Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Wise Buyers Get a Home Inspection

The list of things that can be wrong with a new home is endless, so don't sign on the dotted line until a reputable home inspector gives you the all clear.

The cost of an inspection is nothing compared to your purchase price. It's also nothing compared to what you will pay for unexpected repairs if you don't have a home inspection.

Most houses have defects or need repairs, and many problems can be serious. A home inspection will point out any safety hazards and alert you to major repairs that will be necessary.

A home inspector is a jack-of-all-trades who is familiar with everything from structures and electrical and plumbing systems to insulation, heating and cooling systems, and roofs.

During an inspection, the inspector will make an intensive visual examination of your home, concentrating on areas such as the foundation; exterior walls and roof; attic, basement and garage; electrical, plumbing and heating systems; and the home's interior.

The inspector should then present a written report that details findings and suggests repairs. It's always advisable that you attend the inspection, which may take two to three hours. But don't expect the home inspector to provide cost estimates. Your best bet is to contact two or three contractors.

When looking for a qualified home inspector, don't overlook recommendations from friends or your real estate agent, but be aware that there are other resources to help you.

The NC Licensed Home Inspector Association. (HCLHIA) provides standards of practice and a code of ethics, as well as training courses for potential members. Some states now license home inspectors, but many do not. In states that don't, it's important to establish that the inspector is qualified and is a member in good standing of an organization such as NCLHIA. The Better Business Bureau can also help you.

Remember that the inspection report won't guarantee you're set forever once the suggested repairs are completed. Houses still need regular maintenance and repair, and as the homeowner, that's your job.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How to Sell Your Home Fast in a Troubled Economy

Whether you are relocating, purchasing a new property or simply needing to move ahead, it's sometimes necessary to sell a home fast. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done during a buyer's market.

During the height of the real estate boom homes were selling in weeks, but today much of that has changed. Don't despair, though. There are several steps that you can take to help move your property in troubled times.

Work with an Experienced Agent: A surprising number of people try to sell a home on their own. Most turn to a professional agent after a few months, but the damage is already done. When time matters, go with a pro right from the start. Remember, the agent is acting like a publicity manager for the property.

Tackle Those Tough Jobs: Clear out the clutter and yard debris and then ask your agent for an honest appraisal of the property. Be sure to complete the "honey do" list to avoid competing against foreclosures and other homes with deferred maintenance. Not only will the home show better, but photographs, virtual tours and open house events will generate more interest when the home looks its best.

Invest in an Inspection: For approximately $300 to $500, an inspection might be one of the best investments you make. It demonstrates the condition of the home to prospective buyers and helps ease their minds. If you have access to a recent survey and appraisal, be sure to include those in the information package given to prospective buyers. Affordable Home Inspections can help answer any of your concerns. Contact us today!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What Homebuyers Should Know About Radon

What Home buyers Should Know About Radon

If you're thinking about buying a home, it's best to test for radon before the deal is done.

Home sales often occur at a fast pace, leaving little time to check for such problems. But it's important to do so in order to avoid difficulties afterwards.

Radon is a cancer-causing gas that has secretly infiltrated millions of homes in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that it causes thousands of deaths each year. The Surgeon General reports that only smoking is a greater cause of lung cancer.

Radon gas testing is rapidly becoming a common component in the home inspection process.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas which results from the breakdown of uranium, which is found in nearly all soils.

This radioactive gas typically moves up through the ground, penetrating cracks and openings in your home. Radon can be present in building materials or can infiltrate the home through the groundwater; however, these issues alone are often not enough to cause a substantial radon gas problem.

Testing for radon is relatively easy and inexpensive. Home kits are available for those who want to do it themselves. They are easy to use and accurate. The alternative is to hire a company to test your home or a home you are thinking of buying. The most common method of testing involves the placement of a device in the home for a period of two to 90 days.

Annual testing may be required for homes with a marginal gas reading, as levels fluctuate.

As there's no known safe level of radon gas, certain upgrades can be made to a home to reduce the levels.

A soil suction radon prevention system uses a vent pipe system with a fan installed to draw radon gas from beneath the house and send it to the outside.

In addition, the foundation, crawl space and other cracks leading into the home should be sealed to reduce the amount of gas seepage.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Simple Steps for Spring Cleaning Without the Stress

Spring is the perfect time to clean up your home and lighten the load of everyday maintenance. But with so much to do, the task can seem overwhelming. Try these simple tips to spruce up your home and brighten your outlook:

Clear the Clutter

Put a box or two in the center of every room and then clear the clutter from closets, cabinets, the garage, garden shed and other storage areas both inside and outside the home.

Wash the Doors and Windows

Doors and windows take a lot of abuse, so it's no surprise they tend to build up dirt, grime and unsightly stains. Begin by removing curtains and blinds for a deep clean, and then tackle tracks, screens and sills with a gentle solution. Tough stains around doorknobs may require a quick touch-up of paint, but the results are worth it.

Floors and More

Rent a commercial-quality carpet-cleaning machine or consider having a professional do the job for you. Either way, it's important to clean the carpets and upholstery in preparation for spring. Research shows that humans lose an average of seven pounds of dead skin each year, and most of it ends up in carpets, the couch or other fabrics.

Breathe Easy

For the ultimate spring clean, be sure to include the air vents, ceiling fans and central air filters. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, homes that have been sealed tight over a long winter are prone to air quality problems that can make asthma, headaches and allergies even worse.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

First-Time Buyers: Tax Credit

First-time and seasoned home buyers received some good news recently.

On Nov. 6, 2009, the federal government extended a valuable tax break to home buyers under the Worker, Home ownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009.

The legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress as part of its plan to stimulate the U.S. housing market and address the economic challenges facing the country.

The act includes elements that extend time frames for home buyers and ease eligibility requirements.

It extends a tax credit of up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers.

It also extends a credit of up to $6,500 to current homeowners purchasing a new or existing home.

The credit applies to sales occurring between now and April 30, 2010, and covers home purchases completed by June 30, 2010.

The income-based qualification system allows for a $125,000 limit for a single taxpayer and a $225,000 limit for married couples filing joint returns.

The final tax credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price of the home being considered and it only applies to homes valued under $800,000 for qualified first-time home buyers.

But there's more good news.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is allowing monetization of this tax credit, meaning that buyers with a Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage can apply for and receive their anticipated tax credit immediately rather than wait until they file their income taxes to receive a refund.

This allows home buyers to apply the funds to closing costs. Home buyers can also use the funds to increase the amount that they put down on their home.

The tax credit applies to any home that is being used as a principal residence and includes detached homes, condominiums, townhouses and a wide variety of manufactured homes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Winterize your home

January is basically the coldest month in my area and if you have not already winterized your home you may need to get started. These helpful links will help you determine what you need to stay snug as a bug.

10 ways to winterize

Now's the time to winterize your home

Don't forget the vacation home

and if you don't like to read well you can watch how it's done. Comfort and energy efficiency.

Stay warm!
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