You are viewing category: Avoiding Problems and Making Improvements
Sellers do not always reveal the entire truth about their homes to prospective homebuyers. This can often particularly be true when they have a strong incentive to sell, especially in the current real estate market. While you might not be able to afford to hire a professional inspector for every home you consider before making an offer, there are some steps you can take to assist you in spotting possible problems on your own.
1. Massive Migrations in the Neighbourhood
Never make the mistake of assuming that just because the house you are considering looks nice, everything is wonderful. Take the time to look around the neighbourhood. Are there many other homes for sale in the area? Have nearby businesses closed or been vandalised? Do not hesitate to chat with the neighbours and ask questions. If everyone else is leaving the neighbourhood, there is like a good reason.
2. Poor Maintenance
Always be on the lookout for possible signs the current owners may not be maintaining the home. Such signs might include gutters that have not been cleaned, an unkempt garden and peeling paint.
3. Problems with the Foundation
Be sure to inspect the front garden and drive to see whether it slopes toward the house. If so, it could result in water running toward the foundation walls or even into the basement. Both issues can be an expensive repair. Carefully inspect the foundation for possible signs of damage. Look for cracks or bulges, which can indicate serious structural problems.
4. Bad Odours
Be cognizant of the smells inside as well as outside the home. If you notice any unusual smells, be aware this could indicate an issue. At the same time, realize that an overpowering odour of air freshener could be use to cover up something else.
5. Antiquated or Faulty Wiring
Even though you may not have a background in wiring or electrical work, take the time to test all of the outlets and switches. If you notice circuits that are not operative, flickering lights or hot faceplates or outlets, be aware this could be a sign of wiring issues.
6. One Wall that is Freshly Painted
While a new coat of paint can certainly give a home a fresh appearance, it can also sometimes be used to hide much larger problems such as mildew or mould damage or even water damage. Take note of whether there are any strange smells, saggy ceilings or walls or stains. If you notice any of these indications, do not hesitate to have a professional inspector check for leaks or mould.
7. Blockades or Locked Doors
When viewing a home and considering it for purchase, there should never be any areas that are off limits while you are touring the home. If any areas are restricted to you, make arrangements to see those areas at a later time if you still have an interest in that home. There could well be a good reason why some rooms in the home are locked but you will need to make sure you view them at a later time before you make a purchasing decision.
8. Windows that are Non-functional
Check to be sure all of the windows are actually functional and also that none have cracks and reveal condensation between the double-glazing.
9. Floors or Structural Walls that Have Been Removed
While you might love the home’s current floor plan, take the time to ask whether any renovations have been completed. If a load-bearing wall has been removed without any other adjustments being made, weight can be shifted to other portions of the home. If so, retain the services of a structural engineer.
10. Pest Problems
Certainly, no one wants to buy a house with pest issues. Vigilantly look for signs of possible pests, such as mice or roaches. Even if you do not notice any signs on your own, consider hiring a pest inspector if you think you might purchase the property.
Andrew Potter who runs UK online estate agent, “My Online Estate Agent” wrote this guest post. “My Online Estate Agent” is one of the UK’s biggest online estate agents and advertises all it properties on Zoopla and the other UK’s top property portals as well as providing a range of comprehensive tools and guides.
San Francisco Chronicle - When deciding which home improvements to make, many homeowners consider the amount of resale value the improvement may or may not make and compare that against the cost of the renovation. Homeowners concerned with making home improvements that will pay off when it’s time to sell the property, should consider the following tips.
Making sense of the story
- The first improvement/repair homeowners should consider are those that impact the home’s basic structures and systems. Potential home buyers generally do not want to face expensive repairs, and if items such as the foundation, roof, air conditioning, water heater, or other basic structure need to be fixed, the property will be considered a fixer-upper and its market price will be discounted accordingly.
- Some minor replacements will produce big results for minimal cost. Replacing and coordinating bathroom and kitchen hardware and fixtures are generally inexpensive, but tend to make a big difference. The same can be said for getting rid of any dated finishes, such as old wallpaper and brass light fixtures.
- Homeowners who don’t know when or even if they will be able to sell their home are advised to choose home improvement projects carefully. Unless the home is located in an upscale neighborhood and the property already is immaculate, owners can skip expensive upgrades – such as remodeled bathrooms – and focus on the fundamentals.
Lost Angeles Times -
The inventory of homes for sale has increased in recent months, causing some buyers to hesitate before making an offer on a home for fear a better home at a more favorable price will become available.
MAKING SENSE OF THE STORY FOR CONSUMERS
- Although real estate agents are showing more homes to clients, people still are buying homes, especially first-time buyers. According to the latest figures from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR), first-time buyers now account for 50 percent of all home sales.
- Some agents claim that today’s buyers are having a problem staying committed to the home search. During the height of the market, home buyers were more apt to make housing hunting a priority and to move on a good deal. Real estate experts advise today’s home buyers do the same to be successful in their home search.
- Making a list of “musts” and “wants” for home features will help home buyers narrow down the search. Identifying key features, such as the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, will help buyers avoid being overwhelmed by the number of homes available.
- Buyers are best advised to work with a REALTOR® who is familiar with the area. Media reports that home prices will decline further may be true for some areas, but not necessarily in all areas. All real estate is local, so finding out what’s happening in a specific neighborhood is most helpful.
Read the full story
A short sale of real estate happens when the owner of the home or property owes more on the property than what it sells for. This can happen when a home owner chooses to sell when property values have dropped drastically or when an owner has taken out equity loans on top of the mortgage loan and the loans equal more than the value of the home. A short sale can also occur when a homeowner is forced into foreclosure and the bank sells the house for less than the amount still owed. In any case, when all is said and done, the owner comes out owing money instead of earning a profit after the sale of the property.
The credit implications for a short sale are very different for those voluntarily selling their property and those forced into fore¬closure. If the property owner voluntarily selling the property can payoff the amount owed out of pocket by using assets already owned there should be no credit implications. If the property owner needs to take a new loan from a bank in order to make up the difference from the short sale, then the credit implications would be the same as the credit implications of taking out any loan. In fact, sometimes taking out a loan can improve a credit rating. Whether the new loan raises a credit score or lowers a credit score, most likely the new credit score will not be drastically different than the property owner’s credit score before the short sale.
However, if the short sale is due to foreclosure, the property owner’s credit could be negatively and severely affected. Here is why. Say the homeowner owes $100,000 on the foreclosed property, but the lender only gets $70,000 from the sale. The lender can then sue the homeowner for the $30,000 difference. But, the homeowner won’t have the $30,000. If he did, he most likely wouldn’t have gone into foreclosure in the first place. If the lender chooses to sue, and the homeowner cannot pay, a deficiency judgment would appear on the homeowner’s credit report, negatively affecting the homeowner’s credit.
Often, the bank chooses not to sue, but to take the loss as a write-off. In this case, there would be no deficiency judgment on the homeowner’s credit report; however, there is another implication. The $30,000 that the homeowner did not have to pay would be considered by the IRS to be income. The lender will send a 1099 to the homeowner at the end of the year, and the homeowner will be required to pay taxes on that $30,000. Even when the bank chooses not to sue, the foreclosure can end up showing up in credit checks because it is a public record.
- Submitted by Dennis Kowalski
We had this decision to make at our place in Tahoe. Our 3 bedroom, 2 bath condo is in the middle of having new counter tops put on to be ready for resale in the summer. We considered replacing or refacing the cabinets, but it was just too costly and time consuming. Here is the article that inspired us from the 3/16/2007 “The Money Pit” newsletter.
When it comes to kitchen remodels, new appliances may be pricey and flooring costs may floor you, but cabinets can be the single biggest expense of all. That’s why it literally pays to take a close look at what you’ve already got and consider the options carefully. Depending on the configuration and construction of your cabinets, you can replace, reface or refinish them on the way to your kitchen redo. Following is a rundown of each approach to strengthening the bones of your kitchen.
REPLACE – If your kitchen remodel involves a new footprint and additional storage needs, partial or complete replacement of cabinets is the way to go. Just remember that this approach involves major demolition and consideration of such critical elements as plumbing and appliance placement…
REFACE – Refacing cabinets involves replacing the doors and veneers on existing laminate or wood boxes. It’s not a job for the novice, but also understand that if you hire a pro to do the job, your satisfaction with the results will be directly proportional to their skill and level of craftsmanship. Quality of existing cabinetry and the new materials applied also impact the end product.
REFINISH – If you like the style and configuration of the cabinets you have, and they happen to be made of wood or laminate, refinishing them is the clearest route to remodeling cost control. Most older cabinetry is well built, so preserving it is usually worthwhile… just be sure to examine the construction carefully before pulling out the sander, because if paper-thin veneers cover every surface but the solid fronts, you’ll need to rethink your refinishing plans. Veneers can’t be sanded or stained, so painting will be the only option if they’fre involved. Whether painting or staining, choose an oil-based finish, which is far more durable and forgiving of everyday kitchen grime than latex finish…Read more.
- The Money Pit
Realtor Magazine released its 2006 report in December showing which remodeling projects have the best return for the investment. There is a lot of great FREE information in PDF format for different cities showing the best results for that area.
To quote: Of the top 10 projects nationally measured by cost recouped at resale, seven — including the top three — are replacement projects. An upscale fiber cement siding replacement returned 88 percent of the investment. Midrange vinyl siding replacement was second at 87.2 percent, and midrange wood window replacement edged out minor kitchen remodeling for third at 85.2 percent. Only roofing replacement finished outside the top 10 projects, at 73.9 percent for a midrange job, and 72.9 percent for an upscale one.
Energy efficiency in the face of high fuel prices could be a logical reason why replacement projects are high-value performers. But Charlie Gindele, president of Dial One Window Replacement Specialists, in Santa Ana, Calif., calls that a rationalization. “The thing that motivates people, by and large, is the aesthetics,” he says.
To read the full report, click here.
- Mick Orton
A reader asks:
We have wall to wall carpet in the bedrooms and on the stairway and are wondering if we should replace the carpet or put in hardwood floors. Which do you think is a better choice? We got the estimates for both, and hardood floors are much more expensive to have installed. Do you think we can recapture the cost of the hardwood floors when we sell?
Of all the flooring choices, hardwood floors can last the longest. In fact, the floors in many homes in San Francisco are now well over 50 years old and still look great. Plus, by reacting with air and sunlight, their appearance actually improves over time as they fade, or darken depending on the type of wood (as in cherry wood floors), to a very desirable patina. Hardwood floors can also be refinished and they are generally easy to maintain. And there are many choices when it come to the type of wood you use; from bamboo to cherry to pecan or the more common oak.
When it comes time to sell your home, hardwood floors are a major selling point and will increase the perceived value of your home substantially. According to realtors, hardwood can add 8% to 10% to the price of a house. In a $750,000 house, that means $60,000 to $75,000 more on the selling price.
- Janis Stone
A reader asks: I’ve heard there are a lot of issues with mold and mildew. Considering the foggy and damp weather, do you think this can be a big deal when investing in San Francisco real estate?
Our answer: Mold and mildew can be an issue anywhere but where there is more moisture in the air it can be a factor. Mold can develop when there is inadequate ventilation and often develops when windows and doors are kept shut and moisture from cooking, showers and laundry accumulates. If leaks in roofs, bathrooms, or other parts of the house are not repaired and moisture builds up, mold can develop within the walls and floors. The occupant of a property should be careful about moisture in the home. It helps to open windows, use fans in the bathroom and kitchen for ventilation, and make repairs to leaks before they cause too much damage.
In these ways mold can be managed. However, if someone cooks and uses the shower and laundry and does not open windows or ventilate the rooms, then mold can become a problem. The Sunday, June 18th San Francisco Chronicle has a good article regaring this issue.
For advice on prevention of mold or cleaning mold when you see it on wall or furniture go to the EPA website. If you own rental property you may also send tenants information on mold which is available from them. Education on the causes of mold and preventative measures is the best way to help prevent serious mold problems.
- Janis Stone