Monthly Archives: July 2015

Home Inspection Checklist – Home Inspectors

Although architectural details, wall and floor coverings, modern conveniences and many other factors are important in the buying decision, the focus of this inspection is on the structural/mechanical/electrical condition of the property.

The inspection is designed to give the real estate agent or prospective purchaser a system to detect some of the readily accessible major flaws or deficiencies in the significant components and systems of a home. It is not designed to, nor does it profess to facilitate detection of all flaws, problems or occurrences that might exist in any given home.

To maximize time efficiency and to ensure all of the major sections of the home are take into consideration, we have developed a systematized approach to the inspection. This is a simplified overview of systems that professional home inspectors use when they are inspecting a home.

To assist you in following the system, we have provided a checklist that will guide you through your own inspection.

THE INSPECTION SYSTEM

THE BIG PICTURE

The first step in inspecting a home is to examine the big picture for the home. Notice the area the home is located in. Are there other homes of similar age and construction details relative to the home you are inspecting? A comparison will give you a general idea of the upkeep of the home. Have there been significant modifications to the exterior of the building and if so, how is the workmanship?

EXTERIOR

Start at the exterior front of the house and work your way around the house (clockwise or counter-clockwise) at a distance which allows you to view a complete face comfortably. On each face (front, sides, rear) start your visual inspection at the top of the structure and work your way down to the ground and lot area. As an example, you would start at the front and note the roof and chimneys, the gutters, fascia and soffits. Then, moving down the exterior wall coverings (brick, wood, aluminum), noting windows, doors, etc. Examine any porches or decks down to the foundation, then the grade or slope of the lot area, followed by any coverings, such as flower beds, walkways, interlocking brick, driveways, etc. Move closer to the house, to examine more closely any details which may have attracted your attention, without skipping any items. Having completed the front, move to the side of the house and start the same procedure (roof to ground).

INTERIOR

On the interior, begin your inspection in the basement and then follow the system throughout each floor in the house. The system for inspecting the interior is to begin with the floor, go to the walls and then the ceiling, and then consider any appliances or other items in the room. Move from room to room, always in the same direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) so as to not miss any areas. If you see a door, open it!

In the utility room in the basement, first notice the floor, the walls (possibly the foundation walls are visible here), then the ceiling (floor joists may be visible), then go to the furnace, hot water heater, electrical panel, plumbing system, etc. When inspecting the floors, walls and ceilings, scan the entire area that is visible, not just one section.

In a finished room you would notice the floors, walls (including windows) and ceiling. Next look for the heat sources, electrical outlets and switches, fireplaces, closets etc. In bathroom or kitchen, notice the floor, walls and ceiling, then the plumbing fixtures.

CONDITION

While performing the inspection, whether at the exterior, the interior or one of the mechanical systems, note the system first, then its relative condition. For example, if you were inspecting a wall on the interior of the home you would first note that the wall is plaster, and then examine the wall for cracks and irregularities.

PROBLEMS

The following are some typical problems or occurrences to look for in the major components and systems of the home.

ROOF

Is the ridge (peak) showing a sag, or is it straight and level?

Is the roof sagging between the rafters or trusses?

Are there any signs of deterioration of asphalt shingles, such as curling, wasping, broken edges, rounded corners or key holes (slits) becoming wider that normal?

Any loose flashings, at the chimney, roof-to-wall connection or elsewhere?
Does the wooden roof deck appear rotten or delaminated under the last row of shingles?

Are there any roof vents visible?

CHIMNEYS

Is the masonry cap cracked or broken?
Are any bricks flaking or missing? Mortar missing?
Is the chimney leaning?

SOFFITS AND FASCIA

Note whether the soffit and fascia are wood, aluminum or plastic
Any loose or missing sections?

If wood, are there any paint problems? Any visible rot?

GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS

Ensure gutters slope down toward downspouts
Any rust or peeling paint?

Apparent leaks or loose/sagging sections?

Are the downspouts extended away from the foundations?

WALL COVERINGS

Look for missing mortar

Are the bricks flaking or cracking?

Look for loose, missing or rotten siding, deteriorated paint.

Does the siding appear new? Does it hide the foundation wall?

Exterior walls bowed, bulged or leaning?

WINDOWS AND DOORS

Look for problems with paint or caulking, and rotted wood components.
Are the windows new or older? Are they the original windows?

How old are they?

PORCHES AND DECKS

Cracking or flaking masonry?

Check for paint problems, rotted wood, and wood-earth contact.

Note any settlement or separation from the house.

Inspect the underside, if accessible.

FOUNDATIONS

Check for cracks, flaking or damaged masonry.

Note any water markings and effluorescence (whitish, chalky substance)
Any bowing, buldging or other irregularities?

Soft mortar?

LOT AREA

Does the grade slope away from the house?

Any settled/low areas next to the foundation, or cracked walks/driveway?
Is the property lower than the street or neighboring properties?

BASEMENT

Note any evidence of water penetration (stains, mildew/odors, effluorescence, loose tiles etc.)

FLOORS

Check for deteriorated coverings or cracked ceramics.
Any water staining or other damage?
Sloping or sagging?

WALLS

Randomly sample to check that the windows and doors work.
Are the walls straight vertically and horizontally?
Look for cracked or loose plaster.
Look for stains, physical damage or previous repair evidence.
Any drywall seams or nails showing?

CEILINGS

Check for cracks in the plaster or loose, sagging plaster.
Look for stains, mechanical damage or evidence of previous repair.
Seams or nails showing?

BATHROOMS AND KITCHENS

Check that all fixtures are secure.
Are there any cracks in the fixtures?
Note the conditon of the tiles and caulking in the tub/shower area.
Are the faucets working? Do they leak? Sufficient water pressure?
Look for staining and rot under the counter-tops
Randomly sample the operation of the cabinet doors and drawers.

ELECTRO-MECHANICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Type, style and age of heating & cooling systems. When were they last inspected or serviced?
Type of water supply piping and drains – any visible rust and corrosion?
Size and age of electical service – are the outlets grounded? Visible wiring in good condtion?
Have there been any upgrades?

Vist our website for a printable Pre-Inspection Checklist

Sell Old Home or Buy New Home First?

Buyers who are “moving up” or “downsizing” often have a dilemma. They can’t decide whether to put their home on the market first, or contract to buy their new home first.

If they put their home on the market, it might sell and then they might find it impossible to find what they want. Alternatively, if they find a home they’d love to buy, they realize they could lose out because their old home won’t sell quickly enough or the sellers won’t wait. What is the best approach?

Alternatives

We’ve noted so many times that there is seldom a “right” answer. This is another such instance. Looking at some of the alternatives and how they could work for you might make it easier to figure out how to approach getting from where you are to where you want to be.

Home of Choice Clause

Let’s say you decide to put your home on the market first because you want to be sure of the amount of money you’ll have to work with. You (or your Realtor if you have one) can market it with the provision that settlement is contingent on your finding the home of your choice.

Thirty days is typical for a “home of choice” clause, but I’ve seen periods of time at lengths as long as sixty, ninety, or even one hundred twenty days. Wording often runs something like, “Settlement hereunder shall be contingent for up to sixty days on Seller’s finding and contracting to buy the home of his choice.” That can take the pressure off and give you breathing room.

Home Equity Loan

You could apply for a home equity line of credit (often referred to as a HELOC) before you put your home on the market. If you have a significant amount of equity in your home, this can provide you with down payment and closing costs for your new home.

You can then shop for a new home and write a contract contingent on the sale of your old home. If the seller will not accept the contingency, or if you are in competition with a buyer who does not have a “sale of home” requirement, you could choose to remove the contingency.

If you had a non contingent contract to purchase, you’d want to quickly put your old home on the market and get it sold so you wouldn’t face the prospect of two mortgages to meet. Still, if part of what you’d borrowed could cover down payment and closing costs, and part could be set aside to meet the old mortgage payments for a few months, it could work with no financial strain.

Borrowing out home equity at the beginning of the process doesn’t lock you into anything. It just gives you more options.

A Bridge Loan

Let’s explore another possible scenario. Let’s say you decide to put your home on the market and get a contract on it before looking for your new home. You (or your Realtor) begin to market it. Your home is getting lots of showings and you’re sure you’ll get a contract soon.

You decide you’ll do some preliminary shopping for your new home “just to see what’s out there.” You find the “perfect” home and “fall in love” with it before you get a contract. The seller will not accept a contingent contract. Is there any way you can avoid losing out on the purchase of this home?

It isn’t cheap, but if you have very good credit and a lot of equity in your home, you can probably get a bridge loan to buy the home you fell in love with. Generally bridge loans have a high rate of interest and are for a period of six months. They can usually be renewed for a second six month period. Typically you can borrow up to eighty percent of the equity in your current house to come up with the down payment you need this way.

As always, there are many choices. We’ve only mentioned some of them here. You might want to start by meeting with a lender to determine specifically what is possible for you. Maybe you can use the ideas in this article as a starting point for the conversation. Who knows where it will lead? It could be the beginning of developing the perfect strategy for you.

How to Decide on Upgrades to Make Before You Sell Your Home

Making decisions about improvements to your home is pretty simple if those improvements are meant to improve the quality of life for yourself and your family. You simply invest your money in those things that will mean the most to you. However, deciding which home improvements will be most appealing to potential buyers is another matters altogether.

Making the most of the money you put into fixing up your home is very important. Choosing your upgrades wisely, based on market research of which improvements pay for themselves, will help you get the most out of your home when you sell.

Determining which upgrades and improvements will enhance the value of your home and pay for themselves is often difficult. For one thing, it requires you to place yourself in a buyer’s shoes, and see the home the way an outsider would. This is often difficult, particularly if you are emotionally invested in the home. It is tough to look on your own home as an outsider.

Therefore, it is a good idea to seek the advice of someone who can be impartial and provide that all important outsider perspective of home improvements and upgrades. A good place to start is with your real estate agent. Ask your agent which improvements or upgrades he or she feels would add the greatest value. It is important to focus on those improvements that will more than pay for themselves through enhanced home value.

You may also want to look at similar homes in your area. Pay careful attention to the amenities offered in similarly priced homes, and make your upgrade list accordingly. Naturally, it is important to take cost into consideration when making those upgrade plans, and make sure you can recover the cost when you sell your home.

While it is important to study your own area to determine the best improvements to increase value, there are a number of home improvements that are known to pay handsome dividends when it comes to increasing home values. These tried and true repairs include:

  • Adding an additional bathroom is also a great way to improve the value of a home. This is particularly true if the existing home has only one bathroom. Many potential buyers will not consider a home with only a single bathroom.
  • Remodeling the kitchen and/or bathroom has been shown in many surveys to increase the value of a home and provide an excellent return on investment
  • A new floor can also be a good, cost effective upgrade to a home. This is particularly true if you are able to install the flooring yourself, since a large portion of the cost of installing a hardwood or parquet floor is the labor needed to install it. Those who are able to install a new floor on their own can often capture more than the cost of the flooring in increased home value.
  • Basic home repairs like fixing old gutters certainly add some curb appeal, but they generally do little to truly enhance the resale value of the home.
  • Painting is one exception to this rule. A fresh coat of paint in the areas that need is an excellent, low cost way to improve the appeal of the home. A fresh paint job costs only a little bit of money, but it can greatly improve the appeal of any home.
  • A swimming pool is generally a lousy home improvement in terms of adding value. Homeowners rarely recover the installation costs of a pool when they sell their home, and in some cases a pool can actually turn buyers away.

When making upgrades or improvements to your home, it is crucial to keep good records which detail all money being spent. This will be a big help when computing the capital gain on the sale of the home, and when calculating the return on investment of each upgrade or improvement.

Being able to do your own home repairs, improvements and upgrades obviously will increase the return on investment of any project. The less you have to pay carpenters, carpet installers and other professionals, the greater your return will be. Some home improvement projects, however, require the use of a qualified professional. Unless you are an expert, improvements or upgrades involving plumbing, electrical wiring, heating or air conditioning systems should be left to the professionals.

Other home improvement projects, such as laying down a new hardwood or laminate floor, may well be within the skills of the average homeowner. Many home improvement warehouses hold seminars where homeowners can learn how to do these projects. If you can find such a free seminar, by all means take advantage of it. It will save you money on home upgrades and give you valuable skills for the future.

The Number One Reason Why Homes Don’t Sell

Selling your home is not easy. There are thousands of homes for sale at anytime in your area. The competition is ruthless. There are real estate agents who spend thousands of dollars marketing their listings hoping to get any interested buyers. There are sellers who spend a couple of thousand dollars to stage their homes so that they look like magazine show homes. People spend thousands of dollars making repairs and upgrades to their homes in hopes of selling today. How do you compete? Do you have the money to market your home so that the buyers see it? Does your home look like a model home? Have I discouraged you from selling your home? Don’t worry; I have the answer to your problems. I can tell you from experience what the sells homes. I can tell you every secret but the question is will you believe me?

I started off as a real estate investor and learned how to buy and sell homes fast. Most of the late night shows just show people how to buy homes, but rarely talk about how to sell the home. Buying a home at a discount is easy. Selling a home fast is the hard part. I can tell you from experience what sells homes. Sure having a clean home is important. Good curb appeal is necessary to get people to look at your home inside. Having a well staged home will definitely help you sell your home. Making upgrades and improvements to your home can’t hurt. Marketing your home is extremely important, because you have to let people know your home is for sale. But what really sells homes?

PRICE

Sounds too simple. Sounds generic. Sounds like common sense. It is common sense. As a real estate investor I would buy the homes at such a discount I was able to fix it up and sell it for 95% of the normal retail price. Why would I sell it for 95% of the normal retail price? Because I know the cost of money. I didn’t want to hold on to the property and have to wait months to sell it. Why would I want to compete with thousands of other three bedroom two bath homes? I wanted to sell my home, get my money, and buy another property. I can hear you now. Why would you want to sell for less than retail? Well you are assuming that you priced your home fairly and that all of your competition priced their home fairly. The truth is most people don’t know how much there home will appraise for. Most homes don’t sell for list price. The national average is between 95% to 97% of listing price and it normally takes on average four months to sell a home. Think about these numbers. You could list your home for several months only to sell the home for 95% of list. Why not just price it lower than everyone else and get the process over with? Before listing your home for sale consider getting a home appraisal. There are several free home appraisal services on the internet. I suggest you try several and average the home appraisals. Once you have this number then subtract 3% from the appraisal and then list your home for the final number.

Find out how much your home is worth, discount the appraisal and list your home at this price. Price sells homes. People want value and you will sell your home fast if it is priced right.

Mobile Home Rental Dealers

Mobile homes can be rented through several dealers operating throughout the world. People with mobile home requirements can rent them out through mobile home rental dealers, whether they would like to live in individual mobile homes or in mobile home community parks.

Typically, mobile home dealers work locally. They get their leads about mobile homes on rent from landowners and owners of the mobile homes themselves. They have small offices out of which they work. People wishing to rent a mobile home approach them with their specifications. Dealers show them mobile homes in the area that are available for rent.

Most dealers provide mobile homes for a minimum period of at least one week. Maximum periods may depend on the discretion of the tenant and the landowner. Weekends and holiday seasons are busy times for mobile home rental dealers, as there are many mobile home requirements during these periods. Hence, some mobile home rental dealers also provide weekend packages that are quite akin to hotel lodging places.

Dealers collect a reservation fee from people who book in advance. They also collect deposit amounts, which may be $20 for a singlewide home. Apart from that, there are security and damage deposits, which are refundable. About 25% of the cost of the stay is taken in advance.

Mobile home rental dealers take their commissions from homeowners. Some mobile home owners do not live in their mobile homes, and so they put them up for rent. They may contact some dealer for this purpose. Since most homeowners are away, it becomes the dealers’ responsibility to see to it that mobile homes are not treated shoddily by their tenants.

Mobile home rental dealers that operate on a large scale have their branch offices in more than one state. Though there may be many offices, the employees working in them are generally local people. Large scale mobile rental operators need to be licensed, and they are governed by the rules laid down by the Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act (MHSTA). Such mobile home dealers also rely on advertisements to boost their sales.

New Mobile Homes

It can be rightfully said that the chasm between mobile homes and traditional bricks and mortar homes is narrowing day by day. New mobile homes can be as trendy as they come, complete with all the amenities – both necessary and luxurious. In contemporary mobile homes, you can even attach a sauna, a bath or a Jacuzzi without much of a problem.

The days of derision towards mobile homes and their owners are coming to an end. There are about 10 million Americans today who are living in mobile homes, individually and in parks. There are ‘snowbirds,’ who have permanent residences in northern areas and move to warm southern climes in winter; or they may be people who are busy accruing money for a more stable home in future. People of almost all groups are now accepting mobile homes.

Even the designing of mobile homes has undergone a sea change. Gone are the days when mobile homes spelt shoddy, uninteresting designs and sharp walls. Today there are a wide array of finishes such as tiles, veneers, wallpapers, distempers and even bricks, as in traditional homes. Mobile homes today can be affixed to permanent foundations, so that there would be no difference, seemingly, between a mobile home and any other home.

Not just the structure and design, but also the nomenclature of mobile homes has undergone a change. Mobile homes are now called manufactured homes. Most of their parts are constructed in factories and then shipped to the sites of location. Here they are bolted and fastened together. Modern technology has enabled manufactured homes to be better affixed, thus eliminating the possibilities of leaks and seepages through their joints.

In the current scenario, mobile homes are economical and quick solutions for people yearning for a home. With the surfeit of bank financing available on mobile homes, more and more people can afford them.

Modular Homes Cost Almost No Money

Modular homes are an expensive investment and expenditure a large sum of money depending on how outsized a home you want. Homes based on modules generally cost 10-35% less than traditional houses. If you are offered a better price than that you should make sure it is a modular home and not a mobile home. Also you should be careful to make sure you are comparing the same type of house. Is the square footage the same, the same amount of bathrooms, etc.? The exact amount of your savings will depend on what type of modular home you make a decision on, where it is being created and where is it being assembled. If someone offers you a deal that is too incredible to believe, you should look twice at it.

Modular Homes Are Much Stronger Than Traditional Homes:

Yes, modular type of homes are built stronger than traditional stick built homes but they also experience a lot more initial wear and tear. Each module is shipped on the back of a truck that bounces as it drives along the highway. To ensure a quality home, modular manufacturers will use more screws (instead of nails) and also add glue to joints to increase their strength. It is hard to prove that a modular type of home is still stronger after it endures its road trip. But it is easy to see that Mortgage are as strong as traditional homes.

Modular Buildings Are Not Hard To Be Financed:

Modular buildings are treated the same as traditional stick built buildings. Mobile homes are more difficult to gain financing due to their depreciation. Modular buildings actually can be better than traditional buildings to finance since they reduce the amount of construction time. The reduced construction time can help business. If a business takes a mortgage out to pay for a new modular manufacturing facility, it can be constructed before the first mortgage payment is due. Thus it can lead to faster payments and less interest charges incurred. Also modular home owners may have an easier time since the manufacturing facility is a known value to bankers and can respond to any requests for plans or quality control. This modular is another example of confusion between modular and mobile homes. Here are some links to learn more about mortgage and loans. Lending Tree offers modular home loans. Freddie Mac made a multi-million dollar deal for a large plot of homes that were modular.

Modular Buildings Depreciate In Value:

Modular buildings appreciate and gain value the same way traditional buildings do. Once a modular building is fully assembled, it is near impossible to tell the difference between it and a stick built home, that is why modular buildings appreciate in value. Mobile homes (which are moveable) do not appreciate in value. That is probably where the confusion comes in with this.

Modular Buildings All Look Identical:

mortgage and offices can all be customized to seem exactly how you want them. Each modular building manufacturer has thousands of different designs to choose from. In addition you can easily customize the windows, doors, siding, colors etc. Modular buildings make it very easy to have a custom looking home at an affordable price. As for looking ugly, that is up to how you the home buyer chooses to make your home look. Think twice before pinking hot pink as your exterior color on your new home. Homes can be anything you want them to be. If you do not see what you want, you should contact another modular home manufacturer.

Modular Buildings Are Unproven And Don’t Last:

Modular buildings [http://www.1modularhomes.com/Articles/Nationwide_Modular_Homes.php] started to become popular these days The industry has not slowed down and has been continuously constructing and assembling prefab homes since then. Many homes that were constructed in the 1950s are still around and have greatly increased in value. Modular buildings are more proven than the traditional construction today. This is because each modular home can be traced to a manufacturer that has a long established successful track record. A traditional building relies on the current construction firm which probably does not have a track record that goes back 50 years (or 60 years in the case of Liberty Homes modular manufacturer). Whoever you decide to build your house make sure to check their credentials. A modular home is considered to be a mobile home for purposes of the GST/HST new housing rebate. A modular home is a factory-built house or building intended for residential occupancy that comprises “modules” with three walls and a roof or ceiling. It has to be equipped with complete plumbing, electrical, and heating amenities, and designed to be moved to a site for installation on a foundation and to be connected to service facilities, and used as a place of residence. In addition, the modules are to be in as finished a condition as possible before leaving the manufacturer’s premises, considering that they must be transported. There are many reasons to consider buying a modular home these days.