A home inspection should catch any and all deal-breakers—right?
Well, not so fast. Most seasoned home inspectors say that certain issues may not reveal themselves during a standard home inspection.
Most buyers are reluctant to pay for a specialized inspection, so to get the most value from a general inspection, there are six home inspection red flags you should look out for. These items can sometimes go undetected, so don’t assume that they aren’t there just because an inspector didn’t notice them.
1. Partially blocked or damaged sewer lines. Inspectors will likely determine the type of drain pipe used, estimate its age, and look for nearby external elements, like tree roots, that could cause damage. Sewer pipe scoping, however, is not generally included in a standard inspection. In certain circumstances, ordering an additional inspection to check for this kind of damage may be advisable.
2. Failing HVAC equipment. These systems may appear fine one day, then completely fail the next. Investigating the condition of these systems may be more expensive than a standard inspection, but catching a problem before it evolves into something worse could save you a lot of stress and money in the long run.
3. A cracked heat exchanger on the HVAC. Having a specialized contractor examine either the exchanger or the entire system will be especially important if the unit is more than a decade old. If a crack is found, the unit must, by law, be replaced.
4. Electrical problems. Standard inspections generally only involve a visual check of such components on a property. However, this is not always sufficient when it comes to electrical issues. If a disconnect in the system is revealed during the general inspection, it is essential for you to hire an electrician to take further action.
5. Structural issues. Home inspectors should know what’s normal and what isn’t, but further evaluation of identified issues will need to fall on the shoulders of a more specialized professional. If there is a problem with a roof, for example, you will need to hire a roofer to understand the extent of the issue and address it accordingly.
6. Leaks. Leaks are often difficult to detect by virtue of how unpredictable they can be. In vacant homes, especially, these issues can easily go overlooked. Carefully checking drains in cabinets, under the sinks, and in the ceilings before your move could save you a significant stress later on.
At the end of the day, being proactive in identifying issues is key. If you’d like us to recommend a licensed inspector to help you with this task, we would be more than happy to do so.
If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Here in San Diego, we are spoiled by amazing temperatures year-round. Every now and then, though, the heat and humidity can sneak up on us—so it’s always good to be prepared.
Today, I have a few ways to help you be more comfortable in your home and save money on energy costs:
1. Plug up any holes that you see around your home. If I walked into your home today, I bet we would find a hole or gap that is dragging all the cold air outside. Most of these gaps are around doors or windows. For doors, I recommend installing threshold sweeps to seal up the gap at the bottom, keep bugs out, and trap your cool air inside the house. I also recommend weather stripping around exterior doors.
If you have the budget, you can even replace your windows with retrofit windows. Retrofit windows are easy to install. Otherwise, foam and outdoor, silicone-based caulking can help seal your windows up tight.
2. Close the shades. If you have direct sunshine coming in your house during the morning or evening, your home will be warmer. Just keeping your shades closed at those times of the day will drastically reduce your home’s temperature and help keep energy costs down. At the very least, make sure that you keep the shades closed while you’re at work so your home will stay cool during the day.
3. Clean your air conditioning filters. Clean your filters every month, especially during the summer when your AC is running most of the time.
4. Program the thermostat. If you aren’t home for most of the day, your home doesn’t need to be as cool as it is when you are there. During the day, raise the temperature just a little bit. Take advantage of those smart thermostats and let them work for you in your home.
5. Unplug, unplug, unplug. I walk around all day turning off or unplugging electronics. It might not seem like a big deal, but I challenge you to try it. Unplug your TV or computer, too—those electronics use a lot of power even when they are not on. You’d be amazed at how many items are plugged in and costing you money when they are not in use.
6. Don’t run your oven as often. Summertime is for barbecues and outdoor grilling. If you have to, use the cooktop. Running your oven is more expensive than you think, plus you’re adding a heat source for your home in the summer.
7. Turn down the temperature on your water heater. It’s fairly common for the water heater to be in your garage. Since the garage is already warmer than the rest of the house, simply turn down the temperature from 130 degrees to 115 degrees can save you about $50 a year. That may not seem like much, but it’s definitely worth it.
You can also wind an insulated blanket or wrap around the water heater to keep temperatures consistent.
8. Tune up your air conditioner. Make sure you get your air conditioner serviced. We tend to forget about that AC in the winter, but I recommend getting your AC serviced just before spring. Don’t ignore your air conditioner until something goes wrong.
9. Upgrade your systems. There are a few different things you can do. Change light bulbs to more energy-efficient ones; they are very affordable. You can also add fans to any room to create air flow.
Everyone likes to have an outdoor light on at night for security purposes. I’ve been experimenting with some solar lights lately, and I can’t believe how effective they are. Give me a call if you want to know which brand I’ve been using.
Finally, even replacing older appliances like your refrigerator, dishwasher, or washer and dryer. It does take a bit more money, but if you need to replace them you might as well find more energy-efficient appliances. There are some great affordable options out there that can save you more money in the long run.
These are just a few of the simple steps you can take to keep cool this summer and save some money while you’re at it. If you have any other questions, just give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!
Are you ready to buy a home? If you think this is the year to put your rental days behind you and move into a home of your own, now is time to prepare. Even if you won’t be ready to buy in the next six months to a year, you should still take steps to get ready for that eventuality.
Today we’ll go over 10 must-do steps to prepare you to buy a home. Crossing these items off the list will make it easier for you to find and finance the home of your dreams.
1) Check your credit score. A good credit score is essential to buying a home because it proves your track record of paying off debts such as credit cards and college loans. A higher credit score makes it easier to qualify for a low interest rate, making your purchase more affordable.
2) Start saving. This is easier said than done, but you will need cash reserves to buy a home. This may not be as much as you think. You will have to prove to a lender that you can afford housing payments that may be higher than your current rent. Anything you can do to start saving is of utmost importance.
3) Earn extra cash. Many first-time homebuyers are low on cash. Consider taking drastic steps to cut spending or increase your income. You could sell some of your stuff or take a part-time job for extra cash flow.
4) Consult a lender. The sooner you visit a lender, the faster you will know where you stand as far as getting a mortgage and how to improve your credit if it’s not ideal. Having a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter will give sellers peace of mind.
5) Investigate down payment assistance programs. It can pay to explore down payment assistance programs. You don’t have to be destitute to qualify for assistance.
6) Decide on comfortable monthly payments. A lender can give you an idea of how much house you can afford, but you have to create a personal budget to decide how much you will be able to spend on your mortgage payment.
7) Attend a seminar or take classes on buying a home. If you want to learn more, we and our lenders are happy to go over all the steps in detail. There are often free seminars that explain the home buying process.
8) Start looking at neighborhoods. Unless you already know where you want to live, visit a variety of potential neighborhoods. You will want to scout out the areas that meet your needs in terms of transportation options and other amenities. Exploring different locations will help you narrow your priorities.
9) Visit open houses. Going to open houses early in your search will let you see what is available in your area that might fit your budget. You will also begin to see what matters most in your decision—the location, room to entertain, or outdoor space.
10) Interview real estate agents. It’s a good idea to talk with and interview multiple real estate agents to find one that you can trust and has your best interests in mind. It is important to see how well you interact with someone who isn’t just interested in a real estate deal.
If you have any additional questions about a home search, advice on lenders, or would like to meet my team, please let me know. Or, if you have any questions that you would like answered on upcoming videos, contact us. If we choose your question, you will receive a gift card for your time. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Homes cost a lot of money to maintain, but are you spending unnecessary money? Here are the 10 most expensive mistakes sellers make and how to solve them:
1. Using traditional light bulbs. If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you’re throwing away money every month on your electric bill. Over its lifespan, an incandescent light bulb can use up to $180 in electricity. In comparison, an LED light bulb only uses $30 in electricity in the same lifetime. Think about how this could change your home’s bottom line.
2. Ignoring a leaky faucet. One drop per second can waste over 3,000 gallons per year. That’s enough to take over 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but those who don’t could be wasting a fortune one drip at a time. Water is a precious resource, so fix or replace those leaky faucets.
3. Using the wrong air filter size. Using the wrong filter (or a dirty one) can increase your power bill and cause expensive problems for your furnace down the road. Use the correct filters for your system and set up a reminder to change them after the recommended amount of time.
4. Not customizing your thermostat temperature. This is a big one. A lot of people like to leave the heat or the a/c on all day, even when they aren’t home. If you invest in a customizable thermostat, you can program your systems to conserve energy. Then when you get home, you can program it to your ideal temperature.
5. Not adjusting your air vents properly. Is one room hot while the others are cold? A lot of times, homeowners will crank up the A/C to combat the hot temperatures in one area. Instead, you can just adjust the vents to direct the flow of air evenly throughout the home.
6. Overwatering your lawn. We don’t need much water for our lawns, but many homeowners have their sprinklers programmed to go off every morning for optimal lawn health. This can become a problem if you’re not around to see what’s being watered. A broken or bent spigot could be causing all your water to go toward your house or the street instead of in the lawn. Keep an eye on your sprinklers during the day and maybe cut the time down a bit.
7. Water temperature is set too high. Unless you have a tankless heater, the water in your water heater is keeping things hot 24/7. If you don’t keep an eye on the temperature as seasons change, you might be paying too much for the hot water. Decrease the temperature in the summer, and bump it back up in the winter.
8. Leaky windows and doors. Many homeowners simply ignore this by cranking up their heaters. Caulk leaky windows and put rubber seals around the doors to keep the winter winds out and the warm air in.
9. Paying a handyman. Don’t pay a handyman for a job that’s simple enough to do yourself. The information is out there. If you’re unsure how to do something, watch tutorials on YouTube. Doing these simple tasks on your own could save you time and money and also give you some useful real-world knowledge.
10. Ignoring curled roof shingles. When you start to see them form, it’s definitely best not to ignore the problem. If you do, it will only lead to a bigger problem. If you see possible issues with curled shingles, let your roofer know, or research how to properly fix the shingles on your own.
Review these tips, save some money, and if you have any questions about this list or anything else related to real estate, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. If we answer your question on one of our videos, we’ll send you a $25 gift card.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Selling your home can be one of the most stressful times in your life. However, there’s no need to worry—today we’re going to go over four simple and effective tactics to add value for your home sale.
- Improve your outdoor environment. A great outdoor space can make or break a sale. Consider updating your landscaping, mowing your lawn, and building a nice outdoor seating area. For a larger project, build a deck. For simpler projects, update your existing features. It’s all about creating emotion as your potential buyers pull up. You want to create a fantastic vision of warmth without breaking the bank.
- Remodel your kitchen. Sounds scary, right? It shouldn’t be. It should be high on your priority list; updating your kitchen is highly recommended to improve the value of your home. Just don’t go overboard on your budget. Remodeling a kitchen should be a cosmetic, low-dollar rehab, as you won’t recoup investment on anything larger. Repainting the walls and old cabinets, as well as updating the backsplash and installing new energy-efficient appliances are simple updates you can do before selling.
“Remodeling a kitchen should be a cosmetic, low-dollar rehab, as you won’t recoup investment on anything larger.”
- Ordinary updates. Many homeowners look right past this, but there are a few easy fixes you can make, such as replacing rotting wood, repairing roof leaks, and repainting inside and out.
- Prioritize energy efficiency. More and more homebuyers are looking for energy efficiency in their homes. Consider making updates to your home that lower energy costs. This can include installing insulation, purchasing replacement windows, or buying Energy Star appliances. These features are not only appealing to prospective buyers, but they can also lower your energy bills while you’re still living in your home. Jump on the sustainability train and make a few updates today.
Every home seller wants to get as much money as possible for their home. We have many vendors in our network whom we trust to provide you with great value for your bottom line.
If you have any questions about selling your home, feel free to reach out to us. Additionally, if you have an idea for a future video that you’d like to see, let us know. If we choose yours, we’ll thank you by sending you a gift card. I hope to hear from you soon.
When it comes to real estate transactions, sellers have a legal obligation to disclose past and current defects of their home to potential buyers. How far does this obligation go, though?
On one hand, sellers want to minimize the negative disclosures that may affect their ability to sell their home for maximum profit. Buyers, on the other hand, want to know exactly what they’re buying so they can estimate potential repair expenses and negotiate the purchase price accordingly.
Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s a good idea to understand the basics of real estate disclosures.There are required disclosures such as water damage, mold, termite damage, cracks in the foundation, leaks in the roof, and issues with any appliances or mechanical systems. You also must disclose previous repairs and renovations and any potential environmental dangers.
In addition, there are several federal laws that apply no matter where you live. If you’re selling a home that was built prior to 1978, for example, you must comply with the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992. If lead-based paint is present, you must let the buyer know.
My advice to any seller is, when in doubt, disclose. Full disclosures will protect you from future legal claims and give buyers confidence that they’re being treated fairly. Just because you disclose a problem doesn’t mean you have to fix it. Interested buyers will be anxious to close the deal, and they may be willing to overlook minor issues. More serious defects may lead to further negotiations, but they won’t necessarily be a deal breaker for serious buyers.
If you have any further questions about disclosures or any other real estate topic or you’re thinking of buying ro selling a home in the San Diego area, don’t hesitate to give me call or shoot me an email. I’d love to help you.
Money. The almighty dollar. Cold, hard cash.
Whatever you call it, money plays a vital role in sustaining your needs and fueling your goals. However, it can be a double-edged sword.
If you don’t have the right strategy in place to make your finances grow, the cycle of earning and spending money can feel like you’re stuck in a revolving door. You work hard for your money—why not make it work hard for you?
Today I want to share the six ways you can achieve just that.
1. Save consistently. This might sound elementary, but it’s a lot easier said than done. The most efficient way to save is to make your savings automated. Set up your online banking so that each time you get paid, a portion will go into savings. Interest rates on traditional savings accounts are quite low, however. You may want to think about a high-yield savings account.
2. Use credit cards strategically. Credit cards can be either harmful or helpful to your finances. If you are strategic, you can both build credit and earn rewards that you can use for food, clothes, travel, or even in the form of earning cash back. You could even put the cash you earn back into savings. Choose a card with strong rewards and use it for daily expenses. Then, pay it off consistently. Using credit cards responsibly and without overspending is key. The latest gadgets may be cool, but debt is absolutely not.
3. 401(k) matching. If your employer offers 401(k) matching, maximize the full amount they are willing to contribute to take advantage of free retirement money. Let’s say your employer will match your contributions dollar for dollar up to $1,500. If you take full advantage, you could double that money.
4. Opening an IRA. IRAs, or individual retirement accounts, are another great way to grow your money. IRAs are tax-advantaged investment accounts that are specifically designed to help you with retirement. There are two types of IRAs: traditional and Roth. With traditional, you contribute pre-tax dollars. These funds get taxed when you withdraw them in retirement. With a Roth IRA, the money you contribute is after tax, meaning it will not be taxed when you withdraw it.
5. Purchase real estate. Homeownership is one of the smartest ways to build your wealth. Owning a home helps you build equity. Equity is a valuable asset that you can utilize later on. Also, if you are already a homeowner, you can use a rental property as an additional source of income.
6. Private reserve banking. This whole life insurance strategy is designed to develop or improve your financial position. This is achieved by avoiding unnecessary wealth transfers. Imagine if you never had to rely on a bank to finance your life. Only a handful of companies offer these policies, and you’ll want to make sure your agent is well informed about them.
If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. You can also contact me if you have any video ideas. If we use your idea, we will thank you with a gift card. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Right now we’re seeing a very strong seller’s market. High buyer demand and low inventory across San Diego County has helped this trend to continue.
New constructions haven’t yet come to the rescue of the low inventory in our market, but demand for construction materials remains high. Previously low construction activity has weighed down public sector, but not the private residential building.
Going back to September of 2016 through August of this year, pending sales in San Diego County went up by 0.2%. However, the largest increase over that period was in the $1 million to $1.25 million price range, where there was a 21.3% increase.
Also, the overall median sales price has gone up 8.8% to approximately $525,000. The largest price gains over this period were in townhouses and condos. The sales prices for townhomes and condos went up 7.5% to approximately $387,000.
That said, this was not the quickest price range to sell. The price range with the fewest days on market was the $250,000 to $500,000 price range, where the average was 26 days on market.
Anything above $1 million or $1.25 million was the slowest to sell.The average days on market for that price range and up was around 61 days.
The most important statistic to note is that inventory is down by about 26.4% across the market. This equals about two months of supply of single family homes and about 1.5 months of condos and townhomes.
Interest rates are still at an all-time low, and this isn’t expected to change soon. This makes it a good time to make a move if you’re thinking of buying anytime soon. The market may be a bit challenging, but my team and I have strategies we’d love to share with you.
Also, now is a great time if you’re looking to sell. There is a surplus of buyers and a lack of inventory driving competition in the market, meaning you have the advantage as a seller.
If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. Also, if you send in a question and we feature it in a video, we will thank you with a gift card.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
The two most important questions homeowners want answers to are “How much is my home worth?” and “How long will it take to sell?” Many homeowners base the answers to those questions on the experience of their neighbors. If your neighbor’s home took two months to sell, then it seems likely that your home will also take two months to sell, right? Well, this isn’t necessarily true.
There are a number of factors that come into play when selling a home, especially in a seller’s market. The number of homes coming to market is down 13.5% compared to last year, and the current housing inventory is down 28% overall.
It’s a great time to realize the equity gains over the last couple of years and find the perfect buyer. There are three major factors that determine the resale performance of a home: price, location, and condition. In a seller’s market, it may not just be the condition of your home that affects the value.
I want to make sure that your home can sell for top dollar, and there are some steps that can be taken that will make the difference.
We have an extensive list of contractors, painters, landscapers, and stagers that can truly make your home shine like a diamond. As for specific improvements, those are determined on a case-by-case basis, which I am more than happy to assist with. Here are five things sellers should focus on when preparing their home for the market:
1. Landscaping. Statistically speaking, potential buyers will experience an emotional attachment to a home they are touring within the first few minutes of arriving at the property. The landscaping is the first point of contact for potential homebuyers on their visit, which makes it an extremely important part of preparing your home.
You may already have beautiful landscaping, but it’s important to make it look like it’s new landscaping. Re-mulch areas, remove dead plants or other vegetation, and update your planters to give your yard a fresh look.
2. Make it look as though no one lives at your home. This is easier said than done. Decluttering your living space gives the buyer the chance to dream and imagine themselves living in that space. It becomes more difficult for that to happen when your space is filled with your personal items.
This may prove to be difficult for some sellers who have lived in the home for an extended period of time, but it is one of the most important things that you can do to strengthen the chances of attracting the right buyer for your home.
3. Replace your flooring or paint if necessary. If you have to ask yourself if painting or re-doing the floors is necessary, then the answer is most likely yes. The buyer will appreciate a home that feels fresh and clean, and paint is an inexpensive way to refresh your home.
If your floors need to be redone, we offer a great deal where our flooring company will replace the floors and submit the bill to be paid by the escrow company when the closing is complete. This is an amazing opportunity to update your floors without any upfront costs.
4. Professional photography. It goes without saying that this should be the norm in real estate, but I’m sure that we can all agree that many agents are doing their clients a disservice by not taking professional photos of their homes.
Photos are the first point of contact to create that emotional attachment mentioned earlier with the buyer. It is our chance to tell the story of your home before they even come to see it. That can be accomplished with aerial photos, video walkthroughs, and 3-D tours as well.
5. Pricing. Even in a seller’s market, buyers are extremely savvy and cannot be fooled. This should be taken seriously as we only have one chance to make a good first impression when pricing your home. All of the work that was done on updating the landscaping, interior, and through professional photography will mean nothing if we don’t price your home that makes sense to the market.
We have years of certified appraisal experience and would love to help you get an accurate appraisal for your home.
If you have any other questions, need help getting your home ready for the market, or are looking to buy or sell a home, give us a call. We look forward to working with you!
What’s the biggest obstacle to homeownership? According to a recent survey, “saving enough for a down payment” comes at the top of the list. A whopping 55% of prospective homebuyers cited this as their main stumbling block.
And with the continuing growth of home prices, things aren’t getting any easier. In fact, homeownership rates reached a 20-year low last November, but it wasn’t always like this.
A decade ago, many lenders were offering easy, no-money-down mortgages. However, after the financial crisis, mortgage standards have become more restrictive. A typical mortgage now requires a 20% down payment.
Here’s the good news. If you have decent credit and a steady income, you might qualify for a number of specialized programs that require no or very little down payment.
First, there’s the USDA loan, which is valid for homes in certain regions, such as rural and suburban areas. With zero money down and lenient credit requirements, the USDA loan can be a great choice for many homeowners.
Second, there’s the VA loan, which you can apply for if you or your spouse served in a branch of the military. It’s possibly the most generous zero-money-down mortgage because of low interest rates and low closing costs.
“If you have decent credit and a steady income, you might qualify for specialized programs that require no or very little down payment.”
Third, there’s the FHA loan. It requires a 3.5% down payment — still drastically more achievable than the 20% required for a conventional mortgage.
Finally, there are a number of credit unions and first-time homebuyer programs that might apply to your particular situation. There’s one important thing you should know. If you get one of these no-money-down mortgages, chances are good you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance, which can drive up your monthly payments.
Fortunately, private mortgage insurance will disappear after your mortgage balance is under 80%. Also, the money you do pay will be tax deductible in most cases. In short, there are lots of options to make owning a home a reality for you, even if you haven’t saved up tens of thousands of dollars.
If you need more advice on getting a no-money-down loan or you have any other questions about the San Diego market, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email soon. I’d be happy to help!