Greers look at houses with an eye to good order, top maintenance

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

Buying or selling a house may bring on headaches and heartache if that house is in disrepair or the owners are disorganized.

Husband and wife Michael and Sharyn Greer know how to help as owners and operators of Southern Home Specialties.

For him, inspecting houses is a career path he chose four years ago after watching inspectors at work in another city. For her, the idea of helping people to put their homes and lives in order has just taken shape as she launches her part of the business this week.

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&uot;There are so many houses on the market in Natchez,&uot; Michael said. &uot;Anything you can do to get ahead of someone else puts you in a better position to sell.&uot;

With a background in just about every skill one needs to know to repair a house, Michael, a 35-year veteran of the construction business, entered the field primarily helping potential home buyers. &uot;Now I want to sell the idea to the people selling their house,&uot; he said.

He starts with the grounds, checking drainage and fences, for instance. He goes on to the foundation and all the exterior, including the roof. Inside, he checks for problems with plumbing, hot water heaters, chimneys and flags any item that needs attention.

Licensed and insured as a house inspector, Michael does not make estimates on repairs and he does not make repairs on houses he inspects. But he knows his careful survey saves his clients money, whether they are buyers or sellers.

Finding problems with a house can lead to disappointment for buyers or sellers. But in the long run, everyone benefits from knowing what needs to be addressed.

&uot;Most buyers want the house they have picked out. They don’t want something to be wrong with it,&uot; Michael said. And sellers want to know ahead of time that certain repairs could make a difference in attracting a buyer.

&uot;Having an inspection ahead of time reduces your liability,&uot; he said. It adds professional supporting documentation to a disclosure statement and alerts the home owner to safety issues before agents and visitors tour the house.

Michael likes the work and enjoys seeing the many diverse buildings he has inspected. &uot;And I don’t pass or fail a house. I just list what I think is wrong.&uot;

In fact, he writes his report on the site immediately after the inspection and makes the findings easy for clients to understand. And only the person who purchased the inspection service gets the report, he said.

For Sharyn Greer, opening a business to help people become organized is a natural. She, too, was inspired by others who are doing these kinds of jobs in large cities.

&uot;I’ve always been a very orderly type person, and a few months ago my daughter in Fort Worth said she had seen something she thought I could do.&uot;

Sharyn and Michael, who live on Lake St. John in Concordia Parish, La., but work on both sides of the Mississippi River, searched the Internet and found many listings for professional organizers. &uot;They have more work than they know what to do with,&uot; she said.

She knows there is a need for what she can do. &uot;I know from my own life that when I let myself be overwhelmed and get disorganized, it creates frustration. It’s not a nice feeling. I think a lot of people experience that.&uot;

Assisting clients can be as simple as suggestions to get them started or as complete as a comprehensive plan or reorganizing that Sharyn takes all the way to the conclusion, doing the work for the client.

&uot;This is more than spring cleaning,&uot; she said. &uot;I’ll help a client get the most out of the available space.&uot;

For Sharyn, a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, organizing is fun. &uot;There is almost an instant gratification when you get things organized.&uot;

She will organize a kitchen, a closet or a whole house. Her skills also can help with people who are buying or selling a house, she said.

&uot;When a buyer opens the front door of a house, how does the house present itself?&uot; she said. And when a person is moving in or out of a house, what about all the packing and unpacking? What about weeding out the unnecessary clutter?

&uot;Every person will be different,&uot; she said. &uot;I will ask them what their goal is. Some people need a road map.&uot;

As an organizer, she believes in lists. &uot;That’s one of the key things.&uot; And she believes in making hard choices about things that may not really matter. &uot;Is this really something sentimental you’re keeping or are you just a pack rat?&uot;

Not only does organization make a household more peaceful; it also has its economic benefit.

&uot;If you need something and can’t find it and have to go out and buy another one, you’re sure to come home and find the missing one. You’ve just bought something you didn’t need,&uot; she said.

With next week named National Get Organized Week, Sharyn will launch her business with brochures, fliers and other advertising.

She will also offer her services for holiday planning so that the often stressed-out Mom at Christmastime may have a better season this year.

&uot;We’ve all been guilty of letting the holidays control us,&uot; she said. &uot;I can help with planning, including the cooking, parties, gift buying and packing away the decorations.&uot;

Contact Southern Home Specialties, 3884 Highway 569, Ferriday, La., at (318) 757-7197 or (318) 757-7198. More information is on the business Web site at