invisible that you didn't have to worry about, nor maintain. We have since replaced our gutters with larger versions, extended our downspouts, and put in a high-quality sump.

Homeownership is not for the timid, and each new home, each new system within the home really requires your attention and is worth investigation.  Not learning about your systems can be a costly error, and may come back and bite you in the hindquarters.

- 9


Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, 1710 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
847.425.3779      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email:

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois



Re-Blogged 3 times:

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Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

Not everyone is supposed to own a home. There are many buyers that I often wonder how they are going to make it through the first couple of years with general basic repairs. Some people don't even know how to mow a lawn!

Oct 17, 2012 01:14 AM #37
Jennifer Prestwich
Henderson, Thornton, Broomfield and Westminster - Henderson, CO
Your Castle RE Colorado

I cannot tell you how many people I've known who have no idea that a home requires "maintenance"!  You mean you need to paint it?  What do you mean it needs a new roof?  You have to rake leaves?  Why can't I just leave them?  GREAT post, Alan! :)

Oct 17, 2012 02:07 AM #38
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Alan, that is why it is nice when a homeowner (seller) has kept all the manuals for the appliances and home.

Oct 17, 2012 02:21 AM #39
Debbe Perry
Real Living Carolina Property - Morganton, NC
828.439.3084 Morganton/Lake James NC

Love this, since I deal with wells, septics. sump pumps, pools, city water and sewer, radon remediation systems, and much more in this great market! Somebody (how about you - you're a great writer!) needs to write a book... . Next fund-raiser for AR? I see we're doing a cookbook for the holidays...

Oct 17, 2012 03:40 AM #40
Suzi Sandore
RealtyONEGroup - San Diego, CA
North County San Diego Homes

Hi Alan, another mystifying system to add is the irrigation system. It's automatic, right? How hard can that be? Well, pipes break, heads get knocked off, valves leak, and a power outage can knock out all the settings on the controller. Call somebody, quick!!

Oct 17, 2012 03:46 AM #41
Michelle Finnamore
Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

HI Alan, the best one I have heard is one of my clients moved from a condo to a single family new home on a new home residential construction site that was still ongoing.

They thought that they could call the site super to change their furnace filter as he was the "super". I had to explain that meant he was the new construction super and that they would be responsible to change their own furnace filter amongst other things.

Of course they didnt't believe me and called to complain to the New Home Warranty program in our area that their super was doing his job.  Hilarious.

Oct 17, 2012 04:52 AM #42
Sharon Sanchez
Ace Home Realty - Carson, CA
Your Number "1" Source For Real Estate.

Hi Alan.  You're right. There's a lot of things a new homeowner needs to learn about their new home. 

In California I sold a home that had a basement and a sump pump.  I didn't know what a sump pump was and I didn't know how it worked.  That was a first and late experience with a sump pump and a basement. 

Oct 17, 2012 06:25 AM #43
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living
Alan, everything comes with a learning curve. Homeownership is not always easy and every home and location can have some very specific challenges.
Oct 17, 2012 09:40 AM #44
1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

Alan, it's kind of like the person (the stories are mostly about the man of the family :) ) that refuses to get directions before heading out on a trip, whether it's from someone, from the gps, or from a map... and then when he gets lost still refuses to seek directions.

Oct 17, 2012 10:45 AM #45

When we sold Grandma's house we had just installed a whole house arsenic filtering system (arsenic level in well water was 5.4 (acceptable level in 49 states is 10 but in New Jersey is 5.0 (guess what state the house was in!)). That was in addition to the whole house sediment filtering system and the whole house greensand filtering system that already existed.  

We provided complete information on how to maintain all these systems, marked the tanks in the crawlspace and what needed to be done for maintenance of these systems.    

We also provided information on the utility companies in the area, i.e. electric, phone, cable, garbage pickup, etc.  We left current phone books for the area for our buyers as well as a list of our favorite restaurants and diners in the area.  

We can only hope that the buyers actually read all the information we provided.  We did our part in providing the information.  It surprises me that more sellers don't bother to do this for their buyers.  It just makes it so much easier for everyone.

Oct 17, 2012 11:32 PM #46
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Patricia - there's something new, each and every day.

Sharon - don't worry.. .no underestimating from me.

Sussie - and that's something that renters often think of as a major benefit.  The landlord is responsible for all repairs.

Tammie - I know... the information that we have hanging around our heads.

Andrea - I'll pass on that discussion.

James - home inspectors are a great source of knowledge... but Realtors are a great first call... we know where to send you to get the information you need... and often, that's your inspector.  But sometimes, we can answer a simple question, freeing up the inspector.

Joetta - I haven't found anything that doesn't require some sort of maintenance...

Travis - I don't have to know how the engine works... but I do need to know what it requires.

M. Lynn - two important systems.

Rob - and that's just what we Realtors do... point them in the right direction to get those answers.

Lyn - you're right about that... some people just shouldn't be homeowners.

Jennifer - yep... homes require some work... daily.

Bob - don't you just love when you find that?

Debbe - oooh... an AR fundraiser??

Suzi - that's a good one... many don't understand how automatic sprinkler systems work, and that they need to be drained in our climate.  I've run into a few homes where they've told me that "yes" the house has in ground sprinklers, but they don't work, 'cause we didn't realize they needed to be drained (services) the first winter we owned the home... and they froze.

Michelle - I'd like to hear that call.

Sharon - California isn't very familiar with basements or their acoutrements, are they?

Silvia - homeownership requires a lot of work.

Judi - that's why I have navigation.  I don't have to stop and ask for directions.

Marge - I've never heard of an arsenic filtering system.  I'm dumbfounded that ANY level of arsenic is acceptable.

Oct 17, 2012 11:54 PM #47
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

It is true that it is a lot different from renting..but it is your...and I think Home Ownership is the American way..

You have to put up with the Good, The Bad and the Ugly....but you still own it.

Oct 19, 2012 05:21 AM #48
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Ginger - yep... you own it, so it's in your best interests to learn about it.


Oct 19, 2012 06:35 AM #49
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Alan-That's a great subject. Sometimes you don't know what you don't know until you're deep in it.

Oct 20, 2012 02:39 PM #50
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Wayne - and yet you should know enough to know that you need to ask for help.

Oct 20, 2012 11:35 PM #51
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

These new systems and environments are exactly why you need a good home inspector who can inform you about the systems and features of the new property. You should learn what you need during the inspection and have important details in your report. 

Your home inspector is a resource for you. Consult with him/her and consider maintenance and 5 year update inspections. Typically they will cost less and will create a maintenance program for you.

Oct 20, 2012 11:45 PM #52
Brad Baylor
ERA Coup Agency - Milton, PA

Alan - Very good points made here.  You never know what you're going to run into in a home purchase after you take ownership.

Oct 22, 2012 12:24 AM #53
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Robert - no question, your inspector is a wonderful source for education about your systems.

Brad - but you can be assured there will be SOMEthing.

Oct 22, 2012 01:24 AM #54
Steven Pahl
Keller Williams Tampa Properties - Tampa, FL
Real Estate Consultant Tampa, FL 813-319-6423

While it used to be difficult to learn about maintaining a home; with the internet, Google and YouTube, just about everything imaginable has been reported by a DIY enthusiast or uploaded to share with others.  One needs only to do a little searching to find answers to many questions.  Of course, some people aren't that savvy with computers either!

Nov 13, 2012 07:19 AM #55
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Steven - and oddly enough... there are still quite a few who don't handle the internet all that well.

Nov 13, 2012 02:13 PM #56
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