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

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

Should I Buy a Backup Standby Power Generator for My Home?

In October 2019, Californians experienced a series of rolling blackouts aimed at preventing wildfires. Afterward, Aaron Jagdfeld, the CEO of home generator company Generac, told CNBC its sales there had more than tripled. He also said generators were going quickly in the Northeast as homeowners sought emergency power in the wake of repeated hurricanes and ice storms.

Demand for generators tends to surge after major storms as people realize how easily they could be stuck without power for a week or more. In 2014, I learned firsthand what it was like. Over 14 days, we had eight power outages varying from a few hours to a full day. After 10 days of bitter cold and limited connection to the outside world, I found myself wondering whether we should buy a backup power generator.

But I didn’t take the plunge right away. Instead, I took the time to do some research on generators first — their downsides as well as their benefits.

If you’re thinking about buying a generator, it makes sense to do the same thing. Before you shell out the money, consider the purchase from every angle — the costs, downsides, hassle, and what you really want the generator to do. That way, if you decide to take the plunge, you’ll know how to pick the best type of generator for you and your family.

Should You Buy a Backup Power Generator?

Only certain people need a generator to make it through a disaster. How well you can manage without one depends on where you live and how much you rely on electricity at home.

For instance, Sandra Bockhorst of American Preppers Network writes that she managed just fine during a week without power in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Hortense by using stored water, kerosene lamps, and a propane grill. However, after moving to Pennsylvania, she decided to buy a generator after a series of storms took out the power to her farm and nearly cost her a freezer full of food.

To figure out whether a generator is a worthwhile investment for you, you must be able to answer several questions:

  1. How Common Are Power Outages? Only buy a generator if you’re really going to need it. If the power grid in your area goes down every time there’s a big storm, a generator could make a significant difference in your comfort — but if you’ve had one blackout in the last five years, you can probably get by without one.
  2. How Long Do They Last? Even frequent power outages are no big deal if they only last a couple of hours. A generator is much more useful for handling prolonged outages that last for days. And if blackouts in your area can last for weeks, it could be worth investing in a more expensive generator that lasts longer.
  3. How Extreme Is the Weather in Your Area? Think about the weather conditions in your area. In a mild climate, going a week without heating or cooling could be no big deal. But if you live in the Deep South, where summertime temperatures can reach over 100 degrees F with punishing humidity, a whole week with no air conditioning could be incredibly unpleasant or even unsafe. And if you live in a very cold area, you have to worry about both protecting yourself from frostbite — which you can probably manage with enough layers of clothing — and keeping the pipes in your home from freezing and bursting in the cold.
  4. Do You Have the Space? A running generator needs a spot in your yard that’s a safe distance from your home. Stationary generators have to stay in this space all the time, and portable ones also need a separate space for storage. Both types require a supply of fuel, which you must also store.
  5. Do You Have the Time? It takes a bit of work to keep a generator in good running order. And if it’s a portable generator, it takes effort to set it up and get it started during a storm. That’s a hassle that could outweigh the benefits of getting the power back on a little sooner.
  6. What’s Your Budget? Generators cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars — and that’s not even counting fuel costs. Not everyone has that much money to spare, and everyone has other things they could do with it. Consider what else you might use the money for, then think about whether a generator is really what you want most.
  7. What Are the Alternatives? The more dependent you are on electricity, the more a generator is likely to help you. Make a list of all the things you use power for at home — for example, heating, cooling, and refrigeration. For each one, ask yourself whether there’s some alternative you could rely on if the power were down for a week. If you have no other way of keeping your home warm or cool or rely on your well-stocked freezer for your food supply, then keeping the power on at your home is crucial. But if your only real concern is keeping your cellphone working, there are other options, such as solar and hand-crank chargers.

You can answer some of these questions based on previous experience. But others require a bit more information. Before you can make an informed decision, you need to know more about how generators work, their costs, the amount of space and maintenance they require, and the possible alternatives.


How Backup Generators Work

A generator works on the principle of electromagnetic induction. That means that when you move a wire through a magnetic field, it creates a current in that wire. A generator simply spins a magnet repeatedly around a wire, forcing electrons through the wire like a pump forcing water through a pipe.

To make the magnet turn, a home power generator contains a small engine, which can be powered by gasoline, liquid propane, or natural gas. The engine pushes a piston back and forth, causing the generator to turn and produce a steady electric current.

There are two main types of home power generators: portable and stationary.

Portable Generators

These smaller generators are mounted on wheels. When a power outage hits, you have to wheel the generator outside, start it, and hook it up to your home’s power system. You can plug your devices directly into the generator or hire an electrician to install a special cable called a manual transfer switch, which feeds the current into your home’s electrical system. From there, you can flip the circuit breakers to route power to the devices you need, such as the fridge and lights.

Portable generators can typically provide enough backup power to keep a few critical systems running, such as your refrigerator and a few lights.

Stationary Generators

Also known as a standby generator, a stationary generator sits in a permanent location outside your house. A stationary generator has an automatic transfer switch built in. If the power goes out, it automatically starts and feeds power into your home’s systems.

Standby generators are bigger than portable ones and can produce enough wattage to run an entire house. However, these whole-house generators are a lot more expensive than portable generators, and you have to hire a professional to install one.


Downsides of Owning a Generator

The benefits of owning a generator are easy to see.

When a storm knocks out power to your area, and all your neighbors are shivering in the dark, you’ll still have heat and lights. If the power outage continues for several days, your generator can also save hundreds of dollars’ worth of food in your fridge and freezer. And if you choose a portable generator, you can take it with you to power a few essential gadgets on a camping trip or at a tailgate party.

However, that doesn’t mean everybody should rush out to buy one. Owning a generator has its share of downsides, including cost, space, maintenance, noise, and safety considerations.

Cost

Home generators aren’t cheap. According to Consumer Reports, the smallest portable models are good for powering your fridge, a sump pump, a few lights, and maybe a TV, and they cost at least $400. Larger portable models can run bigger appliances, such as an air conditioner, and can cost up to $1,500.

Standby generators are more convenient to use but usually run at least $2,000. On top of that, you have to pay a professional installer to hook them up. According to Consumer Reports, generator installation can cost anywhere from a few thousand to over $10,000.

Space

It can be hard to find a place to use a portable generator. It has to be on level ground and at least 20 feet from your house — but close enough to connect to it with an extension cord.

You also have to protect it from the weather because it could electrocute you if it gets wet. But you can’t put it inside a shed. It’s unsafe to run in an enclosed space. And between uses, you have to find a place to store it to protect it from harsh weather and theft.

Stationary units live in the same spot in your yard year-round, so you don’t need to worry about storing them. However, they take up a fair bit of space and can be unattractive.

You also need to store fuel for your generator. That’s easy if you have a home standby generator that runs on natural gas, but you must store gasoline and propane outside your home for safety reasons. That said, you must keep the fuel locked up to protect it from thieves and vandals, which means adding a shed or detached garage unless you already have one.

Maintenance

Like any appliance, a generator needs regular maintenance to keep it running well. You have to keep it fueled and check the oil, filters, and spark plugs regularly. You also need to start it monthly and run it for about 20 minutes to keep the battery charged and the fuel lines free of moisture.

You also have to maintain your fuel supplies. Gasoline can go bad over time, so you must add a fuel stabilizer and refill your cans every year or so. Regular maintenance is necessary if you want to be able to count on your generator to work when an emergency strikes.

Noise

Generators are loud. The best ones are quiet enough to avoid bothering you while you’re indoors, but you could still get complaints from the neighbors. Some towns even have anti-noise ordinances that restrict how loud your generator can be or at what times you can use it.

Safety

You have to be careful when using a portable generator. It must be properly ventilated to avoid causing a fire or producing deadly carbon monoxide. HuffPost reports that during Hurricane Sandy, generators were responsible for at least nine deaths, mostly from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Even a properly vented generator gives off some fumes. So ensure it is at least 20 feet from all doors and windows to avoid letting any harmful fumes into the house. Burning gas or propane produces carbon dioxide, which is toxic to humans. It’s also the main gas responsible for climate change. That means the more you run your generator, the more you increase your carbon footprint.


Alternatives to Owning a Generator

Despite the many drawbacks of owning an emergency generator, some people think they have no choice because it’s the only way to keep the power on. But there are other ways to provide power for a few of your devices — or to get by with no backup power source at all.

In many cases, it’s possible to stay safe and comfortable for at least a few days without electricity.

Portable Power Stations

If your power needs are modest, you can meet them with a device called a portable power station. These backup power mini-systems are basically large batteries inside protective cases with built-in AC outlets and other ports for plugging in your various devices.

According to Wirecutter, they weigh around 50 pounds and can store anywhere from 100 to 1,800 watts of energy. That’s enough to keep key electronics, such as a phone or laptop, running for hours or even days at a time.

Unlike generators, portable power stations run silently and don’t require a backup supply of fuel. You can charge them with ordinary household current or, in some cases, with a solar panel.

However, they typically cost more than portable generators, and their power output is insufficient to run your central air conditioning or any large appliance. And even if you’re using them only for electronic devices, fans, or medical equipment, such as a CPAP machine (breathing mask), they can’t store enough juice to get you through a weeklong blackout.

Cooling Methods

There are many ways to stay cool without air conditioning. You can block out the sun’s hot rays with curtains and reflective window film and keep your home well insulated to prevent it from heating up as quickly. At night, when it’s cooler, you can open windows to let in the breeze.

You can also cool yourself, rather than the space around you. Taking a cold shower or applying cold compresses lowers your body temperature directly. Or if your home has a basement, you can retreat down there during the day to take advantage of the cooler temperature.

Heating Sources

Most heating systems depend on electricity to either create heat or distribute it throughout the house. So if a winter storm takes out the power to your home, you need some way to stay warm until the power comes back on.

You can heat an indoor space with a wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace, wood stove, pellet stove, or kerosene heater. Like a generator, all these fuel-burning appliances need proper ventilation for safety.

And if the winters in your area aren’t all that cold, you might be able to get away with bundling up in your warmest clothing and piling on the blankets at night.

Water Supply

If your home is hooked up to the municipal water and sewer lines, a power outage shouldn’t disrupt your water supply. But if you have a well that works with an electric pump, you need another source of water for bathing, drinking, and flushing your toilets.

One solution is to store water in jugs to get you through an emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping at least 1 gallon of water per day for each person and each pet in the house in your family emergency kit. Ideally, you should have a total of 14 gallons per person — enough to get you through two weeks without water.

You can also use rainwater collected in buckets or a water barrel for washing or flushing toilets.

Backup Power for Sump Pumps

Many homes rely on a sump pump to keep the basement from flooding. But if a storm knocks out the power, it can disable the pump when you need it the most.

To avoid this problem, you can choose a pump with a battery backup, which uses a car or boat battery to keep it going while the power is out. If you’re on the municipal water system, another option is to install a backup pump that relies on water pressure rather than electricity.

Food Storage

During a prolonged power outage, keeping your refrigerator door closed as much as possible helps the food stay fresh. Food stored in a full freezer should stay safe for up to 48 hours without power, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, food in the refrigerator will go bad much faster.

Packing the fridge with blocks of ice or dry ice can keep food safe to eat for a couple of days. Alternatively, you can transfer perishable food to a cooler, which requires less ice to pack. A good rule of thumb is to eat all your perishable food first, before it goes bad. After that, you can rely on shelf-stable foods, such as canned goods, cereal, pasta, dry beans, crackers, peanut butter, and powdered or ultra-pasteurized milk.

Cooking Methods

If you have a gas stove, you can continue to use it during a power outage. Most modern stoves use electric igniters, but you can always light them the old-fashioned way — with a match.

You can also cook outdoors on a grill, portable camp stove, or solar cooker. If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, you can do some cooking on that.

Power for Phones

If you have an old-fashioned landline phone — the kind that runs on actual copper cable — it will probably still work during a power outage. If not, there are several ways to recharge your cellphone when the electricity is out.

For $25 to $80, you can buy a solar phone charger that can top up your phone battery after about half an hour in direct sunlight. There are also inexpensive hand-crank chargers, which often double as emergency flashlights or portable radios. And finally, you can conserve your phone’s battery power by keeping it switched off in between calls.

Lighting Sources

At night, you can keep your home lit with candles, flashlights, or battery-powered lanterns. Modern LED technology makes it possible for a lantern or flashlight to last a lot longer on one set of batteries. However, it’s worth keeping extra batteries on hand in case the power outage goes on for weeks.

Entertainment

In the modern world, we tend to rely a lot on electronic gadgets — TVs, smartphones, computer games — to keep us amused. During a power outage, you have to fall back on more old-fashioned diversions, such as books. Besides reading to yourself, you can take turns reading aloud with your family members to entertain each other.

You can also work on jigsaw puzzles or play tabletop games, such as board games, card games, and party games like charades.


Final Word

In the end, my husband and I decided not to invest in a generator.

Instead, we opted to find other ways to prepare for winter storms. We installed a gas fireplace for heat, bought a hand-cranked radio that could also charge our cellphones, and got an LED lantern for lighting. These supplies — plus a gas stove and plenty of water, nonperishable food, and books — give us the confidence we can make it through another long stretch without power if we have to.

And in the end, that’s the most critical consideration: peace of mind. If you can’t sleep easy without a generator or some other backup power source to get you through a lengthy power outage, then a generator is a worthwhile investment, regardless of what the numbers say.

But if you decide the expense and effort of owning a generator outweigh the benefits, there are plenty of other ways to weather a natural disaster.

Source: moneycrashers.com

HUD issues relief on foreclosures for Texans after storm

Texas residents and businesses have two extra months to file and pay their federal taxes, and Texans will also get some housing-related assistance after severe winter storms this month left millions without power and running water.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages. The HUD said that it will extend mortgage insurance to homeowners whose properties have been destroyed. The mortgage insurance expansion can be used to purchase a new home or renovate a damaged one.

The Internal Revenue Service also said on Monday that Texans have until June 15 to file federal returns and pay any taxes owed, tapping its authority to delay deadlines for disaster victims. Any tax forms due in the lead up to the June 15 deadline will be delayed until the new deadline.

Winter storms and record-breaking freezing temperatures hit nearly the entirety of Texas earlier this month. Millions lost power, and then water, as pipes froze and water pressure dropped. Power began resuming late last week and over the weekend, though millions are still without safe drinking water.

Source: nationalmortgagenews.com

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Power Outages?

Workers repairing an electrical line during a power outage
Photo by ND700 / Shutterstock.com

Losing electrical power in your home is more than inconvenient and potentially hazardous; it can also lead to serious expenses. Fortunately, some of those are probably covered by your homeowners insurance.

That could be good news to more than 3.5 million Americans who are currently without power due to storms in Texas, Oregon, Kentucky and elsewhere. But whether all of your out-of-pocket costs will be covered depends on the insurer and your policy.

Already, there are reports of homeowners in affected states contacting their insurance company, only to find they aren’t covered in ways they expected or hoped.

Here’s what to expect in coverage for two common financial impacts of a power outage, and some options to make up the difference if you aren’t actually covered. Consider this a rough guide to prepare you; if you’re directly affected, check with your insurance company for the details of your own coverage.

Frozen pipes

Prolonged winter power outages — like the current ones, which have already lasted for days — come with the added risk that water will freeze inside the home’s pipes. That can cause the pipes to crack, and lead to flooding damage and plumbing bills once the heat returns and the water begins to flow again.

It doesn’t take long for such freezing to occur. According to Hope Plumbing in Indianapolis, pipes may freeze if the outside temperature is below 20 degrees for at least six consecutive hours, as it has been during recent days in many of the states with outages.

The process is faster still if you live in a geographical location that usually does not suffer from cold winters, Hope Plumbing writes, since your water pipes are less likely to have much insulation to protect them from extreme temperatures.

Here, homeowners in Texas and elsewhere are probably covered, according to property insurance lawyers VossLaw.

“If your pipes froze because of an unusual cold snap,” causing water damage, your claim will likely be approved,” the company writes. They do, however, add a few caveats. Your claim may be denied, the lawyers warn, if your pipes were in poor condition due to age. “If a pipe burst simply because it was worn out, you may be out of luck.”

Negligence on your part could also be a reason to deny a claim, VossLaw warns, mentioning as an example shutting off the power when leaving your home, causing its interior temperatures to drop.

Less clear is whether a failure to leave water running at a trickle through the pipe in a cold house — a step that reduces the chance of frozen pipes — might be deemed negligent. At any rate, this step is recommended by home experts as a way to mitigate the disruption and inconvenience of pipes freezing.

Ruined food

While food spoiling (or at least thawing) in a warm refrigerator is most associated with power outages in warmer months, it’s possible in any season, especially when outages are prolonged.

Homeowners policies usually cover reimbursement for food losses due to an outage in their standard coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute — although some companies instead make it an extra-cost add-on to the policy.

However, it’s unlikely that claiming the value of ruined food is worthwhile, especially if it’s the only financial loss you incurred from the power going out.

For starters, many insurers cap the covered loss at $250 or $500, according to Allstate. That figure is likely at or below the deductible for your policy, which means you could collect little or nothing on the claim.

If you suffered other financial setbacks from the outage, such as the cost to replace cracked pipes, a potential claim might exceed your deductible. And if you already made a claim on the policy within the last year, your deductible has likely already been paid regardless.

In any case, talk with your insurers before submitting a claim, especially one that is fairly modest. Insurers keep track of claims, and you’ll need to consider the possible effect of one for a power outage on your future premiums.

You might also want to check with your electricity provider. While most electric companies do not offer their customers reimbursement for food spoilage caused by long-term power outages, according to the Insurance Information Institute, programs are sometimes offered. (For example, Con Edison allowed reimbursements of up to $500 per homeowner for spoiled food after Hurricane Isaias last year.)

It’s unclear if any such programs have yet been launched due to the current outages in the South. For what it’s worth, none were implemented in areas of Louisiana and Texas affected by Hurricane Laura last year, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

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Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Renters, Here’s How to Save Money on Your Heating Bill This Winter

I’ve had to leave reviews more than once, and conveniently, the landlords took care of the issues the very next day.
It’s a minor cost (again, something you can buy for under 15 bucks) but it could save you big-time on heating bills.
You can temporarily improve the situation by rolling up a towel and blocking the bottom of the door.
Timothy Moore is a market research editor and freelance writer covering topics on personal finance, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 and has been featured on sites like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, Glassdoor and The News Wheel.

8 Inexpensive Ways Renters Can Lower Their Heating Bills

1. Close Off Unused Rooms

Before buying a house, I rented several apartments in southwestern Ohio, which gets so cold in the winter (and fall and sometimes spring) that I may as well have lived in Alaska.
Obviously, you need to keep your apartment warm enough to prevent your pipes from freezing, but if you can stand the chill, turn down the thermostat to the low- to mid-60s. Bundle up in sweatshirts, thick socks and blankets to stay warm — and don’t forget to cover up your pets, too.

A person turns down the heat in their home.
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

2. Turn Down the Heat

If it is your first time installing, ask someone who’s done it for help. When incorrectly installed, your window will look like it’s been covered in shrink wrap.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

A woman turns on a space heater in her home.
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

3. Use a Space Heater

Luckily, the house I purchased has great new windows, excellent insulation and doors that actually close properly.
When you cook in your oven and on the stove top, heat emanates into your kitchen and surrounding rooms. Crack the oven open after turning it off to let the remaining heat filter out into your home.

A person waters a plant next to a window.
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

4. Insulate Your Windows

If you live in a two- or three-bedroom apartment but use one of the rooms for storage, exercise or guests, close the door and shut the vents in that room when it is not in use. Otherwise, you will unnecessarily be heating an unused space.
If you encounter a landlord who dodges your requests, tell them in writing that you will be replacing the weather stripping yourself. Do not make it a question.
An easy way to lower your heating bill in the winter is to run your heat at a lower temperature.

Pro Tip
Privacy Policy

5. Stop Eating Out

And if the space is so infrequently used, consider downsizing to a smaller apartment the next time your lease is up. If you stay within the same apartment complex, you often will not have to pay new deposits.
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6. Block Out Drafts From Your Door

It’s much more challenging to combat these issues in apartments because, as a renter, you can’t just invest in new windows or redo the insulation. In my eight years of renting, however, I discovered a number of ways to cut back on my apartment heating bills.
Weather stripping for doors and windows is key to retaining heat in the winter (and keeping it out in the summer). If your windows and doors are letting too much heat out, ask your landlord to replace the weather stripping.

A window is photographed.
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

7. Weather Strip Like Crazy

Of course you can save money on meals by eating at home instead of dining out, but in the winter, baking and cooking can have the added benefit of reducing your heating bill.
You can do this by hanging thick curtains in front of the windows, but an even better solution (or a solution to combine with the curtains) is purchasing a window insulation film kit. You can get a kit to insulate 10 windows for under .
One apartment I lived in shortly after college had a living room with one wall that was entirely windows, overlooking a quaint pond. I toured the apartment in the springtime and was immediately sold. Little did I know that these single-pane windows would be the bane of my existence just nine months later when frost began forming on the inside.

8. Leave a Review

The problem with every single apartment I lived in was the same: It was exorbitantly expensive to heat them in the winter due to old systems, ancient windows and poor insulation.
Since renters can’t control whether their landlords install replacement windows (though I spent at least an hour a week in the office demanding that mine do so, to no avail), finding temporary ways to keep heat from leaking out is crucial.
The bottoms of exterior doors are a major culprit for heat loss in the winter. If you can see daylight creeping in from beneath your door or feel a cool breeze, speak to your landlord about addressing this issue.
Before you know it, winter will come and go. Reduce energy consumption year-round by also reading our tips for reducing utility bills in the summer. <!–

–>




OK, so you’ve turned the heat down, closed off unused rooms and bundled up in blankets, but you’re still feeling chilly. A small space heater might do the trick — and you can purchase one for less than .

6 Tips for Doing Home Addition Projects the Right Way

Home additions and renovations can be purposeful, aesthetic, functional, or a need that strikes deeper into your personal idea of living space. Perhaps you’re building a guest cottage, new garage, or outbuilding; adding a deck; installing a pool; or upgrading the bedrooms and bathrooms to better reflect the current situation and age of your family.

Although the specifics of each of these undertakings may vary, the same underlying principles apply to each of them, so we’re sharing six tips for tackling home addition projects the right way.

How to get started with a home addition

Home additions can boost the value of the home while enhancing aesthetics and functionality. In fact, home additions and renovations can be among the most effective ways to increase your home’s value, and you can tailor the construction to your particular stage in life in a way that is customized to your needs and wants.

To transform your home addition ideas into a completed project, there are a few steps to consider first:

•  Create a plan

•  Set a clear budget

•  Work with trusted professionals

•  Decide what parts of your home addition you can do yourself

•  Research and obtain permits

•  Fund your project

Create a Plan for Your Home Addition

Perhaps you’re adding an extra bedroom and bathroom to the back of your house for a place for guests to stay. As part of the process, you’ll need to first make sure that the addition will fit within your property lines; you’ll also want to check with your local government to see how closely codes in your city allow you to build next to someone else’s property.

While creating your home addition plan, also ensure that any construction will not interfere with utility lines or pipes, as well as whether the structural changes you’re considering will fit into the framing and foundation of your building.

As you design the bedroom and bathroom, think about them from two perspectives: first, how these rooms will add value to your living space; then, how the construction will impact the outside of your home, architecturally speaking.

You’ll also need detailed plans drawn up by an architect or builder that describe the scope of the work and the materials needed. To consider how home additions may increase the value of your home, discover the resale value of your next real estate improvement project with our Home Project Value Estimator.

One strategy to approaching home additions is to create your dream list, then have alternate choices in mind if your budget, material availability, or other external factors create a need to alter the project down the road. For example, you may love the look of marble flooring, but its price point might be higher than you’d initially estimated—or perhaps it doesn’t blend in with the rest of your house once you’ve started laying out the plans. Having a back-up plan—and one that’s cost-efficient at that—could help keep your budget in check.

According to HomeAdvisor.com , home additions can typically cost anywhere from $14,000 to $150,000, with the average home addition cost being $40,915. This figure doesn’t take into account factors like where you live, the size and scope of your addition, or the slope of your property, all of which can vary across the country. Plus, if you want your addition to blend in with the rest of your house, you also may need to plan for improvements in existing rooms.

Set a Clear Budget for Your Home Addition

According to HouseLogic.com , major upgrades like a bathroom remodel or family-room addition typically run $100 to $200 per square foot; sometimes, they can cost much more. This article recommends that you set a budget for your home addition by first obtaining bids from three professionals, then adding in 15 to 20 percent to the overall project price given by the contractor to cover unforeseen costs.

If the ballpark figure is too high and doesn’t align with your budget, then you might want to look at alternative choices for materials that will still give you the general renovation you desire. You could also scale back on your plans or save some of the more costly home addition projects for the future when your budget allows.

If you intend to work with a specific contractor, then your chosen company may be able to help you find lower-cost options—for example, replacing granite countertops with laminate ones—and offer creative solutions gleaned from years of industry experience. Or you may want to look at reducing the scope of your project to a smaller addition or even asking the contractor for competitive pricing for the off-season.

Work with Trusted Professionals

Whether you do some of the home addition work yourself or plan to have the professionals of your choice build the addition, it’s crucial that you hire the right contractor for your needs. Tips for working with contractors include:

•  Get three to six bids, then research companies that seem like good matches. You can check for information about these contractors at LinkedIn , Angie’s List , and the Better Business Bureau . Have any complaints been filed at your state’s contractor board? (You can find state-by-state licensing requirements for contractors here .)

For contractors who interest you, reach out to references they provide for personal experiences from past clients.

•  Be wary of suspiciously low bids. If a quote comes in significantly lower than that of the other contractors who bid your home addition project, it’s possible that contractor may not understand exactly what you want; this can lead to significant problems if you hire this company without clarifying specifics.
•  Hire a contractor who you think you can work well with, but don’t base your decision largely on emotion.

Decide What Parts of Your Home Addition You Can Do Yourself

Say the home addition ideas you have are necessary to solve space problems, perhaps you’re having a baby, or maybe your mother is moving in with you—but you’ve got to find a way to adjust the costs of a home addition. In this case, it might make sense to figure out what you can do yourself.

If you’ve got the experience needed to do the demo work safely without damaging load-bearing walls, electrical wires, and the like, this can save you some money on labor. If you’ve got professional-level skills in plumbing or drywall, you might talk to your contractor about taking on those tasks yourself and further reducing the cost of labor. Or you can attempt the finish work, such as sanding walls, painting, and general cleanup.

Research & Obtain Permitting Requirements

Unfortunately, a home addition isn’t as simple as deciding what you want to do, saving up, then paying for the work. You also need to make sure your home is appropriately zoned for the home addition or remodel. Depending on the scope of the project, you may or may not need a permit.

For example, if you want to build a deck in some states, you need a permit if you intend for it to be more than 30 inches off the ground. Getting to know your local codes can help surmount significant hurdles as the project unfolds, which often will save time and money for homeowners.

Strategically Fund Your Project

To find materials for your home addition on a budget, you could shop at stores like a Habitat for Humanity ReStore , attend auctions, or explore similar options to find salvaged materials. Before you go this route, though, if you’re employing a contractor, make sure he is willing to work with recycled materials and ones that may not be standard size.

When adding a room to a house that’s a higher priced project, it might be tempting to use credit cards to pay for expenses. If you’re doing this to maintain a record of your spending or to take advantage of credit card reward points, this can be a good strategy provided you can pay off the balance quickly, ideally within a single billing cycle.

But when you can’t pay off the balances, it can be easy to get caught up in a spiral of debt, and credit card debt is especially challenging. Why?

Credit card companies typically charge compound interest on the current balances on your accounts, which means they charge interest on the accrued interest—in other words, there is interest that’s continually being calculated on a daily basis and added to your balance until you pay it off in full.

To find out how compound interest is affecting your outstanding balances, you can use our credit card interest calculator.

Getting a Home Improvement Loans for Your Home Addition

Consider getting a home improvement loan for your home addition project. At SoFi, we offer competitive rate home improvement loans that can allow you to focus less on your budget and more on building your dreams.

Benefits of choosing SoFi for your personal loan for your home improvements include:

•  A quick process: You’re anxious to get started (who wouldn’t be?) and, on average, it takes only seven days from online approval to funding, allowing you to transform your home addition plans into reality soon.
•  Fixed payments: This is ideal for budgeting purposes.
•  Absolutely no fees: No surprises, no hidden fees, no catches. None.

When it comes to our personal loans, they are 100% fee-free. Plus, the application process is fast and easy, conveniently online, and you have access to live customer support seven days a week.

If you lose your job, we can pause your payments temporarily, and even help you to find a new job.

The Takeaway

A home addition can increase the value of your real estate while also allowing you to retrofit your house to your current lifestyle. There are many factors that figure into a big decision like a renovation, and it’s important to consider it from as many angles as possible.

With a quick online application process and lower rates than most credit cards, SoFi personal loans can help you make your house a dream home. Check your rate in just two minutes.

Ready to get started? You can find your rate in just two minutes, with no commitment. When you’re ready to get going with your home addition plans, you can apply for your personal loan quickly and easily.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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Source: sofi.com

These People Rushed to Buy Homes During Covid. Now They Regret It.>

Stella Guan spent months searching for a home to buy, getting outbid again and again in the white-hot real-estate market of the Los Angeles suburbs. Finally, her offer on a “beautiful” Santa Clarita house was accepted in August, she said. The graphic designer, 30, paid roughly $600,000 for the house. But after sleeping there for only a few nights, she had an unfortunate realization. “I was like ‘uh-oh, I hate this house,’ ” she recalled. “I hate this house so much.”

Looking back on it, she said, “I should have seen all of the warning signs, but the pandemic housing fever got the better of me.”

Stella Guan purchased this home in Santa Clarita.

Photo: Stella Guan

A house, unlike expensive jewelry or clothing, can’t be returned if the buyer is unhappy with it, so a cardinal rule of home buying is that you shouldn’t rush into a purchase. But in 2020, millions of Americans did just that.

Fleeing small apartments, buying vacation homes or simply looking for a change of scenery amid the crushing boredom of lockdowns, people scrambled to buy houses amid the pandemic, spurring bidding wars and supercharging real-estate markets across the country. Now, many are discovering the pitfalls of these hasty purchases, ranging from buyers’ remorse and financial strain to damage caused by unexpected problems.

This spring especially, “people were so panicked,” said Priscilla Holloway, a Douglas Elliman agent in the Hamptons, a popular spot for New Yorkers seeking refuge from the pandemic. “Buying a home is a huge commitment. You have to be thorough. But people were getting all crazy, and they weren’t as thorough as they usually are.”

Many home buyers were apartment dwellers looking for larger spaces to shelter in. “It was a land grab for houses,” said Cheryl Eisen, CEO of the interior-design and property-marketing firm Interior Marketing Group. “People wanted out of apartments.”

At the same time, inventory dropped as many homeowners hesitated to list their properties in the pandemic. The result is that much of the country saw a price spike and bidding wars, brokers said, leaving buyers with little to choose from. In these conditions, many are tempted to waive inspections or skip other due diligence they would normally perform before buying a home.

The newly purchased home of Richard and Meaghan Weiss in Northern California.

Photo: Helynn Ospina for The Wall Street Journal

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Have you ever rushed into buying a house and regretted it? Join the conversation below.

Ms. Holloway said she helped a family move this summer after discovering that the Hamptons house they had just bought had an infestation of wasps nests in the backyard. The family didn’t find the wasps until after closing because they had waived the inspection in the midst of a bidding war, said Ms. Holloway, who wasn’t representing them at the time. Deciding the property was unsafe for their young children, they immediately put the Westhampton Beach home on the market. Ms. Holloway and a colleague helped them find another house to buy.

Over the past two years, the insurance company Chubb has seen large, non-weather-related losses increase in frequency and severity, according to Fran O’Brien, division president of Chubb North America Personal Risk Services. She attributed these losses in part to hasty home purchases: Buyers moving from a small city apartment to a large home in a rural area may not be well versed in how to prevent the pipes from freezing, for example.

“People are moving to places that they don’t know a lot about,” Ms. O’Brien said. “They’re thinking, ‘this looks like a nice place to live’ for amenities it may have. They don’t understand what risk there could be with that home.”

People are even more likely to overlook those risks, she said, when they are in a hurry to snap up a home before someone else does. “You run into this lack of awareness and lack of time, which is not a good combination.”

A HomeAdvisor report found that Americans did an average of 1.2 emergency home repairs in 2020, up from 0.4 in 2019, while emergency home spending jumped to an average of $1,640, up $124 from the 2019 average.

Nature had an unpleasant surprise in store for Richard and Meaghan Weiss when they bought their first home in Northern California after moving from Brooklyn.

When Covid hit, the couple left their Brooklyn apartment to stay with Ms. Weiss’s parents in Sonoma, Calif. Ms. Weiss was pregnant and they had a toddler at the time. “Being cooped up in an apartment, not being able to see people in New York, sounded like a miserable existence,” said Mr. Weiss, 40, who works in commercial real estate.

After a few months they decided to relocate permanently to the Bay Area, where Ms. Weiss grew up, and started looking for a home to buy. They found the market to be “super-duper competitive,” Mr. Weiss said. They were outbid on one house and backed out of a contract on another when they found out it had serious foundation issues.

Finally, they were able to buy a four-bedroom house they loved in the East Bay, paying about $100,000 over the $1.89 million asking price to beat out another bidder. “We were a little bit overeager because we’d been burned twice,” he said. “We probably didn’t do the due diligence we should have and looked at everything as thoroughly as we probably should have.”

The Weiss family.

Photo: Helynn Ospina for The Wall Street Journal

They closed on the hillside house in November. When they returned a few weeks later to move in, “we see all these holes in the siding,” Mr. Weiss said. On closer inspection, they found that the wood on one side of the house was “absolutely devastated,” with some 90 holes in it. It turned out that the culprits were acorn woodpeckers living in the large oak trees surrounding the house. “Come to find out, it’s a systemic problem in the neighborhood,” Mr. Weiss said.

The seller hadn’t said anything about the birds, he said, and coming from Brooklyn, he and his wife didn’t know to ask. Since then, they have tried various deterrent devices and consulted with exterminators, but the only permanent solution is to replace the home’s wooden siding with cement at a cost of roughly $150,000.

If it weren’t for the frothy pandemic market, Mr. Weiss believes they would have discovered the problem before closing. “I think we would have been slower and more thoughtful and more methodical,” he said. “Buying a home becomes emotional. Because we were emotional from losing the first two and the competitiveness, we just kind of dropped our level of diligence and plowed through.”

Ms. Guan started bidding on houses in the L.A. suburbs even before she moved there from the New York City area in July. She had a good experience with her first home purchase, a New Jersey condo, and with interest rates low, she was eager to jump into the California market. “I thought it’s going to be the same as New Jersey. I’ll enjoy the ownership and make money in a few years.”

The Weisses had nearby branches trimmed in an attempt to keep woodpeckers away from the house.

Photo: Helynn Ospina for The Wall Street Journal

But she arrived in L.A. to find “the most insane housing market I’ve ever seen,” she said. Every house seemed to get 15 or 16 offers, she said, and sell for $100,000 over its asking price. Her offer was eventually accepted on a circa-1975 house with a renovated kitchen in Santa Clarita. At that point, she had been outbid on seven other houses, she said, so she was determined to get this one, even when the inspection revealed toxic black mold and asbestos. “I was really trying to get out of where I lived,” she said. “I spent five to six months looking. All of these factors made me say, ‘OK, I have to just face it, I can’t back out.’ ”

She sold the house a few months after buying it. After the repairs, agents’ fees and transaction costs, she said, “I lost a lot of money.” She now lives in a rented studio in L.A.’s Koreatown, where she said she’s much happier. “It still hurts,” she said, but “it’s just good to have my money back and move on to other things. And never see the house again.”

Write to Candace Taylor at Candace.Taylor@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the February 12, 2021, print edition as ‘Haste Makes Waste When It Comes to Homes.’

Source: wsj.com

6 DIY Home Repair Mistakes to Avoid Before Selling Your House – Redfin

DIY (do it yourself) is a common approach to home repairs for a variety of reasons, from budget to perceived simplicity. For those preparing to sell their home, pinching pennies can be a common motivation for tackling fixes without professional involvement. In some cases, DIY solutions are a great way to save time and money with very little risk, but at times, neglecting the abilities of a pro can cause costly problems. 

home repair

home repair

Hire a Professional for These Home Repairs

Not all home repairs are made equal. Basic home projects, like putting up wallpaper, are relatively low risk and don’t pose the potential for big problems down the line. However, more substantial projects can require a level of expertise above and beyond what the average homeowner can accomplish. When not handled properly, these kinds of DIY fixes can result in serious damage that could cost a small fortune to fix. That’s why we created a list of projects that should be handled by the professionals, rather than doing it yourself.

1. Electrical Work

Dealing with any notable wiring issues throughout a home is best left in the hands of an electrician. While something simple, like replacing a lightbulb, is certainly possible without a pro, anything larger requires someone trained in electrical systems.

Accessing electrical boxes, installing new lighting fixtures, replacing wiring, adding new wiring, or anything else more complicated has the potential to harm both you and your property without proper oversight. Accidents with electrical work can cause electrocution or start fires, putting both your health and your home at risk. Without the expertise of an electrician, there’s no way to know whether the tutorials you’re reading or viewing online are appropriate for your property.

2. Plumbing

Plumbing, like electrical work, can be tricky to get right for those without formal training. It’s not unusual for DIY home repairs to cause burst pipes or leaks, opening the door for potential water damage to your home. When these leaks or broken pipes are found within walls or difficult to detect it can become a serious issue. 

Before trying to do something like replacing a pipe or installing new fixtures, contact a plumber to make sure your repairs are appropriate and up to code. It’s cheaper to hire a professional for small tasks from the start than to bring in a plumber once a problem arises. Installing a new faucet is much cheaper than to both install a new faucet and fix the problems caused by a DIY installation gone awry.

3. Full Bathroom Remodels

Bathroom remodeling projects often seem easy, but can actually entail much more than you may think. Oftentimes, these projects can require elements of other kinds of home repairs, like plumbing and electrical work. 

Tackling a bathroom from top to bottom can be an excellent way to boost your home’s value before listing it, but approaching a remodel in the wrong way can be disastrous. An error in plumbing, cabinet and counter installation, wiring, or anything else could be more costly than beneficial. When you want your bathroom to look – and function – it’s very best, you will want help from a licensed contractor or remodeler who can adhere to building codes and prevent major problems.

home repair

home repair

4. Foundation and Crawl Space Repairs

Little foundation fixes or crawl space repairs may look simple on the surface, but these kinds of projects can be serious endeavors and require the training and tools the average homeowner doesn’t have. This is particularly true with foundation repairs, especially if you live in an area with a wet climate like Seattle, WA. Failing to address signs of foundation damage can threaten the stability of your entire home. Additionally, an improper DIY home repair can yield more costly treatments down the road and leave room for much more serious damage. 

Identifying and fixing foundation problems can require anything from construction equipment to hydraulic lifts. Instead of taking the easy way out, partner with a professional to make sure these serious repairs are made the right way.

5. Roof Replacement or Repairs

Roofing is both challenging and potentially dangerous, making this a poor choice for a DIY project. Replacing shingles or repairing structural issues can be tempting – roofing prices can be steep – but these kinds of tasks are easy to do incorrectly. When shingles aren’t placed properly, insulation is lacking, chimneys aren’t adequately navigated, and safety precautions aren’t taken, big problems can happen. 

Climbing around on the top of your house with tools and heavy materials is a home repair project best left for a professional. The risk for improper insulation, wrong shingle placement, or even slips and falls makes roofing jobs far too challenging for a standard homeowner. Also, having a professional step in for a big project like this will ensure everything is done well and in a timely manner. 

6. Replacing Siding

The siding on your home looks deceptively simple, but replacing a whole house worth of siding can be a seriously challenging home repair. This task can take days on end, and placing siding straight and even is a much harder project than it may appear to be on the surface.

It’s also important to remember that siding is more than an aesthetic feature. Siding that’s installed incorrectly can cause water and weather damage, driving increased temperature control costs, the likelihood of pest damage, and potential structural issues. Simply put, if you are planning to replace your siding to increase your home value, make sure a professional is involved in the process.

There’s a lot to be said for the peace of mind that comes from partnering with an electrician, plumber, roofer, remodeling company, or contractor. Before charging ahead with a DIY home repair, make sure you understand the scope of the repairs you are trying to make, any risks, and the potential value of professional involvement.

Source: redfin.com