Date Archives: February 2020

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February
28

A fixer-upper might have a lot more problems than you think. The last thing you want to do is purchase a home that ends up costing you more to fix than you calculated for. So before you spend a lot of your time and money on a fixer-upper, you need to know the questions to ask first.



Without asking the right questions, you could be buying a lemon—what was a moderately expensive project in your mind could quickly turn into a money pit! Here are five of the most critical questions you need to ask before putting up your earnest money deposit and purchasing a fixer-upper:

1. Is the Investment Worth It?
Deciding on whether to purchase a fixer-upper is a big deal. You need to make sure that it's an investment you're willing to commit to. If you have a contractor, they'll make you aware of the state of the home, and also give you a rough estimate of the total costs of fixing the house.

However, if you don't have a contractor, you need to ask the homeowner as many questions as you can. Ask them about the condition of the roof, foundation, plumbing, windows, etc.

Even when you have a trusted contractor, it's essential to have a professional home inspector look over the property. A home inspector is trained to find problems that a contractor might otherwise overlook, discovering what is often referred to as "inspection deal breakers."

By doing a thorough examination of the condition of the home, you can decide whether you want to purchase it or not.

2. Do You Have the Time to Invest?
This is a project that's going to take up a ton of your time. Whether you have any help or not, at the end of the day, it's going to be your home. That means you'll be in charge of that home day in and day out.

If anything goes wrong and there's an accident that occurs in the home, you'll be the only one responsible for dealing with that situation. So if you're serious about buying fixer-uppers, you need to learn how to manage your time. Additionally, if you're not looking to hire a contractor, you will need more time to spare.

3. Do You Have the Money to Invest?
You need to be 100-percent sure that you have the money, or be willing to obtain the necessary funds to purchase the home and have it fixed. Like most fixer-uppers, you can never perfectly calculate the final costs, so be ready to pay a little more if things don't go as planned. One of the most significant mistakes is not realizing there's a difference between a fixer-upper and a rehab home. When you don't understand this distinction, your budget can get shot very quickly.

If you're getting a loan, you need to make sure you know exactly what you're signing up for. A mortgage is a serious commitment of your trust and fiscal responsibility. If you have bad credit, a loan will probably be a bad idea for you. It's advisable to get your financial house in order before committing to more debt.

Whenever getting a loan, make sure you do your due diligence by getting all your mortgage questions answered by the lender. You should be totally comfortable before moving forward with such a significant financial decision.

4. Is the Home in a Great Area?
One of the biggest mistakes both investors and traditional homebuyers make all the time is discounting the importance of location. Agents constantly talk about how critical the location is in the grand scheme of things. It's vital for your home to be in an excellent area. The location of your home helps determine how much your home appreciates over time.

Even the type of road a house sits on affects the price. The difference in value from a home located on a busy street versus a quiet neighborhood can be night and day. Great schools and public transportation are just some of the things you need to look at when purchasing a fixer-upper home.

Make sure to get a feel for how appreciation has been over the last decade. Is it keeping up with other surrounding areas? Consult with your buyer's agent to get their opinion of how the appreciation will be before moving forward.

Whenever you think about purchasing a home, do more than focusing on the house. It'll be a good idea to drive around the neighborhood beforehand. Get a real feel for the surroundings.

5. What Are the Laws That Come With Dealing With a Fixer-Upper in Your State?
Many states have their own laws when it comes to the overall process of remodeling an older home. Your contractor will be aware of some laws that are permitted when it comes to your home, but they might not be mindful of every little thing.

There have been cases where people have gotten into trouble for doing something they weren't supposed to, and that can cost you a lot of money. One of the most common issues with real estate sales at the moment is contractors not getting required building permits. Skipping out on required permits can put you in a very precarious position when it comes time to sell your home.

Not knowing the laws can also possibly land you in a place where you are spending additional money, and, if you're really unlucky, removing the improvements from your property. You may be thinking that can't happen. Well, you're wrong—it can! Cities and towns can make you rip out non-permitted work.

If you're buying a foreclosure, you need to be extra careful. Not only will you be purchasing "as-is," but these kinds of properties routinely have issues where the previous owner skipped out on legal responsibilities.

Final Thoughts
If you're looking to start buying fixer-uppers, you have to able to spend a ton of time doing your research first. Additionally, as a beginner, you can make many mistakes, and it happens to a lot of people at some point. Don't let your fixer-upper become a rehab money pit! Ask yourself these five crucial questions before purchasing your first fixer-upper.

This was originally published on RISMedia's Housecall.
 

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2020. All rights reserved.

February
19

While you may have taken care of a variety of tasks in order to button up your home for winter weather—from replacing weather stripping to closing-up the fireplace—chances are, you neglected your gutters.



The problem is, ignored, clogged or underperforming gutters have the potential to wreak havoc on your home during the coldest months of the year, according to The Brothers That Just Do Gutters, Ken and Ryan Parsons. Here, they share the top five ways to get your gutters ready for winter weather.

  1. Clean out debris. Remove leaves and other debris from gutters, as waste will clog your gutter system and create an environment ripe for ice dams. Ice dams can degrade your home's roof, walls, foundation and ability to insulate.
  2. Install guards. Adding gutter guards will help prevent such buildup in the first place. Available in a variety of styles and finishes, make your selection based on your budget and climate.
  3. Use heat. Installing a deicing cable as a heating system for your gutters and roof is a viable option to prevent ice dams and even melt away ones that have begun to form.
  4. Repair holes. Find and repair any holes in your gutters immediately, as leaks will divert water from the appropriate downspouts and cause it to trickle down the side of your home. This can cause water damage like rot and mold, as well as weaken your home's foundation. You can make a patch with the same material as your gutters and install it with roofing cement.
  5. Look for malformations. Check for sagging gutters and fix or replace them. Slumping gutters will cause a buildup of water and debris. Remove problem areas and replace damaged screws, brackets or entire sections as needed.

While it is possible to complete some or all of the above tasks on your own, you may save time and money by hiring a professional. This will also help provide the peace of mind that your gutters are in good shape and your home is protected.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2020. All rights reserved.

February
19

With the holidays over, heading into the coldest months of the year, many people might assume that now is a terrible time to buy a home. However, now is the best time to score a deal on that dream house!

Here are a few reasons why it may be in your best interest to buy a house this winter:



Motivated Sellers
The colder months tend to see less activity as far as listings and sales go. This may seem like a disadvantage; however, if you're able to find a house that meets your needs, chances are you'll also have found a motivated seller. The majority of homes are listed in the spring/summer, so if you've stumbled upon a listing that's been on the market for a while, the seller will likely be ready to negotiate.

If the home is newly listed, the seller may be eager to sign a contract before the new year. Tax implications or forced relocation are a few reasons sellers will be willing to accept lower offers. 

Less Competition
We've all heard the story of the dreaded bidding war. It seems today's market is seeing this happen more than ever. Not only can it drive the price of the home above asking; you also run the risk of emotional overspending or losing the property altogether. 

With the majority of buyers taking a break from house-hunting, now is an optimal time to start your search. With the likelihood of competing offers dropping significantly, buyers can regain some control during negotiations.  

Lower Interest Rates
This is not a guarantee, however. Loan and mortgages interest rates fluctuate throughout the year, and historically hit lows during the holiday season. With less people looking to buy and borrow right now, interest rates tend to dip, which is a bonus for borrowers.

It may appear to be an insignificant rate difference; however, over the term of your mortgage, you'll be in for some serious savings! So while you're out and about this winter, make a trip to your bank for a mortgage pre-approval!

Professional Availability
With fewer homes on the market, real estate agents tend to find themselves with more overall availability. If you're ready to buy a home, you'll benefit, as your REALTOR® will have more time to dedicate to your search and negotiation once your dream home is found. 

Not only does the real estate market slow down during the winter, so do related professions. Mortgage brokers, home inspectors and legal professionals all may have some extra time on their hands, meaning your deal may be able to close quicker. 

Buying a new home during the winter can seem like a daunting task; however, if you're able to close on a deal in January or February, chances are you'll be enjoying the benefits for years to come! Lower purchase price and better interest rates are just a couple of the reasons why buying that dream house right now may be worth it!

This was originally published on RISMedia's Housecall.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2020. All rights reserved.

February
8

If we're being honest, some home materials can simply stand the test of time better than others. This is especially true if your house is exposed to a harsh climate or undergoes the everyday wear and tear that comes with kids and pets running around. While some materials are at their best when they're shiny and new, others can develop a beautiful patina that adds character. Here are a few such materials that will continue to look better with age.

copper bathroom

Copper
Copper can be used for a variety of applications around the home, from gutters and cladding to sinks, bathtubs and light fixtures. Wherever you choose to use it, eventually copper will oxidize and its shiny dark orange appearance will develop a distinguished look with shades of blue and green. This will happen noticeably faster when used outside and there's no greater example of this than the Statue of Liberty.

Terracotta
The warm earth tones of terracotta often contribute to a timeless aesthetic, whether it's used for tile floors or pottery in your garden. One of the reasons this material has been around for so long is that it fares well in the elements and, in fact, the texture gets even richer. When you decide to splurge on beautiful handmade terracotta for your home, you can rest assured that it will endure.

Reclaimed Wood
One of the best parts about using reclaimed wood in your home is that its flaws are actually part of the appeal. The scuffs and scratches that developed over time tell the story of its past life and eventually turn into an inimitable patina. Rather than having to worry about keeping your floors flawless, it can be nice to embrace the imperfections with a rustic look. This is especially true if you have dogs, which can take a toll on hardwood floors.

Natural Stone
If you have natural stone floors, like travertine or sandstone, you can certainly expect this surface to change over time. As the stone takes on a weathered look, the texture will become smoother and develop a soft luster that many people find desirable.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2020. All rights reserved.

February
7

If this is going to be the year you break out into your own place, you likely want to be sure your path is as clear as possible. First and foremost, buying one's first home is one of the most exciting - and challenging - life experiences. 



To come out ahead, don't make any of the common mistakes that could put your home-buying experience in peril. The U.S. Farm Bureau (fbfs.com) advises first-timers against doing any of the following leading up to or during your closing:

Don't Open New Lines of Credit. Taking on new debt, no matter how small, could throw off your debt-to-income ratio — a magic number in mortgage lending — and disqualify you.

Don't Miss Bill Payments. In the stress of preparing to buy a house, it's easy to miss a payment, but it could have serious consequences that will make you ineligible for a loan from certain lenders for at least a year, the bureau says.

Don't Change Jobs. During the mortgage loan process, change — even good change — could set you back. Avoid a change in job status that will cause a lender to question your financial stability.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2020. All rights reserved.

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