Why you shouldn’t waive the home inspection

The vast majority of existing homes sold in the U.S. need one or two things to be patched up, with 86% of all home inspections turning up some kind of problem, according to a study by the home improvement website Porch.com.

The average home inspection can cost from $300 to $500 depending on where the home is and how big it is, but Porch.com’s study indicates that this is an investment that will save the average buyer around $14,000 in renovation costs.

A home inspection involves assessing the condition of things such as the roof, ceilings, walls, floors, foundations, windows, doors, major appliances, heating and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems. Most real estate agents agree that it’s essential their clients pay for a home inspection to ensure the home they’re buying is on a solid footing and won’t cause them headaches later.

But worryingly, the low inventory of existing homes for sale today has led to intense competition among buyers, and many are faced with bidding wars and have to offer well above a home’s listing price to clinch the deal. Besides making a higher offer, some buyers are also waiving the home inspection to make their offer stand out. Redfin said last year that almost 20% of the offers submitted by its agents waived the inspection contingency.

Any buyer who makes that decision needs to be aware of the risk, and just as importantly, the most common issues that home inspections can turn up.

Porch.com’s study shows that just over 19% of home inspections uncover problems with the roof. Home inspectors typically check roofs for things such as leaks, venting, the material condition, proper installation and any other visible issues.

Another common problem is issues with the electrical wiring, which turn up in 18% of all inspections. The most common electrical issues are reversed polarity, frayed insulation, DIY wiring, over-fusing, and mismatched wiring. About 51,000 fires each year are caused in homes by improper electrical wiring.

Another 18% of inspections discover problems with windows that can hamper energy efficiency and cause issues with indoor air quality, Porch.com said.

In addition, Porch.com said almost 17% of inspections turn up issues with gutters, 14% discover problems with the plumbing, and more than 12% find issues with the water heating system and air conditioning.

Source: realtybiznews.com

10 Awesome Real Estate Tips for Home Sellers – Redfin

When you bought your first house, you likely felt excitement with a hint of nervousness and maybe you even had a “What have I gotten myself into?” kind of moment. However, those emotions passed and you settled in and made that house your home. Whether you’ve stayed in this home for a couple of years or a couple of decades, when you decide it’s time to sell, you might experience a very similar emotional roller coaster, especially in today’s housing market. To ease your stress, here are 10 awesome real estate tips that will help you get started and possibly even take some of the emotion out of the ride.

An agent discussing with a couple great real estate tips to consider to help them sell their home.

An agent discussing with a couple great real estate tips to consider to help them sell their home.

Tip #1 Find the perfect listing agent 

Probably the best real estate tip there is: find a dedicated, responsive, and knowledgeable real estate agent – someone you can trust to guide you through every step of selling your home. A good seller’s agent will make informed recommendations about a listing price, advise you on which repairs will help you sell your home, and make recommendations about decluttering, staging, and maximizing your curb appeal.

A good seller’s agent shines the most when it comes time to negotiate an offer. The goal is to make sure you earn top dollar for your house and to sell it quickly. This process starts by honing in on the right listing price. 

  • If your home is priced too high it will likely sit on the market and possibly longer than most homes in your area. This may cause prospective buyers to second-guess its value.
  • If your home is priced too low, you could leave money on the table and diminish the equity you’d bring to the purchase of your next home.

Your ideal selling agent will have well-developed instincts for what the real estate market is doing in your area. Take your time and speak to several agents to find someone you can comfortably work well with and will work hard for your interests. 

Tip #2 Determine the best time to list your home

Reliable real estate wisdom suggests that spring into summer is when most people start hunting for a new house. Buyers will typically research properties online months before touring their first home in person. This way they can understand how much house they can afford in neighborhoods that appeal to them most. 

Usually, the end of March or the beginning of April is considered the start of homebuying season. However, this year’s homebuying season seems to have hit early as nearly half the homes listed mid-January into February went under contract in under two weeks. Meaning we are currently in a seller’s market and you don’t have to wait to fetch top dollar for your home.

Getting a 3D walkthrough scan of your home is a great real estate tip that will help you sell your home.

Getting a 3D walkthrough scan of your home is a great real estate tip that will help you sell your home.

Tip #3 Professional photography and 3D walkthroughs are key

Many real estate agents now offer 3D tours of their listings. Virtual walkthroughs are a massive advantage for both buyers and sellers. Buyers can “shop” any time of the day or night, and sellers can “show” their house 24/7. It also cuts down on showings to only the serious buyers. If a buyer is genuinely interested, they will view the virtual walkthrough (probably several times) and then request a showing. 

Professional photography is another great option to show your home in its best light.. Homes listed with high-quality, professional images are known to sell quicker and for more money. A professional real estate photographer will capture each room at the best angle, and highlight its best features. You can also request photos shot at dusk with both interior and exterior lights shining. It’s all about painting those special pictures in your buyer’s mind. 

If you’re selling a luxury listing with a view or large plot of land, consider drone photography to fully capture everything your property has to offer.

Tip #4 Handle the repairs from a pre-listing home inspection

It might be tempting to put off small repairs and let the next owner handle them. Unfortunately, if you list a house with evident and necessary repairs, prospective buyers will also scrutinize your property more closely for larger deferred maintenance issues. If you want to be proactive, one of the best real estate tips for selling your home is setting up a pre-listing home inspection

When you choose to fix everything the inspector finds before you list your house, you gain valuable peace of mind during the closing process. Your buyer will most likely want their own inspection as part of the sales contract, but when that inspector finds everything is in perfect order, your buyer will have confidence in the sale.

Tip #5 Boost your curb appeal

It may feel counterintuitive to work on the outside of your home as you get ready to sell. But when you keep up with lawn maintenance, pull weeds, fix the fence, power-wash the siding, and clean up the cobwebs, your property will stand out and really “wow” prospective buyers. 

Think back to the last time you drove around looking at houses for sale. If the house looked like it was in rough shape on the outside, most of the time, you probably didn’t bother to request a showing. Good curb appeal will draw buyers into your home. They will start to envision themselves playing basketball, grilling in the backyard, or relaxing on the porch. You want to help buyers fall in love with your house and curb appeal will help you do that. 

Tip #6 Declutter… and then declutter some more 

It’s no secret, we all accumulate stuff. However, you want potential buyers to be looking at your home, not your belongings. So another great real estate tip is to have your home appear move-in ready so homebuyers can see themselves – and their things – in your space. To do this, you’ll need to be relentless about removing as many personal items as possible and commit to a minimalist lifestyle, at least until you go under contract on your house. 

Of course, you have items you use daily and weekly. Keep those accessible but out of sight if you can. Remove anything seasonal, like decorations, extra blankets, or anything you won’t use for months. Renting a storage unit or on-site storage container could be helpful and allow you to eliminate extra furniture and other items from your home until you move into your new space. It’s all about perception. A house with minimal furniture, unstuffed closets, tasteful artwork, and a general lack of surface clutter will look clean, spacious, and appealing. 

Staging your home is a great real estate tip to consider when selling your home.

Staging your home is a great real estate tip to consider when selling your home.

Tip #7 Stage your home

One of the most important real estate tips is staging your home. Key staging tactics involve placing furniture and throw pillows invitingly. You can also set a dining room or kitchen table. And placing a vase or two of fresh flowers around the home is a nice touch. The purpose of staging is to show buyers the home’s potential. You want all the main rooms – kitchen, dining room, living room, bathrooms, and master bedroom – to create the feeling that they are already home. 

Tip #8 Always be ready for a showing

When you list your home, you could get calls from agents within hours regarding potential buyers who want to see your home. It’s easier to handle those calls if you do your best to keep your home “show ready.”Of course, that involves keeping the home clean at a minimum. Before you list the house, do a good deep cleaning in every room. 

Be sure to give extra attention to air vents and ductwork by cleaning out the dust and any debris stuck in the vent. Dust all remaining furniture and artwork. Wash the windows and glass doors so they sparkle, and run the vacuum to help refresh the carpets.

Finally, use an odor remover to eliminate any pet odors or lingering smells from last night’s dinner. You can make an incredibly positive impression if the only scent a buyer remembers is the smell of fresh-baked cookies or fresh flowers. 

Tip #9 Accommodate requests for last-minute showings

Unfortunately, buyers are not always available to see the home when it’s most convenient for you. Here’s a list so you can easily clean up and be out of the house in 20 minutes. 

  • Place any dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Wipe down the bathroom and kitchen countertops.
  • Wipe down the toilet seats.
  • Grab a bin and place any loose toys or books inside.
  • Toss any stray clothing in the laundry hamper.
  • Close all the closet doors.
  • If you have paperwork or other clutter on the countertop, tuck it out of sight in a drawer, or worst case, make an organized pile. Organized is better than scattered. 
  • Make the beds.
  • Sweep the floors. 
  • Take out the garbage as you leave and bring your pets with you.

And real estate tip #10 Respond to offers in a timely manner

Be respectful of all reasonable offers. You know what price you’ll accept and on what terms, including what you’d be willing to negotiate on if asked. Most contracts expect a response within 48 hours, but why wait? Respond with a counteroffer or acceptance as soon as a good offer comes in. 

Selling your first house is not easy. But with these 10 real estate tips, moving on to the next chapter in your life can be just as exciting.

Source: redfin.com

66 Questions to Ask When Buying a House

As a first-time homebuyer, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed even before you begin your homebuying journey. After all, this is a new process for you and, simply put, you don’t know what you don’t know. First off, there are no silly questions you can ask during any stage of the homebuying process. So always feel free to ask a question, no matter how trivial you think it might be. You owe it to yourself – and your family – to find out everything you can about a home, especially since it will most likely be the largest investment you’ll ever make. To help you get started, we’ve created a list of 66 questions to ask when buying a house, broken down into each stage of the homebuying process to help keep you informed.

11 questions to ask before you go house hunting

As you well know, buying a house is a significant investment. Before you start house hunting, think through your goals for homeownership. Why do you want to buy a house? 

  1. Do you want to earn equity and build wealth by owning a house? 
  2. Do you expect you might need more space for a future family? 
  3. Do you have a pet or see one in your future and you want a backyard? 
  4. Do you want to live in a quiet, established area or somewhere more lively? 
  5. Do you enjoy yard work, gardening? How much backyard space do you require?
  6. Have you considered the local schools and neighborhoods? 
  7. Have you looked at crime rates around the neighborhoods you’re interested in? 
  8. Is it essential for you to live close to your work? Or, is a commute ok? 
  9. Have you narrowed down a range of purchase prices you can afford?
  10. How much money do you need for a downpayment? 
  11. Are you pre-approved for a mortgage

When you’re wrapped up in the excitement of house hunting, you may forget which questions to ask when buying a house.. If you are a pet owner looking at condos, you’ll have to be sure the homeowners’ association allows pets. Or, let’s say you want to live in a popular downtown neighborhood, but plan to have children in a few years – will this neighborhood still suit your needs? It’s always worth giving some thought to the type of home and area to help focus your search. 

Also, be aware that being approved for a home loan saves time for everyone by ensuring that you, as the buyer, can actually afford the home and be able to follow through an offer. 

7 questions to ask when you interview agents

Contacting the agent listed on the for-sale sign of a house you’re interested in may not be the best way to protect your interest as a buyer. When you work with your own agent, that agent’s job is to represent your interests. They help research the house, find answers to all of your questions, and serve as your professional intermediary for communicating with the seller’s agent and homeowner.

Naturally, you will want to choose a great real estate agent that you are comfortable with and feel like they have your best interests in mind. Most real estate experts recommend that you interview at least three agents identified by recommendations from friends and family who have bought or sold a house recently. Here are some questions to ask potential agents to see if they are the right agent for you.

  1. How long have you been a real estate agent? 
  2. What kind of experience do you have in this specific market area?
  3. Do you usually work with buyers or sellers? 
  4. How do you usually communicate with clients? What should I expect for response time? 
  5. How will you help me search for homes? 
  6. What days and times are you typically available for showings? 
  7. How will you ensure transparency about any issues you see with a house? 

When you set your expectations for communication, home tours, and other information you count on your agent to provide, you have a good chance to establish a productive relationship from the start – which will help you through your homebuying journey.

stylish living room

stylish living room

37 questions to ask when touring homes

This is an extensive list, and not every question applies to every situation. For example, if your goal is to purchase a single-family home, questions relating to condominiums don’t apply. However, this list of questions to ask when touring a house should give you an excellent start in making well-informed decisions when buying your first home. 

  1. What’s the reason for the sale? How long have the sellers lived there?
  2. How long has the house been on the market? 
  3. What is the neighborhood like?
  4. When was the house built? 
  5. What are the property taxes?
  6. Are there any upcoming condo or homeowners association fees?
  7. What are the average utility costs? 
  8. Have there been any major repairs to the property? If so, do you know if they provided a warranty?
  9. Are there any boundary disputes with neighbors?
  10. Are there any shared driveways or communal spaces?
  11. Are there any public rights of way passing through – or near – the property? 
  12. How old are the major appliances and systems?
  13. Are the appliances included in the sale?
  14. What is the sales history of this house, and how would it affect my offer?
  15. Is there enough storage space? Room to grow? 
  16. Is there any evidence of water problems? Can you see damp drywall, basement floors, or open leaks? Can you smell mildew? Or is there a smell of fresh paint that might be intended to cover up a water issue?
  17. Are the walls structurally sound? Look for cracks and look for evidence of cracks covered over by wallpaper that doesn’t look right or paint applied over filler.
  18. Is the chimney in good condition?
  19. Are the windows sound? Will any of the glazing need to be replaced?
  20. Do the ground floor windows have working latches to lock the windows? 
  21. Is the attic insulated? If so, when was the insulation installed?
  22. Is there any soundproofing in the house? (Try viewing the home at different times to hear road noise or neighbors.)
  23. Are there working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms?
  24. Is there adequate cell phone reception indoors? How’s the broadband service in the area?
  25. What type of system is used to heat and cool the house? 
  26. Ask to see the circuit box – does the wiring look up to date?
  27. How is the condition of electrical outlets and switches? (You can bring something to plug into try outlets.) 
  28. Do all of the lights work? If not, why not?
  29. Does the property have any lead pipes? Do you see any issues with pipes in need of repair?
  30. What kind of drainage system does the property have? Is it on the city sewer, or is there a septic tank? 
  31. Is there any asbestos in the property, or has there ever been an asbestos survey completed?
  32. What kind of roof does the property have? When was it last replaced, and what is its current condition? 
  33. Do you see any gutter leaks? Are the gutters cleaned out, or do they need work? 
  34. Are there any trees growing within 15 feet of the property? Can you discern if roots are likely to be a problem? 
  35. Which way does the yard face, and is there any part of the yard that doesn’t receive sunlight throughout the day? 
  36. Would the real estate agent buy this house? If not, why not?
  37. What’s the lowest price you think we could offer for this house and still close the transaction?

You can ask these questions when buying a house – and others as applicable – to understand your likely overall costs to own this home. When you understand all of your costs, you’ll confidently be able to make an offer you can afford

open concept new kitchen

open concept new kitchen

11 questions to ask when making an offer and closing on a home

Real estate agents make offers on homes every day. Their job is to help you make the best offer while protecting you against potential risks with the transaction. 

  1. How does the offer work? Do we communicate with the seller or seller’s agent? 
  2. What contingencies do you recommend including in the offer? 
  3. How much earnest money should we put in the offer? 
  4. When do we need to provide earnest money? 
  5. When should we expect to hear back from the seller? 
  6. If we receive a counter-offer, when do we need to reply? 
  7. How can we sign the paperwork? Digital? In-person? 
  8. If the offer is accepted, what are the next steps? 
  9. How far out is the potential closing date from an accepted offer? 
  10. What are our next steps once the offer is accepted?
  11. What do we do at closing? 

Your real estate agent wants to make the home buying transaction as smooth as possible. If they do not provide this information upfront, be sure to ask. 

You should prepare a list of your own questions to ask when buying a house. It can include any given here, or others that represent your own interests and concerns. Answers to these questions will ease your mind and help you understand what you can expect during each stage of the homebuying process. Completing your research is perfectly acceptable, but don’t skip asking questions of your mortgage broker, real estate agent, and title company. When you gather enough information, you can make the best decision buying your first home. 

Source: redfin.com

Popular Architectural Styles of Midwestern Homes

The Midwest is called the Heart of America for a reason. It has a long history of being home to people from many walks of life, many of whom initially embraced countryside living. However, the encroach of modern living has brought many changes, including to the house styles across the Midwest. Here are a few particularly popular architectural styles of Midwestern homes.

Craftsman

Easily one of the most popular architectural styles for Midwestern homes is the craftsman style. Furniture-maker and art enthusiast Gustav Stickley originally conceived of this type of house. His focus was to create and design goods by emphasizing handmade quality. This was intended to counter the prefab trend and fast production of the early 20th century.

Eventually, the concept moved to virtually every industry, including house-building. The idea is to ensure that the best possible materials go into every inch of the home, including green options and top-notch, handcrafted ones. Every facet has to be sourced accordingly, such as using renewable, local woods for essential structural aspects as well as luxurious details such as solid wood doors.

Farmhouse

It should be no surprise to anyone that homes in the Midwest are sometimes found on farms or at least inspired by them. Some of the oldest buildings on the fields and prairies fall into the farmhouse category. Primarily, these structures are simple and intentionally humble. They tend to follow a very standard and minimalist rectangular floor plan, with a standard first and second floor. The look is very simple, and the home may even be fashioned out of old barn materials. Farmhouse-style homes have a rich, rustic feel that many homeowners dream of.

Ranch

You can find ranch-style homes all over the Midwest. These homes are humble and ideal for the complicated Midwestern weather systems that make height inconvenient. The most important detail is that a ranch home is a single-floor home with a sprawling floor plan. Sometimes a second floor comes in the form of a large basement. The low profile gives these homes an instantly recognizable charm. Many feature sturdy angles, inset faces, and art deco shapes and patterns characteristic of midcentury-modern design.

Modern

Naturally, with the spread of prefabrication and the appearance of home design catalogs, certain trends have gone national. Since the 1960s, the exact details of what constitutes “modern” have shifted. As with any current style, evolution is part of the defining factor. In particular, though, modern houses tend to be a mash-up of other styles, with an emphasis on detail and elegance. Lots of peaks, large windows, and multiple decorative gables are common features. The floor plans typically heavily emphasize open space, broad entryways, and external lighting to supplement natural light.

Source: realtybiznews.com

8 Ways to Use Synthetic Turf to Beautify your Yard

Choosing between installing artificial grass, also known as synthetic turf, and natural grass can be a difficult decision for some homeowners. While you may be drawn to natural grass for its feel and organic look, there are a number of benefits to choosing synthetic turf that may make you think twice. If you are too busy to upkeep your lawn, turf provides less maintenance and a longer lifespan compared to traditional grass. It’s also typically created from recycled materials, comes in a variety of textures and colors, and even has the potential to increase your home value.

In some locations, it might even make sense to install artificial grass over natural grass. For example, if you live in a city that has a hot and dry climate such as Las Vegas, NV or Austin, TX, having turf can prevent your lawn from wilting and dying due to the amount of sun those cities get annually. However, if you’re set on using natural grass for your lawn, there are still many creative and aesthetically pleasing ways to incorporate artificial grass into your lawn. Take a look at these 8 ideas on how you can work with an artificial grass company to beautify your yard.

1. Install a synthetic turf golf green 

Your short game is just as important as your long, so installing an artificial grass putting green is the perfect way to get some practice without leaving your home. Golf greens are easy to install and can be customizable. Typically, they are around 1,000-1,500 square feet. For best results, source out an area that is flat, has minimal bumps and extrusions, and gets just the right amount of sunlight. A local turf company can then help excavate, cut, and install the artificial grass and holes. Finished with the proper landscaping, golf greens can serve as a stunning backyard feature that is both aesthetic and fun for the whole family.

2. Build a dog area for play and potty time

If you own a dog and live in a small place like an apartment, having a synthetic turf potty pad for your dog can be a great solution. Typically, they are built with short bristles for cleaning and a drainage system to catch urine. Turf doggy mats are versatile in size and can fit on a sunroom, patio, terrace, or balcony. They are especially great for training puppies or older dogs with bad bladder control. When not in use, synthetic turf potty pads blend in to look like a patch of grass. Not to mention, it saves your real grass from developing brown spots.

If you have the outdoor space, you can use turf to create a play area for your pet. Pet-friendly synthetic turf is a great option if you are trying to keep your dog away from natural grass chemicals. Installing artificial grass for pets also helps prevent fleas and ticks, worrying about patches and brown spots, and digging unwanted holes. Give your dog the ability to roll around in the grass without the worry of getting sick.

3. Use synthetic turf walls and dividers for privacy 

Fences can be an eyesore. However, they are critical for privacy and to keep intruders out. Installing artificial grass fences or hedges is a great way to maintain privacy, while also elevating the look of your backyard by adding greenery. If you are looking for flexibility, some individual paneled artificial grass fences come on rollers that can be used to section certain parts of your yard if you are hosting a garden party or small get together.

4. Make an entertainment area for backyard hangouts 

Do you love to have people over for bonfires, casual wine nights, or backyard parties? Maybe you want to kick your feet up by the fire while you sip on a glass of wine. If you are worried about your feet suffering from uncomfortable surfaces, installing artificial grass around your bonfire pits and patio is a comfortable and stylish solution. Section off a small area, place patio furniture on top, and enjoy a relaxing hangout area on the turf.

5. Create an elegant driveway

For a touch of added elegance, use synthetic turf in between your driveway to bring in patterns and color to the exterior of your home. Real grass can become compact due to the weight of a car. Installing artificial grass between flagstones or concrete can make your driveway pop and always looks fresh.

6. Cover your outdoor furniture with synthetic turf

If you’re tired of boring patio furniture, a fun and unique way to include synthetic turf in your backyard is by purchasing turf-covered furniture. These pieces are designed for outdoor living, are low maintenance, and can be left outside year-round. They are a great way to blend nature with your home and can be designed to look good under a deck, gazebo, fire pit, or play area.

7. Design a multipurpose sports field

For the athlete looking for a way to get some practice in, installing an artificial grass sports field in a larger backyard can get you the training you need without having to go to the local park. Multipurpose sports fields can be used for soccer, lacrosse, or even spikeball whether you want to increase your skills or just get a friendly game in. 

8. Construct a playground 

When constructing your playground, safety will likely be top of mind. In that case, you’ll want to choose a surface that has some cushion to it and is free of chemicals. Synthetic turf is a great alternative to wood chips or gravel, as it has a soft texture and natural aesthetic feel. You can even include a shock pad underneath turf to reduce fall injuries. 

*Before attempting these projects, consult with a turf professional.

Source: redfin.com

10 Awesome Real Estate Tips for Home Sellers

When you bought your first house, you likely felt excitement with a hint of nervousness and maybe you even had a “What have I gotten myself into?” kind of moment. However, those emotions passed and you settled in and made that house your home. Whether you’ve stayed in this home for a couple of years or a couple of decades, when you decide it’s time to sell, you might experience a very similar emotional roller coaster, especially in today’s housing market. To ease your stress, here are 10 awesome real estate tips that will help you get started and possibly even take some of the emotion out of the ride.

An agent discussing with a couple great real estate tips to consider to help them sell their home.

An agent discussing with a couple great real estate tips to consider to help them sell their home.

Tip #1 Find the perfect listing agent 

Probably the best real estate tip there is: find a dedicated, responsive, and knowledgeable real estate agent – someone you can trust to guide you through every step of selling your home. A good seller’s agent will make informed recommendations about a listing price, advise you on which repairs will help you sell your home, and make recommendations about decluttering, staging, and maximizing your curb appeal.

A good seller’s agent shines the most when it comes time to negotiate an offer. The goal is to make sure you earn top dollar for your house and to sell it quickly. This process starts by honing in on the right listing price. 

  • If your home is priced too high it will likely sit on the market and possibly longer than most homes in your area. This may cause prospective buyers to second-guess its value.
  • If your home is priced too low, you could leave money on the table and diminish the equity you’d bring to the purchase of your next home.

Your ideal selling agent will have well-developed instincts for what the real estate market is doing in your area. Take your time and speak to several agents to find someone you can comfortably work well with and will work hard for your interests. 

Tip #2 Determine the best time to list your home

Reliable real estate wisdom suggests that spring into summer is when most people start hunting for a new house. Buyers will typically research properties online months before touring their first home in person. This way they can understand how much house they can afford in neighborhoods that appeal to them most. 

Usually, the end of March or the beginning of April is considered the start of homebuying season. However, this year’s homebuying season seems to have hit early as nearly half the homes listed mid-January into February went under contract in under two weeks. Meaning we are currently in a seller’s market and you don’t have to wait to fetch top dollar for your home.

Getting a 3D walkthrough scan of your home is a great real estate tip that will help you sell your home.

Getting a 3D walkthrough scan of your home is a great real estate tip that will help you sell your home.

Tip #3 Professional photography and 3D walkthroughs are key

Many real estate agents now offer 3D tours of their listings. Virtual walkthroughs are a massive advantage for both buyers and sellers. Buyers can “shop” any time of the day or night, and sellers can “show” their house 24/7. It also cuts down on showings to only the serious buyers. If a buyer is genuinely interested, they will view the virtual walkthrough (probably several times) and then request a showing. 

Professional photography is another great option to show your home in its best light.. Homes listed with high-quality, professional images are known to sell quicker and for more money. A professional real estate photographer will capture each room at the best angle, and highlight its best features. You can also request photos shot at dusk with both interior and exterior lights shining. It’s all about painting those special pictures in your buyer’s mind. 

If you’re selling a luxury listing with a view or large plot of land, consider drone photography to fully capture everything your property has to offer.

Tip #4 Handle the repairs from a pre-listing home inspection

It might be tempting to put off small repairs and let the next owner handle them. Unfortunately, if you list a house with evident and necessary repairs, prospective buyers will also scrutinize your property more closely for larger deferred maintenance issues. If you want to be proactive, one of the best real estate tips for selling your home is setting up a pre-listing home inspection

When you choose to fix everything the inspector finds before you list your house, you gain valuable peace of mind during the closing process. Your buyer will most likely want their own inspection as part of the sales contract, but when that inspector finds everything is in perfect order, your buyer will have confidence in the sale.

Tip #5 Boost your curb appeal

It may feel counterintuitive to work on the outside of your home as you get ready to sell. But when you keep up with lawn maintenance, pull weeds, fix the fence, power-wash the siding, and clean up the cobwebs, your property will stand out and really “wow” prospective buyers. 

Think back to the last time you drove around looking at houses for sale. If the house looked like it was in rough shape on the outside, most of the time, you probably didn’t bother to request a showing. Good curb appeal will draw buyers into your home. They will start to envision themselves playing basketball, grilling in the backyard, or relaxing on the porch. You want to help buyers fall in love with your house and curb appeal will help you do that. 

Tip #6 Declutter… and then declutter some more 

It’s no secret, we all accumulate stuff. However, you want potential buyers to be looking at your home, not your belongings. So another great real estate tip is to have your home appear move-in ready so homebuyers can see themselves – and their things – in your space. To do this, you’ll need to be relentless about removing as many personal items as possible and commit to a minimalist lifestyle, at least until you go under contract on your house. 

Of course, you have items you use daily and weekly. Keep those accessible but out of sight if you can. Remove anything seasonal, like decorations, extra blankets, or anything you won’t use for months. Renting a storage unit or on-site storage container could be helpful and allow you to eliminate extra furniture and other items from your home until you move into your new space. It’s all about perception. A house with minimal furniture, unstuffed closets, tasteful artwork, and a general lack of surface clutter will look clean, spacious, and appealing. 

Staging your home is a great real estate tip to consider when selling your home.

Staging your home is a great real estate tip to consider when selling your home.

Tip #7 Stage your home

One of the most important real estate tips is staging your home. Key staging tactics involve placing furniture and throw pillows invitingly. You can also set a dining room or kitchen table. And placing a vase or two of fresh flowers around the home is a nice touch. The purpose of staging is to show buyers the home’s potential. You want all the main rooms – kitchen, dining room, living room, bathrooms, and master bedroom – to create the feeling that they are already home. 

Tip #8 Always be ready for a showing

When you list your home, you could get calls from agents within hours regarding potential buyers who want to see your home. It’s easier to handle those calls if you do your best to keep your home “show ready.”Of course, that involves keeping the home clean at a minimum. Before you list the house, do a good deep cleaning in every room. 

Be sure to give extra attention to air vents and ductwork by cleaning out the dust and any debris stuck in the vent. Dust all remaining furniture and artwork. Wash the windows and glass doors so they sparkle, and run the vacuum to help refresh the carpets.

Finally, use an odor remover to eliminate any pet odors or lingering smells from last night’s dinner. You can make an incredibly positive impression if the only scent a buyer remembers is the smell of fresh-baked cookies or fresh flowers. 

Tip #9 Accommodate requests for last-minute showings

Unfortunately, buyers are not always available to see the home when it’s most convenient for you. Here’s a list so you can easily clean up and be out of the house in 20 minutes. 

  • Place any dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Wipe down the bathroom and kitchen countertops.
  • Wipe down the toilet seats.
  • Grab a bin and place any loose toys or books inside.
  • Toss any stray clothing in the laundry hamper.
  • Close all the closet doors.
  • If you have paperwork or other clutter on the countertop, tuck it out of sight in a drawer, or worst case, make an organized pile. Organized is better than scattered. 
  • Make the beds.
  • Sweep the floors. 
  • Take out the garbage as you leave and bring your pets with you.

And real estate tip #10 Respond to offers in a timely manner

Be respectful of all reasonable offers. You know what price you’ll accept and on what terms, including what you’d be willing to negotiate on if asked. Most contracts expect a response within 48 hours, but why wait? Respond with a counteroffer or acceptance as soon as a good offer comes in. 

Selling your first house is not easy. But with these 10 real estate tips, moving on to the next chapter in your life can be just as exciting.

Source: redfin.com

Is a Long or Short Term Mortgage Better for your Finances?

Image Source: Pexels

Choosing the right mortgage is an integral part of the home buying process, and there are many options for you to consider. One of which is choosing between a 15-year or 30-year mortgage term. Both of these options have their positives and negatives, which we’ll discuss in this article. What you choose will impact the overall price of your home throughout its lifetime.

What is a Mortgage Term?

The most significant difference between a long and short-term loan is how payments and interest add up over time. Current rates will also impact the affordability of your mortgage interest rate, but 15-year terms are typically less expensive overall because you won’t pay as much interest. For a 30-year mortgage rate, the opposite is true.

When first deciding which term is right for you, think about your budget and income prospects. For example, if you’re borrowing $200,000 towards the purchase of a $600,000 home and choose a 15-year mortgage at a rate of 5.00%, your monthly payments would be $3,163.17 a month. However, you would only pay $169,371 in interest. 

If we use the same borrowing amount on the same home but use a 30-year mortgage term at a rate of 5.50%, your monthly payments would be $2,271.16, which is significantly less. However, you would pay a total of $417,616 in interest. That’s 2.4 times as much interest.

When to Choose a 15-Year (Short Term) Mortgage Term

On average, your monthly payments will be higher on a short-term mortgage, but you’ll pay less in interest. When opting for a 15-year term, it’s essential to carefully think about your finances and ensure you can handle the higher monthly cost. 

15-year terms work better under a fixed interest rate because you’ll know exactly how much you’ll pay over the loan’s lifetime. If you choose an adjustable-rate, you could run the risk of having a mortgage beyond your means. A percentage or two could add hundreds of dollars to the loan’s monthly payment, so choose the safest route for your term.

Another thing to consider is your job situation. While we can’t predict whether we’ll be laid off or an economic downturn will occur, you can minimize your risk of unemployment by staying in one position long-term. To avoid financial trouble, you could give your lender a higher down payment or opt to save more than spend. 

When to Choose a 30-Year (Long Term) Mortgage Term

A 30-year mortgage term is often seen as the safer option because you have a little more wiggle room when it comes to saving. You’ll also receive more in tax benefits because you can claim mortgage deductions longer. Mortgage tax deductions could be beneficial for homeowners that retire while they’re still paying off their loan.

30-year mortgages have the option of prepayment, whereas 15-year terms don’t. You have the opportunity to add an extra $50 to your payments each month which will help you pay down the mortgage faster without straining your budget. Some homeowners on a 30-year term will use bi-weekly payments instead of monthly to shave off as much as they can. 

Long-term mortgages are best for families who plan to stay in their homes for an extended period. While you aren’t required to pay down your mortgage before selling, having a plan to stay for 30+ years could also impact which term you choose.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Before choosing your mortgage term, it’s best to look beyond the financial picture. While a 15-year term will pay off your home faster, you could be sacrificing other financial goals. However, a 30-year term will cost you more in the long-run, but you have the option of paying it down faster and focusing on other investments. 

When it comes down to it, choose whichever term works for your budget and lifestyle.

Source: realtybiznews.com

Terner Housing Innovation Lab Launches Nationwide Search for Early-Stage Housing Affordability Innovators

Housing Lab is kicking off its second group of ventures to elevate creative solutions to the housing crisis and promote an equitable recovery from COVID-19. They are looking for solutions that address racial and economic inequities in the housing market

Housing Lab offers:

  • A $100,000 grant to invest in product development and growth
  • 6 months of advising from dedicated coaches who are experts in policy and regulatory strategy, along with access to coaching around business development, financial modeling, partnership management, and more
  • Access to Terner Center’s network of builders, policymakers, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs

Highlights from the 2019-20 Cohort:

  • Closing of seed and Series A venture capital funding
  • Closing of funding vehicles to acquire property
  • Acquisitions that widen impact potential
  • Formal partnerships with other cohort members
  • Expansions to new states and markets

The early application deadline is March 12th and the regular deadline is April 7th. Apply early to ensure Housing Lab has enough time to get to know your company.

Apply Now

Source: geekestateblog.com

66 Questions to Ask When Buying a House – Redfin

As a first-time homebuyer, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed even before you begin your homebuying journey. After all, this is a new process for you and, simply put, you don’t know what you don’t know. First off, there are no silly questions you can ask during any stage of the homebuying process. So always feel free to ask a question, no matter how trivial you think it might be. You owe it to yourself – and your family – to find out everything you can about a home, especially since it will most likely be the largest investment you’ll ever make. To help you get started, we’ve created a list of 66 questions to ask when buying a house, broken down into each stage of the homebuying process to help keep you informed.

11 questions to ask before you go house hunting

As you well know, buying a house is a significant investment. Before you start house hunting, think through your goals for homeownership. Why do you want to buy a house? 

  1. Do you want to earn equity and build wealth by owning a house? 
  2. Do you expect you might need more space for a future family? 
  3. Do you have a pet or see one in your future and you want a backyard? 
  4. Do you want to live in a quiet, established area or somewhere more lively? 
  5. Do you enjoy yard work, gardening? How much backyard space do you require?
  6. Have you considered the local schools and neighborhoods? 
  7. Have you looked at crime rates around the neighborhoods you’re interested in? 
  8. Is it essential for you to live close to your work? Or, is a commute ok? 
  9. Have you narrowed down a range of purchase prices you can afford?
  10. How much money do you need for a downpayment? 
  11. Are you pre-approved for a mortgage

When you’re wrapped up in the excitement of house hunting, you may forget which questions to ask when buying a house.. If you are a pet owner looking at condos, you’ll have to be sure the homeowners’ association allows pets. Or, let’s say you want to live in a popular downtown neighborhood, but plan to have children in a few years – will this neighborhood still suit your needs? It’s always worth giving some thought to the type of home and area to help focus your search. 

Also, be aware that being approved for a home loan saves time for everyone by ensuring that you, as the buyer, can actually afford the home and be able to follow through an offer. 

7 questions to ask when you interview agents

Contacting the agent listed on the for-sale sign of a house you’re interested in may not be the best way to protect your interest as a buyer. When you work with your own agent, that agent’s job is to represent your interests. They help research the house, find answers to all of your questions, and serve as your professional intermediary for communicating with the seller’s agent and homeowner.

Naturally, you will want to choose a great real estate agent that you are comfortable with and feel like they have your best interests in mind. Most real estate experts recommend that you interview at least three agents identified by recommendations from friends and family who have bought or sold a house recently. Here are some questions to ask potential agents to see if they are the right agent for you.

  1. How long have you been a real estate agent? 
  2. What kind of experience do you have in this specific market area?
  3. Do you usually work with buyers or sellers? 
  4. How do you usually communicate with clients? What should I expect for response time? 
  5. How will you help me search for homes? 
  6. What days and times are you typically available for showings? 
  7. How will you ensure transparency about any issues you see with a house? 

When you set your expectations for communication, home tours, and other information you count on your agent to provide, you have a good chance to establish a productive relationship from the start – which will help you through your homebuying journey.

stylish living room

stylish living room

37 questions to ask when touring homes

This is an extensive list, and not every question applies to every situation. For example, if your goal is to purchase a single-family home, questions relating to condominiums don’t apply. However, this list of questions to ask when touring a house should give you an excellent start in making well-informed decisions when buying your first home. 

  1. What’s the reason for the sale? How long have the sellers lived there?
  2. How long has the house been on the market? 
  3. What is the neighborhood like?
  4. When was the house built? 
  5. What are the property taxes?
  6. Are there any upcoming condo or homeowners association fees?
  7. What are the average utility costs? 
  8. Have there been any major repairs to the property? If so, do you know if they provided a warranty?
  9. Are there any boundary disputes with neighbors?
  10. Are there any shared driveways or communal spaces?
  11. Are there any public rights of way passing through – or near – the property? 
  12. How old are the major appliances and systems?
  13. Are the appliances included in the sale?
  14. What is the sales history of this house, and how would it affect my offer?
  15. Is there enough storage space? Room to grow? 
  16. Is there any evidence of water problems? Can you see damp drywall, basement floors, or open leaks? Can you smell mildew? Or is there a smell of fresh paint that might be intended to cover up a water issue?
  17. Are the walls structurally sound? Look for cracks and look for evidence of cracks covered over by wallpaper that doesn’t look right or paint applied over filler.
  18. Is the chimney in good condition?
  19. Are the windows sound? Will any of the glazing need to be replaced?
  20. Do the ground floor windows have working latches to lock the windows? 
  21. Is the attic insulated? If so, when was the insulation installed?
  22. Is there any soundproofing in the house? (Try viewing the home at different times to hear road noise or neighbors.)
  23. Are there working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms?
  24. Is there adequate cell phone reception indoors? How’s the broadband service in the area?
  25. What type of system is used to heat and cool the house? 
  26. Ask to see the circuit box – does the wiring look up to date?
  27. How is the condition of electrical outlets and switches? (You can bring something to plug into try outlets.) 
  28. Do all of the lights work? If not, why not?
  29. Does the property have any lead pipes? Do you see any issues with pipes in need of repair?
  30. What kind of drainage system does the property have? Is it on the city sewer, or is there a septic tank? 
  31. Is there any asbestos in the property, or has there ever been an asbestos survey completed?
  32. What kind of roof does the property have? When was it last replaced, and what is its current condition? 
  33. Do you see any gutter leaks? Are the gutters cleaned out, or do they need work? 
  34. Are there any trees growing within 15 feet of the property? Can you discern if roots are likely to be a problem? 
  35. Which way does the yard face, and is there any part of the yard that doesn’t receive sunlight throughout the day? 
  36. Would the real estate agent buy this house? If not, why not?
  37. What’s the lowest price you think we could offer for this house and still close the transaction?

You can ask these questions when buying a house – and others as applicable – to understand your likely overall costs to own this home. When you understand all of your costs, you’ll confidently be able to make an offer you can afford

open concept new kitchen

open concept new kitchen

11 questions to ask when making an offer and closing on a home

Real estate agents make offers on homes every day. Their job is to help you make the best offer while protecting you against potential risks with the transaction. 

  1. How does the offer work? Do we communicate with the seller or seller’s agent? 
  2. What contingencies do you recommend including in the offer? 
  3. How much earnest money should we put in the offer? 
  4. When do we need to provide earnest money? 
  5. When should we expect to hear back from the seller? 
  6. If we receive a counter-offer, when do we need to reply? 
  7. How can we sign the paperwork? Digital? In-person? 
  8. If the offer is accepted, what are the next steps? 
  9. How far out is the potential closing date from an accepted offer? 
  10. What are our next steps once the offer is accepted?
  11. What do we do at closing? 

Your real estate agent wants to make the home buying transaction as smooth as possible. If they do not provide this information upfront, be sure to ask. 

You should prepare a list of your own questions to ask when buying a house. It can include any given here, or others that represent your own interests and concerns. Answers to these questions will ease your mind and help you understand what you can expect during each stage of the homebuying process. Completing your research is perfectly acceptable, but don’t skip asking questions of your mortgage broker, real estate agent, and title company. When you gather enough information, you can make the best decision buying your first home. 

Source: redfin.com

What Do HOA Fees Cover: Homeowners Association Expenses Explained

What is an HOA?

Are you confused about the meaning of an HOA? HOA is short for a homeowners association. Lots of people ask real estate agents how an HOA works and what purpose does it serve. Once they understand the purpose of a homeowners association they ask what the HOA fees cover.

An HOA is a group or organization in a neighborhood that makes and enforces rules and regulations for homes or condos for the benefit of its owners.

Buyers who purchase within an HOA become members and must pay association dues, known as HOA fees.

Before buying into an HOA, it is vital to understand the rules and regulations. You may find that some of the rules are not what you’ve been accustomed to. In fact, if the rules and regulations are overbearing, you could find yourself in the position of not wanting to live within the neighborhood.

On the other hand, you may love the thought of having guidance and uniformity. Some of the biggest advantages of living in an HOA are preserving and upkeep of the homeowners association’s homes and neighborhood.

One of the most common questions home buyers have is what do the HOA fees cover? Let’s take a deep dive into what you need to know about homeowners association expenses.

HOA Fees
How Do HOA Fees Work?

What Are HOA Fees?

Homeowners association fees are paid to maintain the common areas and shared spaces in your home and neighborhood. Being part of a homeowners association makes it a lot simpler to live in than having a home where you are responsible for all the maintenance.

So, if you have an expensive emergency in your house, you have to find the money to fix it. Where in the HOA, expenses are shared amongst everyone in the community.

An elected committee governs the HOA fees in your neighborhood. All of the expenses should be approved by those who reside within the community.

In larger HOAs, there is often a paid office team organizing contractors and paying bills. Other HOAs can be staffed by using outside contractors. Sometimes this can be a problem when work is not completed satisfactorily.

HOA costs depend on the neighborhood and type of project. It is not uncommon for HOA fees to range anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to $1000 in some luxurious settings.

Homeowners association fees are influenced heavily by what kind of perks are offered for living within the community. For example, neighborhoods that offer community pools, gyms, and tennis courts, naturally would cost more to maintain and operate.

However, a lower-cost townhouse without a pool, gym, or other amenities could be far less expensive. Costs can be as low as $100 per month in some locations around the country.

HOA expenses in a high-end city center may include concierge, spa, and gym, making them much more expensive to live in. You could potentially see fees as high as $3-$4 thousand per month. Think of the rich and famous.

How Are HOA Expenses Distributed?

If you live in an HOA within a condo or townhome complex, you may have underground parking, with a car space allocated to every apartment in the building. Part of the maintenance with this living style is security, as we all feel safer in a secure building.

Rubbish collection is another cost, as rubbish has to be taken down to the basement and removed from the building. Companies are often hired to fill this role.

The pool must be maintained, the ground manicured, plants pruned, and the gym equipment is cleaned. While these perks are probably the reasons you bought in, the cost can be a bit high for some retirees. Perks such as these are often standard in retirement communities. It is often a significant reason seniors downsize into a neighborhood that has an HOA.

Do Homeowners HOA Fees Go Up?

Of course, everything rises with inflation, and there will always be new projects or remedial work to be carried out on the homes and neighborhood.

Some HOAs schedule increments annually, so if you are preparing a five-year budget, you may want to factor in the cost. Doing so will be helpful to work out what your expenses will be projected at in the future.

It will be vital before buying to take a look at the homeowners association bylaws, rules, and regs, along with the latest financial state. You should make sure to have a contingency for document review in your offer.

What If You Can’t Pay The HOA Fees?

You can be fined or taken to court, and a lien could be placed on your property. It can also be embarrassing not to pay because, in committee meetings, they often have nonpaying homes as agenda items and discuss strategies to recover the funds.

HOA expenses are very much worth paying, as in most cases, you do get your money’s worth. Because there is power in numbers, you often get better value for money with more people paying to get the best deal for your HOA.

Before you move into a condo, townhouse, or home, check how your HOA fees will be apportioned, and make sure no special assessments are pending.

Special assessments would mean that you will have to come up with an extra lump sum to fix an unexpected expense. Nobody likes financial surprises, so it is essential to research any significant expenditures on the horizon.

How Do I Choose The Right HOA Neighborhood?

Form a working relationship with a high-profile local agent. Once they know what you are looking for, they will help you to find your perfect HOA.

The best buyer’s agents will know most communities in the town or area. Real Estate agents have their ears to the ground and often hear positive or negative things about a particular neighborhood and the accompanying homeowners association.

Moving into an HOA is a terrific idea when it is a well-oiled machine. Living within a homeowners association can make your life more simple, especially from a maintenance standpoint. If you’re the kind of person, who travels a lot, it really makes a lot of sense.

First-time home buyers who do business travel could find living in an HOA to be the perfect situation.

Final Thoughts on HOAs

In the area you are planning to live in, there hopefully will be a wide range of suitable HOAs to choose from. As long as you pick an HOA neighborhood that does not have strange bylaws or overbearing rules, you’ll probably enjoy the living situation.

The key is doing the proper due diligence. Without that, you could make a bad mistake that you’ll regret. Take the time and do the proper research. Hopefully, you have found this guide to HOAs to be useful. You should now know a bit more about what HOA fees cover.

Source: realtybiznews.com