Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Inspection Series - #2 Wood Destroying Insects

We're going bug hunting today, people! Most people associate this inspection with termites, although it does look for any evidence of wood destroying insects - there are other insects that attack the wood structures of your home.
An inspector will look for evidence of insect activity. For termites, she'll look for mud tubes on the surface of the walls, which indicate activity within the wall. Now, here's where some of this gets tricky:
An inspector cannot see into the wall, so she won't be able to see activity within the wall, or any damage done by the insects.

If you have evidence of activity, you will typically ask the Seller to treat the home. Certain mortgages require a clean termite cert (namely VA and FHA) so the Seller will need to treat the home.

Once a termite treatment is done, you will typically get a one year guarantee on the treatment, and a reduced rate if you decide to do a yearly treatment of the home.

Need a recommendation for a great bug guy? I've got one! Shoot me an email and I'll be happy to pass on his contact information!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Inspection Series - #1 The Home Inspection

When you write an agreement of sale on a property, there are several inspections that you can elect to have. They are:

1. Home Inspection
2. Wood Destroying Insect Inspection
3. Radon Inspection
4. Water Inspection (typically when you have a well on the property)
5. Septic Inspection (for an on-lot septic tank)

I'll be writing a bit about these in the following series, and I'll start with the home inspection.

A good home inspector is worth his weight in gold, and is one of the most important members of your home buying team (the others being ME - or your own agent, and your mortgage company). Not only is he going to do a visual inspection of the property and point out anything thing that needs to be addressed (safety hazards, leaky faucets, faulty wiring), he will also educate you on the mechanicals and maintenance of the home.

What are some of the things the home inspector will evaluate?
  • The roof, gutters, flashings, chimneys
  • The heater, air conditioners, hot water heaters
  • The electric panel and outlets
  • The plumbing system
  • The stair railings
  • Any obvious structural components

Once the home inspector writes his report, you can then negotiate the home repairs you would like the Seller to make. Typically, if you cannot come to terms on the home inspection issues, you will be released from the contract and get your deposit money back.

The home inspection is your chance to educate yourself on the home, learn of any repairs that need to be made at the present time, and negotiate with the Seller to make sure you are getting a home in good condition, with working mechanicals.

Need a good home inspector? In the course of doing business, I've run into some really fabulous ones. Shoot me an email, and I'll be happy to send you their contact information!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Meet Bucks County's own Green Guru.. Danny Seo

Do you know that we have our very own "Green Guy" living right here in Bucks County? Not only does Danny Seo live in Bucks, but he owns an adorable bungalow on the Delaware River, and a mid-century modern home that he's currently rehabbing with gorgeous eco-friendly products. His tile is to die for - check it out here and here.

Danny also has some fabulous ideas for decorating, entertaining, and new products that are stylish AND eco-friendly.

Make sure you visit his blog daily for great tips on how we can all do small, simple things to reduce our impact on the environment.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What to Expect When You're Expecting (A Showing)

Because you may only sell one house in your entire life, or at least do it so infrequently that everything changes in the years between sales, I thought it would be helpful to tell you what to expect when your house is being shown by a Buyer's Agent.

  1. Your REALTOR will install a lockbox on your front door, either electronic or combination. A Buyer's Agent will bring the Buyers to your home and access the property via the lockbox. They will leave a business card to indicate that they have been in the property. In most cases your REALTOR will not be at the showing, only the Buyer and Buyer's Agent.

  2. Buyer's Agents try to give a one hour window of when they will be at your property. However, sometimes they are running early or late. It's important to be as gracious as possible and allow the access to the home if at all feasible.

  3. You should skeddadle on out of the house while Buyers are there. If you're home when they get there, let them in and then take a walk while they're in the house. I would suggest you leave the property, don't sit in the backyard while they're in the house. It makes them feel rushed.

  4. You can expect the Buyer's Agent to leave the house as they find it. It the lights were on when they came (and they should be) they'll probably be on when you return. If the back door was unlocked, it will still be unlocked. Buyer's Agents don't know if you have additional showings necessitating the lights staying on, or if you leave your back door unlocked for family members.

I've written previously about staging and preparing your home for sale, but I wanted to give you a brief run down of the logistics of a showing while your house is on the market.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Do you know exactly what you want? Bet you don't...

Did you ever have a mental picture of exactly what you wanted? Maybe it was an outfit, or a piece of furniture, or a computer. The subsequent shopping trip is always a lesson in futility, since you can hardly ever find what you've envisioned in your mind. Shopping for homes is a little like that.

Oh, we've all read about making your lists of "necessary," "nice to have," and "dream" attributes. So we make our lists, and we start our journey armed with a mental picture of our dream house, and our various lists of home features. We blaze through REALTOR.com, ignoring the 3 bedroom homes, or those without a fireplace, or without a 2 car garage.

One you start looking at homes, however, you'll find that those lists are pretty worthless. We buy a home, and a home encompasses much more than a fireplace, bathroom, or .25 acre lot. When you walk into a home that works for you, you fall in love, and I can guarantee that it won't matter how it ranks on your lists, or how closely it resembles your mental pictures. It's an emotional connection; a feeling of the stars aligning and shouting to you "This house is GREAT!"

When my husband and I started out looking for our first home, we were adamant about NOT wanting a ranch home. We were adamant about wanting a basement. We were adamant about wanting a family room. I still remember the day that we turned onto our little street - I was in love before we even saw the house. (That's a picture of our street above - how could you not fall in love?) At the end of the road stood a crappy little (really little) rancher, with a crawlspace. It was nothing of what I'd hoped to have, yet everything I ever wanted. It was love at first sight.

So, while I think making your lists sounds good in theory, in actuality, I think it's a bunch of baloney. Make your lists if you're a type A (as I am) and it makes you feel better, but look at everything in your price range/area.

Time and time again, I see clients fall in love with things that don't meet their criteria, but fulfill all their dreams.