No Comments

10 Home Inspection Red Flags

Most homebuyers realize that they can’t expect a perfect home inspection report when buying a resale home. Cosmetic flaws and minor repairs are easily managed and shouldn’t be deal breakers. That said, there are some issues that are more serious and should give the buyer pause if not addressed adequately.

10 Home Inspection Red Flags

1. Leaky and Rundown Roofing – watch for signs of current or past water damage.
2. Poor Drainage – drainage issues can cause serious damage to the home foundation, siding and basements.
3. Foundation Issues – signs of foundation problems can include cracks around doors and windows or uneven floors. Foundation problems can cost thousands of dollars to correct.
4. Plumbing Problems – major plumbing issues should be considered carefully and further explored.
5. Pest Infestations – termites and other wood-eating pests can cause extensive damage that can be hard to find and costly to repair.
6. Mold – that musty smell could be due to hidden mold and further investigation should be undertaken as mold can be dangerous to the health of the family. Depending on the type of mold, it can be very difficult to remove entirely.
7. Faulty Heating System – a malfunctioning furnace can be a fire hazard.
8. Electrical Wiring – faulty wiring can cost thousands of dollars to repair.
9. Structural Damage – sagging joists, rafters and door jambs can be evidence of larger issues.
10. Deferred Maintenance – a home in poor condition could be hiding more serious issues due to chronic neglect.

Homebuyers should be alert to these issues and know the costs to repair before concluding the sale. Home sellers should address these issues before putting the home up for sale to ensure they get the best possible sales price

No Comments

Home Issues That Shouldn’t Be Deal-Breakers – and a Few That Are!

Finding the right home can sometimes feel like hunting for a needle in a haystack. Unless you’re buying brand-new construction, every home has some drawbacks, whether it’s style or real maintenance issues. If you’re looking for your next home, understanding the difference between minor issues and true deal-breakers can help you evaluate your options and make the best possible choice.

Manageable Annoyances

• Cosmetic – All aesthetic concerns can be fixed – for a cost. The key is to understand the difficulty and level of effort or money involved. A dying lawn can be addressed with new sod. Is the kitchen dated? A new backsplash is relatively inexpensive. With some fresh paint and new lighting fixtures, you can easily brighten a room and make a small space seem more expansive.
• Healthy Homes – Many homes have older carpet, drapes, and other elements that can irritate allergies. Home air filtration systems are affordable and very effective in clearing the particulates out of the air. Replacing the attic insulation and cleaning the vents are easy and inexpensive ways to correct these situations.

Deal-Breakers

• Foundation Problems – Foundation cracks and other issues can be expensive or impossible to correct.
• Mold – While treatments for mold are available, they normally involve major demolition to open walls and flooring for access. Unless the sellers will correct the mold issue before closing, it’s better to reconsider on this one.
• Water Leaks – Signs of water damage or existing leaks could be a reason to search for a different home. Leaks and water issues will most likely bring you to the mold issue above.

Buying a resale home almost always involves some kind of preexisting issue, but not all should be reasons to walk away. If the home you like has problems, before you move on, consider the costs involved to remedy the challenge.

No Comments

5 Typical HVAC Problems to Avoid This Summer

The summer heat is almost here and it may seem like your air conditioner has been running almost constantly. Your air conditioner is an important part of your home, and you certainly don’t want to discover that it’s stopped working on a hot, humid day. Here are five of the most common HVAC problems and how to avoid them in the first place so you can enjoy your air conditioning all summer long.

1. Clogged Drain Lines – Your air conditioner has a drain line attached to the evaporator coil which removes moisture from the air. Clogged lines can create a back-flow into the unit, causing damage. You can clear these lines periodically with a wet-dry vacuum.
2. Leaking Refrigerant – Refrigerant leaks are typically caused by low levels of refrigerant, which prevent absorbed liquid from converting to gas, causing build-up and damage.
3. Faulty Capacitor – Your air conditioner has two capacitors that keep the compressor functioning properly. If one of these burns out, the entire unit can malfunction. Regular servicing by a professional can ensure these continue to work properly.
4. Thermostat Malfunctions – Issues with the thermostat inside your home can often be the culprit responsible when your air conditioner is not working properly. Simply replacing the batteries in your thermostat regularly can solve many problems with the HVAC system.
5. Blown Fuse – The most common reason for a blown fuse is an obstruction that blocks airflow. Replacing a dirty air filter is an inexpensive way to ensure proper operation.

Summer soon will be in full swing and our air conditioners are working harder than ever. Ensure that your system operates at its best by getting a professional to check your system for these common problems before they create a larger issue.

No Comments

Understanding the Back-Up Offer

“When can I consider my home sold? This is one of the most common questions real estate agents are asked. While the laws vary in different states, generally the contract is binding once both parties sign the offer. At that time the closing process begins. This is also the time when sellers must stop considering other offers, but they can accept back-up offers.

What is a back-up offer? This is when the seller accepts an offer contingent upon the first one falling through. There are many reasons why the home purchase might not close—the buyer may fail to secure the loan, the home inspection may find issues the two parties can’t resolve, or it could even be that the Homeowner’s Association has rules that the buyer is unprepared to accept. Whatever the reason, real estate agents know that the deal isn’t done until it closes.

A back-up offer should be carefully executed. Both buyer and seller must be able to pursue other options. Unless the buyer is willing to wait without seeking an alternative property, the back-up offer should be written to allow for the possibility that they find an alternative home in the meantime. The seller, on the other hand, must make clear they are currently obligated to another buyer and will consider the back-up offer only if the current one cancels.

Back-up offers can be a great tool in a fast-moving real estate market. Writing the offer virtually guarantees the listing agent will notify you if the home becomes available again. This gives the buyer an advantage in a seller’s market, increasing the opportunity to capitalize on a home that fell out of contract.

No Comments

Real Estate Investment 101

Real estate offers a solid investment opportunity that can provide not only an income stream, but long-term value appreciation as well. It’s never too late to begin investing in real estate. Regardless of the ups and downs of the market, people will always need housing, so real estate will remain a good way to create wealth.

By understanding some of the basics of real estate investing, you can begin to create a successful investment plan.

  • Start Now – Every market offers opportunities for buyers; there is no perfect time to get started.
  • Understand the Risks – Before investing, you should be certain that you can hold the property until conditions are right to sell.
  •  Do Your Homework – Know the market and understand the trends which can affect your purchase and ownership.
  •  Invest for the Long-Term – Real estate investing should not be viewed as a “get rich quick” scheme. While you might find an opportunity to have a quick flip, most real estate equity is realized over years, not months.
  •  Understand your Expected Cash Flow – In simple terms, cash flow is what is left over after all expenses are paid. For a rental property, expenses could include mortgage, interest, maintenance, insurance, utilities, rental agents, and more.
  • Budget for the Unexpected – Even the most carefully planned project can have unexpected costs. Have a back-up plan to meet these costs.

Real estate can offer solid investment opportunities. Even a first-time investor can realize profit and positive cash flow with careful planning and research. Start building your real estate portfolio now; a real estate purchase could provide a low-risk addition to your other investments for both income and asset value growth.

No Comments

3 Major Factors To Consider When Choosing a Neighborhood

Buying a new home is exciting. Whether you’re moving across the country or across town, finding the right house is just one part of choosing the best option. The neighborhood in which the home is located is a critical component of lifestyle as well. Here are 3 of the most important considerations as you search for the right community to call home.

1.Safety – First and foremost, the safety of the neighborhood is important. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to get details concerning safety. Search local crime statistics through local police sites and public online search sites. Spend time driving through the community, talk with neighbors, and pay attention to the security of the homes themselves; a community where most homes have extra security could be a sign of trouble.

2.Schools – Regardless of whether you have children in the home, or plan to, the quality of the local schools is a big factor in home values, and is easy to research. Visit the district’s website and read about their test scores and rankings. Extracurricular activities are also a large factor in the desirability of the schools; watch for art, music, and athletic programs.

3.Conveniences – Remember that you’ll need to shop for groceries, work out at a gym, enjoy entertainment, and dine out. As you drive through potential communities, take note of the local availability of the extras you need.

Finding the right home is not enough to live a nice lifestyle. The neighborhood is just as important. Not only for your enjoyment, but it affects the resale value as well. Choosing the right community takes a little research, but it’s well worth it to love where you live.

No Comments

Tips for the First-Time Home Seller

There is a lot of attention paid to first-time homebuyers. Most real estate agents and lenders have some kind of guide to help first-time homebuyers navigate their first home purchase, but what about the first-time seller?

Selling your home for the first time can be just as confusing as a home purchase, so here are a few things to remember as you navigate your home sale.

Before that first showing, it’s important to prepare. This involves not only cleaning, decluttering, and staging the home, but also learning about your local real estate market and finding the best agent for your needs.

Interview more than one agent and ask lots of questions. Learn about the services they offer: do they include professional photography, video, or virtual tours? Ask for a comprehensive market analysis (CMA) and ask each agent their suggestion for the listing price and their method for arriving at that number. Use this information to determine the best agent to assist you.

Once you have an agent, stay involved. Discuss the plan for showings and open houses. Try and be flexible to allow for as many potential buyers as possible viewing your property. Review the listing online for accuracy and stay in touch with your agent for feedback from showings.

Once you start getting offers, respond as quickly as possible. It’s not just about the price; watch for terms, such as length of escrow and contingencies, when evaluating these offers. Be prepared to move so that you can take advantage of a good offer, such as all-cash.

The most important aspect of a successful home sale is the relationship you have with your agent. Be transparent about your needs, concerns, and goals; insist that your agent do the same, and working together you will navigate through your first home sale successfully.

No Comments

7 Things That Affect What You Pay for Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance is a non-negotiable. Not only does it protect you in the event the home is damaged, but it also includes liability insurance in the event someone is injured at your home. When evaluating the policy, insurance companies consider multiple items to determine their risk—and your cost.

Here are 7 things that affect the amount you pay for homeowner’s insurance—some that might make sense and some that might surprise you.

1. Square Footage – First and foremost, the size of the home is considered. The larger the home, the more it would cost to replace if damage occurred. More space also means more furniture, fixtures, personal belongings, and other items which would be replaced in a claim.
2. Layout – The style of the home is another factor in determining replacement costs. A single-story home, for example, might have higher foundation and grading costs, whereas a two-story home would need alternative construction methods.
3. Construction Materials – The type of material used to build the structure is important. Wood roofs would cost more to insure against a fire claim, as would a home with expensive travertine floors. A simpler home of modest building materials would cost less to insure.
4. Property Age – The assumption is that an older home might have more deterioration than a newer home and this is considered in the replacement cost.
5. Home Features – Homes with extra buildings or pools will be insured at a higher cost than other properties without these amenities.
6. Neighborhood – Local crime rates are reviewed to determine the risk to property and personal items.
7. Credit Score – Finally, the insurance company will consider the homeowner’s credit score. Not only does this help them understand if they are at risk for non-payment, but serious credit issues might be a factor in how well a property is maintained.

Homeowner’s insurance is important to every homeowner. Not only is it required by lenders, but it also protects the homeowner against financial disaster in the event of theft, fire, severe weather, and more. Understanding how rates are determined can help you compare options and get the best policy for your home.

No Comments

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

Everyone wants to time their home purchase “just right.” Ideally, you want to choose the picture perfect buyer’s market with plenty of well-­‐priced listings, low interest rates and a slow moving real estate market where the buyer has plenty of time to decide on an offer. The reality is that the current market is a fast paced environment where the best homes move quickly and serious home buyers need to be prepared to act when they find the right home.

Fortunately, starting your home search the right way is easy by following these simple tips:

  1. Find a Lender and Get Pre-‐Approved – Know what you can afford before you start your search.  By getting a pre-­‐approval letter, you demonstrate to sellers that you are serious when you write your offer and it proves you can afford the home.
  2. Research Neighborhoods – Each community will have its own personality and advantages; before you spend time looking at homes, choose the right area for your lifestyle and family needs.
  3. Pick the Right Home Style – Learn about the various home styles available in your community. Do you want a single story? Large yard? Do you like older homes or historic-­‐ style properties?
  4. Make a List of Must Have and Like-‐to-­Have – There is a difference! Make a list and be ready to compromise when appropriate by ranking the items.
  5. Take Notes – Often a home buyer can see 6-­‐7 homes in a single day; take notes, and if possible take pictures so you can remember the things you like and don’t like about the homes you see once you get home.

In a fast paced real estate market, spending some time preparing for your home search will help you move quickly when you find the right home for you and your family.

No Comments

Discount for Cash Offer?

Most parts of the country are seeing a strong seller’s market. Inventory is low and buyers want to take advantage of the low interest rates. As a result, sellers may be in the enviable position of a bidding war. Some buyers believe that presenting an all-cash offer to the seller can earn them a lower price by being more attractive.

But as a seller, should you accept a lower price from a buyer just because it’s all in cash? The short answer is, “it depends.”

  • Do you need to close quickly?
  •  What are the terms of the offer?

The best advantage of an all-cash offer is the ability to close faster than traditional financing. Typically, loan processing will take several weeks from appraisal to underwriting. A cash offer can be completed in a matter of days; the monies need to transfer and the title needs to be recorded. If it’s important for you to get the money quickly, then accepting a slightly lower sales price in return for the speed of closing could be worth the cost.

Consider all terms of cash offer

Even if the offer is all-cash, that doesn’t guarantee it will close any sooner than another buyer. The most important consideration is the terms of the offer. Even though there is no lender involved, the offer might still be contingent upon an appraisal, a home inspection and other standard contingencies. Simply paying in cash by itself does not guarantee that the sale will close any faster than a well-qualified buyer who will use financing.

Compare all offers

The bottom line is that before discounting your home price for an all-cash buyer, compare all the offers. Your goal is to net as much profit from the sale as possible. If the speed of closing is important, then a small discount might be warranted; but if not, consider all the terms carefully before assuming an all-cash offer is better.