Category: Home Tips

What to Expect From Your Home Inspection

What to Expect From Your Home Inspection | Keeping Current Matters

So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. More often than not, your agent may have made your offer contingent on a clean home inspection. This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. Realtor.com suggests that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

  1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection & if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
  2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report, the better in most cases.
  3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients that you can call to ask about their experience.
  4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations often means that there is continued training and education provided.
  5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.

Ask your inspector if it’s ok for you to tag along during the inspection, that way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed. Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof, crawling around in the attic, and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace & chimney, the foundation and so much more!

Bottom Line

They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money in a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

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What to Expect When Home Inspecting

What to Expect When Home Inspecting | Keeping Current Matters

So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. More often than not, your agent may have made your offer contingent on a clean home inspection. This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. Realtor.com suggests that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

  1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection & if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
  2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report the better in most cases.
  3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients that you can call to ask about their experience.
  4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Often membership in one of these organizations means that there is continued training and education provided.
  5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.

Ask your inspector if it’s ok for you to tag along during the inspection. That way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed. Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof, crawling around in the attic, and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace & chimney, the foundation and so much more!

Bottom Line

They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money in a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

Save

Six Smart Home Features That Have Caught On – and a Few That Will Soon

While there is a lot of talk about smart homes, few of those high-tech features are actually being incorporated into today’s homes. We are not yet living in the land of “The Jetsons.”

But homeowners are moving toward some smart home products, including thermostats they can control with smartphones, automated lighting solutions, keyless entry and security and entertainment options.

“Smart home technology is important for some homeowners,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist for Houzz, a home design website, which has done several surveys on the use of smart home features. “It’s not something that all homeowners are unambiguously into.”

The 2015 Houzz and Home survey found that 25 percent of homeowners doing renovations deemed smart technology very important to extremely important, and 23 percent installed home automation systems as part of a 2014 renovation. However, the survery found that 30 percent of homeowners considered smart home renovations as not at all important.

When choosing smart features homeowners tend to gravitate toward products that are simple to use and less expensive, making remote control of temperature and lighting popular choices.

Click here to view the rest of the post…

Home Staging + Showing Tips

When it comes to preparing your home for sale (or a listing appointment), you will not only want to make sure your home is clean (see the helpful cleaning checklist previously posted here) but you will also want to stage your home…or even hire a home stager. As it has been said: the way a person lives in the property is not often how the property should be shown.

 

Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing /staging your home, when your Realtor® offers advice or you are working with a stager directly.

  • It is not personal. We work towards a common goal – wanting to sell your home the highest price possible to the best qualified buyer/situation for your home. Suggestions such as “decluttering,” “removing personal items or expensive keepsakes,” etc. is to help make your home appear most neutral for all buyers. It is nothing against your style or your items. (We haven’t really had this experience people taking this too personally but I know people do.) We, and some Agents, have seen many comparable homes, knowing the competition. If an Agent or stager has a suggestion on how to neutralize your home, or what to do / change, chances are they know what buyers are looking for in your town or neighborhood or what “showing to sell” looks like, so to speak.
  • Similarly, remove personal items. Photographers we work with also state the importance of this for photos. Have your daughter’s name on the wall in her room in big letters? While your home is listed, you may want to remove personal touches such as that as well as family/friend photos if there are many and sport team memorabilia. Buyers want to be able to picture themselves in their next home and that suggestion helps with that.
  • Remove any items of importance from plain sight or remove completely from the home. This is pretty self explanatory but includes things such as jewelry, artifacts, keepsakes, all prescriptions, personal and work files…and mail, etc.
  • Limit scents. Wicks, plugins, etc. may be needed but don’t overuse fragrance as it can bother some buyers (who may wonder what is being covered up).
  • Plan ahead. Contact an Agent when you are ready and believe it will be a good time to list a home. Also, if you are staging your home, allow adequate time for a stager to get your property ready for photos, to show, etc.
  • Make your home safe in all weather conditions. Is it rainy? Make sure you have a rug by the front door so people don’t slip on glossy tile (almost happened). Is is snowing or is there snow on the ground? Shovel / plow your driveway and sidewalk (happened before). Don’t expect people to view your home if they can’t get to it. Things like that can really bother buyers who make the trek out, motivated, to look at…and purchase…a home.
  • Make curb appeal…well, appealing. Add some plants, etc. to the front of your home (make sure it is clean and well-kept also) to make the buyer’s first impression a good one.

Tip: if you really want to move, you ultimately be moving anyway  so why not starting clearing out / donating / recycling / moving items today and not wait until you are about to move out?

This is not an all-inclusive list, just a guide.

View more staging tips here.

Written by the licensed marketing director.

 

Keeping Your Heating and Cooling System Running Smoothly

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By Fran J.Donegan

Keeping your system running smoothly not only makes your home more comfortable, but also affects your monthly operating costs. Poorly maintained heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) work harder, wasting energy and money.

Another great reason to keep HVAC systems at peak performance: When they fail, they tend to fail at the worst possible time, like the coldest night of the year or the middle of a sweltering heat wave. Problem is, most other failures will happen at the same time, that’s when HVAC contractors get backlogged, making it extremely difficult to get your issue resolved quickly.

Preventative Maintenance is Key!

Preventative maintenance is the key to keeping HVAC equipment running at peak efficiency. There are some important steps you, as the homeowner, can take.

First, find a reputable, qualified HVAC company to service your system annually.  You should schedule your system check-ups (also referred to as a tune-up or “clean and check”) just before the start of each heating and cooling season.  Experienced technicians can often spot issues before they cause a breakdown.

Depending on the type of HVAC you have, a typical professional maintenance appointment will take 30-60 minutes and includes items such as:

– Checking and tightening electrical connections

– Checking components for wear or defects

– Inspecting accessible duct work for leaks

– Taking critical system measurements (temperatures, pressures, electrical readings, etc.) to ensure they meet manufacturer specifications

– Calibrating thermostat and conducting a full system operation sequence

– Checking carbon monoxide levels (heating season)

– Checking accessible gas lines for possible leaks (heating season)

– Measure refrigerant levels – improper levels can negatively impact performance, efficiency and levels, and low refrigerant levels may indicate a leak. (cooling season)

– Inspect the condensate drain for clogs, flush/clear if needed (cooling season)

– Check and replace or wash filters (you will usually need to provide a replacement filter—be sure to have this ready for your appointment)

– Provide you with a checklist of items completed and a report on the condition of your system, its components and performance

– Make recommendations for needed repairs and optional system enhancements

During a heating system check-up, the technician will typically focus on the indoor unit (furnace and blower equipment). If you have a heat pump, they will also check your outdoor unit.

During a cooling system check-up, technicians will service the outdoor unit (condenser coil and compressor) as well as the indoor unit (blower and evaporator coil).

Understanding Equipment Efficiency Ratings

For gas burning heating equipment, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating measures how much fuel a furnace or boiler converts to heat and how much is wasted. It is not unusual to find old furnaces with an AFUE below 70 percent, which means that over 30 percent of the fuel is wasted. High-efficiency furnaces available today can achieve AFUE ratings of above 98 percent.  That could mean a reduction in heating bills of 20 to 30 percent.  Other benefits of high-efficiency furnaces include quieter operation and enhanced parts warranties.

For cooling equipment, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures the energy efficiency of cooling systems—the higher the number, the more efficient the equipment. Federal regulations require a minimum SEER of 13 or 14, depending on where you live, but market today’s high-efficiency cooling equipment can achieve SEERs of more than 20.

So what does regular maintenance have to do with efficiency? Well, let’s relate it to your car:  the longer you go without an oil change, the lower your gas mileage gets – that’s because over time, build-up and residue on your car’s internal components negatively impacts their performance.  Your HVAC system is no different.  In fact each year that your equipment is not properly maintained, it can lose up to 5% of its efficiency due to build-up of dirt and grime on internal components and operation at below optimal levels

There are a number of things you can do on a regular basis to help maintain an HVAC system.

1. Change your air filters on forced-air systems at least every three months but check them monthly. If your house is excessively dusty or you have pets or other sources of airborne pollutants, you may need to replace filters more frequently. Higher efficiency filters will keep more of the smaller particles from building up on your system’s components. The type of filter to use and directions for changing it can be found in the manual that came with the system. If you don’t have one, ask an HVAC contractor for advice or visit the manufacturer’s website.

2. Make sure that furniture does not block heating and cooling vents, baseboard heaters and radiators and do not close registers to redirect air to other areas/rooms.  If registers are blocked or closed, the system has to work harder to provide you with the comfort you want, placing a strain on the system.

Real Estate News, Home Tips + More – January 8, 2015

Orchid plant display

(source: Midwest Living)

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Coldwell Banker’s Home’s Best Friend commercial is up for the Top Spot You can vote here, , under top spot.

These are the best days to buy home goods.

A big interior design trend in Chicago.

Four Simple Winter Home Projects That Can Save You Money

Winter is the perfect time to tackle important home projects. But why stop at just improving your home? There are tons of great DIY projects out there that can improve your living situation and save you serious dough. Here are some simple winter projects to help you get started.

1. Update your insulation

Insulation helps keep the heat you generate inside your house, allowing rooms to stay warmer for longer. If you think you’re losing heat too quickly after you turn down the thermostat, you may want to inspect your insulation. Replacing old batches or adding pipe and tank insulation is a relatively easy way to help your home maintain its warmth and shorten how long you run your heater.

2. Seal pesky drafts

Another great way to keep heat inside (and energy costs down) is to eliminate any drafts you find in your home. Using a caulk gun to seal gaps in walls and windows can help minimize the amount of warm air escaping your house. You may also want to consider checking your doors’ weatherstripping for any openings. Replacing weatherstripping is a relatively simple process and shouldn’t put too much strain on your wallet.

3. Buy energy-smart lightbulbs

One of the easiest home improvement projects you can tackle this winter is to swap out your old incandescent bulbs for efficient LEDs. While the initial cost may be rather steep—LED bulbs tend to cost three times more than traditional incandescents—the lifespan of an LED is significantly longer and uses far less energy. If you’re unable to afford the initial cost of LEDs, though, you can look into compact fluorescent lights. These offer similar energy savings to LEDs, albeit without the same lifespan and high upfront cost.

4. Install a programmable thermostat

By automatically adjusting your temperature when you’re sleeping or at work, programmable thermostats can help you drastically cut down on your energy use. Models run at a variety of price points and installation should only take a couple of minutes. Some versions even allow you to adjust your thermostat from your phone, giving you extra control over when your heat or cooling kicks in.

While you might not see huge returns on your winter projects immediately, the savings you’ll make over the following years should be more than enough to make the investments worthwhile. Of course, improving your financial situation during the winter doesn’t have to stop at home improvement projects. You may also want to consider making a budget, work on creating good financial habits and improving your credit score this year. (You can see where you credit stands by viewing your free credit report card on Credit.com.) No matter what you decide, making the best of your time indoors during the winter could really pay off throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

This article was written by Scott Sheldon and originally published on Credit.com.