What You Should Expect from a Home Inspection

Inspectors examine foundation of a house

If you’re buying a new home, then sooner or later you’ll need to have a home inspection done. While not usually required, obtaining a home inspection is common practice in real estate and is almost entirely done for the benefit of the purchaser, even if they’re paying for it out of their own pocket.

A home inspector is a qualified person who will take a detailed look at your home and alert you to any safety hazards, hidden damage, and the expected life span of various mechanical appliances throughout the home. A house inspection may give you some negotiating power to reduce the price or request repairs of any identified issues before continuing with the sale.

Or, a home inspection may simply give you peace of mind to know the exact condition of the home and all of its issues before you finalize the purchase.

What to expect during a home inspection

A house inspection is a routine process during which a home inspector takes a look at the house. Once you are under contract on a home, you’re ready to hire a home inspector. Based on what the home inspector finds, you can decide to back out of the contract without a penalty, or you can proceed with negotiations.

1. Meeting your home inspector at the property.

It’s always a good idea to meet your home inspector at the subject property. This way you can get to know them and ask them any questions. After the inspection, the home inspector can talk you through any issues that he/she uncovered while going through the house.

If you’re unable to meet your home inspector, give notice in advance. Be sure that you’ve left a way for them to access a key to the property, or have a friend or relative on-site who would be willing to let them in.

2. Your home inspector should inspect every nook and cranny.

A good home inspector will check out every part of your house. They’ll go in the attic. They’ll go into the basement. They’ll check every door and window, and even the roof. The home inspector will also run your water to check for potential plumbing issues. A home inspection will typically last two to three hours or more — depending on the size of the home.

3. Your home inspector will issue you a report. 

After the house inspection, the inspector may briefly discuss the findings with you. If you don’t catch everything, don’t worry. The inspector will have taken lots of pictures and will send you a detailed report describing every issue detected in the house.

4. Share your report with your real estate agent.

Your real estate agent will look at the report and determine if you should proceed with the contract, ask for anything to be fixed before proceeding, or request a lower purchase price in lieu of repairs.

Finding a home inspector

Finding a home inspector can be somewhat of a challenge, often because you’re under so much pressure to pick one that is going to do a great job. You’re counting on them to detect potentially life-threatening safety hazards, so you will want to do your homework.

Check their credentials

In many states, home inspectors need to be licensed, while in some states they do not. Wherever you live, make sure that the home inspector you have hired is properly credentialed. Ask for a sample inspection report that they have created to see what they will be looking for.

Look at online reviews

Online reviews can often tell you a lot about a home inspector. A lack of reviews can also tell you something too. When looking at local directories of home inspectors, read through both negative and positive reviews to get an overall picture of customer satisfaction.

Ask for a referral

Ask someone you know and trust if they used a home inspector that they would recommend. You might be inclined to ask your real estate agent for a recommendation as well.

Apartment inspection checklist

If you are renting a home or an apartment, you don’t need to hire a home inspector. After all, you aren’t making a huge financial investment like you are when you buy a home. Instead, you will want to check for a key few items to make sure that the apartment you plan to rent is habitable enough for the next 12 months of your life.

1. Request an inspection.

Make sure an inspection is part of your lease. This allows you to get one more detailed inspection of the apartment before you officially move in. You can ask the landlord to remedy specific issues in order to move forward.

2. Check every room top to bottom.

During your inspection, it is up to you to go room to room and check for issues. Check for signs of mold or water damage around vents and windows. Make sure all outlets and light switches are working. Check that doors open and close without sticking. See if all the window blinds are in good working order.

3. Test drive the plumbing.

Check the water pressure and run every faucet and make sure that sinks drain well. Check showers and tubs, and test the hot water and see how long it lasts. Flush toilets and watch for leaks.

4. Inspect appliances.

Test the thermostat to make sure that the heating and cooling system works correctly. Turn on the oven and burners briefly, but don’t forget to turn them off. Run the washer and dryer if included; the same goes for the dishwasher. Most of the time, your landlord will be required by law to fix or replace appliances if they breakdown while you are living there, but it isn’t a bad idea to sort out anything you can before moving in.

5. Note any damage.

When moving in, be sure to photograph and take note of any damage or non-working items. In many cases, you’ll be given a move-in inspection list by your landlord that you can use to document any damage that existed before you moved in. That way, you won’t be responsible for fixes or penalized for damage when you’re ready to move out.

The bottom line

Hiring a home inspector is a smart idea if you are buying a home. They can often save you from buying a house with a lot of problems. If you are moving into an apartment, inspect the property yourself for any potential problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is included in a home inspection?

For any home inspection, you should receive a detailed typed report with images that carefully detail the condition of every part of your home. The report will red flag any safety hazards and any other concerns.

How long does a home inspection take?

A home inspection usually takes two to three hours, or longer for larger or more complex homes.

How much does it cost to do a home inspection?

A home inspection usually costs between $300 and $500. However, it will depend on your location, the size of your home, and what exactly you plan to inspect.

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7 Super-Easy Cleaning Recipes for the Most Awesome-Smelling Home

Essential oils are the key to these sweet-smelling (and highly effective!) homemade cleaners.

Illustration of essential oils for DIY cleaning products

If you get light-headed just reading the ingredients on your cleaning products, take heart: There’s another way.

These make-in-minutes, super-cheap recipes create potions that use sweet-smelling essential oils that won’t fumigate your home, while having superpowers to fight grime and bacteria.

And much like a food recipe you may try, you can modify the oils to suit your own olfactory senses.

Citrusy All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 15 drops of essential oil of lemon
  • 5 drops essential oil of sweet orange
  • 5 drops essential oil of rosemary
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 cups filtered water

Funnel all these ingredients into a spray bottle, seal, and gently shake. There’ll be a battle of odors here, with the acidic vinegar likely winning out against the sweet-smelling oils, but don’t let this deter you.

The vinegar scent disappears quickly, but that citrusy, herby zing lingers on. And these oils aren’t just there for their scent alone. Lemon oil is a natural disinfectant, orange oil busts grease, and rosemary oil has some antibacterial and antiseptic qualities.

Lemon-Scented Window Cleaner

  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 10 drops essential oil of lemon

Mix all these ingredients in a spray bottle.

Spray on any glass surface and polish in with a microfiber cloth. You’ll have sparkling panes and mirrors in no time, and that wondrous essential oil of lemon will kill off the bacteria left behind by mucky fingerprints.

Eucalyptus Toilet Bowl Cleaner

  • 25 drops essential oil of eucalyptus
  • 1/3 cup Castile soap
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1-1/3 cups baking soda

Fill a squeeze bottle with the water, baking soda, and eucalyptus oil.

Seal the bottle and shake. Next, add the Castile soap. Shake again. Squeeze around the bowl. Leave for 15 minutes, then scrub with a toilet brush, flush, and you’re done.

Aside from having a deliciously fresh aroma, eucalyptus is a natural germicide.

Lavender-Thyme Dish Cleaner

  • 20 drops essential oil of lavender
  • 10 drops essential oil of thyme
  • 5 drops of essential oil of tea tree
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup liquid Castile soap
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda

This one does require some stovetop time: Bring the water to a boil, then mix in the oils. (Thyme and tea tree goes to war on salmonella while emitting a pleasant aroma along with lavender.) Add the rest of the ingredients slowly. After that, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Once cooled, pour into a squeeze bottle. Shake gently before using.

Peppermint-Lavender Floor Cleaner

  • 5 drops essential oil of peppermint
  • 5 drops essential oil of lavender
  • 5 drops of essential oil of tea tree
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

Pour the vinegar into a bucket, fill that bucket up with hot water and add the oils.

Works on stone, tile, and wooden floors. Not only is peppermint oil anti-bacterial, many believe it can deter mice and other pests.

Tea tree oil is antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal. Not only is lavender oil antibacterial, too, but its aroma also has soothing properties that can calm your whole household.

Lavender Linen Spray

  • 6 drops of essential oil of lavender
  • 2 tablespoons witch hazel
  • Filtered water

Fill a spray bottle with the witch hazel and lavender. Shake, top off with water, shake again, and then spray away.

Cinnamon and Sandalwood Air Freshener

  • 10 drops essential oil of cinnamon
  • 10 drops oil of sandalwood
  • 1 cup filtered water

A spritz of this subtle-but-effective scent erases stinks in seconds. Fill a spray bottle with the water and the oils. Cinnamon scent boosts brain power and sandalwood is calming — perfect for a hardworking, stressed out home!

Essential oils do mix, so if any of the scents in these recipes don’t appeal, play around with other oils. Just keep the quantities the same. For example, if you switched sandalwood for orange oil in this air freshener, stick to the 10 drops specified in the recipe.

 

Article from HouseLogic

6 Easy Ways to Enhance Your Home’s Street Cred

The exterior of your home makes its first impression. It gives outsiders an idea of what is inside. If you are looking to sell your house or you just want your home to look more attractive, then there are many ways that you can make your home look more beautiful without spending too much money.

Flowers and greens

You can make your home more beautiful by adding some fresh flowers and greenery to your home front. Going all out for a garden isn’t totally necessary. A few planters and window boxes can do the trick. Combine standing planters with hanging ones to get a good façade of plants on your home.

Maintain your lawn

The front lawn is a huge factor that affects a home’s look. Mow the lawn once the grasses are long, rake off the leaves and weeds to maintain a nice, even look. Install a sprinkler to keep it well watered and avoid brown spots from developing. Once if you tend to forget to water your lawn, buy an automated lawn sprinkler, set once and done.

Front door pizzazz

Instead of your front door blending in with the rest of the outdoor look, you can make it pop with a DIY paint job. Use bold, bright colors that enhance your home’s exterior color. Don’t be shy about your color choice. You can also accentuate your door with a hanging plant, a custom knocker, and fancy door numbers. Sprucing up your front door makes your home stand out on a lane. Check with your homeowners’ association to be sure there’s no rule against your plan too.

Mailbox Makeover

With less than $150, you can have a lovely mailbox in front of your home. Not only is this easy to do, but the difference is also always clear and attractive. Depending on the kind of mailbox you prefer, either standing or attached to a wall, there are many options to choose from online that will make your home more attractive. You can even get a themed mailbox of your favorite book or movie.

Clean gutters

Take some time to clean your roof gutters regularly. Clearing the gutters involves removing piles of debris that get accumulated over time. Scrub them till they all look shiny again. The effect that clean gutters give your home has to be seen to be appreciated.

Power Wash

Power washing is the equivalent of giving your home a bath! Call a professional power washing company to wash years of dust and grime off your wall sidings, porch, driveway, and garage door.

Improving your home’s curb appeal can be achieved in a single day if you plan it well. The best part is that the overall effect is worth more than the time and money you will spend. For more ways to improve your home’s look, speak to a home decorator in your area for more ideas.

2019’s Housing Market Is Likely to Be Stronger Than We Thought—Here’s Why

Despite a real estate slowdown gripping the nation, this year’s housing market is expected to be busier than realtor.com® economists originally predicted late last year. That means more home sales—and higher prices—are on the way.

The anticipated uptick in activity is due to lower mortgage rates, which make homes more affordable for buyers. The economic team expected rates to climb to 5.5% in 2019, but instead they have hovered around 4%. (They were 4.17% on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages as of April 18, according to Freddie Mac data.) Economists say rates are now likely to rise a little to 4.5%, still well below what buyers were dreading.

However, it’ll be nothing like the feeding frenzy of recent years.

“It’s still going to be a lukewarm year for the housing market,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale of realtor.com. “We’re going to see higher prices and slightly higher home sales than we expected. But home sales are still going to decline slightly as a result of the housing slowdown. There’s a gap between what sellers are looking for and buyers are hoping to pay.”

While a single percentage point difference may not seem that significant, it can add more than $100 to the monthly loan payment on a median-priced home of $300,000. (This assumes buyers put 20% down.) That can translate into tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a 30-year loan.

The downside for buyers—and upside for sellers—is that prices are expected to rise more than Hale’s team originally forecast, going up 2.9% in 2019 instead of 2.2%. That’s because the swelling ranks of buyers motivated by those lower mortgage rates will increase demand—and therefore prices.

Meanwhile, realtor.com’s economists predict the number of home sales will almost hold steady, dipping just 0.3%. They originally believed the number of sales would fall by 2%.

The market has slowed down from previous years because sellers, seeing an end to the good days of high prices, rushed to put their homes on the market. But this happened at the same time that many buyers backed off because of those same high prices. The glut in supply led to lower price growth and fewer home sales.

But as always, local conditions will be the main factor for real estate in your market, Hale says.

“In some markets there’s still not enough housing available, so buyers are likely to find a competitive market,” she says. “But in some markets prices are so high that buyers are choosing to be patient and sit on the sidelines.”

Article from Realtor.com

Know Your City

If you have moved into your new city or have been in an area for a short amount of time, chances are you may not be familiar with all that your city has to offer. Here are a few things for you to be aware of in a new city.

First things first, public safety should be a priority, and therefore you should know where your local police station is. Knowing the proximity and where it is located is beneficial for your family. Law enforcement is recognizing the importance of establishing themselves in the communities they serve. They are aware of the impact they have on the communities and know that if they work with the neighborhoods, it makes for a better relationship with those that they serve.

City hall is a place where most people are familiar with because of having to pay taxes and pay water bills. However, it can be a resourceful domain if you are aware of the things it has to offer. The building itself has different departments that help residents keep up with their residential obligations. It is also a place to keep up with the local government. If you are not too fond of your property tax or the new business that is coming into town, this is precisely where to find that type of information. Local government holds what are “town halls” to find out what the concerns of the residents they serve.

Recreations centers can be a source of exercise and activity. Most people are familiar with YMCA’s or the “Y” as it has currently renamed. Recreation centers provide a place of social gatherings for families and social groups. They have classes for the youngest to the oldest of residents. Some recreation centers also offer gyms membership at a lower cost than conventional gyms.

Parks are also another gathering place that you will want to be familiar with for health and social reasons. As society is becoming more active, having a park that you can access for outdoor activities is essential in knowing the area where you live. They also add significant value to properties. Local parks bring in economic value to their communities in holiday events and businesses benefit from the social gatherings that they attract.

Lastly, knowing where to find your library is essential. Libraries are diverse institutions that allow the communities they serve to have access to a wealth of information. From providing workshops to job searches, it is important to have a library card. Not to mention it is a place to rent DVDs and audio at no cost.

These are some key areas to know about your local community. Taking the time to get involved in your local will benefit your family and your neighbors. Check out your city’s website for more information on these areas.

6 Things You’ll Love (and Hate) About Selling a Home This Spring

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For many home sellers, there’s no better time to list than the spring, and for good reason: This is peak home-buying season, folks! Buyers turn out in droves once warmer weather finally arrives, bringing people out of hibernation mode, and bidding wars abound as buyers look for ways to one-up their competition.

The bad news? Selling a home during the spring isn’t free of pitfalls. Indeed, “Spring home sellers still face challenges that they need to prepare for,” says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis.

Since knowing what to expect can help you nab a great offer, here are six things you’ll love—and hate—about selling a home this spring.

You’ll love: All the demand

While home sales decline in the winter (chalk it up to bad weather and holiday obligations), many home buyers blitz the housing market in spring, says Dossman. To meet that pent-up demand, many sellers list their homes at this time of year. It’s no surprise, then, that the lion’s share of real estate agents say March, April, and May are the best months to sell a home. With so many buyers competing for homes, sellers may be in a stronger position to spark bidding wars.

You’ll hate: All the competition

Demand is strong, but so is competition among home sellers, says Kimberly Sands, a real estate broker in Carolina Beach, NC. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the four heaviest home-selling months—May, June, July, and August—account for 40% of an average year’s total home-selling volume.

Want to compete with other home sellers and fetch top dollar for your house? Presenting your home in the best light is crucial. This may entail decluttering your house, having your home professionally staged, or making minor repairs so that your property is looking in tip-top shape when you put it on the market.

You’ll love: Selling in warmer weather

Open houses are often more successful during the spring than in the winter, says Dossman, since the nicer weather makes buyers more willing to emerge from the comfort of their homes to shop for houses. Another boon for home sellers: Daylight saving time gives buyers more time to look at houses, which means your property can potentially be seen by more people, says Dana Hill, vice president of Buyer’s Edge Realty in Bethesda, MD.

That said, “Sellers still need to do some prep work before holding an open house,” Dossman adds. To make sure your home is ready to be seen, do a thorough cleaning, remove such personal belongings as family photos and religious artwork, and trim your lawn for maximum curb appeal. Pro tip: Take a hike for a few hours during the open house. Buyers will feel more comfortable asking questions of your agent if you’re not hovering in the background.

You’ll hate: Fighting for your agent’s attention

Because this is a busy time for home buyers and sellers, it’s also a busy time for real estate agents. Unfortunately, some agents may take on more clients than they can handle at one time. That’s why it’s important to find a listing agent who is going to put the proper level of effort and time into selling your home. “If your agent is distracted, you’re not going to get great service,” Sands warns.

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for the maximum number of clients an agent should be working with, but make sure to address this topic when interviewing prospective agents. If your gut says you’re not going to be a priority, continue looking, says Sands.

You’ll love: The higher valuations

When your home’s value is assessed by a home buyer’s appraiser, the appraiser will look at data for comparable homes (or “comps”) that were recently sold in your neighborhood. The good news: With more homes selling in the on-season, the comparable data tend in your favor, Hill says. In other words, your house is more likely to pass the home appraisal, assuming that you’re selling it at around its fair market value.

You’ll hate: The picky buyers

Naturally, some buyers can afford to be more selective when there are more houses to choose from, says Dossman. For instance, if your home clearly needs major repairs, they might simply pass. Add in the fact that most spring buyers aren’t shopping under pressure (as they might be during the winter), and you can expect to have a larger pool of picky house hunters in the spring than you do during other seasons.

The bottom line

Spring is unequivocally the busiest time of year to be selling a house, and though more demand from buyers can be good news for home sellers, there are still obstacles you need to plan for when selling a home at this time of year.

Article from Realtor.com

7 Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Home Cleaner Longer

When cleaning your home, why not do it in such a way that’ll keep your home cleaner with less effort?

Here are 7 ways to keep your spring-clean fresh all year long:

#1 Use Humidity to Defy Dust

Low humidity levels cause static electricity. Not only does static attract dust, it makes it stick, so it’s difficult to remove. High humidity causes problems, too — it’s an ideal environment for dust mites. These microscopic critters are a double threat: They’re a common allergen, and they contribute to dust production. There are as many as 19,000 dust mites in half a teaspoon of house dust, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Yuck!

What to do: Keep your home’s humidity level between 40% and 50%. That’ll eliminate static while decreasing dust mite growth.

Tip: About 80% of dirt in homes walks in from the outside. Stop dirt with a bristly doormat before it’s tracked inside.

#2 Apply a Car Product to Keep Shower Doors Scum-Free

You can eliminate soap scum build-up by coating your glass shower doors with a rain-repellent product made for car windshields. When applied to glass, products like these create an invisible barrier that causes water, oils, and debris (like soap suds) to bead and roll off.

What to do: Find this product anywhere that sells basic auto supplies. You’ll know it’s time to reapply when water stops beading on shower doors. Keep in mind, windshield rain repellants were made to treat glass, not plastic, so only use on glass door.

Another option: Automatic shower cleaners claim to let you clean your shower and tub less frequently — like every 30 days. After you finish bathing, the gadget will douse your shower and tub with a cleanser that prevents soap scum build-up while combating mold and mildew. You can buy automatic shower cleaners at most big-brand retailers, like Target and Walmart.

#3 Seal Your Stone Countertops

Natural stone countertops, including granite and marble, are porous, so if they’re not sealed, liquids like red wine, juice, or soy sauce can stain them. A countertop sealer repels stains by causing spills to bead instead of getting absorbed. Most countertops are sealed when installed, but the sealant does wear down.

What to do: To keep your countertops in tip-top shape, re-apply sealer twice a year. To see if you need a fresh coat, pour a tiny bit of water on your natural stone countertop. If the water doesn’t bead or doesn’t stay beaded for two to three minutes, it’s time to reseal.

Shopping for stone countertops? Slabs with lots of swirls or veins tend to be more porous, and, therefore harder to keep clean.

#4 Use Protectants on Furniture and Carpets

Protective furniture sprays and carpet sealants, like Scotchgard and Ultra-Guard, guard against inevitable spills by causing liquids to bead on the surface instead of being absorbed.

Some of these products also protect fabrics from fading and resist mold, mildew, and bacteria.

What to do: Apply the appropriate sealer once a year after a deep upholstery and carpet cleaning.

#5 Clean Your Oven the Old-Fashioned Way

Forget oven cleaners that promise an easy job. Most cleaners give off noxious fumes and make a horrible mess. The basic ingredient in many oven cleaners is lye, which can burn your eyes and your skin; it’s usually fatal if swallowed.

What to do: Use a wet pumice stone to scrape off dirt and grease. It’s faster than oven cleaner and toxin-free.

Tip: Need to wipe your range or anything else down? You can bust filth faster by heating up a clean, damp sponge or cloth in a microwave for 30 seconds before wiping with or without a cleaning product. Put on rubber gloves before you pick up that hot sponge.

#6 Do Quick Touch-Ups

Small cleaning projects prevent filth from building up. When you spot clean daily, you can prevent smudges from staining, banish dust bunnies, and even combat allergens.

Dry sweeper cloths, sponges, and cloth on a wood table Image: Anne Arntson for HouseLogic

What to do: Create a spot-cleaning kit so you can address small, dirty situations in minutes.

  • Cleaning pads are great for eradicating dirty fingerprints on walls and light switches.
  • Damp micro-cloths can reduce airborne dander when used daily to wipe down pets.
  • Dry sweeper cloths can quickly pick up dust and dry dirt off floors, shelves, and electronics.

Tip: Keep stored items cleaner longer by shutting closets, cabinets, and drawers, so circulating dust and dirt can’t get in.

#7 Update Your Light Bulbs

Okay, It’s not really cleaning. But good lighting can make you and your home look and feel great — and help you spot that spill before it gets funky.

A room lit with low-wattage incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescents can look dark and dingy. “Daylight” bulbs brighten things up. These full-spectrum light bulbs mimic natural light, so they give better visual accuracy. Bonus: Like sunlight, these bulbs can boost your mood.

What to do: When shopping for bulbs, look for those marked “daylight” that have a range between 5,000 to 6,500 kelvins.

 

Article from Houselogic.com

5 Unwritten Etiquette Rules Home Buyers Might Not Even Realize Are a Big Deal

If you’re looking to buy a house, you’re probably eager and excited. That’s fine, but just keep in mind that in this heightened emotional state, it’s easy to get swept up in the moment and behave, well, not perfectly.

This can lead to trouble since, just like anything else, buying a home comes with its own set of rules. Some may be fairly obvious, since they’re outlined in all that real estate paperwork you’ll soon be signing. But some of these rules are the unwritten, etiquette-based kind. And if you break ’em, it could still stop a real estate deal in its tracks.

Worried you might not be aware of all the things you might do that could inadvertently rub home sellers or real estate agents the wrong way? Then heed these five etiquette rules that many home buyers might all too easily overlook.

Rule 1: See a house online you love? Don’t call the listing agent

When you’re looking for a house and find a place that looks like it could be The One, it can be tempting to jump the gun and call the listing agent immediately. But stop right there.

The reason? The proper channels of communication dictate that you should ask your own buyer’s agent to reach out to the listing agent, who will, in turn, let the home sellers know of your interest. We know it sounds like a long game of telephone, but it’s necessary for a number of reasons. Namely, it means both buyer and seller have an agent looking out for their distinct interests, facilitating the deal.

“You’re not going to get a better deal by going directly to the listing agent,” explains Matt Van Winkle, owner of Re/Max Northwest Realtors, in Seattle. “They represent the seller and are just trying to get the seller the best price.”

There is a caveat to this rule, says Kerron Stokes, a real estate agent with Re/Max Leaders, in Colorado: “If you are not represented and if you do not have an agent, then feel free to call the seller’s agent,” Stokes says. “But if you are a buyer, you should get an agent, as they can best represent your interests.”

Rule 2: Don’t ask your agent to show you homes until you sign a buyer-broker agreement

We get it, signing legal documents is scary. But here’s the thing: If you’re not ready to commit to your real estate agent, you’re not ready to get serious about buying a home.

“Be prepared to sign a buyer’s agreement so that your buyer’s agent knows you are serious and ready to go,” Stokes says. “From a consumer protection standpoint, it’s a very good thing for all involved.”

A buyer-broker agreement is a legal contract that defines the relationship between the buyer (that’s you) and your real estate agent. The agreement is good for both parties, since it outlines exactly what services the broker is going to provide. A buyer-broker agreement is also a way to let your real estate agent know that you’re committed to working with this pro to find your home.

And, if the relationship doesn’t end up working out, you can always end the agreement and find another agent to work with. It’s poor etiquette to work with more than one real estate agent at a time, and the buyer-broker agreement shows your agent that you’re not doing that.

“Remember that buyer’s agents are only paid if they close a deal—they aren’t paid for their time,” Van Winkle says. As such, “it’s wrong to call another agent just because yours is unavailable or on vacation.”

Rule 3: Don’t make an offer without mortgage pre-approval

A mortgage pre-approval is a letter from a lender saying it will provide you with financing to buy a home up to a certain loan amount. It makes everyone’s lives easier since it provides proof of how much home you can afford to buyers and agents—and that you can put your money where your mouth is with an offer. Without it, your offer is an empty promise.

“If you want to compete against other buyers for a home, you won’t be able to do that without that pre-approval letter,” says Bill Golden, a longtime real estate agent with Re/Max Metro Atlanta Cityside.

Rule 4: Don’t be late to home showings—or bail entirely

If you have an appointment with your agent to view a home, treat it like a priority. If you’re going to be late or can’t make it, call your agent and let him know.

“If you don’t respect my time, then we don’t have a good working relationship,” Golden says. “Usually, I will have set up appointments to see several homes, and if you’re late or don’t show, I have to try to rearrange all of the showings, which may not be possible on short notice.”

Rule 5: Don’t pretend you’re ready to buy if you know you’re really not

This one might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s such a big part of real estate etiquette it’s worth driving home: Don’t pretend that you’re ready to buy if you aren’t. Don’t enlist the services of a buyer’s agent if you know you’re still in the fact-finding and “just looking” phase of your home search.

So go to open houses. Window-shop. Just be upfront with everyone about where you are in the process. Don’t pretend you’re ready to buy just because you want to be taken seriously. Real estate agents work on commission, so don’t wantonly take their attention away from actual, paying clients and potentially costing them sales, which is a serious thing. Got it?

 

Article from Realtor.com

Home Inspections are Important for Buyers and Sellers

Getting a home inspection is usually built into the purchase contract for most real estate transactions. A home inspection contingency protects the buyer from getting any unwelcome surprises after they buy the home (think water damage or an HVAC system whose days are numbered).

In some cases, home inspections are the defining moment between a sale or moving on to other options.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about the reasons you might want to get a home inspection whether you’re buying or selling a home.

Home inspections for buyers

There’s a reason most real estate contracts come with an inspection contingency. Expensive, impending repairs on a home can greatly affect how much you’re willing to offer on a home, or if you’re willing to make an offer at all.

Some buyers opt out of an inspection. This can be done for numerous reasons. The most common reason is that the buyer has a personal relationship with the seller and has faith that they are getting the full story when it comes to the state of the house. The other reason is that a buyer is trying to gain a competitive edge over the competition on a home, sweetening the deal by waiving the inspection and paving the way for a quick sale.

Both of these reasons have their flaws. For one, the seller might not even know the full extent of the repairs a home may need and an appraisal might not catch all of the issues with a home.

Another reason a buyer may waive an inspection contingency is because the seller claims to have recently had the home inspected. While this may be true, buyers should still opt to hire their own professional. This way, they can guarantee that the inspection was done by someone who is licensed and has their best interests in mind.

Home inspections for sellers

As we’ve seen, home inspections are typically designed to protect the interest of home buyers. However, sellers also stand to gain from ordering their own home inspection.

If you’re planning on selling within the next six months to a year, it will pay off to know exactly what issues the home currently has or will have in the near future. This will give you the chance to make repairs or address issues that could cause complications with your sale. You don’t want to be on your way to closing on an offer to suddenly realize you need to pay and arrange for a new roof.

So, whether you’re a buyer or seller, home inspections can be immensely beneficial to learn more about your home or the home you’re planning on buying. It will help you be prepared to make repairs if you’re a buyer. Or, if you’re a seller, you can make a plan to negotiate repairs with the seller based on the findings of the inspection.

10 Surprising Things That Decrease Your Home Value

Features that could lower your home’s resale value—and how to fix them

An Expensive Kitchen Remodel

An Expensive Kitchen Remodel

It seems counter-intuitive, but a state-of-the-art kitchen might not be worth the dollars you put into it if everyone in your neighborhood still has their original setup. So how do you know when to go for broke and when to settle for a few minor changes? If you’re going to stay in your home for 5-10 years, you might see the market in your ‘hood grow enough to get a good return on your investment. A real estate agent can help with gauging sales figures and comparable properties. But if not, a few small changes can make a kitchen much more livable.

Lack of Maintenance
 

Lack of Maintenance

That slipping gutter and overgrown sidewalk might not bother you, but they signal a pattern of poor care to a potential buyer. Even a spectacular home loses its shine without regular upkeep. To spot any problem areas, walk through your yard and home as if you were a potential buyer. Better yet, ask an honest friend to join you. What minor damage or untidiness catches your eye? Make a list and attack as if your selling price depends on it. It just might.

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An Out-of-Date Bathroom
 

An Out-of-Date Bathroom

A past-its-prime washroom leaves potential buyers with one impression: This will cost a lot of money to remodel. Similar to a kitchen, cosmetic updates go a long way to avoiding a possible reduction in selling price. Refinish the vanity, replace dated or corroded faucets and shower fixtures, and update the lighting and hardware.

Specialty Lighting
 

Specialty Lighting

You adore your Chihuly-esque chandelier, but a house full of personality-plus lighting might set a style tone that’s hard for a buyer to look past. Thankfully, the solution is a win-win: Switch out your most treasured pieces for streamlined crowd favorites—and install the distinct pieces in your new place.

Sacrificing a Bedroom
 

Sacrificing a Bedroom

What sells a house? Bedrooms and bathrooms, often just based on number. So if you’ve turned a spare bedroom into a gym, home office, or any type of space that can’t revert, your home’s value might suffer. If the room is reversible, remove the signs of your alternative use and stage it as a bedroom before putting your home on the market.

Wallpaper
 

Wallpaper

Wallpaper: Beloved by design types and loathed by real estate agents. While paper is a one-stop shop to take a room to the next level, it still suffers from the stigma of being tough to remove. And patterns and colors are subjective. If you have to have it (and we totally understand if you do), consider a solid color that relies on texture rather than pattern or choose a pattern in a neutral. It has a higher chance of getting the thumbs-up from a new owner.

Textured Walls & Ceilings
 

Textured Walls & Ceilings

In some regions, a textured wall is expected (we’re thinking of adobe-style houses both new and old in the Southwest). That’s great, but if your walls and ceilings are pocked and marked in a land of sheetrock, it might deter buyers who want a less specific look. To mute the texture, paint the walls with a matte or eggshell finish. Gloss just draws attention to the topography. If it’s in your budget, sand the walls down to be rid of the finish altogether.

Bright Walls
 

Bright Walls

Are your walls coated in jewel tones? Kudos, you brave and bold soul. But someone cruising through your open house might not have your guts or an ability to see past the color on the wall. (And this is true for both interior and exterior hues.) Never fear: This is the easiest feature to change—simply repaint in a white or light neutral. If your walls are already white or neutral, a touch-up (or good wall scrubbing) might surprise you with its impact.

New Carpet
 

New Carpet

Laying new carpet seems like a relatively inexpensive way to freshen your home. However, many buyers are looking for wood floors or want to choose their own carpet and would feel bad ripping out something new. Instead, real estate agents recommend getting existing carpet professionally cleaned instead.

A High-Maintenance Exterior
 

A High-Maintenance Exterior

A pool, extensive landscaping, and lots of trees sounds like a shortlist for an outdoor paradise…until you have to handle the upkeep. Even if you’re not interested in selling your home, think about how much time you have to put into maintenance before starting a major outdoor project.

 

Article from Sunset.com