Monthly Archives: August 2016

Tips To Preparing Your Home for the Market

rr2Before you put your house on the market, set aside some time to spruce it up and maximize its sales appeal. Houses that are clean, uncluttered and in good repair sell faster.

A few weeks prior to listing your house, do an inspection tour, trying to look at things through the eyes of a stranger. Make a list of things that need to be cleaned and repaired and estimate the time, cost and priority of each chore. Take a particularly good look at your bathroom(s) and kitchen. Time and money invested in painting and refurbishing these key rooms will have maximum impact. Click this link to use a home inspection to your advantage.

Real estate agents who are interested in listing a home often provide recommendations for increasing its sales appeal. Pay attention to their suggestions. They know what matters to buyers and can be objective about your home’s flaws.

To-do list for sellers

Prior to showing your house:

– Get rid of clutter on shelves, countertops and closets. Consider packing seldom-used items you don’t want to discard in boxes and storing them until you move.
– Put excess furniture and items that are showing wear in storage until you move.
– Rearrange the remaining furniture attractively. (Ask your agent or a friend to help you decide what goes where.)
– Wash and/or paint walls that are dirty or chipped.
– Wash blinds and clean curtains.
– Shampoo carpets.
– Fix leaky faucets and appliances that don’t work.
– Get rid of junk that’s accumulated in your basement and garage. (You’ll have to do this before you move anyway, so why not get a head start?)
– Consider having a yard sale.

While your house is on the market:

– Keep the house clean. Tidy up, vacuum and dust daily, if possible, and do laundry before it piles up.
– Keep the house clean. Tidy up, vacuum and dust daily, if possible, and do laundry before it piles up.
– Keep a list of things to do and places to go while prospective buyers are viewing your house.
– Cut or buy fresh flowers every few days.
– Bake cookies or a pie on weekend mornings when you expect a lot of traffic, and before open houses, to make your home more welcoming and cozy.

After your house is sold:

– Make sure you keep everything clean and in good working order.
– Do any repairs you’ve agreed to look after in the sales contract.

If you have small children and find it hard to keep the house tidy, think about hiring a cleaning service or a neighboring teen to help you. You can also ask your real estate agent about the possibility of intensively marketing your home for a short period of time, then holding an auction to reduce the period during which it will be on view.

More Information About Guide to Condominiums

rr1The condominium market has been rising steadily. While this trend is not guaranteed to continue, the condo market has regained the momentum and importance it had in the initial condo boom of the 1980s.

Condo buyers fall into three main groups: first-time buyers making the jump from renting; people looking to buy a second home that they will use part-time; and retirees who are trading in high-end homes for the low-maintenance lifestyle a condo provides.

A condominium can be a great purchase under the right set of circumstances, but some people still dismiss them as glorified apartments. If you’re not comfortable living within condo rules and restrictions, and in close proximity to others, then a condo is probably not the place for you. Before you buy a condominium, make sure you understand exactly what is involved in condo living.

What Exactly Is a Condominium?

A condominium development can take the form of apartment-style complexes, townhouses or converted multi-family dwellings. What distinguishes it from other multi-tenant buildings is that the developer has legally declared it a condominium, and individuals can purchase units in the building or complex. In most states, this means that the development falls under specially designated laws and regulations applied to condominiums.

When purchasing a condo, the owner buys the title to his or her individual unit, up to the walls, but not including them. A common description of a condominium is a “box in the air.”

Common areas of the development, such as stairwells, dividing and outer walls, fitness centers and rooftop gardens, are under shared ownership. Each unit owner holds an interest in these spaces. In order to manage the maintenance and repair of the shared common areas, every condo development has a condominium association, also known as a unit-owners’ association. The association is elected by condo owners and makes communal decisions in the interest of the community.

Condo costs include:

– Down payment, mortgage and property tax
– Condo fees, otherwise known as maintenance fees. Condo fees are paid by every resident to help with the maintenance of the building, pay the salaries of groundskeepers, concierges or handymen, and provide luxury facilities such as a pool, gym or rooftop garden. Condo fees are paid monthly and are subject to change
– Special assessment fees. These fees may be requested when an unexpected repair or planned modification exceeds the cost of the condo fees collected

Rules to Live By

Condominiums are governed by a set of rules called Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). The rules vary from one condo development to another. They may impose restrictions on pet ownership, noise levels, kitchen or bathroom remodeling projects, and renting. The CC&Rs are enforced by the condo association. It’s a good idea to read the CC&Rs to make sure that you are comfortable with them before you purchase a condominium.

Condo Associations and Fees

The condominium association budgets and determines the condo fees for all units. Condo fees are typically determined by the size of your unit, how many units are currently occupied, and the projected expenses for building maintenance and repair.

Condo associations vary in their organization and expertise. Some questions you may want to look into are:

– Does the association maintain a reserve of funds to pay for unexpected and potentially expensive repairs? This will help you determine whether you are likely to get hit with special assessment fees.
– Has the association maintained the building in good repair? Do they handle repairs and maintenance before they become big problems? Before buying, it’s a good idea to get an inspection done on the unit you’re interested in, as well as the entire structure, to identify any potential problems.
– Does the association have plans to add any facilities, such as a pool installation or gym, in the near future? This could cause a sudden increase in your fees. Ask to see the minutes of the last few condo association meetings, which should reveal any such plans.
– Does the development have any pending legal actions? Are there any disputes between owners, with developers or with the association that you should know about?
– What is the association’s reputation in the building? Talk to other owners for comments or complaints about the association’s activities.

A Word about Developers

Developers do not generally retain a long-term interest in a building, but the work that they put into it is important. A home inspection can turn up major structural flaws in the building, but don’t rely on this alone. You should research the developer’s track record, and find out if there have been any problems with its previous developments. Also find out if the developer is still in business and whether it is financially stable. If the developer is no longer in business, your condo association may have little or no legal recourse if major flaws are discovered in the property.

Some Checklist Should You Do Before Go House Hunting

Before you go house-hunting, use this checklist to make sure you are prepared to make a purchase:
– Create a budget. You need to know where your money goes, where you can save, and how much you can afford to spend on your mortgage installment each month, not to mention insurance and taxes.
– Check your credit rating and correct any errors in it. A good rating can help you get a mortgage loan; a spotty one may mean you’ll end up paying a higher interest rate.
– Pre-qualify for a mortgage to find out how much you can borrow.
Need someone to inspect a property? Click here for a

Professional Home Inspection
– Make a list of what you need in your new home: number of bedrooms, eat-in kitchen, family room, garage, central heating and/or central air, etc.
– Make a list of items that you want but are not essential: a fireplace, built-in cook surface and oven, en suite master bathroom and central vacuum.
– Identify a neighborhood or two you’d like to live in based on price, character, proximity to work, schools and daycare, recreation facilities, public transit, etc.
– Scan real estate ads in the newspaper or online to get a better idea of the kinds of houses that are available in the neighborhoods you like, and the selling prices of homes in those areas.
– Use a real estate agent who is familiar with the neighborhoods you’ve chosen.
– Visit your prospective homes at night to see how the neighborhood feels. You might be buying a home where most of your neighbors work during the evening or are students, and they are loud during the late hours when they get home. You would never know this by seeing a house during the day. Spend 15-20 minutes on a few different nights sitting in front of the house in your car for a sense of the noise level.
– Discuss your price range and your housing needs and wants with your agent.
– Ask your agent to walk you through the purchase process and explain the costs involved.
– View a number of houses with your agent so that he or she can get a better handle on your needs and preferences.
– Narrow your search down to at most 4-6 homes you can afford and like enough to make an offer to purchase.

Get More Advantage With Using Home Inspections

Whether you are moving into or moving out of a home, your home inspection report is a tool that will be of great value to you. If you think about it, you have paid someone to do a fairly comprehensive diagnostic test on your home, and their results are yours to keep. This article is designed to educate both home buyers and potential sellers (and homeowners, too) on how to make sure their home inspection is used to their advantage.
Home Inspection Checklist for Homebuyers
First off, if you discover something about a home during the inspection that makes you uncomfortable about purchasing this home, make sure this matter is resolved in some fashion before signing your life away. However, once all that paperwork at closing has been finalized, now is the time to take care of all the small problems listed in the home inspection report.

The best time to handle these projects is before you move in and while you are moving and setting up your new home. Once you are settled and old routines are in place, you are less likely to pursue projects that are potentially disruptive to your daily flow, and some issues on that report require immediate attention.

Exterior Home
Foundation: Are there cracks? Is this because of settling or some more serious problem with the soil or the structure? You might need to have an engineer shore up sags in the foundation or steps.

Roof & Gutters: Your roof needs to be in good shape to keep out the elements and keep your energy in. If it rains and snows heavily in your area and this roof is more than 10 years old, a new roof is in order. The energy savings will help to offset the cost.

If your gutters are clogged, your gutters and part of the roof might come down. Make sure that the gutters and downspouts are securely attached and free of debris. We have gutter cleaning contractors across the country that can help with this.

Siding: If you have siding that requires painting, take care of this during the summer. If you have natural wood siding, it needs to be treated every 4-6 years. If there is any loose or hanging siding, have it repaired before the weather affects it any more.

Windows: If the windows haven’t been replaced in more than 20 years, they likely need to be replaced. If they are younger, they need to be caulked before winter hits every year to keep them running at the highest efficiency. Think about window tinting or other window treatments to help cool your home from the sun’s rays. Treatments will also preserve the color of the floors and furniture.

Interior Home
Electrical: If the inspection report says that you need more load to handle the tvs, computers, printers, and other electrical items, do this as soon as possible, especially if this is an older home.

Heating & Air: Have the filters changed on both systems. It’s not a bad idea to do this twice a season, but they each need to be changed once a year at minimum. If the heating unit is nearing or past 15 years old, its efficiency is likely to be terrible. Make sure to replace this before the height of the season so that you won’t be left in the cold.

Ducts & Vents: Have the ducts cleaned at least every other year, but this process is inexpensive enough that it won’t hurt to have it done every year.

Make sure that the attic has proper ventilation. This is a key element to good energy flow through the house. If heat is escaping into the attic during the winter, you are losing expensive energy and reducing the life of your roof.

Water Heater: The limit on a hot water heater is around 15 years. If yours is reaching or past this age, have it replaced. If you are looking to save money over the long haul, consider an energy efficient model.

Smoke Alarms: You just can’t test these often enough. The conventional wisdom is that you cannot smell smoke in your sleep so you need a smoke detector/alarm to alert you. Always make sure the batteries are up to snuff. If you can’t reach some of these, hire a handyman.

Insulation: Proper insulation matters most in the attic, since poor insulation can also damage your roof. Insulation can always stand to be added, and definitely should be added if it has been more than 6-7 years since insulation was last added or you have seen a steady rise in your energy bills over the last few years.

Everything else is cosmetic. There might be stains in the carpet or holes in the walls, but that can be fixed or negotiated before closing. It is your job as the buyer and the owner to make sure that the house is solid from a structural and systems standpoint. This protects you and your investment.

This home inspection checklist also works for sellers to prepare their homes. So rather than having egg on your face when an inspector reports on obvious problems, you should tackle these problems head on. A home inspector in Denver once said “I’ve inspected over 5000 houses, and I’ve yet to find a perfect one.” So by no means do you have to spend thousands to get a clean bill from the inspector, but these are some key points you’ll want to address before anyone shows up with a clipboard.