Home BuyingHome InspectionsHome Selling April 9, 2021

Do sellers have to do repairs?

Typically, buyers include a home inspection contingency in their purchase offer that allows them to ask the sellers for repairs and get out of the contract if the seller refuses. The seller can respond in a number of ways.

  • They can readily agree to fix the problem, no matter how expensive.
  • They can agree to fix any problem that’s a safety or potential legal issue, such as mold or radon remediation, but decline minor repairs such as filling in and painting over picture hanger holes in the wall.
  • They can refuse to fix anything, but risk losing the buyer. For safety or code issues, they’ll have to declare the problem on subsequent seller’s disclosures, which could impact the home’s value to future buyers.
  • They can offer to lower the price of the home to cover the cost of the repair for the buyer, or offer a closing credit to the buyer to pay for the repair without lowering the price of the home.  That way the buyer can complete the repair to their liking.
  • They can ask the buyer to meet them halfway, such as paying more for the home if the seller repairs something major, or replaces the roof.
  • They can ask the buyer to waive additional repair requests if the seller will fix the worst or most expensive problem.

Sellers should know that FHA, VA and other government-guaranteed loans have stricter requirements for home safety, and that some repairs are mandatory for the buyer’s loan to close.

© 2021 BHH Affiliates, LLC.

Home DecoratingHome Renovations January 23, 2021

Make the most of a small bathroom

Unless you’re living in a custom designed home, you probably wish your bathroom—or your guest bath—was bigger.

Short of pushing out the walls or totally remodeling, home editors at TheSpruce.com offer eight good tips for making the most of your bathroom space:

Pick the right colors. Save the bright hues for accessories if you like, but paint the walls and choose the flooring to create an illusion of space and serenity. Pale, soft pastel shades are best.

Up the lighting. Adding recessed lighting in the ceiling or opera lights above the vanity are good ways to increase the brightness and create a more spacious feeling.

Try a pedestal sink. A vanity cabinet provides storage under the sink, but it takes up lots of floor space. If you can find storage space in a nearby linen closet, trade the vanity for a low-profile pedestal sink. (Note, however, that if you remove the vanity, you will likely have to repair or change the flooring.)

Cut back what sticks out. Anything that sticks out into the room can make your room seem to shrink. Remove as many hanging shelves, racks, or decorative accessories as you can because they cut into the room and make it look smaller.

Use mirror reflection. Use the largest mirror you can over the bathroom sink. It will reflect all the light in the room, including the pale colors you’ve chosen.

Get rid of visual obstructions. Trade a frosted-glass bath or shower door for a clear glass one. Or, better yet, eliminate the door and install a shower curtain that can be pushed back to one side when not in use. You’ll be able to see all the way to the back wall to maximize the illusion of spaciousness.

Expand the ceiling. You can create the illusion of a raised ceiling if you install crown molding and paint it the same color as the ceiling.

Ditch the clutter. Keep only essentials on the bathroom counter. The less clutter, the more spacious the look and feel.

© 2021 RISMedia. All Rights Reserved.
Home BuyingHome Inspections January 13, 2021

How to Spot Foundation Problems

The foundation provides support for your entire house, so keeping it level and in good condition is critical to the protection of the entire structure and the safety of your family. A foundation can become damaged by a variety of problems and natural occurrences. If you notice any of these warning signs, you should have your foundation inspected as soon as possible.

Cracks
The most glaring sign of a foundation problem is cracking in the foundation, walls or floors. This can be a result of movement in the soil that causes the house to sink. Even if a crack appears small, it can indicate that there is a serious problem. This should be addressed as soon as possible.

Settling or Heaving
You may notice that the house is settling or sinking on one side. This indicates a significant foundation problem that can result in safety issues. Ignoring even a small change will only allow the problem to get worse.

Sometimes the opposite happens and the foundation moves upward. You may notice that hallways, doors or garage walls are no longer level. This problem can be caused by expansion and contraction of the soil under the house or by moisture issues.

Moisture in the Crawl Space
You may notice excessive moisture, mold and mildew in your crawl space and may smell a musty odor inside the house. This problem can be addressed by improving the drainage system.

Problems Inside the House
The floors may sag or become uneven. This can be dangerous, especially for children and people with limited mobility, because it raises the risk of falls and injuries.

You may notice that the doors are difficult to open and close or do not line up properly. While this is common after a heavy rainstorm because of moisture in the air, if it happens during dry weather, it could be a sign of an issue with the foundation. You may see gaps around the window frames or exterior doors, or you may no longer be able to lock doors—this creates obvious safety concerns.

If you notice that your cabinets and counters are separating from the walls, that is a sign of a foundation problem. Even a small amount of movement can indicate that there is a serious issue.

Have Your Home Inspected
A foundation problem is something that needs to be taken seriously. Even something that seems like a minor change can be a sign of a significant structural issue. If you notice any of these signs, contact a local contractor immediately to have your house inspected. It’s necessary to correct foundation issues quickly to avoid further problems and prevent major structural damage.

© 2021 RISMedia. All Rights Reserved.

Home Decorating May 20, 2020

Getting Creative with your Wall Space

Do you have a blank wall with no idea what to put on it? Rethink the boring family photo with these interesting ideas.

Get wordy. Whether you’re a logophile or are just looking to amp up the playful vibe of your space, adding large text to your wall can be innovative and inspirational. You can purchase a variety of word hangings online, or create your own with stencils for a literal conversation starter right on your own wall.

Create a mirror collage. We all know a mirror on the wall can open up a room and throw lots of luscious light. But by using many smaller mirrors to create a pattern or design, you can add the benefit of a unique, boho vibe. Choose mirrors in various shapes or with different frames.

Hang a rug. Remember the old tapestries of your dorm room? Hanging a nice, well-made floor rug on the wall is the adult version of this decorating phenomenon. Whether you want a bold color pop or a bright design, pick a blank wall and go wild.

Vertical plants. Snag some aesthetically pleasing wall planters or sconces and create a botanical masterpiece by popping in your favorite succulents or hanging plants.

© 2020 RISMedia. All Rights Reserved.

Holidays May 20, 2020

3 Ideas for a Fun & Safe Memorial Day Weekend at Home

Memorial Day Weekend often feels like the unofficial start of summer, but this year is going to be a little different. Although you might not be able to gather with friends and family to barbecue and bask in the warming weather, there are still plenty of ways that you can celebrate, while also taking the time to honor those who have sacrificed their lives to serve our country. Here are just a few ideas for a Memorial Day Weekend that the whole family can enjoy together.

Decorate the House
If you want to show your appreciation during the holiday, one of the best ways to do so is to fly the American flag from your front door. You can also hang a patriotic bunting from a porch or balcony to remind the neighborhood that even though we cannot gather together this year, we are still remembering those who have fought for our country.

Make a Donation
There are many different ways that you can give back to the veterans in your community during Memorial Day Weekend. This year, VA nursing homes and assisted living centers in the area are excellent places to make a donation, as these facilities are being hit hard across the country by this crisis and need our help now more than ever. If you’re looking for an activity that the whole family can participate in, you can put together care packages for soldiers who are currently serving abroad.

Enjoy Family Time
Sure, you’ve probably had more than enough family time over the last couple of months, but try not to take it for granted over this holiday weekend. Whether you’re grilling in the backyard or watching the National Memorial Day Concert in the comfort of your media room, it’s important to remember the many advantages we have in this country thanks to the people who have fought to protect it. For those who are craving some fresh air, you can go on a family walk to the local cemetery to get outside and pay your respects.

© 2020 RISMedia. All Rights Reserved.
COVID-19 / Coronavirus May 14, 2020

What are “Coronavirus Clauses”?

The coronavirus has caused businesses across the United States and around the world to close and has made it difficult or impossible for many financial transactions to be completed. Real estate closings are complex and some of the parties involved may be unable to perform their duties on schedule or at all due to COVID-19. Agents are therefore including coronavirus clauses in contracts.

How Can a Coronavirus Clause Protect Buyers and Sellers?
A force majeure clause is a provision in a contract that excuses one or both parties’ failure to meet their obligations if they were unable to do so because of circumstances beyond their control. It allows the parties to delay a transaction or to cancel it without facing a penalty. Force majeure clauses may apply to acts of God (earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, etc.), war, epidemics, government actions and other circumstances.

The wording in force majeure clauses varies. It may not apply to COVID-19, or standard language may be open to interpretation. To prevent legal challenges later, real estate agents are adding language specifically addressing the coronavirus to purchase contracts.

Different states have drafted their own coronavirus clauses to include in real estate contracts. Though the specific language differs, the clauses generally allow the parties to delay the closing or to cancel a purchase contract without a penalty.

How Could COVID-19 Affect a Real Estate Closing?
A buyer who has been laid off or furloughed may not be able to return to work anytime soon, or at all, and therefore, may be unable to get a mortgage. That uncertainty can make both buyers and sellers nervous. Coronavirus clauses allow the parties to delay the closing or to cancel the contract if a job loss or reduction in income has left the buyer unable to obtain financing.

Some parts of the home-buying process, such as an inspection and appraisal, require a worker to physically go to a house. Many inspectors and appraisers are reluctant to do so due to fear of contracting the coronavirus, especially if the house is still occupied.

Government and business offices across the country have closed or cut their hours. That means that title searches, mortgage applications and other critical parts of the process may be delayed.

Although some jurisdictions allow virtual closings, others do not. Due to travel restrictions and social distancing, it may be impossible to get the parties together to close as they typically would in the past.

Discuss a Coronavirus Clause With Your Real Estate Agent
COVID-19 has created widespread uncertainty and anxiety. If you were planning to close on a house, the process may be held up for weeks or longer. You may be concerned about your job security and income, leaving you unsure about whether you can or should proceed. Talk to your real estate agent about any concerns you have and how a coronavirus clause could protect you.

© 2020 RISMedia. All Rights Reserved.

Home Decorating May 11, 2020

Is Granite on its Way Out?

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, granite countertops are in less demand today, while the use of quartz is on the rise.

Why? For one thing, man-made quartz countertops are offered in a far greater range of looks and feels. Reason number two: it’s a bit easier to maintain over the long haul, and it’s deemed a better environmental choice because it emits lower levels of radon—a potentially cancer-causing agent. To be fair, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains the radioactive materials in granite countertops are far too minuscule to pose a health threat.

So what, exactly, is a quartz countertop? It’s made of engineered stone, composed of at least 90% ground-up quartz mixed with a binder (like resin) then molded into a slab. Because pigment is added during the manufacturing process, the sky’s the limit when it comes to color. And quartz is non-porous and fairly resistant to stains, mold and bacteria.

Unlike granite countertops, which require periodic resealing to maintain their beauty, quartz is low-maintenance, needing only regular cleanings with soap and water or a mild detergent.

Quartz can be more impervious than granite to cracking or chipping under average conditions, although it is not quite as heat-proof. Most manufacturers recommend using a trivet when placing scalding hot pots or pans on a quartz countertop.

Apart from durability and maintenance, quartz comes in an infinite variety of designs, ranging in look and feel from sleek solid colors to organic-looking variations that resemble real substances found in nature, like veined marble. It can have a smooth and shiny finish or a softer, brushed feel (almost suede-looking). Choose wisely because the design can make a huge difference in the look and feel of a room.

Quartz counters may be a bit more expensive, up to 10 percent higher in cost than their granite counterparts, but shopping around and resealing over the years can mitigate any cost differences.

So, what side are you on? Natural stone mined from the earth or a man-made variation?

© 2020 RISMedia. All Rights Reserved.

Home BuyingHome Selling March 4, 2020

3 Major Steps to Prepare for a Move

While there is a lot of excitement that comes with moving into a new home, there can also be a great deal of stress. Packing up your entire life and moving it somewhere else can seem overwhelming, but if you have a plan, it can seem a great deal more manageable. Here are the 3 major steps to take to prepare for a move and reduce the stress that can come with it.

Inventory Your Items

While this can seem like a daunting task, taking an inventory of every item in your home will save you a great deal of stress in the future. Whether you do a move entirely on your own or you hire a moving company, it is very important to have all of your items documented. If you sort your items by room and then document them as such and pack accordingly, you will be able to unpack your items by room into your new home in an organized way, ensuring you aren’t missing any items.

Box It All Up

Once you have inventoried all of your items, you will then begin boxing up what you can. Many hardware and home improvement stores have affordable boxes but checking on local Facebook pages for someone trying to get rid of moving boxes could save you a few dollars. Once you have your boxes, it is key to pack by room. This will help if you follow your inventory list, ensuring every item gets packed. Label your boxes by room to make moving in to your new home a breeze.

Renting a Moving Truck

If you’ve never rented a moving truck before, it can be difficult to guess what size truck you will need to transport all your goods. Thankfully, many sites offer ‘calculators’ that are easy to find with a simple search and allow you to enter your box and furniture information and give you a recommendation on what size will best fit your needs. While packing your stuff up is often something movers want to do on their own to keep track of their items, sometimes hiring movers for the truck portion of the move can take a great deal of weight, both physical and metaphorical, off of your shoulders. By hiring movers to load up your truck, you will save the stress on your body and also gain the experience of movers who have packed trucks before. Many people who have moved recommend hiring movers for the loading and unloading portion of the move, even if you want to do everything else DIY.

Holidays January 7, 2020

New Year’s Resolutions that will help you Buy a Home in 2020

If 2020 is the year for you to buy a home, consider making these 5 New Year’s resolutions to help you be as prepared as possible to become a homeowner.

1. Cut down on monthly subscriptions.

With each month, there is a new subscription service out there. What starts as convenience turns into an endless list of subscriptions that we often don’t use enough to justify the costs. Sit down and go through your monthly/yearly subscriptions and cancel whatever you don’t use. Set aside that extra money with the rest of your savings so your down payment can continue to grow.

2. Build a better credit history.

Paying bills on time and paying off debts will help create a solid credit history. Make sure you have some utilities or rent in your name so that you can pay them on time and continue to build a solid credit history.

3. Avoid changing careers.

Alongside income, your employment history will be a major factor during your mortgage application evaluation. While a new job could be a good career move, most evaluators are looking for a steady job history with little to no gaps in your employment over the last few years.

4. Check your credit.

If you don’t know where your credit is at currently, now is the best time to check. Most credit sites will tell you what is impacting your credit, and you can use those tips to change your choices heading into the new year. If large debts are negatively impacting your credit, get started on a pay off plan so your score can improve in the new year.

5. Avoid large purchases.

Your debt-to-credit ratio makes a major impact on your mortgage approval. If you buy a brand new car or fund a large vacation, that ratio could sway in the wrong direction. If you want your lender to be willing to give you the maximum amount possible, make sure you aren’t making any large purchases heading into the new year.

Home Selling December 18, 2019

What is a Zestimate® and is it correct?

To quote Zillow’s website; “The Zestimate® home valuation model is Zillow’s estimate of a home’s market value. The Zestimate incorporates public and user-submitted data, taking into account home facts, location and market conditions. It is not an appraisal.”

So, what does that mean?  

Simply, this is Zillow’s tool to give sellers an IDEA of what their home might be worth.  I use the term might very loosely here… keep reading.

What is it based on? 

Zillow states that the “accuracy depends on the amount of data we have for the home”.  How do they get this data?  From YOU!  From every homeowner that has logged into their site and put in the information about their home.  Yes, they pull tax records and some Multiple Listing System (MLS) data, but they ask uses on their site to up date their personal home information themselves in order to get more accurate results.

So… does this work?  

Maybe… maybe not.  Do YOU know the true architectural style of your home?  Do you know the building amenities that give the most value?  If you are updating your facts to show a new roof, are you sure your neighbor is doing the same? What if they take for granted that everyone has an updated kitchen?  Or what if they think theirs is updated because they remodeled when they moved in…. 10 years ago?

Now what?

Confused? I am not surprised. Hang on… I have a solution.  Call your local realtor – me.  Zillow states: “We recommend that real estate agents and other professionals gain a basic understanding of how the Zestimate is calculated and how to read the Zestimate data accuracy table. This will help them explain to their clients why the Zestimate is a good starting point and historical reference, but should not be used for the final pricing of a home.”

Call me and let’s walk through your home together – show me what you have an have not done – what you love and what you would change if needed.  Then, let’s compare them to homes I have seen in your local neighborhood and others that have recently sold.  Let me pull comparable properties and property tax records, compare tax assessments and lot sizes as well as home amenities, condition and location.  A Zestimate cannot do all of those things… but I can.  Let me be your trusted, local real estate professional.

 

 

Zillow information found at: https://www.zillow.com/zestimate/