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  Sat Nov 12

BUYING A HOUSE

   
  Fri Nov 04

Home Inspection List - You do as many as possible to prepare

Prepare your house for an inspection


What will a home inspector be looking at and how you can prepare for a home inspection?  The below listing may be helpful in preparing for a home inspection.  Many of these items can be done with little or no cost and many are regular maintenance items for a home. 

  1. Remove grade or mulch from contact with siding.  Six (6) or more inches of clearance is preferred. 
  2. Clean out dirty gutters or debris from the roof. 
  3. Divert all water away from the house; i.e. downspouts, sump pump, condensation drains, etc.  Grade should slope away from the structure.  Clean out basement entry drains. 
  4. Trim trees, roots and bushes back from the foundation, roof, siding and chimney. 
  5. Paint all weathered exterior wood and caulk around the trim, chimney, windows and doors. 
  6. Seal asphalt driveways, if cracking. 
  7. Seal or point up masonry chimney caps.  Install metal fluecap. 
  8. Clean or replace HVAC filter.  Clean dirty air returns and plenum. 
  9. Point up any failing mortar joints in brick or block. 
  10. Test all smoke detectors to ensure they are in safe working condition. 
  11. Update attic ventilation if none is present. 
  12. Have the chimney, fireplace or woodstove cleaned and provide the buyer with a copy of the cleaning record. 
  13. Seal masonry walls in the basement. 
  14. Don't do quick cheap repairs.  You may raise questions that will unfairly cause great concern to buyers and inspectors. 
  15. Ensure that all doors and windows are in proper operating condition, including repairing or replacing any cracked window panes. 
  16. Ensure that all plumbing fixtures (toilet, tub, shower, and sinks) are in proper working conditions.  Check for and fix any leaks.  Caulk around fixtures if necessary. 
  17. Install GFCI receptacles near all water sources.  Test all present GFCI receptacles for proper operation. 
  18. Check sump pump for proper operation. 
  19. Replace any burned out light bulbs. 
  20. Remove rotting wood and/or firewood from contact with the house. 
  21. Ensure that proper grading is followed under a deck. 
  22. Install proper vapor barrier in crawlspaces. 
  23. Caulk all exterior wall penetrations. 
  24. Check to ensure that the crawlspace is dry and install a proper vapor barrier if necessary.  Remove any visible moisture from a crawlspace.  Moisture levels in wood should be below 18% to deter rot and mildew. 
  25. Check that bath vents are properly vented and in working condition. 
  26. Remove paints, solvents, gas, etc., from crawlspace, basement, attic, porch, etc. 
  27. If windows are at or below grade, install window wells and covers. 
  28. Have clear access to attic, crawlspace, heating system, garage and other areas that will need to be inspected. 
  29. If the house is vacant, make sure that all utilities are turned on, including water, electric, water heater, furnace, air condition and breaks in the main panel.

 

   
  Sat Oct 22

How Landscape Design Can Boost Home Value

(Family Features) A recent survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) found that sustainable, low-maintenance designs are top trends among residential landscape projects. The study, which asked landscape architects to rate the expected popularity of outdoor design elements, points to a great demand for ecologically sensitive upgrades intended to preserve the environment, conserve water and reduce landscape maintenance.

According to the study, the top five upgrades are native plantings, adapted drought plantings, food or vegetable gardens, fire pits and fireplaces and low-maintenance landscapes. If you'd like to incorporate these ideas into your outdoor space, it’s best to hire a professional. Here’s why:

1. A landscape architect is well equipped to design an outdoor living space that will add value to your home, extend your living space and allow you to enjoy all that nature has to offer in a controlled setting. From arbors to fountains, they can create a space that is both inviting and environmentally sustainable.

2. Hiring a landscape architect is a terrific investment for your home. Research from Virginia Tech shows that landscapes literally grow in value over time, while traditional home additions or remodels start to lose value the minute the dust settles.

3. Landscape architects are licensed professionals who often work with landscaping or other construction companies to install their designs. Think of the fashion designer imagining an outfit while a clothing manufacturer makes the apparel, or an artist designing a wall poster that's printed by another company.

4. Landscape architects are trained to think about landscapes as systems. They will assess your property's problem areas, as well as possibilities, and create a solid plan that addresses both the big picture and exact details of how your landscape will look. They will handle all the details, saving you time and stress.

5. Landscape architects will deliver a finished project that you will love and that will comply with regulations and codes. It will be a special place that you and your family and friends will enjoy for years to come.

   
  Fri Oct 14

2016 Predicted to Be Housing’s Golden Year

 
     

2016 Predicted to Be Housing’s Golden Year

 

Officials from mortgage giant Freddie Mac have made a bold prediction: This year housing starts and home prices will reach their highest levels since 2006.

The main reasons behind its bullish forecast is low mortgage rates, an improving job market, and a gradual increase in housing supply.

Read more: March/April 2016 Market Pulse

“Housing markets are poised for their best year in a decade,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “In our latest forecast, total home sales, housing starts, and home prices will reach their highest levels since 2006.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remains well-below 4 percent this year. This week it averaged 3.71 percent.

“Expect the 30-year mortgage rate to remain very attractive throughout the spring home-buying season, staying below 4 percent until the second half of the year,” according to Freddie Mac’s monthly Outlook for March.

For home sellers, they’ll be able to enjoy more home price increases. “In 2015, house prices increased about 6 percent on a year-over-year basis,” Freddie notes in its outlook. “Expect house prices to continue to rise, but at a moderating pace, with annual price appreciation slowing to 4.8 percent in 2016.”

Also, gains in employment across the country will help to fuel hotter housing markets, according to Freddie Mac. The unemployment rate dropped below 5 percent recently.

   
  Wed Jun 07

GREAT TIME TO PURCHASE

The Housing Market is Doing Just Fine

There are some that think that housing affordability is a challenge. Historically, that’s not true. Others think that home prices are approaching bubble values. If we look back over the last sixteen years, that is also not the case. As a matter of fact, the numbers show that the U.S. residential real estate market is doing just fine.

Here are two articles and excerpts that make this point:

The Housing Market Is Finally Starting to Look HealthyThe NY Times

It has been an excruciatingly long time coming, but the housing sector in the United States is finally getting healthy. Thank millennials and thank homebuilders who are starting to produce more of the starter houses young people demand.”

Why the U.S. Housing Market Is Good and Getting Even BetterThe Street

“Interest rates are so low now that a family can buy the median-priced U.S. home on income of less than $45,000 a year -- about $11,000 less than the median household income. And half of America's houses are cheaper than that.” 
There are those worried that all this positive talk resembles what was being said in 2004 and 2005. Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains the difference very simply but effectively:
“The havoc during the last cycle was the result of building too many homes and of speculation fueled by loose credit. That’s the exact opposite of what we have today.” (emphasis added)
   
   
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