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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How to Hire the Right Service Professional

The popularity of home improvement television shows has increased the number of home projects. Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of knocking down walls and retiling their kitchen on their own. If you’re one of these non-DIY-ers, you will need to find service professionals to help, but choosing the right person for the job is critical. Here are a few simple tips to help ensure you hire the best person for your project.

  • Check References and Reviews – One of the easiest ways to verify the experience and professionalism of a contractor is to read online reviews. If someone has been in the business for a few years or longer, you should expect to find plenty of reviews to read on Yelp, Angie’s List, and other sites. Asking for local references is also important. Call references and, if possible, go see completed projects in person.
  • Confirm Licenses and Permits – Verify the contractor is licensed by the appropriate agency and that the license is in good standing. It’s also important to have any required permits for the project by your local city or county. Unpermitted work can result in loss of value, fines, and even forced removal of the work.
  • Proof of Insurance – All contractors need insurance and most are bonded. Ask to see the proof of insurance before allowing anyone to work in your home.
  • Get it in Writing – Get a written estimate with the scope of work and question any confusing terms. This should include clear expectations, deadlines, and pricing. Make sure you understand everything before signing any type of contract.

Hiring the right person for your home improvement or maintenance job can be time-consuming, but is well worth the effort. Do your homework upfront and you can avoid costly mistakes.

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Organize and Declutter

During a time when so many people are hunkering down at home, it can be challenging to keep a tidy house, especially when you have kids, pets, and other adults living in the same space. It can be stressful and overwhelming at times, trying to find a balance of keeping everything organized and clean while maintaining one’s sanity. There are a few tips to help keep your house in order while everyone is home, and while you have some downtime to knock out some much-needed organization projects.

Schedule Clean-Up Time Before Bed

Take ten minutes every evening for the entire family to help clean up the house. Run the dishwasher, wipe down the countertops, and put away any clothes lying on the floor. This is also a great time to have your kids help by cleaning up their toys, books, or any crafts they used during the day. Everyone will start each morning off with a clean living space and play area. It’ll make it much more manageable to maintain throughout the day, and when the time comes to tidy up in the evening, the mess won’t be so overwhelming.

Clean Out the Junk Drawer

There is always at least one drawer or cupboard in every household that becomes a collecting place for items without homes. Take some time to clean it out and make it into a manageable space again. Make it easier to identify where odds and ends go, to help prevent the drawer or cupboard from getting cluttered again.

Combine Similar Items

Use any containers you already have at home, or order a few online to get organized. Totes, boxes, or baskets can help contain items and make them easier to find. Start with your kitchen and craft area by combining similar items together—for example, cereal, pasta, rice, crayons, beads, etc. This makes it easy to take inventory of everything you have by keeping the same types of items together.

Label Your Containers

Once you’ve taken the time to consolidate and put all like items together, make sure to label each container with its contents. This will make it much easier to find what you’re looking for, especially when you can’t see inside the boxes or jars you’re using for storage.

Spending a significant amount of unplanned time at home can seem daunting at first. However, if you take the time to organize while you’re at home with your family, it’ll leave your space feeling much cleaner, and you’ll better enjoy your surroundings. In addition, it will be much easier to find everything that you need once your life gets back to normal, and everyone gets back into their routines.