NMLS# 3151

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Things To Know About Home Appraisals


Home appraisals are a required part of the home buying process. With policies and procedures constantly being updated and requirements changing from month to month, it is important to understand the basics to the appraisal process. This is good information for both the buyer and the seller since the appraised value can heavily impact the real estate transaction in the final steps.

Is a home appraisal the same as a home inspection?
No, they are not the same. An appraisal is intended to confirm a home’s value based on it’s current condition. A home inspection, however, digs deeper into the areas of a home that are not always visible during a home tour or walk through of the property. A home inspection report is more thorough and complete than an appraisal inspection report and can include findings for plumbing, electrical, roof, foundation, etc.


Why are Appraisers hired?
Appraisers are hired for a number of services involved with real estate. Most often, Appraisers are used to complete appraisals for buying/selling a home, estate planning, divorce requirements, and tax appeal resolution. Specifically for real estate transactions, Appraisers estimate property value when property is sold, mortgaged, taxed, insured or developed.


What is written in the appraisal document?
Upon completion of a home appraisal, documentation may be shared with the seller. Be sure to keep a copy of any appraisal report documentation as it contains confidential information about your home and comparable homes in your area.


How is a home’s value determined?
There are a number of factors that impact property value. Some of those factors can include:

  • Overall condition of the home as is

  • Recent improvements to the home

  • Address, location, and surrounding neighborhood

  • Comparable homes recently sold in the immediate area

  • Current housing market trends


Do Appraisers take other nearby home sale prices into consideration?
It is not quite the same process for Appraisers as it is for Realtors. Appraisers do factor in the overall size of the home to pull comparable nearby home sales that are used in the report. However, it is not used as directly to determine a home’s overall value.


If the prices of nearby homes are rising, should the value of my home appreciate too?
Home values and appreciation or depreciation are unique to the property. While nearby home values are a determining factor in home appraisals, there are many other heavily weighted factors that impact the appraised home value. That being said, you can usually assume that if all other home values in the area are rising, your home value is also likely appreciating. Your Real Estate Agent can help you determine estimated home value for sale price.
What do home buyers need to know?
The appraisal process is almost always a required step before closing on the home purchase. Once the appraisal is complete, the Appraiser will inform the Lender is the home value came in at, above, or below the agreed upon contract purchase price. If the value is at or above the contract price, the transaction proceeds as planned. If, however, the value is below the contract price, there can be delays in the transaction. A value below contract price can, at times, even cause the transaction to fall apart. Your Real Estate Agent will navigate this process and do everything possible to keep the transaction moving forward.

In Conclusion
For most cases, the home appraisal process is just another step in the transaction and gets you one step closer to close on the purchase or sell. It is highly recommended that you understand the basics to the home appraisal process to ensure your transaction runs more smoothly. Your Lender can help answer questions pertaining to the appraisal process up and until the appraisal is complete. Your Real Estate Agent can help navigate next steps in the transaction process once the home appraisal value comes in.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

DIY Home Repairs


Home repairs are never fun, but are often times necessary. As with anything that is used every day, parts and pieces get worn out. This daily wear and tear may lead to a need to fix or replace items throughout your home, often in areas you are not used to seeing and dealing with on a daily basis. The below content shares tips and tricks for common household repairs that can be done on your own, avoiding costly expenses by outside repairwork.

Be prepared for possible plumbing emergencies with the below tips for easy do-it-yourself plumbing repairs and tools for an emergency plumbing kit.

Emergency Toolkit:
  • Five-gallon bucket such as one from Home Depot for holding tools or draining excess water;
  • Tool caddy that can easily attach to the bucket and makes tools easier to find;
  • Sturdy plunger as it will come in handy for more than just plumbing repairs;
  • Wrench set, including a pair of medium-sized slip joint pliers and an adjustable wrench;
  • Screw driver set (both Phillips head and flat head) in a variety of sizes;
  • Tape: leaking seal tape, teflon tape, and duct tape;
  • Heavy-duty paper towels for clean up

Repair Preparedness and Tips:
Before any plumbing work is needed, all homeowners should know where the main water shut-off valve is located. If an issue should arise, already knowing where your shut-off valve is located may save valuable time. In addition to the main shut-off valve, separate isolation valves cut off the water to individual areas of the home, allowing for service to continue to the remainder of the house. Most of the DIY repair tips are a temporary solution until a professional plumber can do a permanent fix.

Unless you have ample experience with electrical work and repairs, we highly recommend you hire a professional electrician. Don’t risk electric shock or doing the work incorrectly as it can lead to bigger problems. Also, for future resale needs, you will want all electrical work to comply with the current code, which a professional electrician will ensure.

Repairing dirty grout may be as simple as a thorough cleaning using a little “elbow grease” to get the job done. A good scrubbing pad, such as a “Mr. Clean Magic Eraser” product, can ease the work and get tough grout clean again. If you need to replace the grout, we recommend using a grout-removal tool. It is a time-intensive process, but is necessary before putting down new grout. Once the grout is removed and the area is cleaned, you are ready to replace the grout.

    Tip: Consider a different grout color to change up the area and give it a new look.

Doorway Drafts:
Save on your energy bill by fixing under door drafts. The easiest option is to simply purchase and use a draft stopper (also called a draft guard or draft blocker). It has to be on a surface where the material can easily slide along the floor. The device slides under the bottom of the door and sits on both the bottom front and back of the door, creating a tighter seal between the door and the floor. The more permanent and recommended solution is to install appropriate weatherstripping to the door. Be sure to measure your door and purchase the appropriate length of weatherstrip guard.

Squeaking Hinges:
If you have hinges that squeak or doors that stick, the fix can be quite easy. For squeaky hinges, consider using the common WD-40 spray solution, available in most hardware sections of your local store. An even quicker fix is to apply a small dab of petroleum jelly to the hinges. It is less messy compared to an oil or spray, and works just as well.

Sticky Doors:
For doors that stick when you open and close them, you will need to shave off the section of the door that is sticking. It can be the top, bottom, or side of the door. It can even be caused by a damaged or worn door frame. Sometimes, even a settling house can cause the door frame to shift slightly causing the door to stick.

Tip: To easily locate the area of the door that is sticking, rub the inside of the door frame with chalk that is a different color than the door and frame. Open and close the sticky door a couple of times, then look for chalk that has transferred from the frame to the door. That location is the spot causing the door to stick and needs to be shaved down.

Windows that sit for a long period without being opened can build up dirt and debris, causing the window to stick and making it difficult to open. Often times, strength is all that is needed to pry open the window repeatedly and work out the dirt and grime. A thorough cleaning can cure the problem. For a more severe stuck window, you may need to use WD-40 (or a similar grease product) and remove the window sash to get the window open.

Simpler drywall damage can easily be repaired without hiring out the work. Start by cleaning out the hole with a blade knife. For medium or large holes, use a drywall metal patch. Fill the hole or divot with painter’s putty and let it dry completely. Spackle over the dried putty. Sand the drywall surface smooth, then clean off all the dust. If needed, repeat with another layer of putty, spackle, sand, and dust removal until the surface is completely smooth. Once dry and clean, you are ready to paint.

Tip: Although it may be obvious, we should still remind you to have color-matching paint ready to complete the repair. Once the drywall repairwork dries, you will need to paint over the area with the same color of paint.

Prep the work area by using rubbing alcohol to clean the surface. Allow the space to dry completely, then apply a thin layer of new caulk in the same area where the old caulk was removed. You will need a putty knife and caulk gun to help with this repairwork.

Tip: For any space containing mildew or mold, apply a mix of ⅓ cup bleach to 1 gallon of water (or use a store brand cleaner containing bleach) to kill and remove the problem. Allow to dry completely before re-caulking.

Gutters and downspouts remove runoff water from rain and snow away from the home and the home’s foundation. Debris in your gutters plus the weight of snow and ice can cause damage to your gutters. You should check your gutters at least twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. Remove any debris and repair any damage done to your gutters to ensure water runoff can easily move away from your home and foundation.

Patching up roofs can be tricky. If you have prior experience with roof repair, then you may be able to handle it yourself. Otherwise, we recommend using a professional for this type of repair.

Ask trusted friends and family in your area for a referral. Many people solicit the help of local “handyman” services and professionals that specialize in specific home repairwork. Your real estate Agent will also have some vetted and reliable repair service referrals to provide to you.

If looking to purchase a home, your Home Inspection and Appraisal will make you aware of any home repair needs. Your Agent can help with finding an excellent Home Inspector. Your Lender will ensure you receive the results from your Appraisal.


YouTube Video Tutorials:
There are a number of very helpful video tutorials available at your fingertips. With a quick YouTube search, you can find many videos to lead you through a repair. For many people who are handy with home repairwork, a DIY solution to simpler issues can save on both time and budget.

A Word of Caution: it is still wise to consult a professional to ensure the repairwork is complete and avoid additional work and possible damage from a DIY solution.

Thorough Cleaning Services:
Truth be told, many home repairs are caused by ignoring a small issue that turns into a bigger problem. Some home repairs can be avoided by simple home maintenance and routine deep cleaning practices. Consider spring cleaning and winter preparation work that may be needed for your home. Also, hiring a once-a-year or seasonal home deep cleaning service is a good idea.
Considering a Fixer Upper? Read this related post about whether a fixer upper makes sense for you.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

What To Expect With A Home Inspection


1) Inspections Are Recommended

Inspections are not mandatory, but are highly recommended. Your Agent will provide a list of preferred vendors. Home inspections identify possible issues that are not immediately visible, such as concerns with the electrical or plumbing. The results from home inspections can allow the buyer to negotiate further with the seller, if repairs are needed before the transaction closes.

If you decide to forego the inspection, you take on the full responsibility of accepting the home and property “as is.” In most cases, foregoing the inspection is not recommended. Confirm with your Lender that an inspection is not required to secure your loan.
2) It Is The Buyer's Responsibility To Get A Home Inspection

Your Agent will help you stay on track to meet the contractual deadlines, including the deadline to complete a home inspection. Most first-time homebuyers don’t realize they are responsible for the inspection. Be sure to leave enough time and budget for the cost of the inspection. And note, all Inspectors are licensed professionals.

(For more details about the purchase process, read this: The Buying Process.)

3) What Home Inspections Cover
Generally speaking, licensed home inspectors will check a multitude of areas both inside and outside the home, including the following specifics:

  • Roof and eaves
  • Attic and insulation
  • Foundation
  • Basement or crawl space
  • All structural components
  • Doors, frames, and seals
  • Windows, window wells, and seals
  • Floors, walls, and ceilings
  • Plumbing systems
  • Electrical systems
  • HVAC systems

4) What Home Inspections Do Not Cover
Inspectors will do their best and will be as thorough as possible. If an Inspector is not able to access a portion of the home that is common for home inspections, the Inspector will inform you upon completion of the inspection. It is important to note, there are some limits to what the Inspector will check. If something requires a specialist, your Agent can provide preferred referrals for the service. Some examples of what an Inspector may not include:

  • Chimney flue
  • Inside the walls
  • Wells
  • Septic tank
  • Sheds or shops
  • Other additional structures that are separate from the home

5) You Can Attend the Inspection
Many Inspectors invite the buyers to join them for a portion of or all of the home inspection. Due to the lengthy nature of the inspection, buyers usually join the Inspector at the tail end of the home inspection. This provides an opportunity to walk the property together and answer any questions with the buyers. The buyer’s Agent may also join the buyers to review the Inspector's initial findings.

6) Post-Inspection Report
As a follow up to the home inspection, the buyers will receive a complete inspection report from the Inspector. The report will be thorough and will include images of the spaces inspected, including all areas the Inspector notes as either damaged or in need of the buyer’s attention.

Read the report thoroughly and discuss questions with your Agent first. If there is something in the report that is not clear, consult your Inspector directly for clarification.

7) Repair Requests After the Inspection
Talk with your real estate Agent to discuss possible repair requests. Once all repair requests determined, your Agent will present your list of repair requests to the seller’s Agent. Repairs are not mandatory and are completely open for negotiations. The seller can either agree and complete all repair requests, disagree and deny completing any repairs requested, or counter with a commitment to complete some of the repairs. Often times, if the repairs are minimal, the buyers can ask for a credit from the seller to apply to the cost of the repairs. This credit would be provided during Settlement.

There is an exception to the repair requests portion of the purchase negotiations. If a listing is being sold “As Is” this means the seller is not willing to make any repairs and has communicated this up front.

8) Maintain Records of All Completed Repairs
Following the inspection negotiations, if repairs are to be completed before the sale is complete, keep accurate records of all repair invoices. There are instances when a seemingly simple repair is tempting to do yourself or pay a friend. But, if the repairs are not completed by a licensed professional and properly invoiced, you may not be covered for the repair expenses in the transaction. Mortgage and title companies will need the repair invoice documents at Settlement.

9) The Buyer Can Cancel the Transaction
If the inspection report uncovers major repair needs or several small, but costly repairs, the buyers may choose to cancel their offer on the home. There is a contractual deadline that allows the buyers to cancel their offer without losing their earnest money deposit.

What Comes After the Home Inspection?
Once you get through the inspection deadline stipulated in the real estate contract, both sides can rest a bit easier as the only major remaining steps are to complete the appraisal and for the buyer to complete the financing. Of course, this may seem overly simplified as there are many moving parts and pieces during a real estate transaction. Your Agent and Lender will be your true allies through the whole process. Still looking for either your Agent or your Lender? Consider working with RANLife and experience the best in the industry.

Real Estate Agent: (801) 478-4545
Mortgage Lender: (800) 461-4152