Monthly Archives: June 2015

Why a Pre-Listing Home Inspection Makes Cents for the Seller

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sold homeEvery penny counts when selling your house. That’s why it may seem counter-intuitive to even suggest spending money on a home inspection BEFORE you put your house up for sale. When you’re talking about a pre-listing home inspection, however, spending money upfront can save you thousands of dollars and time when selling your home, in more ways than one:

No surprises during the home sale process. When selling your home, first impressions do matter. Replacing a broken window or repairing water damaged drywall can be the difference between a quick sale and a dragged out process. Unfortunately, not all repairs are so obvious, and a pre-listing home inspection can locate potential red flags before your home hits the market—and before a buyers’ home inspector finds them as well.

Opportunity to make repairs at a price you choose. A pre-listing home inspection puts you in control of choosing who makes the repairs and the cost. If your home inspector finds an issue with your home during the pre-listing home inspection, you, as the home owner, can choose what professional and price you pay for repairs. If a potential buyer finds the issue, they can require that you use their home repair professional which may cost you more in the long run.

Saved time during the negotiation process. You get and accept an offer from a buyer. Your closing date is set and you’re ready to close—until the buyer’s home inspector finds an issue. Suddenly, the closing date is pushed back—and even in question—because of issues found during the home inspection. That’s why it pays to be proactive with a pre-listing home inspection. If you’ve located and made all the repairs found during the pre-listing home inspection, you don’t need to worry about delays during the sale process because of issues found during a potential buyer’s home inspection.

Better selling price. If a potential buyer finds an issue during the home inspection, they can renegotiate the final selling price to accommodate the cost of repairs. The renegotiation can cut into your bottom line and lower the amount of money you make from your home sale.

In addition to repairing issues found during a pre-listing home inspection, a seller can also improve their chances of a quick sale and better sale price by preparing their home for sale:

Deep clean, or replace, that nasty flooring. A professional carpet cleaning or hard floor cleaner can often give new life to that old flooring. 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.

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.

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.

Paint, and paint neutrals. Paint over bold colors with neutral colors. A new coat of paint can go a long way to making a home feel new and clean when you list your home.

If you have any other questions about listing and selling your home, don’t hesitate to ask your real estate agent. A real estate agent can make suggestions about preparing your home for sale, give you an idea of a fair sale price and recommend local home inspectors for your pre-listing home inspection.

Home Buying Tips

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home buyingBuying a home is a major decision, and probably one of the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make in your life. That’s why it’s a good idea to use a “look before you leap” strategy BEFORE you sign the paperwork. In this case, the “look” part not only means doing a home tour, but following these home buying tips—for the sake of your heart and your pocketbook:

  1. Buy a house you (or someone else) is going to stay in. Home prices rise and fall, so look at a home purchase as a long-term purchase. If you think you’re going to be getting a job transfer, or moving to a new city in a few years, don’t purchase a home unless you’ve accepted the risk. With closing costs and other transactional fees associated with buying and selling a home, there’s a good chance you’ll lose money from a quick buy-and-sell.
  2. Talk to a mortgage lender before you start looking. One of the most common home buyer mistakes is looking for a home without knowing how much you can afford. Don’t assume that you are going to be approved for a certain amount without talking to a mortgage lender. There are many factors that mortgage lenders use to determine the amount you are approved for, and a simple online calculator is not going to be 100% accurate.
  3. Be comfortable with your budget. Don’t automatically assume that the amount you are approved for is the maximum budget you set for your search. Just because you are approved for a $200,000 budget doesn’t mean that is the amount of money you can afford to part with on a monthly basis. Write down all your present expenses on a piece of paper—car payments, medical costs, etc.—and be comfortable with your budget, and that you can still live while making your monthly home payments.
  4. Budget for the expected expenses of home ownership—and the unexpected. We’re going to be honest with you: homes cost money even after you’ve signed the paperwork. At some point, you’re going to need to replace the furnace, buy a new roof, repave the driveway, install new windows—in addition to the annual maintenance your home needs to stay in good shape. Set aside money for annual home maintenance costs, and for those unexpected breakdowns that come with home ownership.
  5. Know what you’re looking for. Make a list, or use a checklist. Where do you want to live? How many bedrooms do you want or need? How much maintenance do you want to take on? Do you want a lot of land? Prioritize this list, and expect that you’ll make changes to the list as you look at homes.
  6. Know what red flags to look for during your home tour. Don’t fall in love with a money pit. Be cautious and look for issues that could cause issues later, such as electrical issues, water damage, and a decomposing roof.
  7. Get a home inspection. Unless you have a huge budget that can handle a huge unexpected expense, get a home inspection. We’ve written about the benefits of hiring a home inspector in the past, and what to do if you get a bad home inspection report from your dream home. A home inspection can save you thousands of dollars of trouble, and can also point to safety hazards (such as a gas leak) that you might not have noticed during your home tour.
  8. Hire a real estate agent. Hiring a real estate agent is a good first step to learning what to do and what not to do when navigating through the home buying process. They’ve been there, and they can give you advice about what to do and not to do. Contact a good, experienced realtor who has bought and sold houses in your area, and take their advice to heart. Their advice can be the difference between a wise or poor home buying decision in the largest purchase of your life.