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DIY Home Inspection: Your Ultimate Guide to Thoroughly Inspecting the Condition of a Home

inspection

You’re nervous. Your heart is racing. You’re sweating bullets.

No, you aren’t about to leap out of an airplane at 10,000 feet. You’ve put in an offer to buy a home and it’s been accepted.

Now what?

You’ll want a home inspection. But home inspectors charge hundreds of dollars. Don’t worry, you can do a home inspection all on your own.

Keep reading for a complete guide to the DIY home inspection.

Home Inspection vs Appraisal

If you’re getting a loan, then your lender orders an appraisal. But an appraisal and a home inspection are not the same things.

An appraisal is an opinion of value.

It’s based on the personal expertise of the appraiser. Although the appraiser takes into account the condition of the home, he or she doesn’t do a thorough inspection.

A home inspection reports the condition of the home, not a value.

It’s important to get a good home inspection so you know what you’re getting into. And to save some cash, try doing your own home inspection.

Other Reasons for a DIY Home Inspection

Keep your home in good shape. A regular inspection of your home systems lets you know what maintenance you need. This saves you from costly repairs in the future.

You’re in the business of real estate investment. Buying rental properties can get costly. A DIY home inspection checklist can save you some money.

Buying or changing homeowners insurance might require an inspection.

If you’re planning to remodel, it might make more sense to repair everything at the same time. An inspection is useful to show you what needs to be done.

Plus, buying a home is expensive. You need all the help you can get from your Seattle mortgage company to save you money. You may as well save a few bucks on the home inspection.

Major Areas to Inspect

Before you start, you should create a checklist of all the areas you want to check. Here are the most common:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • HVAC
  • Foundation/basement
  • Windows
  • Roof/Attic

We’ll take a look at each of these areas and give you some tips on how to inspect them yourself.

The most important thing to remember is to use all your senses. Listen for strange noises. Feel pipes and wood to check for water damage. Notice any strange smells. And look in, around, and under everything.

Plumbing

Turn on the water. Do you hear strange sounds coming from the pipes? That could mean rusted pipes.

Look underneath and inspect the actual pipes in the sinks. Are they leaking? Are there water stains around them? What about the floor around the pipes? Stains on any surface can mean water damage and plumbing repairs. Loose tiles in the shower can also be a sign of water damage.

Flush the toilets and check the water tanks behind the toilets. Make sure that water is flowing into and out of them properly.

This may sound odd, but sit on the toilet and make sure it’s not wobbly. A wobbly toilet could mean water damage in the subflooring. Plus, it’s annoying and would eventually need to be tightened or replaced.

The toilet is also a good place to see if you’ve got water quality issues. Red stains along the water line can mean high iron content in the water. Make sure and check for a functioning water softener if you see this.

Does the home have a well or city water? If it has a well, make sure the previous homeowner has done the proper maintenance. It’s also not a bad idea to test the well water with an at-home water testing kit to make sure it’s safe to drink.

Electrical

Turn on all the lights. Do the lights turn on easily or flicker? Are the light switches up-to-date with current standards?

Lights flickering or strange noises are all signs of hazardous electrical system problems.

Bring a small, plug-in lamp with you and make sure the wall sockets work throughout the house.

Pay attention to the walls around the plugs to ensure there are no stains or burn marks.

After you’ve looked at all the lights and plugs in the main living areas, check out the breaker box.

You don’t need to be an expert to spot tripped fuses. If the breaker box seems out-of-date, make note that you may have electrical work in your future.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

The HVAC system is one of the most important systems in your home. It also requires the most maintenance to run properly.

Your system includes the furnace, vents that allow air to travel through the house, and central air conditioning (AC).

Turn on the heating and AC. Make sure that they fire up when they’re supposed to. You’ll be able to hear when they turn on.

Go outside and check the air conditioner unit that sits next to the home. Does it have good clearance from the wall of the home? A unit that sits too close can have airflow issues.

Is it overwhelmed by dirt and debris? A dirty outside unit could mean a lack of maintenance by the previous homeowner.

Listen to how it runs and notice any unusual sounds. It should sound like a smooth purr.

Also, you can see the fan spinning inside. Make sure the spinning is steady and not halting.

When you’re back in the house, look at the floor vents. Make sure they aren’t blocked or dirty. A dirty vent could mean the ventilation system needs cleaning.

Feel for the air and make sure that it feels cold or hot if you’ve got the AC or furnace on.

Do the same type of check with the furnace. Notice anything that looks strange, like burn marks or shaking.

Like the AC, it should sound steady. Clicking or other loud bangs are not normal. Filters are super important to how your HVAC systems function. Check all the air filters.

If they are dirty, that means they haven’t had the regular maintenance they should. You may have problems with the systems functioning.

Find out the age of the furnace and AC. A furnace can last up to 20 years as long as it’s properly maintained.

Foundation/Basement

The number one thing to pay attention to is wood quality. Rotten wood is a bad sign in any part of the home. Walk around the outside of the home and look at the siding and cement foundations. Cracks or rot are a red flag that the foundation isn’t so hot.

Don’t forget to feel the wood. Rotten wood feels soft and may even be wet from water damage.

Painted wood can hide the problem. That’s why feeling the wood is a good way to find hidden foundation issues.

Check all the door frames. Feel for loose boards or doors.

Doors should shut tight but open without any rubbing. If a door rubs against the frame, it could mean the foundation shifted or sagged. In the basement, keep a close eye on water damage. Are the floors or walls wet?

Be aware of the smell. Mold and mildew will give the place a musty smell.

If the basement walls are sheetrocked, feel the sheetrock to make sure it isn’t soft and wet.

Watch for cracks in the concrete. Remember, problems in the basement are usually expensive to fix.

Windows

The same way you checked around the doors, check around the windows. Window repair is one of the most expensive repairs to make.

If you see cracks in the caulk, it could be a sign that the previous owner let the maintenance slip.

Signs of wood rot around could mean water damage. Watch for stains and paint warping as well.

Windows should be easy to open. A window that sticks too much or doesn’t open at all, needs replacing.

Of course, you want to be aware of any broken window panes. Find out how old the windows are. Windows can last up to 20 years. But the older the window, the less energy efficient they are.

It pays to know the age of the windows so you can plan for a replacement if need be.

Roof/Attic

If the home has a crawlspace or attic, be sure to crawl through it and look around. Again, keep your eyes, ears, and nose open.

Strange smells could mean mold. Stains and warping are a sign of a leaky roof. Do you hear the wind blowing through the attic? That could also mean there’s damage to the roof.

While you’re in the attic, look at the insulation. If the insulation is below the floor joists, then there isn’t enough. Usually, 10-14 inches is good, depending on the type of insulation.

Also, how do the floor joists look? Step on them and see how they feel. Joists with lots of holes from old screws are weaker than whole joists.

Go outside and look at the roof. Missing, rotted, or curled shingles are a bad sign.

Inspect Your Home like a Pro

The DIY home inspection can save you money. Not only is it handy when you buy a home, but it helps you keep your current home maintained.

Follow the guidelines in this article and give your home an annual checkup that will make your doctor jealous. Check out our property buying blog for more tips and tricks on what to look for when buying a new property.

If you’ve done your own home inspection before, feel free to drop a comment about your experience.

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7 Things to Remember When Choosing a Home For Your Family

family

Finding a good home is not as easy as some make it out to be. There are so many factors that you have to take into consideration and so many things that can go wrong. That is why it is so important to take the time to consider everything and not make any rash decisions.

Here are 7 things to remember when choosing a home for your family:

1.  Your budget

Purchasing a family home is one of the most important investments you will ever make. That is why it is so important that you carefully consider whether it fits into your budget. Once you identify a house, know how much you need to pay upfront and how much the monthly mortgage payments will be.

2.  Location

Once you choose a house, you cannot change its location. That is why you need to ensure that the location you choose has all the amenities your family requires. If you are searching in the Georgia area, you might want to check and see which Savannah neighborhood is right for you. Check out all the local schools, health centers, play areas and parks. Also, make sure that the area is safe enough to raise a family in.

3.  Choose the right mortgage lender

Many people are not aware that they can save a lot of money in mortgage rates just by choosing the right lender. Visit several lenders and see who has the best offer. If you don’t understand the costs and fees involved in calculating your mortgage, find someone to guide you through the process.

4.  Inspect the home before making a decision

One thing about inspecting a home is that you are highly likely to find one or two issues that need fixing. While some may not ultimately influence your decision to buy or not, some may just be too major to ignore. The last thing you want is to purchase a home only to find problems that prove impossible to fix.

5.  Ask many questions

Your realtor is there to answer all your questions. Asking questions and getting answers equips you to make the right decision. If you have the right real estate agent, there are so many important things you can learn about what to look for when acquiring a home.

6.  Availability of maintenance services

You need to know who to call when your toilet gets backed up or the roof starts to leak. Having a few maintenance companies that can come in on short notice will make life very easy for you and your family. You may also want to know what the maintenance charges are.

7.  Get organized

Having all your affairs in order ahead of time makes it very easy to make your move once you identify a home you like. If you are not sure what you need, ask your real estate agent, mortgage provider and solicitor to provide you with a list of what they need.

While all these factors are important, your instinct also plays a big part when buying a home. Since there are so many people out there trying to make money off you, it is important that you carefully consider everything you are told and if possible, seek a second opinion.

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Didn’t Think of That: 5 Important First Time Home Buyer Questions You Can’t Forget to Ask

home

Approximately 33 percent of home-buyers in the U.S. were first-time buyers in 2018.

Buying a home for the first time can be a scary prospect because there are so many questions to ask about this process.

Read on the find out the essential first time home buyer questions that you need to ask before you buy.

First Time Home Buyer Questions You Need to Ask

Buying a home will probably be one of the most financially costly decisions you make, but it’s also a great investment.

If you are a first-time buyer and you’re nervous about purchasing a home, make sure you do your research and ask the relevant questions.

1. Are You Ready to Buy?

Up first on home buyer questions is: are you ready to buy?

Purchasing a house can be expensive – you don’t just have to think about the price of the house and the mortgage rates. You also need to consider the cost of maintenance, closing fees, furniture, and so on.

Work out your financial situation. Do you have enough money coming in? Have you got enough money for a down payment?

2. What Kind of Mortgage Can You Afford?

Next on the list of questions for first-time home buyers is: what kind of mortgage can you afford?

Working out how much money you have for a down payment is essential for understanding how much you can afford.

Lenders expect between five percent and 20 percent of the loan. It depends on the loan type and different lenders, so do some research to find a loan and down payment that suits you.

3. Do You Have an Emergency Fund?

Still focusing on the financial side of buying a house, you need to ask yourself if you have an emergency fund and/or savings.

If you have been renting up until now, your landlord would pay for maintenance and repairs. When you own your own home, you are responsible for any repairs, so make sure you have some savings.

There are a number of questions to ask a realtor when buying your first home, which might help you from having any nasty fees. For example, you may want to know what’s included in the price.

There are also many checks you can do, such as getting a homebuyer survey done on the property and having a plumbing inspection before you buy a home.

4. Questions to Ask Your Realtor When Buying

When you’re looking around a house, make sure you ask your realtor any questions about the property.

Essential questions to ask include: why the previous owners are leaving, how long the house has been on the market, what is included in the price, will the owners accept a lower offer, etc.

5. What Type of Insurance Do You Need?

Finally, make sure you research the different types of insurance you need. Home insurance covers your possessions if they are stolen or damaged.

You can also get insurance to cover any external or internal damage that might happen to your house, such as a fallen tree or floods. Make sure you do some research to find the best deals and coverage.

For more information on buying a home for the first time, click here.

Research, Research, Research

Follow our guide on the first time home buyer questions to ask. And remember, the more research you do, the more prepared you’ll be for buying your first house.

Check out the latest housing news articles for more tips and information!

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Who Is The Real Estate Agent Working For?

dealing with real estate agents

Dealing with a listing agent, either as a vendor selling a property, or as a prospective buyer, keen to purchase, can be challenging and stressful.

So how do you find out who the real estate agent is working for, and how can you protect your interests in the property?

In this article, we will look at your options as a vendor selling your home and also what you can do as a prospective purchaser.

What you may not know is not all real estate agents are honest some go rogue, and work outside the rules at their client’s expense.

Over the years, agents have been reported to authorities, for all sorts of dodgy activity. The most common include: encouraging vendors to sell their property for less than market value and persuading motivated buyers to pay more for a property than it’s worth.

Vendor Relationship

When you’re the vendor who has engaged the Agent, most likely you believe you’ve chosen well and your agent is working for you not a prospective purchaser so it would be a shock to learn otherwise.

In most situations this is the way it works, however not always and too often the agent’s own personal agenda gets in the way of doing the right thing and playing the rules.

Property market conditions can and do change the motivations of all parties involved in property sales.

Therefore as the Vendor you need to make sure you have gone the extra mile in your agent selection process. Where the market is in the property cycle does impact on the well-being of the agents and their actions accordingly.

Boom

In a buoyant property market, sales prices are rising, and there are lots of listings, therefore even the less successful agents can make a living during this phase. This usually means they’re not desperate for the sales commission, so arguably you can probably escape a bad deal being done during the boom.

Slump

In a slump there are generally less property listings as property owners hold until the market turns and they can get a better price. Agents that are less successful can go weeks if not months with a sale and it’s during the tough times that desperation can make some people take extraordinary risks. Vendors need to know markets can change quickly, so it’s your job to choose your agent and their agency wisely.

Research

Do your research on the agent and their agency every time you sell a property. Ask better questions when you’re interviewing them. Seek to learn what they are good at, how they plan to market and sell your property. What you’re looking for is non standard sales speak. They should also have come prepared so they can show you their success with selling properties similar to yours.

Market Knowledge

Most important is sounding out their knowledge of the market’s phase in the property cycle and their specific local knowledge of listings and sales. Here are a few questions:

  • How well do they know their area and what’s happening in it?
  • When did they last sell a property similar to yours?
  • How long did it take?
  • What could be done to shorten the time your property is on the market?

Strategy and Plan

Finally as a vendor, make sure the agent’s goals for your house sale align with your own. An agreement needs to be reached between you and the agent on the condition of your property, and the expected sales price. Agents may suggest some cosmetic work, to modernise or refresh the property. Painting walls, home staging and maybe landscaping to create a welcoming entrance.

Condition of the property

At the same time the agent should be able to give you a guesstimate on how much you need to spend and how much more profit is likely to achieve due to the investment. Of course you’re not going to hold them to it and you’d get quotes from the service providers doing the work, but this extra input does separate the good from the average or extraordinary from the ordinary.

Marketing

Understand how your home will be marketed, both offline and online. Review the marketing copy and photos, and make sure it’s what you expect from it. Remember the plan is to get your home sold, in good time for the right price.

Prospective Purchaser Relationship

From a purchaser’s prospective it’s best to assume the listing Agent is working for the vendor not you. Their commission comes from the property sale and it is the vendor that has chosen the agent over his or her peers. This doesn’t mean you’ll have no influence, remember the property cycle does change how an Agent may interact with purchasers. Quieter times call for a different approach therefore know where the market is in the property cycle.

Market Conditions

What happening in the area you are looking to buy a property? Not all cities or regions are in the same phase of the property cycle.

Property sales prices can be going upwards in one city (boom phase) and dropping in another area (slump phase). So it’s important to know what’s happening where you’re looking to buy as well as have a broader view of the national and global environment. Consider everything that may change the stability of the house price so you can purchase well.

Property Sales Analysis

‘Knowledge is power’ and you can use it before you deal with listing agents.

Do your research before you find the home you want to buy.

The more you understand the local area and recent sales activity as well as what’s on the market for sale; the easier it is, to make sure you pay the right price irrespective of whom you deal with as part of the sales process.

Buying a home is a big ticket item so it’s not the time to be seen as a novice. Yes, it may be your first home purchase but you can be confident when you know what’s happening.

Finally, always seek professional legal advice and it’s always a good idea to communicate with your accountant too before you sign an agreement to buy a property.

Summary

Being a vendor or a buyer is no guarantee you’ll be on the right side of a property deal.

The more you know about the property market, and your own circumstances, the more confidence you will have in making the right decision. The aim is to avoid asking the question: Did my agent just rip me off?

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Top Reasons to Move to Texas

street

Texas is a great state to live in for many reasons. If you are in the process of deciding which state you’d like to live in and are weighing all your options let this article help. One of the main things you will learn is the cost of living in Texas is still relatively inexpensive compared to other parts of the USA.

Ross Quade owner of Austin based New Listing Alert explains, “Texas has some wonderful opportunities for people looking to relocate. A good real estate professional can help match the best neighborhoods with your budget.”

Job Market

The economy in Texas is sizzling. Texas is still producing lots of jobs, and the unemployment rate is currently at 3.7% which is near the lowest ever. Construction and the financial sectors are reliable indicators of the overall job marketed in Texas. The Midland area of Texas has one of the lower unemployment rates in all of Texas so if you are looking to relocate that is one area you should consider.

The Food

Is there better food on the planet than in Texas? Whether it is Tex-Mex or BBQ, the great state of Texas delivers. Places like Franklin Barbecue in Austin and Lockhart Chisholm Trail BBQ in Lockhart are Texas traditions. People wait in long lines just for a chance to eat and these places.

Throughout the state, there are plenty of good spots to eat at. In Texas, you don’t need a list because every city and town has one to two go-to locations. Some of these are what you’d call a hole in a wall.

State Income Tax

There are seven states within the United States that have no personal income tax. This is a huge advantage especially for those that make a considerable amount of money. Compare that to states like California where the average state income tax is 6% with the top end of 12%. As you can see moving to Texas from California would nearly pay for your mortgage alone.

Inexpensive Land

Over the past seven years, the price of land in Texas has been going up. The good news is Texas has plenty of land and on the overall scale of things, the price for the land is still relatively low. On average the total cost of the land for a house is around 20%. This varies from city to city but as you can see the land is still very affordable.

Lots of Activities

No matter where you live in Texas there are so many activities you can do and most all within a day trip. Some of the more popular destinations are the Riverwalk in San Antonio, the Space Center in Houston, the Texas State Capital in Austin, and the world-famous Forth Worth Zoo.

If sports are more your thing, there are major sports franchises located near all the large cities. Football is by far the number one watched sport in Texas. Many support their hometown high schools whether they have kids playing or not. The NFL has two major teams with The Cowboys and the Texans.

If you are more of a basketball fan, you have three NBA teams in the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and the Dallas Mavericks.

In addition to sports teams, you can find plenty of hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities in Texas.

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How To Buy A Property In Slovenia

Slovenia

Is visiting Slovenia on your bucket list?

This Balkan country is known for its beautiful mountains, with ski resorts, lakes, and ancient architecture. It’s no longer the best kept secret of Europe and many visitors go a step further, and buy a home for their own use exclusively or to use for their holidays and when not in use, rent out on platforms like AirBnB.

While many countries are tightening the rules around home ownership by offshore residents, in Slovenia, it’s not such an ordeal. They’re still welcoming the offshore investment and hence it’s a popular country for homeowners and also tourist now there’s a lot more accommodation available.

Buying A Property In Slovenia Made Easier

In 2004, Slovenia joined the EU, and it meant EU citizens had equal rights to home ownership as its countrymen. In addition to its members there are three other countries that get the privilege.

Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway are not in the EU but they’re part of the European Economic Agreement or EFTA and this membership allows its citizens the same equal opportunities as their EU neighbours, including freedom of travel, improved residence and employment terms.

With more movement of people, Solvena’s property has been in hot demand, and not just from EU residents but also from citizens of other countries, many as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

Displaced citizens and their descendants, mainly due to the world wars have been keenly researching their ancestral lines to find a way to secure the many benefits of a EU passport. EU member, Lativa was very successful with hundreds of exiles and their descendants secured dual citizenship, which has in turn opened up the treasure trove of the EU, including the purchase of real estate.

Foreigners can also get their pocket of land in Slovenia when they can prove there’s a reciprocal beneficial interest e.g. prove a Slovenian citizen can buy property in country X, then the citizens of country X can also buy property in Slovenia as well.

And if that doesn’t work the next way in is to have a business in Slovenia or be married to a Slovenian national.

As the saying goes: Where there’s a will there’s a way. 🙂 It pays to understand the process and make sure you’ve got all the paperwork required. Property transactions and the legalities vary in all countries. Get legal advice and contact your team of locally based advisors so you know where you stand before signing a real estate sale and purchase agreement.

The Attraction of Slovenia

Slovenia is considered a safe country. In fact it’s one of the safest in Europe. It has a strong growing economy and stable modern democracy. These are the conditions that appeal to entrepreneurs keen to grow startups. With more business, there will be more demand for workers and no shortage of interest. Accommodation is key to house a growing population, so investment in property and business is a must. Solvenia is definitely ‘open for business’.

The natural landscape and architecture is similar to its neighbour, Austria. The country also borders, Hungry, Croatia and Italy.

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Move Where? 4 Key Factors to Help You Figure Out How to Decide Where to Live

choosing the right mortgage broker

Moving regularly ranks as one of the most stressful life events a person can experience.

No matter how excited you might be to start over in a new place, chances are you’re also experiencing a lot of anxiety surrounding your move. For example, you might be wondering how you’re supposed to choose the right place to live.

Finding the right location is essential if you’re going to be happy in your new home. Not sure if you’re making the right decision?

Here are some factors you should consider when you’re trying to figure out how to decide where to live.

How to Decide Where to Live

Whether you want to move to a new city or across the country, there are lots of things to take into account when choosing the location of your new home.

Here are some of the most important things to consider:

1. Tax Burden

There’s a lot of variety in tax rates (and not just property tax rates) depending on which stay you choose to call home.

For example, some states, like Alaska and Oregon, do not charge sales tax. Other states, including Texas, Wyoming, and Washington, do not collect individual income taxes.

If you want to reduce the amount of money you pay each year in taxes, you might want to consider moving to one of these states.

2. Job Opportunities

Of course, you also need to make sure you’ll have opportunities to work in your new city or state.

Before you make a decision, spend some time researching the job markets in the area you’re considering. Take into account differences in salary in different locations, too.

3. Crime Rates

Nobody wants to live in an unsafe area.

Research the crime rates in the state, city, and neighborhood you’re considering before deciding whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

There are lots of online resources that let you look up the number of crimes that have occurred in a particular area, as well as the type of crimes that took place.

4. Cost of Living

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll need to take the cost of living in a particular area into account.

Will your current salary allow you to live comfortably? What kind of house or apartment will you be able to afford? How much do things like gas, groceries, and electricity cost in this new area?

Consider all these factors before you decide whether or not you can afford to live in a specific city.

Find Your Dream Location Today

As you can see, there’s not exactly a simple answer when you’re trying to figure out how to decide where to live. But, if you keep these essential factors in mind, you’ll likely find the process to be a lot easier.

Do you need more help planning your big move? Are you unsure of what to look for in a home or how to get the best price on a house?

Whatever information you need, we’ve got it covered in the buy section of our blog. Whether you want to buy a condo or a multi-family home, check out this section for all kinds of helpful advice.

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