Monthly Archives: June 2015

10 Things You Shouldn’t Do When You’re Buying a Home

Home Buying Don’ts

Your home buying process is well underway. The sellers accepted your offer to purchase. The home is officially under contract and you’re counting down the days to closing. The lender pre-approved you, so buying the house is a sure thing, right?

Not quite. Nothing is certain until the keys are in your hands. There are still major hurdles to get past before you close, and your actions between now and closing can create headaches, slowdowns, and even stop the transaction.

1. Don’t Make a Major Purchase

You’ve just found out your credit is A+. That’s great news, because a new car would look fantastic in the driveway of your new home. But hang on–if you are depending on a mortgage to move in, you’d best wait until after closing to buy the car.

An increase in your debt to income ratio reduces the amount of monthly income available for your mortgage payment.

If you tack on a higher car payment, the bank might decide you cannot afford the home.

Using cash to purchase the car could also create a problem, since banks consider cash reserves when approving your mortgage. If you must make a major purchase before closing, talk to your loan officer before you do it.

2. Don’t Change Jobs Unless It’s Necessary

Home Lenders like to see a consistent job history. They aren’t usually as nervous if you change jobs within the same field, but it’s better to stay put until the keys to the house are in your hand.

3. Don’t Give an Earnest Money Deposit Directly to a For Sale By Owner Seller

Your good faith deposit should go into a trust account. Some for sale by owner sellers don’t understand that funds are to be applied to your expenses at closing.

I’ve heard many stories about sellers who spent the deposit money prior to closing. When the transactions didn’t take place for valid reasons–such as financing or repair issues, the buyers had to fight for a refund.

Find an attorney or other neutral party who will hold the deposit for you until closing day and make sure your contract dictates what happens to the funds if the transaction doesn’t close.

4. Don’t Let Your Emotions Take Over

Keep a cool head during the entire home buying process, especially during and after an inspection. Be realistic. No home is perfect, especially older homes. It’s not unusual for new owners to take care of some repairs themselves. Don’t let the seller’s refusal to do a small repair kill the deal on a home you truly love.

On the other hand, don’t fall so much in love with the house that you’ll buy it no matter what needs to be done–unless you’re absolutely sure you can handle it emotionally and financially. Decide what type of repairs you can realistically tackle, then stick with the decision.

5. Don’t Forget to Switch Utilities

That sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to apply for utility service at their new home. Call the utility companies as soon as you have a contract. Find out how many days lead time they need to switch the service, then get back with them when you have a firm closing date.

Don’t forget to discontinue services at your old home.

6. Line Up Your Hazard Insurance

A no-brainer, right? But it’s another often-forgotten task that buyers scramble to take care of at the last minute. Before closing, your lender will want to see an insurance binder showing you have coverage for the new home. Get it as early as possible so that closing isn’t delayed.
In some locations, additional types of insurance coverage might be necessary. Talk to your lender about insurance requirements well before the closing date.

7. Don’t Become Best Friends with the Seller

I’ll get some flack on this one. It’s great to be friendly, but don’t get into too many long discussions with the sellers, because personality conflicts often cloud judgments.

Remember, this is their home. You’re no doubt excited about moving in, and if you didn’t like the house you wouldn’t have offered to buy it. But you’ll make changes–everyone does. A casual statement about “ripping up that ugly carpet” might be hurtful enough to keep the seller from negotiating with you about repairs or other issues that crop up.

8. Don’t Panic if the Appraisal Comes in Low

At least not at first. There are some things you (and your agent) can do to correct the problem. Study your options.

9. Don’t Go It Alone

If you’re working with an agent, it’s the agent’s duty to track many of the day to day details that involve the lender, the seller, or the seller’s agent.

10. Don’t Ignore Home Lender Requirements

Know what is expected of you and take care of it. For instance, a Certificate of Eligibility is required to move forward on a VA loan. That’s something you must handle yourself. Answer lender questions and provide required paperwork as quickly as possible–your closing depends on it.

The Best Way to Buy a New Home While Selling Your Existing Home

Buying a home and selling a home at the same time can be one of the most difficult and nerve wracking of all real estate transactions. Many people wonder how to juggle the selling of one home with the purchase of another. They may be worried that their home will not sell by the time the money is due on the new home, or that they will be unable to find a suitable home after their home has sold.

These are certainly valid concerns, but there are steps the smart homeowner can take to increase the chances of a smooth buying and selling transaction.

Right timing to buy and sell

The timing of the two transactions can be very important. Many people find that they have the best chance of buying and selling a home in the spring and summer months. The spring and summer months of the year are typically the time when the inventory of homes on the market is at the highest level. If you need to sell your home in the fall or winter of the year, the time period between finding a buyer for your current home and finding a new home could be much longer.

Add contingency clause

It is also a good idea to tie the sale of your home to the purchase of a new home. Consider specifying in the sales contract that the sale of your current home is contingent on your finding a new place to live. Failure to write this contingency into the contract could leave you searching for a temporary place to live if your home sells before you find a new one. It is fairly easy to add a clause to your sales offer that your offer is contingent upon the sale of your existing home. This will protect you in case your home takes longer time to sell than anticipated.

Sell first buy later

You’re encouraged to put your home on the market before you begin the search for a new property. That time differential will allow you to gauge the local housing market and give you an idea of how long it will take your home to sell. It will also give you the ability to negotiate the escrow period in order to give yourself plenty of time to find a new place to live.

When buying and selling a home, it is a good idea to have the transactions close simultaneously if at all possible. This will help you avoid the situation where you have to get out of your present home before you can move into your new one.

Utilize same services

It is also important to remember that you are not obligated to use the same agent for the purchase and sales transaction. That said, using the same agent for the purchase and the sale might give you leverage when it comes to negotiating the real estate commissions.

Even though it is not necessary to use the same real estate agent for the purchase and sale, it is advised to use the same title or escrow company and the same real estate attorney to handle the transfer of both properties. Using the same companies for these important transactions will help ensure that both transactions go as smoothly as possible.

In addition, make sure you get all your financial documents in order and to fully investigate your financing options while your home is on the market. This is crucial, especially, for buyers who are selling their current home and looking for a more expensive one. Furthermore, having a pre-approval loan document in hand will give you greater negotiating power on the purchase of your new home. Using the time your home is on the market in a constructive way will help you a great deal.

Creating Great Curb Appeal to the Outside of Your For Sale Home – 7 Easy Ideas and Advice

No matter how beautifully decorated the inside of your home may be, if the outside of the house does not reflect what lies behind the front door, you may easily lose the sale.

Potential homebuyers frequently make a list of homes from various internet sites, advertisement listings or through a realtor that they wish to see and then drive by these homes to get a ‘feel’ for the property and the house. Bottom line, if your home looks unappealing from the outside there is a good possibility your home will be crossed off the list of potential purchases.

Decide to spend a weekend fixing up the outside of your home and stick to a plan.

1) Call two or three local landscapers and ask them to come out for a landscape appraisal but most importantly ‘pick their brain’ for ideas of how best to show your home. Explain that you are selling the home and wish only to make the most of the exterior at minimal cost to you. In some cases, you might be surprised, particularly during slow landscaping seasons that you can afford to have a professional lightly landscape your property or at least modify a portion.

For less than $500, an associate of mine had a local gardener come in and plant 12 tropical plants, 8 large flowered bushes, trim the existing trees to shape, pull the weeds, cut out sod to merge two planting beds, plant 20 small flowering bushes and throw down several bags of mulch in 2 afternoons.

She also saved a little more money by having him transplant bushes from another part of the property to the front where she planned to create a more dramatic impact. Further, his price included clean-up and removal of gardening debris, which saved her a lot of time after the work was complete. Her soil was very hard to dig into and it would have taken her twice as long to dig one hole as it did for the gardener to dig several; he was familiar with such difficult work and he had all the right tools to do it quickly. My associate only paid him to service the front beds while she saved money by cleaning up the smaller side beds on the side property by doing it herself. (The gardener even let her borrow his expert tools as long as she promised to return them the following day, which she did.)

You might be surprised at the minimal but well-worth price of hiring a professional gardener, particularly if you find a local, one-woman/man operation with low overhead. Someone starting a new business might also be less expensive in trying to build a clientele while my associate in turn offered to advertise the gardener’s services by keeping business cards on hand during real estate visits.

Consider having him/her do a portion of the work and then do the less difficult areas of your home yourself. Even if you do not have a landscaping budget, call a few local gardeners to come out for a quote just to get some great landscaping ideas you can use yourself. Most are willing to spend a few minutes of their time even if you do not use their services. Take their business card anyway and offer to send them a referral. It is all part of doing business. So consider hiring a professional gardener to add curb appeal to a tired property.

2) Stand at the curb of your property and look the land from the perspective of the drive-by potential buyer. Get in the car and drive down your street and look at the way your property compares to your neighbors. If your neighborhood is well-cared for but your property is not; where the trees are overgrown and the weeds are hiding your front door is a clear indication your home will stick out like a ‘sore thumb’ and you may lose the sale. If you live in a neighborhood where your neighbors’ landscaping is ‘so-so’, this is your opportunity to shine.

My associate explained that she once lived in a brand new home in an older neighborhood where few people took the time to landscape nicely so anything she did…add a border, plant a few bushes, and place a park bench near the front driveway with container plants, certainly looked amazingly better than the homes around her property. When the time came to sell this home, she took a ride around the block and took the position of the potential buyer. As a drive-by buyer canvassing her own street, my associate noted that the viewer would see blasé curb-appealed homes and then come upon her own, where the flowers were blooming, the green grass was trimmed, the containers were filled with flowers and the inexpensive park bench at the end of the long driveway looked inviting. So plan your landscape to stand out from the rest and if your budget does not allow for the extras, then the next rule of thumb is to just make the property look ‘neat’….

3) Neatness in landscaping is important. If a property looks tidy, the impression you will give to the drive-by buyer is that the inside is neat and well-cared for as well. Even if you are not a neat person, make an effort to neaten up the exterior. Find someone who has a ‘neat’ eye and ask for their opinion.

Trim the grass and if you have spotted, brown grass, invest in a bag of grass seed and water frequently to encourage growth. Baby-sit the seeds and if necessary, place a barrier around the area to keep children and pets from stomping on them. Cover new grass-seeded areas with hay or grass clippings to prevent blowing away, from birds eating the seeds and to keep moisture in. Water newly seeded areas daily.

If you have time before you place your home up for sale, fertilize your lawn…it can make a huge difference in how healthy and green the lawn shows from the street. If you do not have grass, then create areas with grass. Consider removing areas covered in stone or weeds and planting with either seeds or sod. It is a big project if you have little or no front lawn so elicit help from friends and neighbors if needed. Having some kind of greenery in the form of grass makes a huge difference to a buyer. Grass is a great canvas to making other areas of your property stand out and grass appeals to many who grew up with front lawns or always wished they had one.

If you live in areas where it is impossible to grow grass, adding stone is another possibility however, be sure that stone works in that area of the country in which you are selling. Stone lawns usually fit in better in coastal properties where sand is the foundation and the cost of carting in topsoil is enormous. I often feel that all-stone frontage looks out of place in neighborhoods where lawns are more prevalent and in some cases can give the impression the homeowner really cannot be bothered to maintain a lawn. I feel that stone is not a warm product if used in very large areas and should be contained in smaller garden beds if possible.

4) Once you have the grass, fix up the existing beds. (If you do not have any beds in your property, this would be an entirely different article. This article deals with homes, which have garden beds already in place that need sprucing up.)

Garden beds help soften the hard lines of sidewalks, walkways, and the rigid angle of homes. Once you have weeded these beds, ask yourself, “Does the design of the current beds allow them to be connected in some way across the front of the home? Do my beds flow?” The reason that I bring this question forward in a Curb Appeal article is that my associate explained to me that she used to have to separate garden beds in front of her home; one ran right across the front left-side of the home and the other ran down the side of the driveway. Both beds were disconnected from each other separated by a walkway. This separated design made the frontage look severed and harsh. So she cut out the sod from the bed in front of the house, around the walkway and made a connection to the bed nearest the driveway. It looked like one continuous snake-like bed and once planted with similar foliage the entire property looked really ‘pulled together’.

In doing this she accomplished two things: 1) Softening the hard angles of the walkway, which did not have a garden bed in front of it and, 2) the property had the look of what my colleague refers to as ‘fluid design’. The eye now followed a soft flow from one end of the house where the bed began to the end of the driveway where the bed ended. And…there was a small surprise at the end of that bed too, which made the design interesting and appealing.

At the end of the driveway, which is ordinarily dull space, the garden bed ended in a circular shape and she planted just a few extra eye-catching flowers there; just a nice little touch and the colors were appealing. The path up the driveway, followed around the walkway toward the entrance of the home was entirely landscaped and pulled together with like-flowers and shrubs. Not a whole lot, but it was consistent and it was neat.

5) Another lawn tip from my associate…she did not have time for grass to grow in some ugly, brown and bare spots on her front lawn and in some cases, the grass just never grew back at all. She cut around the bad areas and made a teardrop-shaped cut out on that spot and filled it in with a few container plants she had growing in the yard. My colleague arranged the containers on 3 different levels…small, medium and large and then filled around the containers with mulch to even things out. The arrangement looked very nice. One of her empty containers (she often picks them up in the dollar store or finds disposed of in construction sites), she cut in half and placed it cut-side down on the bare spot on the lawn in front of the 3 flower-filled containers. She filled the cut container with soil and threw in a handful herb seeds, namely dill and in about 2 weeks; the container flowed with pretty green herbs and ‘spilled out’ the container onto the ground covering the area cut out from the lawn. It made a nice presentation and was not too ‘much’ and at the same time hid the very worse part of our property. My friend noticed that even after I sold the home, the new owners still kept the container area as it was when she had the home for sale.

6) Another consideration when taking control of curb appeal when selling your home is to remove or trim down those trees and bushes which hide the beauty of your home. So often buyers look at photos of homes, which show a huge tree in front of the house that hides any view from the inside to the street. If you cannot see the home in a photo or in a drive-by viewing, this again reduces the chances that a potential buyer may be interested in your home. No one wants to ‘guess’ what a home really looks like and if there are overgrown bushes and trees hiding the house, potential buyers do not want to envision having to clear the property themselves. So be bold and trim the bushes down and if necessary, remove whatever seriously blocks viewing the home’s charm and character from the street.

7) Along the lines of seeing a home from the street is the inability to do so if you have cars parked in front that do not always need to be there. Granted, we need to park our cars but if you have the opportunity to take your car to the street or to the furthest end of your property for a few hours on the weekends or, if you have a large driveway and can move the car away from the front of the home, then take the time to do this. Buyers need to visualize the home as it would be if they lived there and anything which detracts from this thought is a non-plus for you as the seller. Weekends are usually the busiest times for drive-by house viewing so if you can move your car to a neighbor’s driveway or off your own driveway for a few hours, do so. It may make a difference in the curb appeal of your home.

Also, as a reminder, if you have any cars, boats or trailers parked in front of your home, which really do not need to be there…a car you were going to work on or an inoperable vehicle without any registration and kept putting off paying to be towed away, make a decision as whether it really needs to be there or not. Call a charity to have it towed away and donate it. Put an ad in the paper or on craigslist for a free boat or project car, but by all means, remove any unnecessary vehicles, which really take away curb appeal and make the property look more like a car dealership or a parking lot than a home.

So the main items to consider when creating curb appeal are to:

o Neaten up the property

o Plant grass or sod wherever possible – if not possible, hide bad spots with container gardens.

o Trim and cut away trees and shrubbery which prevent drive-by buyers from seeing your property and the home to its fullest.

o Remove cars on higher drive-by traffic days and permanently remove any cars, boats or trailers, which will not be sold with the home.

o Call a landscaper for his/her opinion and talk about a quote for neatening up the property. See if you can afford at least a portion of it to be professionally ‘neatened’ and if not; get ideas from a professional that you can use later on your own.

Unfinished Homes – A Great Way to Buy a Home

Manos entregando una casa

So you’re looking to purchase a new home and contemplating on whether or not it makes sense to buy an unfinished home to save money.

An unfinished home is great way to get into a new home and save dollars. Buying an unfinished home can lower your initial investment and keep the monthly mortgage payment lower. In addition, you might be able to buy an unfinished home with a larger foundation size, such that someday when you finish the home you’ve gone from a “Starter Home” to a large highly sought after custom home.

Typically an unfinished starter home (e.g. Colonial/Gambrel/Cape of around 24×36 or 26×36) means that the upstairs is unfinished. How unfinished is a question of how much sweat equity you are willing to put into it. I have seen some unfinished homes where the only thing done to the upstairs was a framed center bearing wall to support the roof trusses. Others have included all of the rough framing, electric and plumbing. Based on my experiences, not finishing the upstairs will save you around 15%-20% of the finished cost of the entire home. For example, a normally finished home of $200,000 would cost you around $160, 000 to $170,000 unfinished (upstairs not completed).

If the homes you are considering have attached garages planned for them, you could possibly save another $25-30K if you were to forgo the garage. Also, if there is an attached family room planned, you may achieve similar savings as the garage by forgoing it as well.

Another possibility for savings, if the home is planned to include a fireplace you could suggest to the builder to forgo the fireplace for the short term and have him build a cap on top of the jog in the foundation for the fireplace. You may be able to save several thousand dollars by eliminating the fireplace.

You need to remember though, when builders get a piece of property to build a home on they want to do everything possible to make as much money on their investment as they can. So you might get them to accept some of these ideas but probably not all of them.

The other thing to be aware of is what the banks will accept. Assuming you get a mortgage, they will want to make sure the unfinished home is livable and to local building codes. Thus the downstairs will probably need to have a room that can serve as a bedroom (with a door and closet). This means your future dining room, den or living room may need to be designed and built to support a closet and door that they may not have otherwise had.

The banks will frown upon unfinished homes that they may have trouble selling/auctioning if you were to default. So typically the downstairs rooms will need to have flooring installed, trim installed, etc. This will also hold true for landscaping. You may be able to save a little money on landscaping, but the builder will probably need to satisfy the bank with at least spreading some topsoil and grass around a 50 foot radius of the home.

Buying an unfinished home is a great way to enter into the housing market and to get a piece of the American Dream. It allows the potential buyer to grow into the home as their family and financial resources do so. Talk with your builder about the options you may have for buying a home unfinished. You could save a bundle!

For more information on building a new home, see the New Home Construction Bid Sheet from The New Home Construction Bid Sheet provides extensive and important advice to the future homeowner on how to work with a general home contractor and his sub-contractors in order to ensure your home is built the way you want it to be.

Do Newspaper Ads and Home Guides Help Sell Your Home?

Suppose you and your family were out for a walk and you came to a very busy intersection in your hometown. Now, just before you’re about to cross you remember reading an article on the Internet about the number of pedestrian fatalities at that particular intersection published by the Department of Transportation and Safety. The report stated that the fatalities were so bad that there was only a 5% chance of folks making it safely to the other side and a 95% chance they wouldn’t. Would you still cross that street? Well unless you’re the type of person that enjoys base-jumping or wing walking you would I’m sure find a safer route to take. My example I know is very extreme, but when you’re trying to expose decades of corporate advertising that has conditioned home sellers to believe that advertising their home will actually help sell it, you need to be extreme.

Every year the National Association of Realtors® publishes a report called the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. This report is generated from a six-page questionnaire that is mailed to a national sample of 100,000 recent homebuyers and sellers who purchased and sold their homes within a given time frame. Say, mid-2003 and mid-2004 based on county records. It generates a response rate of 8.2 percent. Many homebuyers and sellers that I have spoken with have never seen this report. Most folks have never even heard of such a report. One very good reason may be that it has nothing to do with their everyday lives. And that makes perfect sense. Unless you’re selling or buying a home.

To a home seller this is with out a doubt the single most important report they will ever read. Why? Because in this report is the information they need to learn how homebuyers work. How they look for homes and what tools they used to find their next home. So how does this benefit a home seller? Well, if you know how homebuyers work. You now know what you really need from your real estate agent to sell your home. And advertising your home in a newspaper or home guide or magazine isn’t one of them.

Now depending on the agent you speak with they will tell you that according to the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 53% of buyers used the newspaper to look for a home. 53%. Now that is impressive. And that’s exactly what the report states. What they won’t tell you is that of that 53% that started to look for a home from a newspaper ad only 5% “actually” purchased the home they saw in a newspaper ad. Only 5%. Not so impressive any more. The figures get even worse when looking at home guides or magazines. Only 2% of all homebuyers found the home they “actually” purchased using a home guide or magazine. Only 2%. Now, if you’re a home seller do you really want to use a method to sell your home that has a 95% to 98% failure rate? Maybe you will be one of the lucky home sellers that fall into the 2% and 5% category.

Real estate agents know and are taught that advertising does not sell homes. So why do real estate agents shoot themselves in the foot by telling home sellers it does when the national association they belong to puts out a report every year that says the exact opposite? The answer is simple. Most real estate agents take the, Ask Me No Questions and I’ll Tell You No Lies approach to selling real estate. It’s this type of approach to selling real estate that costs home sellers thousands of dollars in the form of higher listing commissions. Real estate agents are literately taking your money to their bank on the fact that most home sellers have never seen the NAR report. Sellers have been conditioned to believe newspaper-advertising works.

And don’t expect to see an article like this in your local newspaper either. Some of the biggest newspapers in the country are in hot water trying to figure out how to keep the presses running due the publics desire to just go to the Internet for their local news rather than buy a newspaper. The last thing they need is to start losing ad money from local real estate companies.

Besides, placing a sellers home in print makes sellers think they are actually getting something for the thousands of dollars they are paying their real estate agent to sell their home. Real estate agents advertise in newspapers for a number of reasons least of which is to actually sell your home. So lets now take a look at some of the reasons real estate agents advertise in newspapers and home guides / magazines.

The first and most important reason agents like to advertise is to get listings. Hard to believe but true. Agents will tell you they advertise for the benefit of the home seller. We now know for a fact form the information in the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report that just isn’t true. Open any real estate section of any newspaper and you will see full page color ads of homes under a real estate companies name or agent banner. Home sellers look at these ads to see which company or agent does the best job of advertising homes. They want the best exposure they can find for their home. Thinking the ads will help sell their home. What they don’t know and are not told is this. The larger real estate companies will always have the largest ads. Because they have the most money. You may see a two page spread with at least 100 homes listed on both pages. What these companies fail to tell you is that they may have a current inventory of 300 to 400 homes. With such a large inventory of homes how often do you think your home will be in that big ad they are running?

The second purpose for running ads is to gain buyer leads. If you do the math you’ll see that there’s a lot of buyers leads to be had running newspaper and home guide/magazine ads. Think about it: if 53% of all buyers start their home search with newspapers and home guides/magazines, and only 5% and 2% actually end up buying a home using these two sources, that leaves 46% of all homebuyers as potential leads for real estate agents to snatch up and try to sell them a home!

The third reason is so the agent can self promote. The more their name is out in front of the public eye, the more comfortable people become with them and are more likely they will call that familiar company name or agent when thinking about listing their home. It’s a mini form of public name branding.

Here is something else for home sellers to think about. When you first were looking for the home your in right now. How did you find out about that home? Did you call any newspaper ads, home guides or magazines about a home that peaked your interest? The NAR Profile says 53% of you did. Did you “actually” buy the home you called about? The NAR Profile says 95% and 98% of you didn’t. The fact of the matter is, advertising your home in print ads just doesn’t work.

I know this is a hard fact to swallow but true. Now you know the truth from the highest authority in real estate. The National Association of Realtors®. It doesn’t get any higher than that in real estate.

Will The Real Home Buying Guide… Please Stand Up?

Use Google right now and do a search on, “Home Buying Guide“. Take a few minutes to click some of the links to see what’s out there and then come right back.

Now, try “Home Buyer Guide” and do the same thing.

Overwhelming, isn’t it?

And that’s exactly the problem facing today’s prospective homebuyers; not knowing how to sort through all of the information that is offered to them when buying a home.

Do you know what the other problem is?

Ironic as it may sound, just as prospective homebuyers have too much information on topics such as: how to find a real estate agent, how to find a mortgage, how to fix your credit or how to get the lowest possible insurance, and on and on…they are faced with just the complete opposite when it comes to having information on the main focus of their quest – specific information on the house they want to buy.

In a survey conducted by Key Findings, it was found that “Prospective home buyers say they are unhappy with the information available to them. Some don’t think they are seeing all the homes available in their price range and complain about how difficult it is to find detailed information about the homes they are interested in buying.”

If you’re thinking about buying a home right now do you feel you’re as informed as you could be about the house you may be interested in buying? If not, would you even know where to go to even begin to get it?

Do not despair because there is hope!

You would be surprised to learn that you can get a lot of answers and information simply by observing and asking the right questions – and many of them. You also need to be sure you’re asking the right person, to get the right answer.

A couple of sources of information include your local municipal Offices or County Courthouse, neighbors and yes, even the actual seller(s).

You also need to spend time investigating the neighborhood and, once you actually decide on a home you’re interested in, spend as much time there as possible. Doing so will allow you to get the feel for the property and view things you may normally miss if you’re just simply herded through the home.

Here is a brief list of some of the things you should be able to uncover with a little poking around:

  • What work has been done to the home?
  • What work needs to be done to the home?
  • Is it a good neighborhood?
  • How can you tell if it’s a good neighborhood?
  • Is the house you’re looking to purchase built on a former dump site?
  • Is something going to be happening with all that vacant land next door?
  • How long have the current owners owned the home?
  • How much did they pay for the home when they bought it?
  • Why are they selling now?
  • Is the price they are asking for the home too high?

The key is: Don’t be afraid to ask the questions you have and, for the questions you do have, make sure you’re asking the right person and make sure they get answered to your satisfaction BEFORE you make your purchase.

Become a real estate insider and don’t be at the mercy of unreliable real estate agents or untruthful sellers. Discover just how easy it is to get all the information you need on the home you want to buy and not get stuck having to deal with those post-purchase nightmares, as most uninformed homebuyers do.

Why Homes Go Up Or Down in Value

Historically homes have appreciated over time. This is a good thing. Homes are by far the most expensive venture the average American will make in their lifetime. Part of the reason why consumers are willing to pay so much money is for the security, protection, comfort, and ownership over ones life a home offers. The other part is that homes have historically been safe, secure investments slowly appreciating over time.

The reality of homes is that the actual structure depreciates over time. The walls crack, the foundation cracks, the roof leaks, the paint chips, the cabinets break, and the overall structure loses the value it had at the time it was built. The real reason homes have appreciated in value is the value of the land they sit on. As land becomes increasingly scarce, its value increases also. This is true with any commodity. Although water is one of the most import resources or commodities humans have in life, it is also plentiful and therefore relatively cheap. If a world wide drought hit the earth, water would become one of the most expensive resources on earth because of the need for it and the scarcity. So as less and less land is used for housing and the same land is recycled, the price increases. This is why homes in newer subdivisions seem to continue to appreciate in value over time.

Because it is the land that is critical to the value of the home, a home buyer should look at the home as if it is an investment. The buyer should purchase the home based on location and the potential for the value of the home to continue to increase. When a buyer does not look at the potential value of the land or the potential growth of the property, they could be severely limiting the growth in the homes equity over time.

With that said the home that is on top of the land can add to or take away the value of the property. If the home depreciates in value until it is uninhabitable, it could potentially make the property worth less than what it would be worth if it was empty. This is why it is wise to put capitol and resources into the home at intervals to keep the depreciation to a minimum thus maximizing the value of the home.

So understanding that the home on a property needs to be maintained and that the land is what is automatically increasing in value as it becomes more and more scarce with an increasing population makes it very clear that the location of the land and the home is the most important aspect of the home. Even the smallest home in a neighborhood that is appreciating in value will turn out to be a fantastic investment, even more than the biggest home in a appreciating neighborhood. This is a result of the fact that homes go up by the same number in the neighborhood usually and so if all the homes go up by thirty thousand dollars in three years, the one with the smallest home just made the highest return on their investment.

Peace of Mind for Home Inspections – Choose the Right Inspector

As sure as the spring flows at The Fountain of Youth, home inspecting provides a stream of knowledge to wash away the fears of home buyers. But fear may be replaced by frustration if the wrong inspector is chosen! Some pointers on selecting your next home inspector will go a long way toward making the process a happy one.

  • Be sure to ask how long the inspector has been in the inspection business. Longevity gives comfort that the company will be with you in the future as new needs and issues arise.
  • How many inspections has the inspector personally performed? This is important! An inspector may have been in business for 5 years but inspected less than a dozen homes. Your home buying decision is far too important to be a practice place for a part-time inspector.
  • Confirm that your inspector has experience in homes similar to the home you are having inspected. All homes have some systems and features in common, but new home in Eagle Harbor has risks and issues that differ from an historic beauty in St. Augustine. Only someone who has walked the walk and crawled the crawl numerous times in similar homes can sleuth out those important items.
  • Did the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) certify the inspector? In Florida, the business of home inspection is unregulated. This makes it especially important to verify professional credentials and experiences before making a selection.
  • Ask when the report will be delivered. Often the buying decision is time critical, you want to be sure you will receive your completed report in time to read, review, and respond. The best companies can deliver the report to you right at the home as the inspection is completed.
  • Does the completed report include photographs? Often the report will contain descriptions of damage or defect in locations of the home that only the inspector was able to access, like rooftops or crawl spaces. You will want pictures of these areas to make your understanding of the scope and location of the damage clear. It also makes repairs simpler to get estimated when a photograph is available.

Lastly, be sure to attend the home inspection, watch the process, and ask lots of questions – the history of your home will unfold before your very eyes! St. Johns County, as well as the rest of our beautiful area, is rich in homes and heritage, and your home inspector can help you to know the past and enjoy the future in your new home.

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