Prevention of Carpenter Ants

Posted on Category:home improvement

Carpenter Ants are invasive pests that can be prevented.
Carpenter ants like excavating wood material which has been affected because of water to build their nest. Unlike the termite carpenter ants really do not consume the wood; they will chew right into the wood to create passageways identified as galleries inside of the wood. They'll live life inside these galleries and come out in the open during the night time to look for groceries. Carpenter ants are likely to move close to two-hundred ft. away from the nest in order to forage for meals. Throughout the fall they choose to prey on sweet things along the lines of honey, jelly, not to mention fruit, in the spring they like protein for instance various meats. If they can't come across these food types they will eat living or even deceased pests and other organic matter.
Carpenter ants are a nuisance insect but also are typically destructive to wood. These guys don't possess a stinger nevertheless they can nibble utilizing their mandibles (designed for gnawing into wood) when picked up. This species of ants are one of the larger types of ants around they are about 1/4 to 1/2 in. long and are generally blackish or even reddish orange in color.
Tell-tell signs that you might have an issue with carpenter ants might be ant tracks in the kitchen area where food items are saved. Restrooms near the toilet or below the sink should there be a leak present. You may even discover small hills of saw dust that they've pushed out of the galleries. Occasionally at nighttime if it is really quite you might even notice them in the wall space chewing on the wood.
Here are several of the items that you can try around you house to assist in preventing carpenter ant concerns:
o Address all of the roof leaks, plumbing related leaks and also any other types of leaks you can see around the home
o Cut back all tree limbs away from the house as well as the roof
o Close off all the cracks and openings contained in the foundation
o Store fire wood away from the house and garage
Prevention is the key but if you sense that you have a carpenter ant problem don't hesitate to phone an experienced pest control company to come and have a look.
Remember, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of repairs."

First 5 Steps Before Buying a Home

Posted on Category:house and home

Purchasing a property regardless of whether it's a family home, condo or rental complex requires you to first do your homework. These following five key areas should be investigated prior to the purchase of any property:

  1. Arrange Financing
    Understanding the different types of mortgages, what you qualify for and negotiating the best rate and terms should all be completed before you even look at your first property.
    You don't want to waste anyone's time, including your own, looking at properties and getting excited only to find out your credit history is so poor that nobody is going to finance you at this time. Ensure you have spoken with a mortgage broker or other financial lender and have been pre-qualified for a particular price range.
    Now that you know your price range it will save you time and help you narrow your search. You may have been approved; however, most lending institutions now also require that once you find a property it too will need to be approved, based on a professional appraisal. This helps prevent individuals from over mortgaging properties. So remember, you and the property need to be approved.
  2. Find a Realtor
    Licensed realtors work with real estate transactions every day. They only make money when a deal comes together so they will work hard to ensure you find what you need.
    Agents can be a great source of knowledge but I would avoid a dual-agency situation. This is when one agent is looking after the interests of both parties to the transaction. It is my experience that in all real-estate transactions each party is better represented by separate agents.
    In the typical real estate transaction the seller will engage the services of a realtor to list their property for sale. The seller pays a commission to his/her agent of which a percentage is paid to the selling agent. Therefore, as a buyer you receive the services of your agent free of charge.
  3. Consult a Lawyer
    This is one area you do not want to try and save a few dollars by attempting to close a deal yourself. It is imperative that you find a "real estate" lawyer that knows the area in which the property is located.
    Finding out the dream home you just purchased didn't actually belong to the person you gave the money to, or is sitting on an old waste dump and seeping methane gas, can put a real damper on moving day.
    You may not see all the work your lawyer does, behind the scenes, but you will sure notice the complications if they are not done.
  4. Conduct a Property Inspection
    In my experience people will often spend more time inspecting, test-driving and having their mechanic examine a used $5,000 car than they do inspecting a $200,000 home. The information you can gain from an inspection from a reputable, qualified home inspector is priceless, yet only costs a few hundred dollars.
    The purpose of this home inspection is generally not to make or break the deal but rather, open the purchasers eyes to what updates and changes will need to be completed and when they should be completed. A $300,000 home may no longer be worth $300,000 if you find it needs a new roof, furnace, foundation repairs etc.
    It's hard to negotiate a price if you don't know what exactly you're buying.
  5. Prepare your best offer
    Hopefully, you are using the resources of a realtor to help you in preparing the offer as it can be very complex.
    The first thing you need to know is: are you the only person making an offer or will you be competing with others. If you are competing - all gloves are off. You must make the best offer up front, no games. Give the highest price you are willing to pay and remove every condition you can, then pray.
    Otherwise, several factors come into play: how long has the property been on the market, how this property compares to others in the immediate area, how it compares to others on the same price range, what did your home inspection reveal etc.
    Always include a deposit amount large enough to show you are serious (You will get it back if the offer is not accepted). Focus on the big issues: Purchase price, closing date, conditions for inspection and financing. Don't argue over curtains and kitchen tables.
    In summary, real estate buying can be exciting, profitable and enjoyable however, it is not something you should try alone. You would be wise to utilize the expertise of several professionals. If you have chosen a reputable realtor and lawyer - listen to them, they know what they're doing. First try a mortgage calculator on line like the one at

Does a Home Inspector Inspect The Exterior of My Property?

Posted on Category:home decor

Homebuyers want to know if a potential property is a sound investment both inside and out, so it's a fair question to ask whether or not the exterior is covered by a home inspection. The short answer is yes and no.
What a home inspector focuses on is the structural integrity of a property, not the cosmetic. For instance, surface grade, hardscaping and drainage within six feet of the inspected building or main parking structure would be included, however the integrity of a pool or a hot tub would not be as those are aesthetic structures.
As far as the actual home, an inspector should be looking at exterior portions of a representative sampling of doors and windows, to make sure there are no major leaks or cracks in the framing or under the door. Some homes shift over time and doors can lean on an angle, creating a gap where heated or cooled air can escape and ramp up electric bills.
Wall cladding, veneers, flashing, trim, eaves, soffits and fascias will also be inspected. Wall cladding is the siding or external covering of a house. This should serve as a form of weatherproofing to keep the elements away from the home. Veneers, including stone veneers, are a decorative element for a home, and are often found on upscale homes. Flashing is what keeps water from entering joints between different building materials as well as locations that are vulnerable to water penetration. Improperly installed flashing can result in wall or roof leaks. Eaves and trim will be checked for cracks and for efficiency. Soffits refer to the undersides of a construction element, such as an arch, stairs or overhanging section of a roof eave. Fascia is a band that runs horizontally under the roof edge and comprises the visible edge of the cornice. Inspecting each of these small details can reveal potential problems in a home or structure.
Outside of the home, decks, patios, balconies, stairways, columns, pathways, guardrails and handrails are all on the list of what needs to be inspected. Cracks in cement can deteriorate the concrete. As well, water damage from sprinkler systems can eat away at concrete over time and make it unstable. Patios and balconies need to be structurally sound in order to hold weight. Wood decks and balconies can experience rotting or warping that creates hazards.
As previously mentioned, landscaping, pools, hot tubs, water features such as outdoor fountains or koi ponds will not be covered in a home inspection. The philosophy is that damage to these does not affect the safety of the home. A home inspector's job is to ensure the structural integrity of the property, not the aesthetic.
Home buyers are welcome to have a landscaper evaluate the aesthetic outdoor portions of a property before they make an offer. Be sure to hire a trained and licensed home inspector, check their reviews on-line and feel free to as questions before, during and after the inspection so your expectations can be met.

How to Know If You Are Paying the Right Price for a Home

Posted on Category:house and home

If you are going to purchase your home then it is a thrilling experience and you will remember it for your lifetime. However, the house purchase process goes through several important phases and the first of them involves home inspection. As you can figure out, home inspection is an important part of this whole buying process and you need to be aware of it to make a better house purchase decision.
Why home inspection is so important?
First of all a home inspection will tell you what condition the house is in. In case the home inspection reveals major flaws in the house then you are in a better position to discuss price reduction with your seller.
In addition to it you will be able to make the house owner correct those problems before it is sold. In home inspection problems causing health hazards can also be traced and thus such inspection will make sure your family's health does not get affected.
What questions should you ask?
During home inspection you should be present there and ask as many questions as you feel like to home inspector. You will find that the home inspector will be more than happy to respond to all your queries. Few such questions that are important to ask are as follows:
Inquire about condition of drainage system in and around the house and if knob/tube/aluminum wiring is utilized since such wiring normally exists in old houses and often creates problems in approval of home insurance.You can also ask about methods by which you can keep the basement dry, ways to rectify exterior problems and what are the things you can do to enhance roofing's lifespan.Ask about condition of plumbing in the house, in case clean out cap for the sewer is new then you will know that there is some kind of problem and you should inquire about it from home inspector. Additionally, you should get information related to age of sewer pipes as well as plumbing supplies.Lastly, raise queries with regards to the structural design of house as well as the type of heating system which is presently installed in the house.
Benefits of Home Inspection
The main benefit of home inspection is that it can help you find problems in the house such as:
Wasping or broken edges which indicate that asphalt shingles have deteriorated.Bulging or leaning of outside walls.Roof sagging in between rafters and trusses.No grounding for electrical outlets.At downspouts the gutters have no downward sloping.De-laminated condition wooden roof (deck) close to where shingles row ends.Broker masonry cap in chimney.Corrosion in water pipes.Flaking masonry in decks/porches.Too much extension of downspouts from foundations.Basement having water penetration identified from stains or loose tiles.Bowing foundations with effluorescence marks.Kitchens/bathrooms with rotting/staining under counter tops.Walls with drywall seams.
To conclude we can say that if you keep note of the abovementioned problems & get all the necessary details from home inspector, you will be sure that you are paying the right price for the house and no problems will occur in future.

Give Your Home the 30,000 Mile Checkup!

Posted on Category:home improvement

Your automobile is ready for its 30,000 mile maintenance service. Why not your HOME? Here is what you should expect to inspect to keep your home in tip top condition.
One of the easiest things you can do to prolong the life of your home is to continually maintain it. This is more than making sure the utility bills are updated and ensuring you have the best available insurance. Your home is an environment where you reside with tons of working parts that can quickly and easily stop working if they are not cared for. When your car reaches 30,000 miles, you will want to take it in for its 30,000 mile routine maintenance. Right?
Annually, you should treat your home to the same loving care as you do your ? Well you live in your home. You spend many more hours of your daily life in your home environment, the place you hang your hat is where you live. Don't you think that treating your home and yourself to some loving kindness once a year is well worth the time and investment? After all, you don't live in your car! (Campers Excluded of course).
Here is what you should expect to Inspect:
Faucets and shower heads
Kitchen and bathroom cabinets
Water Heater
Wood cabinets and trim
Interior doors and hardware
Garage Door
Window and door tracks
Basement or crawl spaces
Ceramic Tile
Heating and cooling systems
Kitchen exhaust fan
Wiring, electrical cords, and plugs
Smoke Detector
GFIC Outlets
Concrete and Asphalt
In the Fall
Plumbing shut-off valves
Outside Faucets
Water Heater
Faucet Aerators
Tiled areas
Shower doors/tub enclosures
Weather stripping
Sectional garage doors
Electrical and appliances
Heating System
Cooling System
Refrigerator Coils
Combustible appliances
Gutters and Downspouts
Exterior walls
Concrete and asphalt
Septic system
Lawn and patio furniture
In the Spring
Water Heater
Tiled Areas
Shower doors/tub enclosures
Weather stripping
Electrical and appliances
Heating and cooling system
Circuit breakers
Gutters and downspouts
Exterior walls
Concrete and asphalt.
There is no hard number for how much maintaining your home will cost. Bottom line nothing lasts forever, sooner or later some things will need repairs. Your home goes through an aging process much like people. You wouldn't short cut your health? So why shortcut, on the health of your home?
Routine maintenance checks will minimize the cost and give you the homeowner, the ability to plan ahead and foresee repairs that are coming and give you the peace of mind that everything is taken care of.
Some of you out there can take a list like this and perform the maintenance inspection yourself. Your cost is only the time spent to and from the home store for supplies.
Some of you may consider this a daunting task. If this is the case,call F10 Inspection today and schedule your homes yearly checkup.
Remember regardless of the type of home you live in, your inspection will give you a crash course and a set of tools to use as a checklist of items to pay attention to make your investment safe and sound for years to come. Don't skip the important step. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish!! Maintaining your property is an important process and the inspection - is worth every penny.

5 Important Closing Costs to Plan For When Buying a New Home

Posted on Category:house and home

Buying a new home can be overwhelming to say the least. The excitement of finally finding the one house to call your own is unparalleled. Nevertheless, some future homeowners disregard closing costs until the last minute, which can lead to a great deal of stress. Here is a quick checklist of a few of the expenses you should keep in mind during this memorable experience.
A home inspection is a vital tool for the new buyer, as it can provide you with some peace of mind regarding the status of your new home. Home inspection identifies any structural, water, and/or electrical damage, and allows you to know what you are getting into and budget accordingly. Inspection costs can vary, but generally run for around $400. Furthermore, if an inspector discovers a plumbing problem or other household issue, then you are able to prepare financially for future maintenance. As a result, the upkeep will not come as a surprise later on.
Prepaid Costs
Frequently new homebuyers forget prepaid costs, such as water bills, utilities, home association fees, and property taxes. These bills should be discussed upfront with your real estate agent. An experienced, reputable realtor should review this list with you before closing and advise accordingly. Just make sure to have money set aside for such costs.
Financial institutions may require a home appraisal before approving your loan. This is a regular practice. Keep in mind that appraisers are licensed professionals by individual states, and some lenders do have an appraiser on-staff. If you are not comfortable having your lender provide you with an appraiser, feel free to hire someone who does not have any ties. Appraisal costs vary depending on your state of residence - the best person to advise you on this task is your realtor.
Insurance is necessary to protect your home in case of flood or fire damage. Insurance coverage varies depending on what type of policy you buy. There are many packages and numerous insurance companies available, so make sure to do plenty of research. Compare costs and choose the best one for your situation. One thing to remember is that insurance is an annual cost, so add it to your yearly budget.
Additionally, do not forget title insurance. Title insurance protects you from issues arising from incorrect signatures on documents, forgery, or other title defects that may result in financial loss. Furthermore, if the previous owner had any permit violations, then you will not be held responsible for them.
Moving Day Costs
Expenses incurred on moving day can be some of the highest expenses you pay when moving into a new home. Some people forget to set aside finances for painters, locksmiths, and new kitchen appliance installations. How much are professional movers going to charge? Are you hiring someone to touch-up the driveway, yard, and renovate the landscaping prior to moving-in? These are all things you need to keep in mind when reaching the closing phase on buying your new home.
Buying a new home is an exhilarating experience, and when you reach the closing cost phase, you are narrowing in on moving day. Finding an experienced real estate agent to assist you throughout the entire process will make your transition into a new home much easier. When you find an experienced realtor who is able to provide ample information about your home, the neighborhood, other homes in the area, and local schools, you will be able to focus on the positive thoughts regarding buying your new home and all it entails.

How to Buy Your First Home

Posted on Category:home decor

Congratulations on deciding to buy a home! Because buying your first home can be complicated, we have written this article to guide you through the steps to home ownership. As well, we have included links to the major banks. Since every bank is slightly different, it is good to check them out and decide who you will want to handle your mortgage. We have supplied you with a Canadian Mortgage Calculator so you have an idea of what your payments will be. Current interest rates are listed on the banks' websites to help you make the most accurate calculations.
Banker or Mortgage Broker. What's the Difference?
Both of these agents are doing the same thing. The only difference is that while a banker only represents the bank that he works for, a mortgage broker approaches all the banks to find you the best mortgage for your particular needs. There is no cost to you for using their services, since they are paid by the banks that they deal with. If you have dealt with the same bank for many years and feel a certain amount of loyalty, go ahead and approach them first. Most banks have their own "broker", but these are not brokers in the true sense. Just remember that an actual mortgage broker doesn't work for any one particular bank.
Pre-approval. What's that?
When you begin your search for a house, you will need to know how much the bank is willing to lend you, based on your current income and expenses. The bank will want you to come and see them (and some will even come and see you!) with your financial information, and will put together this information for you. You are not committing yourself to anything at this point, and if you decide that you would like to find a mortgage elsewhere, there is nothing to stop you from doing so. This is just a guideline so that you will know in which price range you should shop for a house.
Choosing a Realtor
Many people, when buying their first home, choose as their realtor the agent who has the listing contract for the first house they are interested in. Be aware that when the realtor acts as both the seller's agent and the buyer's agent, the realtor will give precedence to the best interests of the seller. Since the realtor is paid a percentage of the selling price, they will probably not negotiate as hard for you as they will for the seller. One strategy that works well for most people is to try out several realtors, and when you find the one who you would like to have on your "team", ask them to help you with your search for your home. They should be happy to send you information and listings on houses that suit your criteria. You might also be interested in reading our article on How To Choose A Realtor.
Searching the Listings
You can easily search the listings in any area online. The website that contains all the Canadian MLS listings is . You can easily select your search criteria: price, location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and numerous other choices. Keep your ranges as broad as you can to view the most listings.
If you are viewing many, many houses, it is wise to take your camera with you. Your agent will give you a listing sheet of information about the house, but there are lots of details to take in, and after a while it's difficult to remember which features belong to which house. As a courtesy, check with your agent first if they are okay with you taking photos. If so, take pictures of the front of the house first, and then you will know that the subsequent photos belong to that property. If you have a video camera, that is also a good tool, especially if you add commentary as you go through the home. Be sure and take pictures of the "not-so-good" as well as the things you especially like.
Flooring, cabinetry, and appliances are important items to take note of, as well as things like parking and yard space. It's likely that if you fall in love on first sight, you will want to come back and see the house again, so if you have forgotten a few things, it's no problem. Many people walk into a house and the first thing that jumps out at them is the "stuff" that's in it. It's important to look at the actual house, and not the furnishings or furniture arrangements. Try to picture yourself in this home, and keep in mind that it's fairly simple to clean the windows, paint a room, or even have new flooring installed. However, you should factor in these costs when reviewing the price of the house. One thing that can be more difficult to take care of is odors. If you need to repaint the entire house, replace all the flooring, or worse yet, the sub-floor (due to pet nastiness), this could be a costly repair. Test things like water pressure, open and close doors and windows, look under the sinks for any plumbing leaks or other issues. Any repairs that need to be made may affect the move-in date, unless you think you can live in a renovation arena for some time!
Making An Offer
Okay, you found the right house for you and now comes the exciting part! When you are certain that you will be happy with your choice of house, location, price, size and condition of the house, it's time to make an offer. If you can, try to remove all the emotion from this part of the process. It's the step that most people find the most stressful and the scariest. In reality, your real estate agent is the one who will do most of the work, and all you need to decide is what is the most that you are willing to pay for this particular house. Once you have that figure in your mind, go ahead and try to negotiate a better deal.
If you want this house so badly that you are willing to pay top dollar, your first offer will be different than if you are slightly out of your price range and would like to see if you can get the buyer down to your affordability level. Don't worry about making an offer too low. If the seller is "offended" and refuses to come down in price, you can certainly make a counter offer. Most real estate deals are only reached after a few negotiations, until both parties are satisfied. Keep in mind that a few thousand dollars will not make a huge increase in your mortgage payments, and if you're nervous about increasing your offer, check out the mortgage payment calculations again. You'll probably see that there is nothing to worry about.
Price is not the only negotiating tool. If you can be flexible with your time frame, a seller may look more favourably on you if you allow them to choose the closing/possession date. For them, it may make a difference of a few weeks at a hotel, or paying two mortgages, or staying longer due to work or school schedules.
Subjects and Conditions
As your agent is writing up your offer, he (or she) will ask you which subjects and conditions you would like to have included. Conditions and subjects are a way of protecting yourself from being locked into a deal that you might need to reconsider. The following is a sample of the conditions and subjects that are most commonly attached to an offer:
This offer is subject to the buyer arranging necessary financing at current interest rates and at a lending institute of the buyer's choice, on or before______.
This offer is subject to the buyer being satisfied with a pre-purchase home inspection report on or before_______.
This offer is subject to the buyer's lawyer approving all documents by _.
You may want to include these conditions as well:
All attached and unattached goods are to be in good working order at closing.
All attached and unattached goods as seen and photographed on
Items you may want to have included with the house are things like appliances, window coverings, area rugs, freezers and other items that are not attached to the house. These items can be used a negotiating tools, so if you see something you want, don't be afraid to ask for it, and you can always make a concession to get a better price.
Important time considerations
You will need to leave enough time to make all the necessary arrangements prior to taking possession of the house. It's wise to leave at least three weeks for things like arranging a mortgage, getting a home inspection, and making an appointment with a lawyer or a notary public. Also keep in mind that sometimes negotiations take a little longer than you anticipate, and this will affect the amount of time you will need to make all these arrangements. Always make sure that the dates will work for you, and if a long weekend interrupts the process, you should build in some extra time. And since banks, lawyers, and other professionals are sometimes closed on weekends, consider those implications.
You will need to choose your possession date wisely as well. If you are currently renting, you will have to give proper notice to your landlord before you move, or you will risk having to pay rent as well as a mortgage. And finding friends to help you move on a long weekend can be daunting too.
If your offer has been accepted, you will have to pay an amount of money as a show of good faith. This money will go towards the down payment at closing. Never give the money directly to the seller. Make sure that it goes into your realtor or lawyer's trust account.
Finding A Mortgage
When your offer has been accepted, you will have to make a decision regarding which bank or broker you will deal with. It is important to start this process as soon as possible, since you only have a limited amount of time and you may risk losing the deal. It is always possible to have dates extended, but should not be necessary. If you do find yourself running out of time, contact your realtor and explain that you will need to change the subject removal dates.
If you've decided to use a mortgage broker, give them a call. They will tell you which bank will has the best current rates. Make an appointment with your broker, and ask them what paperwork they will need you to bring along. Keeping organized at this point will make things a lot easier, so get yourself a notebook and write everything down: appointments, to-do lists, questions you may, and so on. Keep a file of important documents such as your offer to purchase, any financial information like pay stubs for the last three months, bank account information, credit card information, and a list of any assets you may have.
If you are intimidated by this part of the process, remember that a bank will only make money by lending money, and should be eager to have you as a customer. Don't be afraid to ask your broker to explain things in terminology you are familiar with. Some words and phrases are baby talk to him and he may forget that he speaks a different language than you do. The bank will want to have an appraisal done. Some banks will cover the cost, but only if you ask.
Down Payment
Your bank will require you to pay some money towards the purchase of the house. Banks require 20%, but if you are unable to come up with that sum of money, you may also qualify to pay less. In that case, the bank will go through an insurance company such as Genworth Financial or Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). CMHC is a corporation owned by the Government of Canada who provides mortgage insurance to the banks. These insurance fees will be added to your mortgage payments.
Home Inspection
After you have received approval from the bank, you should schedule a home inspection. There is no point in paying for a home inspection unless you are certain that you will go ahead with the purchase if the inspection is favorable. When you are deciding on which home inspector to use, ask him about the things that he does not inspect. Not all inspectors cost the same, so call several to see what they charge. If you are concerned about the plumbing or wiring, you may also want to bring along a professional to have those items checked. There will usually be some things that the inspector will notice, and he should go over the report with you personally. Putting a dollar value on necessary repairs will help you to decide if you would like to re-negotiate the price with the seller.
Closing Day
You will have to have an appointment with your lawyer/notary on or before the closing date, so be sure to set aside some time for this.
Lawyer vs. Notary Public
This is strictly a matter of personal choice. It pays to shop around, since sometimes a notary will be a little cheaper. The only time you will need a lawyer is if a deal falls apart at the eleventh hour and there is a breach of contract.
House Insurance
The lawyer/notary may want proof that the house has been adequately insured, so you will need to arrange for this before closing day.
Just a few things will happen at this appointment. You will have to bring along the balance of the down payment and any fees and closing costs associated with the purchase. The lawyer/notary will phone you ahead of time to tell you how much to bring with you to this appointment. These fees include your lawyer/notary fees, disbursements, which are the amounts owing for property taxes, etc. and various other taxes such as property transfer taxes and sales taxes. The lawyer/notary will pay the seller. He will register the home in your name, and now you are a home owner! You will receive the title to your home in a few weeks, along with copies of all the documents and paperwork. You will receive the keys from either your realtor or the lawyer/notary.

What to Consider When Buying a Home

Posted on Category:home improvement

It's often said that, when buying a home, the three most important things to consider are location, location, location. That kind of hyperbole is intriguing. But in real life, the truth is, there are a host of factors that come into play when you're in the market for a new home. With so many determinants in play, the process of selecting and buying a new home can be trying. The following home buying tips are offered to help you make the most of your experience.
*Location. Yes, although it may not be the only factor, it's a definite consideration. Families or couples who plan on starting a family, need to pay close attention to the school district. In today's climate, a history of good test scores isn't always an adequate indication of a good district. Be sure to ask about any trouble with delinquency, as well as the percentage of graduates who are accepted at four-year colleges. Even if you don't have children, a good school district is important for resale value. Also consider cultural and recreational opportunities, as well as the proximity of stores and employment opportunities.
*Price. No list of home buying tips would be complete without addressing the art of the offer. You may know how much you can pay, but do you know how much the home you're interested in is worth? Ask your realtor to see listings of homes sold in the neighborhood during the past 23 months, or head to the city clerk's office to find the sales information yourself. Don't rely on the asking prices of other houses; they may not reflect the final selling price. Also be sure to ask how long the home has been on the market. Generally, the longer a house has been for sale, the more willing the sellers will be to negotiate.
*Get a home inspection. This single tip can potentially save thousands of dollars in costly repairs down the road.
*Look around. When you see a home you like, be sure to explore the neighborhood to see who else - and what else - is in the area. Your street may have lovely homes, but a block over, there may be vacant buildings or a noisy business or highway.
Above all, take your time. Purchasing a home is a major life decision. These home buying tips can help you find the home you want at the price you can afford.

Is 2021 the End? Not for Real Estate

Posted on Category:house and home

For all those who think the end is nigh, I inclined to say: You're late. For the Real Estate market ended in 2008. The market as we knew it is dead and gone and is not likely to return. Oh, don't get me wrong, this country is as stupid as it is bankrupt, so dumb policies will return. Perhaps 15 to 20 years from now, some sort of bubble will occur again. Washington and Wall Street are driven by greed not conscience or actual interest in doing the right thing.
But in the meantime we have foreclosures out the wazoo, banks that do not want to lend (despite their advertisements to the contrary) and a moribund economy that is sinking for all but the top 2% of earners. Things are great for Bill, Warren and the Donald, but for most others the going is getting rougher. Real wages have been declining for 30 years in America. No one seems to care or has even noticed. Few people realize the government now reports "household income" as opposed to average income, like it did back when I was young. Why, because household income covers the real truth, with a fiction. Sure income looks good, in comparison to the past, but it is with two earners, not one. So in reality it is half of what it would be, if still reported the old way.
I am not a Democrat, nor am I liberal. But I am not a fool and see what few others care to look at. In a country more worried about Brittany Spears or some rapper or sports star, we get the shaft from big corporations, banks and government. It was said by someone far wiser than me: People get the government they deserve.
We deserve what we get, because no one cares and no one is watching. If the herd (by that I mean the average idiot) was as concerned with the voting record of their congressman as they are the next Monday night football game, maybe we would have good government. Until then, expect NO real changes in Washington.
I am not a Republican either, so I am not defending either side. Both are despicable, in my mind. The left has lost their mind and the right has lost their common sense. I wish we could have a 3rd party, a middle of the road party. But don't hold your breath. The Tea party is not middle of the road, they don't know what they want. They define themselves by what they are against.
Well, enough about politics. People, who know me, know that I never really discuss politics, so this rant is not my norm. (The beauty of a blog, I can spout off all I want). But, back to my real reason for this blog, which is defined as a real estate related blog.
What does this all mean for REAL ESTATE?
Well, for one thing, house prices are not going to rise at anywhere near recent rates seen during the boom. Except is a few select markets, the rise will be very slow if at all, for some time. This is for four reasons.

  1. Foreclosures inhibit prices and there are still millions of them that have to be sold for their effect to end.
  2. Banks do not want to lend and policies now in place have greatly changed who qualifies in terms of credit rating and income ratios.
  3. This is NOT a country of savers and with $4.00 gas, who can save up the down payments now required?
  4. Demand is blunted also by the fact that people upside down in their homes have little desire to move up or downsize and take that beating in real (as opposed to paper) dollars.
  5. The economy. People who can buy, are afraid to take the plunge.
    Some economists and analysts still say further drops in prices are possible (or even likely) in many markets. This scares potential buyers, with good cause. I personally think further drops are likely in some areas and within any city, in some neighborhoods. Homes are still being foreclosed at high rates and this can only prolong the agony.
    My advice
    So if you want to buy, be careful, look at the market, and particularly, the area. Don't buy more than you can afford, the market rising will not buy you out at a profit, like it might have 4 years ago.
    Buy a well built home, many pieces of shit were thrown up during the boom years. 80's houses are the absolute worst.
    Seriously look at the homes energy costs. Cheap electricity and gas rates are going fast. Huge energy hogs with low efficiency furnaces and a/c units, single pane windows and poor insulation are to be avoided. Replacing windows and complete HVAC systems is expensive and the payback is not there yet. Besides old homes can never be really properly insulated unless you are gutting it for a major rehab anyway.
    Look at the long term trend for your city. Is it destined to decline? If so, rent. Better yet move to city that has better long term prospects and rent until you know the area.
    I am from Syracuse, NY originally, where real estate never took off during the boom. In fact it went backwards since the mid 80's. Why? The city lost jobs and population. You cannot sell in a shrinking market. Homes there sell for 40 percent of their high in the early 80's. Again, even there some areas held up well and did not decline, but never rose as well as other areas of the country.
    Don't buy something only because it is cheap. What you do not know will hurt you, as the whole country found out. If you find something that is almost free (relatively speaking) should you buy it? That depends, on the city, the neighborhood, the home itself and your financial situation and life situation. Owning a money pit never helped anyone, so look before you leap. If the home needs repairs and you can do them yourself and have the cash to buy the needed supplies, then go ahead if the area is ok.
    I have seen many homes that are now valueless here in Atlanta. Foreclosures that copper thieves have damaged so bad the cost of repair exceeds the value of the home if repaired. The average price is less than 10 grand here in 3 different zip codes here, according to recent newspaper story. You might have to sleep with a 12 gauge under the sheets, but they are out there.
    Is the price right? Not for me, but maybe you like life on the edge! As a home inspector, I am not supposed to influence your decision just report facts.
    That is what I do and have been doing for some time. Never buy a home without a good inspection by an inspector who has not performed at least 400 inspections. I have inspected over 3000 homes and I can tell you that it took that many for the learning curve to start leveling off. Even now I still occasionally see something weird that I have never seen before. I love this because I get to learn something new. But I also would have missed some things if I did not have the vast experience of seeing so many screwed up things. Defects do not always jump out and shake your hand, and crooked sellers are still out there, artfully hiding them, more than ever.
    People forced to sell at a loss have often foregone routine maintenance and have hidden defects that they are hoping your inspector will miss. And about 40% of them will. I once found over $40,000 (my estimate) in hidden damage on a stucco home. The seller was a crooked realtor. The eventual buyer paid over $62,000 for repairs. I know because the later buyer (I advised mine to walk) hired me to testify against his dumb inspector.
    Ironically, I get calls all the time from buyers looking for a cheap inspector. Some fools just never learn.
    I am a middle of the road inspector in terms of my fees, not even near the most expensive here in Atlanta. The highest priced ones are often not as good as I am, but like all endeavors in American business, he who advertises the most often gets a reputation that belies the truth.
    Lastly, about inspectors; don't assume an engineer is a better inspector than one who isn't. I know several and have gone with them and seen them in the field. The old saying; "Can't see the forest for the trees" comes to mind.
    Until the next one…

How To Build Your Own Self Build Ideal Home!

Posted on Category:house and home

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