HOME INSPECTIONS

home inspection

5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT HOME INSPECTIONS

Home inspections are an important part of the home sale process, both for buyers and sellers. When it’s time for you to hire an inspector, here are five things you should be thinking about:

  1. It’s your choice:  You are not bound or obligated to use any particular inspector. Your real estate professional may have some recommendations, but it’s ultimately up to you. Ask around and choose wisely—better to pay a little more now for a highly-respected inspector than to be surprised by a problem that the inspection didn’t reveal.
  2. Looking for big problems:  The inspector will be focused on the integrity of the home—safety, electrical work, foundation, load-bearing walls, etc. The inspector is not there to point out problems with ugly paint colors or light fixtures.
  3. The report:  There are hundreds of items to inspect in a home, so the inspector’s report will focus on the basics: What’s damaged, what needs repaired, etc. The report should be easy to read and understand.
  4. Code of ethics:  Though the inspector is working for the party that pays the inspector’s fee, the inspector will not deliver a report that intentionally hides or omits damaging information about the home. The report is private between you and the inspector, but if you’re the seller, you’re required to disclose any problems that the inspection reveals.
  5. The inspector is not liable:  Even the best inspectors can’t find every single problem in a home. They can’t see inside the walls or through the floors, so there could still be problems lurking. If a problem is revealed down the road, the inspector can’t be held responsible.

HOW AN AGENT CAN HELP ALLEVIATE STRESS

3 WAYS AN AGENT CAN HELP ALLEVIATE STRESSstress

Purchasing a home can be a stressful experience, whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’ve been through the process before. But that’s one of the reasons that working with a real estate professional is so worthwhile. With your agent’s guidance, buying a home should be enjoyable, rather than stressful. Here are some of the more unique circumstances where your agent can make your life much easier.

Out-of-town buyers: If you’re looking for vacation homes or moving to a job in a new city, there’s a good chance that viewing homes will be difficult—you could be a long drive or even a plane ride away. With today’s video messaging apps like Skype or Facetime, your agent can walk you through a property virtually. It’s not the same as walking through in person, but it will at least give you an idea about whether a property is worth pursuing further.

When life is just too crazy: If you’re just getting too busy with everything else going on in your life, a good buyer’s agent should be able to recognize the situation and help you take a step back. They can suggest that you take a few weeks off from your home search to recharge, or only focus on properties that exactly fit your wants list.

Inspection issues: You’re dreaming about move-in day, and then some unforeseen issues turn up during inspection. A good agent can work out those issues by negotiating a lower offer—to cover costs of repairs—or by getting the seller to fix the problem.

INVESTMENT PROPERTIES

INVESTMENT PROPERTIES: HOW YOU CAN MAKE MONEY IN THE SHORT AND LONG TERM

You’re probably well aware that there’s more to real estate than just owning your home. There are countless success stories of people who made a fortune—or even just a comfortable extra income—by investing in real estate. Here’s an overview to get you thinking about an investment property.Investment properties

Improving a home
Quickly flipping a home is one way to make money off a real estate investment, but it can be risky. A safer play is to buy a fixer upper and carefully manage costs over a year or so as you improve the property. You’re likely to get a great return.

Rental properties
Instead of selling your investment property, you can rent it and make a good monthly profit if the rent exceeds your costs. Renting to a stable, reliable tenant can put extra money in your pocket every month for years on end. You can even hire a property manager to handle repairs, rent collection, and other administrative tasks. And if you’re ever ready to stop dealing with tenants, you can sell the home and profit on the improvements and appreciation of your asset.investment

Multi-family rental properties
Renting out a single family home is a good starting place for investment properties, but you can get an even better return once you learn the ropes and move on to multi-family homes. Buying an apartment building or dividing a larger home into several apartment units comes with some added complications with taxes and regulations, but it also comes with huge income potential.

DOG FRIENDLY HOME

DOG FRIENDLY HOMES

Dogs

Even the most happy-go-lucky dogs and cats have some preferences about the spaces they occupy. If you want to keep you pet as happy and comfortable as possible, here are some things to take into consideration when looking for a dog friendly home.

hardwoodDogs don’t like hardwood
Carpet is more comfortable for your dog when it comes to laying down and sleeping, but it’s also preferable when your dog is on its feet. Dogs typically don’t like hardwood floors because they feel less traction under their paws. They may even try to dig in with their claws to improve traction, possibly damaging your floors. As a compromise, you can place soft, thick rugs on the floor to help your pets relax. You can also place booties or rubber rings on your dog’s feet for better grip.

 

Fireplaces can be scarygas fireplace
You’ve surely seen a dog get spooked by the sound of 4th of July fireworks. A fireplace isn’t nearly as loud, but can still have a similar effect. Plus, those pops and crackles from the flames are a far more regular occurrence. A quieter gas fireplace is more dog friendly. You can also give your dog a chew toy or bone as a distraction before lighting a fire.

 

 

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to fenceschain fence
A chain-link fence can cause stress for your dog, because it can still see other animals and strangers, but is confined to the yard. If you’re considering a new fence, your dog will appreciate a solid one made of wood or vinyl panels. With fewer lines of sight to the outside, your dog will be less anxious.

Mortgage 101

MORTGAGE RATE MATH

Shopping around for the best possible mortgage terms is an important part of the home buying process. A few percentage points can make a difference of thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage. Rates can be a bit of a mystery—especially for first-time homebuyers—so here’s an overview of the most important factors.

YOUR FICO SCOREFico Score

This is the part of the equation that should come as no surprise. From a lender’s perspective, your financial history is the best indicator of whether you’ll be a stable, responsible borrower. It’s the primary factor in determining your mortgage rate, so if you’re planning on purchasing a home in the near future, concentrate first and foremost on improving your FICO score.

LOCATION AND SIZE MATTERS

“Location, location, location” is an old cliché in real estate, but it also applies to mortgage rates. The city, county, and state that you live will factor into your mortgage rate. Mortgage rates can also vary among local lenders and the size of the loan will come into play. The more money you borrow, the higher your interest rate is likely to be, unless you’re also increasing your down payment.

LOAN LENGTH AND TYPE

Lenders incentivize shorter mortgage terms with lower mortgage rates, so you’ll get a more favorable rate for a 15- or 20-year mortgage versus a 30-year mortgage. If you can afford the higher monthly payment, you’ll pay much less in interest over the course of the loan term.

5 SECRET WEAPONS FOR DIY PROJECTS

diy

5 Simple Ingredients for some of your Dreaded DIY Projects

 

 

 

Is there a DIY home maintenance project that’s been lingering on your to-do list for too long because you’re dreading the trip to the hardware or craft store?

Here are some projects you can tackle with items that are almost certainly already in your home.

  1. Vinegar: There’s probably a jug of vinegar in your pantry right now. You can soak items in vinegar to remove mineral deposits (like in a clogged showerhead), and you can boil vinegar in your microwave to remove odors and make it easier to clean.
  2. Cola: A can of Coke or Pepsi can be used to clean many surfaces, including your glass windows, porcelain toilet, or chrome fixtures. Just do some research before using it on metal surfaces, as it can be corrosive.
  3. Baking soda: This item may actually be more useful for applications other than baking. A baking soda-vinegar paste is great for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens. Baking soda can also be used to absorb odors.
  4. Butter knife: Screwdrivers are easy to misplace. If can’t find a screwdriver when you need one, a butter knife—preferably an older one that you no longer need for table setting—is pretty effective for both Phillips- and flat-head screws.
  5. Toothpaste: Is there an unsightly scratch on your car or bike? The grit in tarter-control toothpastes makes for an effective scratch remover. Clean the scratch, apply some toothpaste, let it sit for a few minutes, and then buff it out with paper towel.

5 TIPS FOR A BETTER CLOSING DAY

Tips to Ensure That Your Closing Day Goes Smooth

closing day

Buying a home can be a long process. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong on your closing day.  After all the time spent searching for that perfect home!  Getting the best mortgage rate!  Here are five things to do before you close to ensure it goes smoothly.

 

  1. Schedule a date that works best for you: You have every right to request the closing take place at an ideal time for you, and the other parties in the transaction will usually work with you to make it happen. Whether it’s timing the closing around a pay date or the end of a lease, the first step is finding a date that minimizes stress or conflicts.
  2. Clarify your payment: Many title companies do not accept personal checks, so give yourself a few days to get a cashier’s check or set up a wire transfer.
  3. Double check insurance: You’ll need to arrange for a title insurance policy for your mortgage and purchase homeowner’s insurance (plus flood or earthquake insurance, depending on the area). Make sure your policy begins by your closing date.
  4. Do a final walk-through: You’d be surprised to find that many buyers skip this step! Schedule a final walkthrough to ensure that all requested repairs have been made and everything is in working order.
  5. Take action based on walk-through: If any issues are identified, you may need to delay closing or negotiate a discount before the closing date to avoid delays.

WHICH DOWN PAYMENT STRATEGY IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

20-percent-down-payment

Is a 20% Down Payment Really Needed Today?

You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20% down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20% is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.

But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as 3%—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.

THE DOWNSIDE OF LESS THAN 20%

The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance, on some loans, for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20% down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.

THE UPSIDE OF 20% OR MORE

The national average for home appreciation is about 5%. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20% or 3%, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.

THE HAPPY MEDIUM

Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20% and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.

NEW HOMEOWNER? AVOID THESE LAWN CARE MISTAKES

lawn care

4 Lawn Care Mistakes to Avoid

It’s easy to take a few missteps when it comes to lawn care, especially if you’re a new homeowner and it’s your first time being solely responsible for your yard and landscaping. Here are a few tips that will help you avoid lawn-related frustrations.

measuring-your-lawnCutting the grass short. Lowering the height of your mower blades may give you a few extra days between each mowing, but it’s bad for your grass in the long run. Don’t go any shorter than 2.5 inches, or your grass could be starved for sunlight.

 

 

 

lawn-mistakes-dogWatch where your dog urinates. Finally out of an apartment and ready to let the dog into the back yard when it’s time to go? You might regret it. Your pets’ urine can kill your plants and grass. Try to train your dog to go in one spot,          preferably in stone or gravel.

 

lawn-care-fertBe careful with fertilizer. Fertilizing your lawn isn’t as simple as picking up any bag at a local store. Choosing the wrong fertilizer, using too much, or ignoring the instructions is a recipe for disaster. Do plenty of research or ask a professional if you need help choosing.

 

 

 

 

Give your plants room to breathe. The nutrients in soil are a finite resource, and your plants and shrubs also need their fair share of water and sunlight. If you plant your shrubs, trees, and flowers too close together, they’ll have to compete for those resources and may become malnourished. Pay attention to the planting recommendations for each plant to make sure that they have the proper space to thrive.a-nice-lawn-2