Help! Home for sale - The Jantzens
Their home may be a little slice of bluegrass paradise, but nobody seems interested in taking it off their hands.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The region around Bardstown, Ky., with its Kentucky Bourbon Trail, is praised as one of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Paul and Rosanne Jantzen have loved living there for the past 20 years.
At this point, however, they would like to move closer to family and jobs and take a rest from household chores. That wish has been made difficult by a very slow local real estate market. Their house has been for sale for more than eight months and has attracted near zero interest. At this rate it will be a long time before they can move.
"We're just sitting and waiting," says Paul. "I've never seen houses sit on the market for so long."
Good years but hard work
The couple very happily raised their family in the three-bedroom, two-bath brick ranch built in 1986 on 24 mostly wooded acres. But the hour-long commute to Paul's job at the General Electric plant in Louisville, where he works as a maintenance electrician, is getting old and the property demands more attention than he cares to muster at this point.
"I mow seven acres in sections," says Paul, who is 56. "I finish one section and I start again on another."
He and Rosanna, who is 52 and works as a sales consultant at Lowe's, don't need the space the house provides. After their two boys moved out, the couple decided to downsize to a condo near their kids around Louisville.
That would mean fewer chores and more time to enjoy themselves. They plan to work a few more years, then retire and relax a bit and travel. But they have to sell the house first.
When they put the property on sale in March, their agent did a market study and decided that $229,500 was the right price. They held a couple of open houses but these events drew no lookers. In eight months, the house attracted only one serious buyer, who ultimately opted for another place.
Dropping the price to $214,500 has not improved things.
The region is not a hot housing market and the general slowdown of the past several months has made it even cooler. A median house in the greater Louisville metro area now sells for $142,500, according to the latest figures from the National Association of Realtors. Around Bardstown (the Jantzens are in New Haven, a few miles away), prices are probably a bit lower.
It's a shame because the house has a lot of good points. It's in the heart of the beautiful Kentucky bluegrass region with horse farms, woodlands and rolling hills. The limestone bedrock here is laced with sweetwater springs and streams, a boon for bourbon makers. Bardstown is the second oldest city in Kentucky with many historic buildings, including the house that inspired the Stephen Foster song "My Old Kentucky Home."
The regional economy is steady, and many residents work in Louisville. Others are employed in the bourbon distilling industry with Heaven Hill, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey some of the brands made in the area. The Makers Mark distillery, dating from 1805, is about 12 miles away.
The house itself boasts six-inch thick sidewalls, a brick exterior, an open kitchen/dining area and a good-size living room with fireplace. The woods are filled with game. Sometimes a whole flock of wild turkeys gather on the driveway and they have to drive slowly to avoid hurting the birds.
Adding to the property's attraction is the value of the oak and pine timber. Paul estimates a thinning cut could produce $25,000 to $30,000 in lumber without disturbing the look of the property.
They are not under a lot of pressure to sell. Paul can continue to make the long drive up to Louisville, if necessary, but they worry that an extended stay on the shelf will hurt the home's value.
"The longer it's on the market, the more buyers will wonder why," says Paul.
He's not sure what they'll do if the home continues to languish. "We've talked about dropping the price again," he says.
His agent has told him, "Nobody's out there buying. All you can do is sit."
They don't want to sit forever; they want to get on to the next chapter in their lives.
"We can't move until we sell the house," says Paul, "but we feel the price is extremely reasonable. We're not going to give it away."