Monthly Archives: May 2015

Red Flags to Look for During a House Tour

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house tourWe see it: you’re captivated by the winding staircase or the open layout during the house tour. You love the big yard and the beautiful trees. But are you looking beyond the aesthetics as you tour the home? Do you know what red flags to look for during a house tour, so you don’t have to pay for the previous owners’ delayed maintenance or improper repairs? Undoubtedly, the location, layout and everything else on your ‘must have’ list is important, but are you looking at the whole property during your house tour? What lies behind those walls?

One way to spot, and deal with, red flags is to hire a real estate agent. A real estate agent can help you spot red flags during a house tour based on past experience. They’ve seen fixer uppers and damage at other properties and can help you find the most obvious signs during your initial tour:

Curled and cracked roof shingles. Do a visual inspection of the roof. If you see curled or cracked roof shingles, or missing shingles, take that as a red flag. Look for water damage inside the home, in case the deteriorating roof has allowed water in. While a damaged roof is a red flag, don’t panic. If you still are interested in the property, there are ways to deal with this red flag after the home inspection is completed.

Signs of water damage. Are there discolorations or stains on the walls or ceiling? Is the drywall bubbling or soft? Look for signs of water damage during the house tour, especially in the bathrooms and kitchen. Be aware, though, that water damage can be in any room and on the walls and ceilings. In extreme cases, a long-term leak can also lead to mold in the walls or attic, so have your home inspection check for any signs of mold in the drywall (as much as possible, anyway, without opening the walls).

Water in the basement. Most likely, you are not going to walk into a pool of water at the bottom of the basement stairs, but look for signs that water has been in the basement. Signs of water in the basement include staining, bubbling or soft drywall or a musty smell. If the previous owners do disclose a water problem in the basement, ask what was done to rectify the problem. Make sure the water was properly cleaned up, drywall was bleached or replaced and repairs were made (such as a sub pump installed) to prevent the water from coming in again.

Furnace age. The furnace may not be the most beautiful part of a house, but it is one of the most important parts of your home—and one of the most expensive appliances to replace. In addition to replacing the furnace, an impromptu breakdown can cause pipes to freeze. Ask what the age of the furnace is and what kind of fuel it uses.

Smell. Trust your nose. If you smell a musty smell or a strange odor, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Has there been water in the basement? Have the air ducts been cleaned? Is there a gas leak?

Electrical issues. Test the switches in the home. If switches don’t work, you have flickering lights, see burned or dangling wires, ask the home inspector to look into possible electrical issues.

Remember a real estate agent is not a home inspector, though they can help you be on the lookout for red flags during a house tour. If you are serious about the home, put an offer in on the property. When the offer is accepted, hire a home inspector to get an in depth examination of the property by a professional so you don’t get stuck with a “money pit” home (among other valid reasons for a home inspection). Your real estate agent can suggest home inspectors they have worked with in the past. Don’t panic if the home inspection hits a few snags, your real estate agent can walk you through your options. That’s why you have a real estate agent: to guide you through the house tour, explore options that can take care of those red flags and get you into the right home.

5 Reasons to Sell Your Home Now

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reasons to sell your homeEveryone says spring is the time to list, and there’s good reason for that rationale: buyers typically prefer to search for a new home during our warmer Wisconsin spring, making it THE time to list your home. That’s never been truer than in 2015, and, as an added bonus, there are also four other reasons to list your home and get it out on the Wisconsin real estate market:

  1. Mortgage rates are low. Low mortgage rates mean a lower monthly payment for buyers, and another reason to buy now. The other part about low mortgage rates is the boomerang effect; mortgage rates tend to rise after hitting a low, making now the time to buy another property after you sell your home—and to list your home on the real estate market.
  2. Renters are looking to buy. Low mortgage rates and rising rent across the United States has led to a unique real estate market ripe for renters. Renters now have the opportunity to purchase a home for the same monthly payment, and are doing so in droves—giving you more potential buyers for your home.
  3. There are buyers looking for your home. Right now, there are more buyers than sellers in the Wisconsin real estate market. This makes an ideal seller’s market for any home owner looking to list their home; buyers are ready to jump into the real estate market and purchase your home. We’ve even seen home owners list and sell their home within 30 days.
  4. Better chance to get a higher sale price. Buyers are ready and willing to purchase, making this the ideal time to prepare your home for sale and list your home. Because of the abundance of buyers in the real estate market, this also gives sellers the opportunity to sell for a higher sale price due to a low inventory.

When you decide to list your home, call a realtor. A realtor can recommend a fair sale price and go through essential details you need to know when you list your home. They can also give you tips on preparing your home for sale, such as:

  1. Paint, and paint neutrals. Paint over bold colors with neutral colors such as a light grey or tan. A new coat of paint can go a long way to making a home feel new and clean when you list your home.
  2. Deep clean, or replace, that nasty flooring. A professional carpet cleaning or hard floor cleaner can often give new life to that old flooring, but if you can’t get the stains out, shop around. Carpet remnants are an inexpensive way to make hallways, offices and small rooms look new without breaking the budget. Or upgrade your flooring by installing new laminate or hardwood floors which often adds value to your home.
  3. Do all the repairs you’ve been putting off. Holes in your walls or ceiling do not give buyers a favorable impression. Now is the time to patch the drywall, repair water leaks and replace faulty electrical fixtures and leaky water faucets.
  4. Maximize curb appeal. Contact contractors to get those broken sidewalks repaired, wood trim painted and the driveway sealed in the summer now before anyone else. Keep sidewalks clear and clean, and power wash your home to make it look its best. Make sure that all bulbs are replaced in your outdoor light fixtures.
  5. De-clutter. You don’t have to throw everything away, but you may have to put some of your items in storage. Make sure that potential buyers get a clear picture of the space in your home. Too much furniture or décor in a room can backfire and make your home look smaller.

A realtor can also recommend local companies that can help you clean and make repairs so you can list your home in excellent condition. A good experienced realtor, like the realtors at Platinum Realty, has listed quite a few homes in southeastern Wisconsin and is an excellent resource when you decide to list your home. They can also help you take advantage of the seller’s market we have right now, and reach your goal of a successful home sale.