Monthly Archives: October 2014

Why a Home Inspection Makes Cents

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brown houseWhen you’ve found the perfect home, the temptation to waive the home inspection can be strong. Why would the perfect home need a home inspection? It looks fine. Even if you have strong competition for a property, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. A good inspection is invaluable for buyers for several sound business reasons:

  • Don’t buy a money pit. Some of the most expensive repairs can be hidden, such as structural and electrical issues. Buying a home is a sound investment, and should remain as such. You don’t want to sick more money into the property than you have, or than it’s worth.
  • Outside verification of the previous homeowner’s work. Did you know the wall that the previous owner removed caused structural damage? Or that the person who flipped the home did not have any experience installing plumbing? A home inspector can tell you if work done by the previous owner—even if you can’t tell the work was even done—was done correctly, or can recommend professionals that can inspect the structure or foundation.
  • You still have time to ask for a seller to make repairs. If you do find issues, don’t panic. Until you close on the home, you have time to renegotiate with the owners (visit our previous post to find out what your options are). You can go back to the owners and ask for funds to fix the house, or ask them to fix the damage. If your offer is contingent on the home inspection, you can also back out of the sale.
  • The opportunity to look ahead. Home inspectors can not only give you insight into the quality of past repairs, but can also give you a list of repairs that need to be made and a timeline. If the house needs a new roof, for example, he can give you his opinion on the damage and when it needs to be repaired or replaced.

The most important item that any home inspector can give you is peace of mind and an education about your future investment. To find a good home inspector, talk to your agent. They can recommend a home inspector with the experience and knowledge that you need to make an informed decision about your home—and the amount of work and money needed to make it the perfect home, both aesthetically and structurally, inside and out.

Why a Condition Report Is Important

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Real estate condition reportSellers have to complete, and provide, a ton of paperwork when selling their home, including the Real Estate Condition Report. And though the Condition Report looks like just another document in the pile sellers need to fill out, the Condition Report is more than just a mixture of ink and paper pulp. It’s important, and complicated.

In 1992, Wisconsin became one of the first states requiring sellers to fill out a document disclosing defects that could affect the value or structure of a property. The Condition Report needs to be part of all transactions involving 1-4 properties and has more than 20 categories of disclosures, including important items such as unsafe well water, roof defects and problems within the electrical system. If the property does not have a defect in that category, and has never suffered damage as a result, the seller can indicate that the property is clear in that area.

Why is this document seen as complicated? While buyers see the Condition Report as a valuable disclosure, this simple document often presents a conundrum for sellers. Most sellers see the report as a put-off for potential buyers instead of a valuable disclosure that protects sellers from legal recourse during and after the sale of their home. But it has to be done, and done truthfully—for buyers and sellers.

So what do sellers have to include in the report? Everything—and what was done to fix it.  If a problem occurred on the property, even for an insignificant length of time, it needs to be included in the report. Include the issue, what was done to fix the problem, and that it never happened again. For instance, if the basement flooded with a foot of water for a just a few hours 10 years ago, the flooding needs to disclosed. Also write down that the problem was caused by a faulty sump pump that was replaced that same day. Same with that leak in the roof. Or the pipe that burst in the bathroom.

The report cannot be completed by a seller’s Real Estate Agent. Truly, the Condition Report is not protecting the Real Estate Agent, it’s protecting the sellers. That’s why sellers need to fill this important document out—and fill it out completely with full disclosure. A completed Condition Report is more than just a piece of paper. It’s a shield for sellers now—and after the sale is complete.

How to Make Your 100,000 Home Look Like a Million Bucks

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3591Don’t have the biggest house on the block? There are things you can’t change about your house—the size, location, whether or not you have a garage. But when it’s time to put your $100,000 house on the market, concentrating on budget-friendly updates and processes put your home’s best foot forward so you can get top dollar for your property.

  • Update in all the right places. You can’t do anything about the size of your house, but you can make updates in areas that matter. Buyers want updated countertops and flooring, both relatively inexpensive improvements. Updating doesn’t have to mean renovation or a second mortgage, just a few replacements in areas where buyers have strong preferences such as the kitchen, living room and bathrooms. Search discount home improvement stores and resale shops for new countertops, laminate flooring and carpeting remnants. These inexpensive changes can be the factors that trigger a quick sale.
  • Give your property a good cleaning. Just because you have the original tile in the bathroom doesn’t mean you need to replace them. A good deep cleaning on your floors in bathrooms and kitchens give your home the advantage with less cost. Buyers don’t want to buy a dirty house, or to pay top dollar for a home that needs a lot of work. With a small (tiny, really) investment in cleaning products, you can give your buyers a reason to choose your house over the competition.
  • Don’t let the pick-up stop indoors. A messy lot or lawn that doubles as a garbage dump deters buyers as much as a dirty house. Clean up any debris in your yard, and keep flower beds well tended.
  • Use the ‘less is more’ concept. Don’t leave your house empty. To the contrary, empty rooms do not give buyers a clear vision of the purpose and potential of each room. However, keep the clutter—personal effects, knick knacks, items on counters and tables, extra furniture—to a minimum. If you need to, rent a temporary storage unit to store excess items. Rooms with less look bigger, while cluttered rooms tend to look smaller. If your house isn’t very big to begin with, you need all the help you can to give buyers the illusion of space.
  • Do the repairs you’ve been putting off. Buyers don’t want a house with holes in the wall or water stains. Repair your drywall, put a fresh coat of paint on the wall and fix those leaky pipes. You want your buyers to see a clean, well-cared for property perfect for their situation.

With a few updates, repairs and deep cleaning, you can have your property ready for a quick sale that brings the top dollar you need to move on. Don’t forget to talk to a real estate agent before you make changes to your home. They might have suggestions that impact your buying decisions and replacements.  Good real estate agents know your area and the amount you should invest in updates so your 100,000 dollar home sells for top dollar, and quickly.