Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Home Inspection Process

As a buyer the home inspection process is probably one of the most important aspects of making the purchase of your home.  While you will be required to have a home inspection by most lenders; it is highly recommended that you hire your own home inspection and make the sale of the home pending your home inspection.

Each state handles home inspections differently but for the most part they are all generally the same. Check with your agent as to how inspections are handled where you are buying. As a buyer it takes only a few hundred dollars on average to have peace of mind and know that there shouldn’t be any sudden uninspected issues that pop up; at least in the near future.
The home inspection will give you a fairly extensive picture of the overall condition of the home you are looking to buy. Many lenders require the inspection but if not, make sure you don’t pass up this ability to get a professional look at the home to avoid any issues. Your agent can refer you to at least one company you can utilize for your home inspection. Depending upon the number of inspection agencies available in your area you may have to wait your turn to get the inspector to come do your inspection, especially during the busiest times of the season.

Types of Inspections

While the term itself is very generic, the home inspection can include various types of inspections within the inspection. You want to be sure what type of inspections you are getting with your inspection and if there is something you feel want included, be sure to ask for it when you order the home inspection. There are different types of inspections available to you.  Depending upon the state you live in the inspection could be a requirement by the state or by the lender. If it is not a requirement you want to be sure to get the inspection for your own peace of mind and as part of the sale make the inspection one of the pending items of sale. If the home doesn't pass inspection then you have the choice of nullifying the sale or the seller has the ability to fix the items that won’t pass inspection in order to make the sale.
The Standard Home Inspection – This type of inspection is an overall inspection of the home and will usually include exterior surfaces, basement, crawl space, lawn & grounds, roof, electrical, plumbing, appliances, garage, any outer buildings that aren't attached to the home (sheds, etc.), attic, fireplace or wood burning stoves, air conditioning (generally only central air & won’t include window units that may come with the home), and foundation. This is a standard home inspection and leaves ample room for additional types of inspections to be added on to and include with other types of inspections.
Many of the standard home inspection will also include other types of inspections while others will require that the following inspections be requested. Depending upon your area you may or may not want to include the additional inspections mentioned here. Generally, it’s best to be safe and have as much and as many of the inspections as possible to lower the possibility of any problems with your new home.
Termite Inspection – while in certain areas where termites are common this may be included in your standard inspection; other times it could be an additional inspection you order with your standard inspection. Termite inspection looks for anything that damages wood; this could include everything from organisms such as mold or fungus and any insects or animals. This particular type of inspection often varies by state as to what the inspection requires.
Well Inspection –If the home you are buying is not connected to a city/local water system then you will want to have the well tested. The well testing involves both testing the water with a sample sent to a lab and the flow of the water from the well enough to supply the home with water. This test may or may not also involve an inspection of the septic system also. If it does not include the septic system you want to assure that the septic system is inspected also.
Pool/Hot Tub Inspection – This inspection obviously only applies when you have a hot tub and/or a swimming pool involved with the sale. The inspection covers the overall condition of the items and assures that all parts involved are in working order. They also will conduct an inspection of any decks or attached areas that could become rotted or lose integrity due to the possibility of water damage or any other wood damage.
Lead Paint Inspection – A lead pain inspection is now, in many states, a required inspection for any home built before 1978. This inspection is a must if you have pets or children especially; but the lead in the paint can be harmful to everyone, including adults. We recommend that if the home was built after 1978, but within a few years of that date, that you take the extra time and money and have a lead paint inspection. The only time you really don’t have to worry about the lead inspection is the home is truly a newly constructed home or a home that was constructed and verified not to have used any lead paint in the construction process.
These are just a few of the additional types of inspections that can be conducted or may be conducted as part of your standard inspection process. There are so many more and your agent should guide you as to whether you need to have additional inspections added on to your standard inspection.
One type of inspection to consider is an Asbestos Inspection which determines if there is asbestos in any part of the house, inside or out. There is a Stucco Inspection which is for homes with stucco siding, generally found in the south west, and the inspection determines if there is any problem with the finish or if there may be any moisture issues with the stucco. Stucco can often experience breakage that can allow for water intrusion, resulting in problems with the finish and/or mold and fungus issues.
There is also an inspection designed specifically for Composition Board Siding. CBS is a paper based siding that is man-made to look like wood siding for less money. The condition of the siding can be compromised if there are tears, breaks, hits, dents, etc. that would allow for moisture to seep in and ruin the siding. Of course this inspection would only be needed on a home that has Composition Board Siding so it’s not included in a typical standard home inspection.
As you can see, there are many different types of inspections that can be needed, depending upon the area you live in, the year your home was built, and the type of home you’re buying. What can’t be argued is the importance of having a home inspection done on any house that you are considering buying. What’s just as important is to make the sale of the home dependent upon the results of the home inspection to assure that you are not going to be buying a house that may need thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of repairs or fixes to make it safe and/or livable.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Buying An Older Home

Some people prefer the character that an older home provides while others prefer the newness of a newly constructed home.  

Like most things in life, both have their pros and cons. It’s really a matter of preference or better yet you walking into a house and knowing that this is the house for you. 

We’ll give you a little insight and some things to think about when buying an older home to help you decide; but  ultimately it comes down to that one house that just calls to you.

The Pros Of Buying An Older Home 

Character - Special things like beautiful woodwork, built-in, hide-away doors and ornate ceilings and fixtures all add character to the home. These special touches were definitely touches of craftsmanship that were all a part of building homes in the early years and most homes built today can’t even come close to these special touches. 

Sturdy Construction - Older homes have been built with sturdier materials and craftsmanship that have withstood the trials of time and weathered the worse.

Location - Older homes are usually built in a city area or relatively nearby making them close to amenities and attractions and offers shorter commutes.

Mature Landscaping - Those big oak trees, fully grown bushes, and green grass that’s been around for ages are all something that only time can give you. 

Stable Zoned Areas - These areas are not likely to be seeing many changes in the future as most neighborhoods with older homes are well established. 

The Cons Of Buying An Older Home

Most older homes are not equipped for today’s technology – electrical wiring, built in dishwashers, ceiling fans, central air conditioning and other items that we've become used to simply weren't around to build in to these homes so now we have the added cost and trouble of having to add these things ourselves.

Less storage space and smaller closets, or even lack of closets, is a big turn-off with many buyers looking at older homes. People simply didn't use to live in times when they had huge wardrobes and tons of stuff to need storage space. Most storage was needed for things such as storing canned goods and cellar pantries or small fruit cellars were common in older homes. So if you have a lot of clothes and items you need to store, chances are you’ll be finding a different method of storage if you purchase an older home.

More costly maintenance and often more maintenance required on an older home as opposed to a newer home. Chances are if someone hasn't already done updates you’re going to find issues with plumbing, electrical work, tree roots in sewer systems, and more. 

The possibility of lead paint and asbestos in the construction of the home, simply because these items were not illegal to build with and not necessarily known as a health hazard. 
Older homes can be more expensive to purchase in some cases because they’re in the city and properties in the city, especially large cities, tend to be scarce. However, they can also be less in price if they do need updates.

Broken up layouts – as opposed to big open living spaces in newer homes, older homes often are very cut up with doors and windows placed in places that create issues in fitting furniture into room and seeming less living space per say.


In Conclusion

 In the end it’s simply a matter of preference and your own attraction to the home. If a home is brand new and just jumps out at you that it’s the one for you then you’re going to buy it. If a home is an older home and you instantly feel like you should own it then that’s the one for you.

No matter what house you buy there are pros and cons and each house is different in its own way. What may be an issue in some older homes may not be an issue in the particular one you’re looking at. The best way to decide if the house is for you there’s really nothing better than a gut feeling to go by when making your decision.

Is a Condo What You're Really Looking For?

There are a number of types of homes you can buy when you’re ready to own a house but sometimes people think they automatically know that they want a certain type of home.

Many assume that they’re going to buy a single dwelling house and view that as “The American Dream” while others know that they want a condominium.
The reality is there are pros and cons to owning both and you have to be willing to weigh those pros and cons of each type of house and decide what really does work for you and your family.


There are different types of condos available and it definitely depends upon the area that you’re looking in. For many, condos are “part time” homes that are used as vacation houses in particular areas that they love; whether it’s on the ski slopes, on a golf course, or in a beautiful warm climate. Others purchase condos for convenience and the ability to be close to amenities that are generally nearby.
Some condominiums are strictly for particular age groups while others are open to families so that has to be a consideration when you are looking. If you’re an older couple you may not want to live in an area that has children around anymore so make sure that the condo rules are clear as to who can and cannot move into the association. Some condos are also strictly for investing and using a particular number of weeks a year so this is obviously not a home you would buy if you’re looking for a permanent move but would make a great vacation house.

Condo Pros

Some of the pros of owning a condominium are quite obvious. Although there are usually Condo Association Fees involved these fees can cover everything from snow removal to lawn care and maintenance. Each condo handles their association differently and fees vary drastically according to what it is you get for the fees. Some with lower fees expect the owner of the condo to do their own inside maintenance and maybe even personal area snow removal such as your stairs or sidewalk areas; while they’ll take care of community areas such as parking and communal gathering areas that may be present. You want to be sure you know what the Association covers, how much the fees are, and how to have things taken care of when needed before you sign on the dotted line.
Another plus to owning a condo is that, although they tend to be smaller in size compared to a individual single family dwellings, they utilize the space they have very efficiently. While you’re square footage may not be much, your actual living space is well thought out and you have plenty of room in most cases. Another plus to condo living is that condos tend to be more modern and well kept. You know that if you’re buying a condo, especially one that has an association that takes care of maintenance, you’re house was maintained well because it’s simply a part of living there. When you’re buying a single dwelling home you can’t always be assured of the maintenance that has occurred on the home.
As a family or a couple that’s planning on a family you also have a feeling of community when you live in a condo. This can also offer a feeling of safety and comfort to you and your family. This can be a plus, especially if you have two working parents or a parent who is often travelling and leaving one parent at home with the child(ren). It can also be a positive lifestyle living in a condo when you are a person who tends to not spend a lot of time at home. You can feel safe that there’s always someone around your home if you’re “on the road” or not home much.
If you’re looking to purchase a condo as an investment and rent it out it can be profitable in the right areas. Depending upon the type of condo and the location it will also probably remain valuable if it’s in a vacation type area also, even if it’s off the beaten path a bit.

The Cons of Condos

There are also some cons to buying a condo and they have to be considered. The first is the obvious extra monthly or yearly Condo Fees. While the positive side is that you know how much you have to put out each year for maintenance and what you get for it, it can also add a substantial amount to your monthly mortgage payment. So while the Condo Association Fees can have a plus to them they can also have a negative side.
Along with those Condo Associations often come “rules” and some of the Associations can be absolute bears about the smallest of things. You've all heard horror stories of someone fighting with their neighbors and fellow Condo Association Members about something as silly as a decorative flag they hang on their house or a wreath on their door. Some refuse to allow decorating for any holidays or put limits on what you can do to decorate and how long you can leave it up.
While for some this is no big deal, others may feel that this is their home and they should be able to do what they please. There are reasons both for and against why these Condo Associations have the rules and they can be argued forever without a real conclusion; this is something personal you have to decide.
If you’re a social person that likes to entertain a lot you could have some issues with condo living also, depending on how often you entertain and how your neighbors react. There can sometimes be issues with parking and noise ordinances. While in some ways condos are rather social, in other ways they can tend to be a lot less social when it comes to having your own group of friends and relatives around. It does depend upon the condo itself though so don’t assume all condos are this way.
As with all styles of home you have to decide on your own which type would fit your needs best. You could debate with someone forever on whether condo living is good or bad; but what it comes down to is truly a matter of your own preference and how you feel about which home that strikes you as the one.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Origins of Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend!

So yes it is Saturday and it is more fun than the usual since the kids are off and Monday is a Holiday.

Although I have showings with clients this weekend but I never consider it work.  I enjoy spending time and getting to know them.  With every contact, I find an opportunity and maybe a lifetime connection. Throughout my carrier in Real Estate, I have met Teachers, Contractors, Doctors, Therapists, Attorneys, Filmmakers, Insurance Brokers, Models, Chefs and let's not forget the wonderful, hardest working of all, stay at home MOMs.  I have met with different cultures and learned about different Countries, I've enjoyed learning about their languages, foods, habits and the list goes on.  As an immigrant myself, I feel the connection with them and it's so powerful and so warm.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September.  It is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our Country.