171 N. 13th Street
171 N. 13th Street
September News Letter
Should You Be Your Own Contractor?
A light blue house with arched front door at the end of a brick walkway also boasts a front-yard cottage-style landscaped garden, complete with various flowers and plants, and a white picket fence.
Potential home buyers form their first impression of a home from its curb appeal. Yet often a home's outdoor landscaping is overlooked, or underdone, in the preparation for the sales process. An attractive and well-maintained landscape can add as much as 10 percent to the value of your home.
Ideally the time to get started cleaning up your yard is about a month before you plan on showing your house. That should give you enough time to get everything looking just right and not leave the impression that you simply waited until the last minute to put things in order. Follow these tips for sprucing up your yard to help your home sell quickly.
Spruce up outdoor containers.
Container plants, especially large tropicals, add considerable interest to patios and doorways where would-be buyers enter and exit the house. Such displays also demonstrate the endless possibilities for designing with container plants.
Touch up the mulch.
Nothing spruces up a place like a new application of mulch, so apply a fresh layer in all your garden beds. The color enhances the contrast of the surrounding plants and makes everything pop. What's more, mulch is relatively cheap and easy to apply.
Plant some instant color.
Seasonal color makes the landscape pop as well, and flats of annuals are also relatively inexpensive. Go for a splash of several colors or a more monochromatic scheme, whatever fits in with the look of your home.
Shape unsightly or overgrown trees and shrubs.
Regardless of the season, it's a good idea to tackle any overlooked pruning chores because nothing says neglect like a bunch of dead branches. The idea is to show how well not only your house but your garden has been maintained. It's okay to prune deciduous trees and shrubs any time of the year.
Tend to perennial beds.
Tidy up herbaceous plants, such as annuals and perennials, that don't look as good as they should. If a plant is in such bad shape that it needs to be removed, either replace it or stick a decorative pot in its place.
Now is also a good time to dig up any plants that you want to take with you to your new home. If you intend to remove any landscape plants and haven't already done so, you have an obligation to inform the buyer exactly which plants you plan on digging up. That's only fair, and in many states there are restrictions on removing plants from the landscape.
Clean up water features.
Get rid of any visible algae, remove leaves and clean filters so that the water is crystal clear. After all, a water feature that doesn't look good or function properly can be an instant turnoff.
Take care of any irrigation issues.
If there are any problems with an irrigation system, fix them. Irrigation system repairs can be expensive, and you don't want to lay the cost of those repairs on the buyer. Provide information about your irrigation schedule, especially if you have an automatic system. Include instructions as to how the system operates and recommend the same watering schedule that's worked for you.
Repair faucet leaks.
A leaking faucet suggests that there may be other problems elsewhere in the plumbing, and that can be an instant turn-off to buyers.
If you receive sufficient notice that your home is about to be shown, water a half-hour or so before the appointed time. The water reduces the glare of paved surfaces and also sends the message that your plants are well-maintained. You might even consider running your irrigation system just to show that it's working properly.
Consider labeling as many plants as possible.
That way the buyer will at least know the name of each plant and can then research their growing needs. Also consider creating a complete plant inventory in scrapbook form and leaving it out on a table for prospective buyers to browse through as they tour your home. This relatively simple step can have a powerful effect on buyers, whether they're gardeners or not.
Power-wash dirty surfaces.
Consider buying or renting a power washer to clean paved surfaces. With very little time or effort, you can make grungy, grimy surfaces look brand-spanking new. Power washers also do a great job of cleaning fences, as well as brick and vinyl siding.
By Chris Bibey
Posted in: Real Estate
It’s no secret that buying a home is probably the biggest investment you’re ever going to make. It’s also one of the most popular – 88% of U.S. households believe owning a home is a good financial decision, according to the National Association of Realtors 2015 Housing Opportunities and Market Experience Survey.
If you’re in the market, chances are you’ve been overwhelmed by the number of available options – and one major decision you must make is whether to purchase a single-family home or an attached unit. There are both advantages and disadvantages to purchasing a unit in a larger development, such as a condo, townhouse, or co-op, and the same could be said for purchasing a large (or even small) single-family home. In 2015, the median sale price of existing single-family homes was $223,900, while the median sale price of existing condo or co-op homes was $210,700, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Thankfully, as long as you make an informed buying decision, both housing styles are viable options. Some people may be struck by the immediate difference in appearance between the two, but the contrast is hardly skin-deep, and many folks are unaware of the finer details of each type of property. Before you decide which option to focus on in your search, it’s important to compare both to see which is best for you and your family.
Single-family homes are unattached houses that are most often found in the suburbs of a larger city, and may be in a subdivision or out in the country. Many have a yard, a garage, and perhaps even a private garden or a swimming pool.
Generally, the following aspects set single-family homes apart from attached homes:
Single-family homes often have larger yards than attached units – and many attached units may not have a private yard at all. In fact, in townhouse communities, the yard is usually considered a common area that is maintained by an association. So if you want to have people over for a big backyard barbecue or plant a vegetable garden, a single-family home is more suitable.
In a single-family home, you don’t have to worry about your upstairs or downstairs neighbors stomping around or playing loud music at all hours. While you might have neighbors, no part of their home touches yours, which can eliminate many noise-related issues. In attached units, you share at least one wall with a neighbor, increasing the odds that you will have conflict.
From the grass you stand on in your front lawn, to the attic space above you, it’s all yours. Therefore, you can have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a single-family home – you’ve got a space you can truly call your own. And if you want to have friends and family over to enjoy the back yard or the swimming pool, you don’t have to worry about neighbors coming over to share the space.
If you’re constantly struggling to find space to store holiday decorations, beach toys, bikes, or extra clothing, then a single-family home may be right for you. In many cases, a single-family home provides garage space, attic space, basement space, and more square footage than an attached-unit home. Single-family homes also can offer outdoor space to store outdoor play items for your children or pets, as well as gardening tools and recreation items.
If you’re looking to start or grow your family – or if you foresee a day when aging parents or grandparents may come to live with you – a single-family home may be your best option. Also, if you envision your home as the go-to place for family reunions, sleepovers, and Super Bowl parties, a single-family home is more amenable to entertaining – both inside and out – relative to a townhouse or condo.
Attached-unit homes come in many shapes and sizes. They may be part of a larger multi-story building with many units, or they may be a small strip of townhomes with just one or two levels. What sets them apart from single-family dwellings is that all homeowners share a roof, walls, or floors. You may also share common areas such as a garage, a clubhouse, a pool, or a garden area.
Though sometimes found in single-family homes, homeowners association (HOA) fees or maintenance fees are more common among attached-unit dwellings. Though they can be costly, when the pool needs cleaning or the grass needs cutting, you may be thrilled that someone else takes care of it. Depending on your property’s policies, those fees can pay for everything from basic landscaping, to roof repair, to property taxes.
Granted, such fees don’t cover everything. Depending on your property’s policies, the fees may only pay for upkeep of the communal areas of the property – and even if your fees pay for a superintendent to come by to fix the occasional leak, you’re still responsible for many items (such as appliances) and the upkeep of your home’s interior. But the savings can be immense – in both time and money – when you consider that you’re not the one out there mowing the lawn or balancing pool chemicals.
If you want to buy your own place but are worried about the expense, an attached-unit home could cost tens of thousands of dollars less than an equivalently sized single-family unit. In many cases, an updated townhouse with a clubhouse and communal pool is still cheaper than a 30-year-old single-family home that needs work.
In other words, if new construction and amenities are valuable to you, you may get more for your money with an attached home. Although in many cases you must give up a yard, a measure of privacy, and space, perks such as a shared pool and recreational facilities can make these cheaper dwellings even more valuable than a single-family home.
If work or family concerns take you out of town frequently, chances are your condo or co-op is going to be just fine on its own – a single-family home, however, might require paying someone to maintain. For example, single-family home dwellers would need to pay someone to cut the grass to ensure it didn’t become an unwieldy mess, or pay for a pool cleaner to ensure the drains didn’t get clogged. Plus, the extra privacy afforded by single-family homes can give potential burglars more privacy and cover when attempting to break in.
Meanwhile, attached-unit homeowners almost always pay HOA or maintenance fees to take care of upkeep concerns year-round. Likewise, attached-dwelling residents don’t have to worry as much about a leaky roof or gas leak going unnoticed – neighbors who share a wall or roof with you would be more likely to spot, hear, or smell a problem – or notice an intruder and sound the alarm.
Are you the kind of person who prefers to minimize possessions, rather that accumulate clutter? If so, an attached-unit home may be right for you. In many cases, attached units offer “less house” for less money, so you can take the money you saved and put it toward other pursuits, such as college education, vacations, or charitable donations.
Single-family homes may very well be in a secluded subdivision or down a dirt road removed from city life. Attached dwellings, however, are often in areas near vibrant entertainment and dining options, and may be closer to your office, shortening your daily commute. In fact, you may be able to live so close to work that you could commute by bike. Or, you might be able to take advantage of public transportation or ride sharing services, negating the need to own a car.
Many attached-dwelling homes are popping up nationwide in “mixed-use” real estate developments, where residents have food and dining options just downstairs – sometimes in the building itself. If convenience is what you’re after, a condo, co-op, or townhome may be exactly what you need.
Before pulling the trigger on any home purchase, make sure you’re in a solid enough financial position to take it on. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends a total debt-to-income ratio of 43%, which means that if you divide all your monthly debts by your gross monthly income the result should be at or lower than that figure. The lower it is, the healthier your financial standing. Be sure to perform this calculation by including your prospective mortgage payment – and account for unexpected monthly expenses as well to ensure that you have a cushion.
Mortgage brokers are a big part of the mortgage business, accounting for more than 10 percent of all home loan originations.
In fact, their share of the mortgage pie was as high as 30 percent during the mortgage boom, but fell precipitously after the mortgage crisis ensued.
But brokers still serve a valuable role in the industry, and can be quite beneficial for both prospective homeowners and those looking to refinance.
Pros and Cons to Both
There are pros and cons to both, and sometimes you will have little choice between the two if you have poor credit or a tricky loan scenario.
The majority of homeowners turn to banks when it comes time to get a mortgage. They are the most obvious choice, mainly because home loan services are usually offered at the customer’s primary banking institution.
However, borrowers who have trouble qualifying or need to finance tricky deals will often get turned away at banks. So for these people, using a mortgage broker is often the next best option.
Of course, pricing with mortgage brokers can be just as competitive as a bank, so long as the broker doesn’t take too much off the top. Wholesale rates can actually be much cheaper than retail interest rates you’ll get with banks.
For example, I know a mortgage consultant who works at a Wells Fargo retail bank branch (example of using a bank directly), and her rates are much higher than Wells Fargo’s wholesale division. And the only way you can access their wholesale rates is through a mortgage broker.
Of course, most borrowers will attempt to secure financing with their local bank or credit union before turning to a mortgage broker. Banks are seemingly the more trusted and familiar choice, and often provide borrowers with discounts based on a pre-established relationship.
Because the bank already knows a good deal of information about the client, such as the balance of the borrower’s checking and savings accounts, qualifying can be easier and may result in a lower rate.
A broker will only be able to verify such information with the borrower’s cooperation, and may choose not to provide certain information to the lender. This lack of information (stated income loan) could lead to a higher interest rate.
Pros of working directly with a bank:
– Build off existing relationship (discounts if you have a checking/saving account)
– You already know the banker who will handle your mortgage
– Perhaps more trustworthy, more accountable than a smaller shop
– Lower interest rates in some cases
– Ability to add mortgage to existing banking profile and make automatic payments from linked accounts
Cons of working with a bank:
– Conservative loan programs
– Do not disclose the yield-spread premium
– Lengthy process, very bureaucratic
– False promises
– They make mistakes
– May overcharge you (commission doesn’t need to be disclosed)
– Incompetence (poorly educated about the home loan process in some cases if they’re just general bankers or customer service types)
Pros of working with a mortgage broker:
– They do all the legwork for you, working on your behalf with the lender
– They compare wholesale mortgage rates from a large number of banks and lenders all at once
– Wholesale interest rates can be lower than retail (bank branch) interest rates
– You get more loan options because they work with numerous banks and lenders
– Brokers can finance tricky deals because of their knowledge and various lending partners
– Are typically easier to get in contact with, less bureaucratic
Cons of working with a mortgage broker:
– They make mistakes like anyone else
– May overcharge you (how mortgage brokers make money)
– False promises to get your business
– Incompetence (poorly educated about the home loan process in some cases if newbies)
– May not have access to programs with select banks (approval varies considerably)
That said, your experience can really vary based on who you choose to work with, as some banks and lenders may overcharge you and give you the run-around, while a mortgage broker may do an excellent job and secure a lower mortgage rate for you. And vice versa. It really depends on your situation and the specific bank or broker you ultimately work with, so be sure to shop around and ask for references.
Not all mortgage brokers are good or bad, and the same is true with banks. However, one benefit of using a broker is that the experience is probably a lot more consistent because it’s just one person (and their team), as opposed to a large bank with thousands of employees.
Many mortgage brokers are mom-and-pop shops, so it’s easy to get someone on the phone or speak in person.
Most of them provide personal service, meaning you’ll have a direct phone number to reach them, and can even visit them in their office if you have questions. You might not find the same level of service at the big banks…
So if you want someone to guide you through the loan process, a mortgage broker may be a good choice for you. They also tend to hustle a bit more with their commission on the line.
To sum it up, mortgage brokers can be a good option if you’re shopping for a loan, but you should always compare their rates and service to those at your local bank and credit union, just to be sure.
Read more: How to get the best mortgage rate.
In the first year my husband and I lived in our house, we spent almost $20,000 on home improvements. When we set that money aside at the beginning of the year, we dreamed about granite counters and steam showers; what we ended up with was a new furnace, new gutters, a drainage system to keep the basement dry, new landscaping and lots of new paint. At the end of that year as I wiped down my tacky Formica countertops and bathed in my 1950s seafoam green tub, I wondered if we had spent that money wisely. If we had put our house up for sale, would potential buyers have really cared about the dry basement and reliable furnace?
After talking to a slew of realtors, contractors and architects, the consensus was yes. "If the roof is leaking, buyers won't get beyond that," says Ron Phipps with Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. "I don't care how awesome the kitchen is."
According to Remodeling Magazine (http://www.remodeling.hw.net/) you're less likely to recoup your investment in a major kitchen or bathroom remodel than you are to get back what you spend on basic home maintenance such as new siding. Siding replacement recouped 92.8 percent of its cost, according to the study. The only home improvement likely to return more at resale was a minor (roughly $15,000) kitchen remodel, which returned 92.9 percent. Replacing roofs and windows were also high on the list, returning 80 percent or more at resale.
"Buyers want to take the basic systems for granted," says Sal Alfano, Remodeling's editorial director. "They assume the roof doesn't leak and the air conditioning and plumbing work. Maintenance can chew up a lot of cash quickly, and people are afraid of that."
That's not to say that granite counters and steam showers don't pay off; kitchen and bathroom remodels continue to be two of the best investments you can make in your house. "They're always right up there at the top of the list," says Alfano. "They're the big, sexy rooms that new home builders splurge on, so when buyers are shopping around that's what they want in an existing home, too."
If you're thinking about sinking some money into home improvement projects this year, keep a few things in mind. What you'll get back on your investment depends on the value of your house, the value of houses in your immediate neighborhood, the housing market where you live, how soon you sell after making improvements, and the quality of the project itself. Installing a $10,000 stove in a $200,000 house, for example, "just doesn't compute," says Ron Phipps. Nor does it make sense to update your kitchen if your house is the only house in the neighborhood with just one bathroom. Here, the scoop on home improvements that will give you the biggest bang for your buck:
Bathroom additions have twice the resale value of a new bedroom.
In the hottest housing markets, springing for a kitchen or bath remodel is a sure-fire investment, often returning more than 100 percent of the cost. In Baltimore, for instance, a $9,400 bathroom remodel recouped 182 percent of its cost at resale, according to Remodeling's 2004 study. The markets in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and San Diego also offered triple-digit returns on a bathroom remodel. Minor kitchen remodels (average cost: $15,273) also provided returns of more than 100 percent in cities including Providence, R.I., Miami, New Orleans and, of course, San Diego, where a $17,928 investment netted $27,000 on resale.
Kitchens and baths are the areas in a home "where you can tell if money has been well spent or not," says architect Steve Straughan, a partner in Los Angeles-based KAA Design Group. "They're the most expensive areas of the home in terms of construction. And they're where people spend time in their homes."
So exactly what should you improve when you redo your kitchen or bathroom? Think traditional: all-wood cabinets, commercial-look appliances, natural wood or stone floors and stone countertops. Walk-in showers have replaced whirlpool tubs as the must-have cleaning machine in bathrooms, Straughan says. His clients will "forgo the tub to have a big walk-in shower" if they don't have room for both. "Most people don't have time to take a bath," Straughan points out. "So a lot of time you're giving away all that square footage for a tub that rarely gets used." Floor-to-ceiling steam showers are also hot (so to speak).Two key points to consider, however: First, don't spend money remodeling the bathroom if it's the only one you've got. Your money is better spent adding a second bath. Many people love "the charm of older homes," says Long Beach, Calif., based realtor Dick Gaylord. "But a number of older homes lack a sufficient number of bathrooms. So if you've got a four-bedroom, one-bath home, it's certainly going to pay to add a second bathroom." A National Association of Realtors study by Florida State University professors G. Stacy Sirmans and David Macpherson found that adding a bathroom increased the sale price of a home by 8.7 percent, more than twice the rate for adding a bedroom.
Second, if you're not planning to move in the near future, spend your money remodeling in a way that you'll most enjoy. Realtor Ron Phipps recently showed a house with a kitchen that had been remodeled just two years ago. "I opened the Viking range and the original packaging was still inside," Phipps says. The homeowners "are not cooks. The kitchen is terrific, it's magnificent, but they don't use it."
In other words, you can't measure the value you get out of your use and enjoyment of the home improvements you make. "Even if you get less than 100 percent of your money back, you're really ahead of the game over time because you get the use of all that space," says Sal Alfano.
Still, new kitchens and baths lose some of their glamour if there's water in the basement when a potential buyer comes to look at your house, says Alfano. Every homeowner's first priority should be "keeping the existing structure sound," says Don Sever, a general contractor for 18 years and president of Sever Construction in Oakton, Va. "I've been in a lot of houses where people are spending thirty or forty thousand dollars to remodel the kitchen, but then you walk into the basement and there's a musty smell because water is leaking through the foundation. To me, it's more important to resolve those items first, and get the luxuries later."
Ron Phipps suggests thinking about it from a buyer's perspective. "I was with someone recently who was going to spend money to remodel their bathroom. But the roof is two layers and 30 years old." For a buyer, knowing the roof needs to be replaced is a much bigger issue than living with a functional, but dated, bathroom, Phipps points out.
Most buyers have a limit on what they can spend for a house. If they know they don't have to spend money on the upkeep of basic systems, then they're more likely to buy the house and consider upgrading the kitchen or baths themselves. More than 70 percent of buyers who purchased existing homes knew what they were going to remodel before they even closed on the deal, according to HanleyWood's Housing Continuum Study, conducted in 2002 in conjunction with Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. The same study showed that 30 to 40 percent of buyers of existing homes made home improvements within six months after purchase.
The importance of different maintenance issues varies with geographical location, too. Roof replacement (average cost: $11,376) was very important to buyers in the east, according to Remodeling, where homeowners recouped an average 96.3 percent of the cost. In the Midwest, the average return for the same improvement was just 71.1 percent.
When deciding what improvements to make for resale, be sure to put home maintenance, such as new siding, high on the list.
Even in hot housing markets, the old saw holds true: "If people drive by your home and are not impressed they're not going to walk inside," says Dick Gaylord, who has sold real estate for 27 years.
"If I were going to spend money on a property, I would really work on making sure the curb appeal is strong," says realtor Ron Phipps. Phipps suggests adding a front porch to create interest to the exterior of a flat house, for instance. "You really want to convey a sense of welcome," he says. "If all your remodeling is on the inside but the outside of the house is challenging, you'll never have a chance to even show the inside."
Curb appeal is a major reason that siding replacement ranks so highly on the Cost vs. Value report, says editor Sal Alfano. Replacement siding also offers the added value of being low maintenance, an important issue for cost-conscious buyers.
Adding a room or two or five can be a good investment, particularly if you live in a hot housing market. "In the last couple of years there have been a lot of requests for additions," says general contractor Don Sever, who's based in the red-hot northern Virginia market. "Everything from adding a sunroom to doubling the size of the house." Much of the demand is driven by homeowners who want more space, but then realize they can't afford larger homes in their own neighborhood. Sever met with clients last year who wanted to fix up their house to put it on the market. After looking for homes to buy, "they decided that instead of spending money to get it ready to sell, they'd add features to make the house more livable and stay put."
Every 1,000 square feet added to a home boosts the sale price by more than 30 percent, according to the 2005 study for the National Association of Realtors.
Bathroom additions return the most, according to Remodeling magazine's report — an average of 86.4 percent. The addition of attic bedrooms, family rooms and sunrooms returned anywhere from 70 to more than 80 percent of the money spent — and that doesn't factor in the value of your own enjoyment of all that new space.
And more and more people want dedicated rooms for hobbies and crafts, says editor Sal Alfano, whether it's an exercise room, knitting room or home office.
One caveat: Don't add on so much that you price your house right out of the neighborhood. "You don't want to be the leading value for the neighborhood," warns realtor Phipps. "Although you can be at the upper end."
For some homeowners, home improvement isn't about return on investment; it's simply about making dreams come true. Architect Steve Straughan recently finished work on a $250,000 home theater room with a 12-foot wide screen and an elaborate sound system. "There's not a home we're doing that doesn't have a home theater," Straughan says. "It's a common request across the board and typically it's a big investment." Most home theaters involve wiring speakers into walls and extensive built-in cabinetry, as well as soundproofing–"it's not something you can take with you" if you move, Straughan points out. Still, a home theater is likely to have broad appeal, so you may recoup a large chunk of your costs at resale. "A home theater makes sense," says realtor Ron Phipps. "A six-car garage does not make sense." In the high-end L.A. market, Straughan also sees demand for wine cellars, massage rooms and yoga rooms.
5 Things to Consider Before Tackling a Home Renovation
Does The Renovation Require Permits?
Generally, small changes can be done on your own, but larger projects involving additions or altering the existing structure, electrical or plumbing may require permits. It’s important to be aware of the rules of your city, as undergoing renos without the required permits can mean timely delays, fines and ultimately stretching your budget.
Has Your Contractor Been Vetted?
It’s always smart to get a few quotes for every job, and references are essential. There are too many horror stories out there to make absolute sure that anyone who’s working on your home has been thoroughly vetted. Ask to see a portfolio of their work, or call a referral or two, this could save you a lot of heartache down the road.
Should You Relocate During the Job?
Packing up (especially if you have kids) might seem like a complete pain, but trying to live through a renovation might be an even bigger one. Add to that the dust and dirt that’s loosened (which can be a lot more than you’d expect), and you may be breathing easier if you choose to stay with family or at a hotel.
Do You Have a Buffer?
Often, the reality of renovating seems to be it costs more money, and takes longer (sometimes a lot longer) than expected. Building in a buffer of both time, and money is a great idea and a good way to set proper expectations. (And hey, sometimes they do finish on time, for the actual quote!)
So Do You REALLY Want This?
After weeks of researching design ideas, vetting contractors and saving the money you’ll need (plus a little buffer), now’s the time to really weigh the pros and cons. Do you really want to do this? And if the answer is yes, good luck! Renovating, whether it’s something small, or a big, can mean one step closer to living in the home of your dreams (once the nightmare of the renovation ends of course).
Do I Really Need a Home Inspection?
By Sandra Rinomato
As a homebuyer, you'll want to make sure that you make a wise investment choice, and that's why professional home inspections are becoming an essential part of the buying process. In fact, more and more buyers are using specialized inspections based on location or the property itself, in addition to the standard home inspection.
A professional home inspector reviews the operating systems and structure of a home of any age—even new homes—and leaves a written report for the client to keep as a reference guide. Typically, the home inspector will comment on the condition of the foundation, heating and cooling systems, electrical service, roof, plumbing, and other significant structural factors and will outline costs of repair or replacement where needed, as well as comment on the condition of the property compared to others of the same age. The few hours that you spend with your inspector are the best time to learn the ins and outs of taking care of your property, and you should keep the reference book for as long as you live there.
With rising home prices and a subsequent rise in the use of home inspectors, in recent years, the field has actually become more specialized to suit specific needs of certain markets or properties. For example, some offers to purchase may require the services of a swimming pool inspector, termite inspector, electrician to inspect wiring, or a water-quality inspection for a property with a well.
Inspection costs will vary based on the size of the home, but you can expect to pay in the area of three to five hundred dollars for a typical home inspection of a single family residence. In many cases, it's the buyer who pays the cost of the home inspection, and most agree that it's a small price to pay for peace of mind. However, some home sellers are using pre-listing home inspection reports as a marketing tool. A home inspection report can also give you additional negotiating power if it unearths some significant problems that must be remedied, but may not have been visible.
Your real estate professional can advise you on how to incorporate a home inspection as a condition of buying a property. Your offer can be conditional upon a professional home inspection being conducted and a satisfactory report being received by you the home buyer. If the inspection report indicates some big expenses, or problems you don't want to deal with, your offer can either be terminated or possibly re-negotiated to help cover the cost of any major remedies. Your realtor will advise you of any risks associated with renegotiating the deal and will protect you during the process so that the seller cannot accept an offer from another buyer.
Selling in Winter
Make sure the price is right
You already know that winter is not a busy season for home buying, so this means you should price accordingly: low enough to spark a bidding war.
Make some inexpensive tweaks
Hilary Walker, a REALTOR with PEMCO Realty’s Atlanta office said, “Depending on where you live, winter can make homes quite dreary or dull looking. Professional photographs will help to portray your home with good lighting for the interior and exterior. However, you can also help by adding a pot of brightly colored flowers at the main entrance and a vase of daffodils or yellow roses inside the home. Place the flowers in front of a window so that when people view your home they get a sense of spring. Same goes for framed wall pictures, replace family pictures with warm/bright decorative pictures.”
Don’t forget these important listing and open house tips:
Money. Why It Pays to List Your Home in Winter
Trulia. From Brrr To Bought: Rules For Selling During Winter Months
Written by Ari Meier
The Differences Between a Comparative Market Analysis and Broker Price Opinion.
Appraisal- The appraisal is an unbiased opinion of value of a purchase, listing or refinance. The appraisal report contains exterior and interior property photos, physical data on the property including square footage of the living area, size of the lot, condition description, items that may need repair and the type of construction materials needed. Neighborhood and surrounding community information is also analyzed and included in the report because this information directly affects property values. Appraisals can be used by banks, insurance companies, homeowners and any other interested party that wants to know the market value of the property. Appraisals are also used for construction loans, insurance and tax valuations and estate planning.
Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) – Real estate agents perform a CMA when needing to come up with a listing price. This typically free report contains information on recently sold homes, pending sales, active listings, cancelled, expired and withdrawn listings. The CMA is a qualitative comparison, where the home features are compared to each other. Although this is not the rule, dollar adjustments are rarely used. Agents look at the different types of listings and homes similar to the subject home then decide what they sold for, how long it took to sell and the difference between the sales price and the listing price. This information is used to determine a competitive list price for the home.
Broker Price Opinion (BPO) – The BPO is considered a formal more concise version of the CMA. In addition to homeowners ordering them, they can be ordered by a bank or lender to value a property that may be in the process of being foreclosed on. Like the CMA, the BPO provides information which allows the real estate agent to set a listing price. It‘s also used as a time and money saving alternative to the appraisal for the lender.
PEMCO Limited, in addition to working with a dedicated and highly qualified team of appraisers, also provides BPO services.
Birmingham Appraisal Blog. “Appraisal vs CMA vs BPO – What’s the difference?” 17 April 2014. http://birminghamappraisalblog.com/appraisal/appraisal-vs-cma-vs-bpo-whats-the-difference/
T William Robinson Management. “Broker Price Opinions and Comparative Market Analysis” 17 April 2014. http://www.twrobinsonmanagement.com/broker_price_opinions_and_comparative_market_analysis
Staging your house can make you money. Seventy-one percent of sellers’ agents believe a well-staged environment can increase the dollar value buyers are willing to offer.
Before your eyes turn into dollar signs, keep in mind staging isn’t guaranteed to get you more money. But it’s an important marketing tool to help you compete at the right price, which means you can sell faster.
Helping buyer’s fall in love with your property takes more than running the vacuum and fluffing the pillows: It’s all about decluttering, repairing, updating, and depersonalizing.
California Highway Patrol
Meet the part of San Luis Obispo County that is not Mission-beautiful San Luis Obispo nor artsy Cambria nor Hearst's San Simeon. The five cities of south San Luis Obispo County, clustered amid coastal mountains, farmland, and the Pacific ocean, are places of charm and beauty too often overlooked in the rush to more famous points north.
Of the five, none is a city in any metropolitan sense, and two aren't cities in any sense. The five are Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach (see Grover City; a recent name change reminds visitors that Pismo has no monopoly on sand), Oceano and Shell Beach. Oceano is unincorporated, and Shell Beach was long ago annexed by Pismo Beach; nonetheless, these are the five, and each has a distinctive character.
Shell Beach is all about cliffs- sheer bluffs that tumble to the cold Pacific at the northern end of Pismo Beach. Walk the precipice of cliffs at Margo Dodd Park (get there by heading west on Cliff Avenue from main drag Shell Beach Road) and you feel like a silent chorister amid a littoral din: gulls and other throngs of other shorebirds, the surge and break of gentle waves, and sometimes the hoarse arfing of harbor seals. Stairs take you closer to the action- when the tide's out, tide pooling is superb. Or rent a kayak and get a seals eye view of the cliffs caves and offshore boulders.
Pismo Beach is a time-warp shrine to days when our beach towns were unpretentious places meant for just goofing off. Gravity here pulls everyone down Pomeroy Avenue to the Pismo Pier, where you'll want to stroll out and see what they're catching or whether the surf's up. Rent a banana bike and you become a human-powered dune buggy. Pomeroy Avenue and its side streets are lined with snack bars and surf shops and plenty of opportunities to buy knickknacks and T-shirts. The Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce (805) 773-4382 can provide maps for the Five Cities area.
The chowder's good at Splash Cafe (the bivalves are imported though; the famous Pismo clams aren't sold commercially), and Pismo Fish and Chips on Cypress Street has the best of its ilk you'll find anywhere. On the south edge of Pismo Beach, the tall eucalyptus trees that surround Pismo State Beach's North Campground are known as butterfly trees from November to February, when hundreds of thousands of monarchs cluster in them; follow a marked path off Highway 1 to catch the action.
Poor Grover Beach. Its beach is really Pismo's, and its town is entirely inland. No matter. It has access to a state-operated ramp for driving on the hard-packed sand ($4 to drive, free to walk). It's also a good place to try clam digging, but you'll need a state fishing license. Next door to the ramp is a small but lovely oceanfront golf course, Pismo State Beach Golf Course, (805) 481-5215.
Drive south from Grover by sand or by Highway 1 and you'll reach Oceano and another beach ramp, plied by dune buggies headed into a long stretch of sandbox. Although RV sites outnumber residents here, Oceano has another claim to fame: the first-rate Great American Melodrama and Vaudville, (805) 489-2499, replete with good grub, villains to hiss at, and old-fashioned sing-alonging.
Arroyo Grande, my hometown, is the only landlocked member of the Five Cities, but its vintage downtown village outcharms the others. It's a place meant for walking: pursue the antique shops that line Branch Street, grab a homemade ice cream at Burnardo'z, and slurp it in the little city park that leads to the village's landmark swinging footbridge over Arroyo Grande Creek.
If it's Saturday, there's a farmers' market in the park and music in the town gazebo. Walk across the bridge and feel how its sway evokes a nostalgia for slower times and simple pleasures. The freeway can wait. Check out the size of those strawberries.