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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Home Inspector to the Rescue!

A special thanks to Pat Borkowski of Apex Inspections for participating in this weeks video. He is an ASHI Certified Member and has been in the home business for a long time. Watch the video, you'll learn a lot and if you have any questions give him a call at 888.927.3944.

You Better Give Sherlock Holmes a Ring!

No, you don't need the fictional detective inspector. However, you do need a home inspector! Think of this as a "pre-emptive strike" to maintain or increase your home's value before you put it on the market.
 Here are the benefits an inspector provides you:

Benefit 1: The inspector can uncover any problems that need fixing, and you can correct them before any potential buyers enter your home. Such an inspection can prevent your sale from falling through!

Benefit 2: With an inspection, you can show prospective buyers receipts to prove the work has been done. Buyers love proof! In reality and in their eyes, it underpins the value of your home and the asking price.

Benefit 3: You may be able to factor the cost of the inspection into the asking price for your home!

Benefit 4: When you have a pre-sale home inspection completed, you're able to estimate if the discount the prospective buyer is asking is reasonable. In other words, you can refuse unreasonably low offers if you know the value of your house, including the degree of its defects.

So, How Do I Find a Qualified Home Inspector?

I can recommend a certified home inspector who will do a great job for you. However, if you decide you want to do it on your own, make sure he or she is qualified!

Con artists sometimes pose as home inspectors, taking your money and giving you nothing but grief in return. Here's how to know if an inspector is the real deal:

Ask your friends for referrals. If they've had a good experience, go with that home inspector. I’d recommend you interview a minimum of two or three inspectors before choosing one. Make sure they’re full-time professionals conducting several inspections a year.

If possible, select a home inspector who’s a member of The American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors.These association members follow a stated code of ethics. In addition, they’re prohibited from having a professional interest in the sale, repair or maintenance of a property they inspect. They’re also forbidden from using their inspection business as a way to find customers for a handyman service that they “happen” to own. You may want to go on the Internet and use ASHI’s “Find a Home Inspector” link to identify potential candidates in our locality.

As part of the interview process, ask for samples of comprehensive reports (about 20-50 pages in length). The samples should be painstakingly done and backed up with complete details, including photos and diagrams. If an "inspector" refuses to give you a report or provides only a sloppily written 2-to-5 page sample, run the other way!

What Does a Home Inspector Cost?

Frankly, the rates vary. On a national level, the rates fall in the range of $200 to $400. As part of the interview process, I recommend you ask several inspectors for their rates so you can get an idea of the price range. In the end, keep in mind that while the cost of an inspection may seem high, it can actually add several thousand dollars to the value of your home! So, don't think of it as a cost; think of it as an investment!

What Exactly Does a Home Inspector Evaluate?

In general, he or she will look at the following areas:

- Electrical System Wiring, Service Panel and Service Capacity
- Energy Conservation/Safety Items
- Exterior Walls, Siding, Trim
- Floor, Wall, Ceiling, Roof Structures
- Foundation, Footings, Crawl Space, Basements, Sub-flooring, Decks
- Gutters, Downspouts
- Heating & Cooling Systems
- Insulation & Ventilation
- Interior Floors, Walls, Ceilings
- Moisture Intrusion/Mold
- Overall Structural Integrity
- Plumbing Systems
- Property Drainage/Landscaping
- Roof & Shingles, Chimneys, Attic
- Walks and Drives
- Windows, Doors, Cabinets, Counters, etc.

Should I Be Present During a Home Inspection?

You bet! A typical inspection takes three hours or more, so I recommend that you be present for at least the first 30 minutes to make sure the job is being done thoroughly. At the end of the inspection, the home inspector should give you a point-by-point summary of what needs to be corrected in order to add value to your home!
Hope you enjoyed this very useful information about home inspection! If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to contact me!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What’s the One Unbreakable Law of Real Estate?

“Perform due diligence!” is the one law you should never break in any kind of real estate deal – residential, multi-occupant, or commercial!

What is due diligence? It’s a common phrase for the evaluation of a property and its surrounding environment before you commit to buying it.

Due diligence has two objectives. First, you want to reduce or eliminate risk! Needless to say, you’ll be assuming a large loan and will want to know exactly what’s right or wrong with a property before you sink any money into it.

Two, due diligence allows you to uncover real bargains, especially for investors. On the surface, one property may look like a “loser,” but a closer inspection may reveal that the building is structurally sound and requires only minor and inexpensive maintenance and repairs.

One part of due diligence is what you’d expect – the physical inspection of the property and inspection of all documents and records concerning that specific property. The other part is the inspection of the documents and records concerning that property.

In this article, I’ll just talk about the physical inspection portion of due diligence.

Physical Inspection of Properties

Below, I’ve listed all the inspection tasks which should be performed by a professional inspector. Of course, you should visit the property as well. Many times, a quick “eyeballing” can reveal any obvious signs or poor maintenance or decay - a leaky roof, wet basement, foundation cracks, cracks in the walls, plumbing leaks, etc.. In those cases, you’ll know you don’t need to waste any further time on that property.

As I mentioned earlier, such an inspection may reveal that you’ve actually got a bargain on your hands instead of a “dog.” In such a case, you’ll want to purchase or invest in that property quickly.

What happens when you find problems in a property and still like it? Well, then, you can require that the seller correct those problems or reduce the price before you sign any contract.

In general, defects fall into two categories. One category contains the obvious defects – wet basements, peeling paint, broken windows, leaky plumbing, warped floors, etc.

The other category contains the more expensive and dangerous hidden defects. These can include corroded pipes in the walls, roof or window leaks that don’t show up until it rains or snows, subtle cracks in the foundation.

Obviously, you want to make sure these hazards are spotted before you ever sign a purchase agreement. They can cost you a lot of money in the long run, not to mention the fact that they can send your blood pressure through the roof!

What Do Professional Inspectors Look For?

Below are the items inspectors examine when they check a property:

• Overall structural integrity
• Property drainage/landscaping
• Walks and drives 
• Foundation, footings, crawl space, basements, sub-flooring, decks
• Exterior walls, siding, trim 
• Windows, doors, cabinets, counters 
• Gutters, downspouts 
• Roof, roof shingles, roof structures. chimneys, attic
• Floors, walls, ceilings, etc.
• HVAC systems 
• Plumbing systems, (fixtures, supply lines, drains, water heating devices, etc.)
• Electrical system (wiring, service panel, devices, and service capacity
• Energy conservation/safety Items 
• Insulation & ventilation 
• Moisture intrusion/mold

And, of course, we can’t forget the voracious appetites of….bugs!

Pest Control Inspection

Depending on the area of the country in which you live, insects can cause a heckuva lot of damage to a property!

I’m talking about such bugs as termites, carpenter ants, powder post beetles, and any other insect that likes to munch on wood. Then, there’s fungus, in the form of “dry rot.” It can also cause a lot of destruction.
In such cases, you’ll need to hire the services of a specialist (pest control inspector) to examine the property.

If the operator identifies any problems, he or she should provide you with a diagram that pinpoints the location of the infestations. If serious problems exist, they need to be corrected immediately! The expense is usually paid for by the seller.

To protect yourself against any of the problems I mentioned above, ensure that the purchase contract provides for cancellation without penalty or loss of money if the physical condition of the property doesn’t meet standards.

So, there you have it – all the physical items you or an inspector should check on to meet the law of due diligence! Remember – never, ever break this law! To learn more about any special concerns for due diligence in our area, contact me today!