Secrets of a solid home inspection

 

Nearly two-thirds of surveyed homeowners report that a home inspection during the selling or buying of a house saved them money.

Selling, buying or just putting a house on the market may raise many questions. Can I get a good price? Are there any problems I should fix prior to listing my house? If I buy this house, will I encounter problems that may make me regret my decision?

The sale price of a house depends on many factors, including the market, location, size of the property, age of the house, condition of the structure, what appliances might be included in the sale and even how nicely the property and building were landscaped and decorated – just to name a few.

Having a qualified professional inspect your house prior to putting it on the market – or for prospective buyers, before closing on a sale – can help guide your decision. But many homeowners and prospective buyers are unsure what's included in a standard home inspection, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). A qualified home inspector will review these aspects of a property:
 

  • Roof, attic and visible insulation
  • Foundation, basement and structural components
  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Heating and central air conditioning systems
  • Windows and doors
  • Water fixtures and faucets
  • Decks

Nearly two out of three homeowners recently surveyed by ASHI reported they saved a lot of money as a result of having a home inspection during the selling/buying of a house. Sellers use inspections to help determine potential problems that can be repaired or replaced prior to listing – potentially getting them a higher sale price. And buyers use the inspections to determine if they want to invest in the property, or help negotiate for a better price that would include the repair and replacement of potential problems.

Not all home inspectors are certified and licensed. ASHI's "Find an Inspector" tool allows homeowners to locate an inspector in their area. Always check with your local inspector for a complete list of services provided.

"It's important for homeowners to do their homework before hiring an inspector," says Kurt Salomon, ASHI president. "Look for a home inspector certified through the ASHI Certified Inspector Program, which is the only home inspection association program approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies."

The following elements are not included in a standard home inspection:

  • Septic system
  • Electrical wiring and plumbing that is not readily accessible (for example, behind drywall or plaster)
  • Water conditioning or softening system
  • Swimming pool
  • Backyard fences
  • Lawn irrigation system
  • Household appliances
  • Compliance with local codes
  • Appraisal to determine market value

Before hiring a home inspector, inquire about what is covered in the inspection and ask to see a sample report. Although some inspectors provide ancillary services, it may be necessary to consult a specialist for concerns that extend beyond a standard inspection. Often your inspector will help you make this determination.

Hiring a certified home inspector and having questions answered before putting your house up for sale – or before finalizing a purchase price – can not only help save money, but also allow you to go through the process with more peace of mind.

Selecting a trustworthy mover is the first step in avoiding moving day headaches

 

Americans are on the move. The United States Census Bureau estimates that 12.5 percent of Americans – nearly 40 million people – changed residences each of the past two years. While many turned to moving professionals for assistance, some learned the hard way that not all moving companies are created equally. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) received nearly 3,000 complaints about moving companies last year alone – a double-digit increase from the prior year.

Some good news arrived in October in the form of a new law that provides additional protection for victims of rogue moving companies that hold belongings hostage in the interest of scamming consumers to pay unexpected fees. The new law gives FMCSA the authority to force the return of consumer belongings in addition to the ability to levy fines of up to $10,000 per day.

Unfortunately, our industry has been plagued by moving 'companies' that advertise unbelievable 'deals' that turn out to be consumer scams, says Jon Sorber, executive vice president of Two Men And A Truck, the nation's largest franchise moving company. The new regulations are a welcome change for those of us committed to operating legitimate moving companies, but they are just a start. Education is really the key to making sure consumers avoid the hassle of a moving scam in the first place.

Sorber suggests consumers ask the following questions before hiring a mover:

1. Can your family, friends and co-workers make a referral? It's likely that you know several people who've hired a moving company in the past year. Why not tap the resources of people you trust to share their experiences?

2. Does your mover have a brick and mortar facility you can visit? Often the "rogue" mover operates from a storage unit or perhaps with no office at all. If you are dealing with a legitimate moving company, they will have an office with trucks, employees, boxes, supplies, etc.

3. Is your mover licensed in your state? The majority of states require a formal license to operate as a mover, and selecting a licensed, insured mover is your best bet in guaranteeing a hassle-free experience.

4. What community or industry associations does the moving company have? Is your mover in good standing with the Better Business Bureau? Are they active members of the local Chamber of Commerce? Choose a mover who is valued and trusted within your community and you'll likely eliminate any concern of questionable practices.

5. Does your mover offer free moving quotes? A legitimate mover is going to provide free estimates of your move before a single item is moved. If they refuse to do so, keep shopping regardless of how good the deal sounds.

Paul Oakley is senior vice president for Government Affairs at the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), the moving industry's largest trade association. He and his team began working with Congress to develop the new regulatory provisions. Like Sorber, he believes the new laws provide some measure of safety, but cautions that more work must be done to eliminate dishonest moving practices.

The laws going into effect directly impact policing of the industry, says Oakley, but ultimately we must have safeguards that make entry into the industry more difficult, tougher enforcement against bad actors, and a greater effort needs to be made to educate consumers on how to choose a proper moving company.

Two Men And A Truck offers more questions consumers should ask before hiring a mover at www.twomenandatruck.com/moving-questions. Consumers might also consider AMSA's Before You Move checklist at www.moving.org.

Three helpful tips for renting out your home

 

(NewsUSA) – Home ownership has always been a part of the American dream, but that may be changing. 

According to an online survey commissioned by the National Apartment Association, 76 percent of consumers think that renting is preferable to owning a home in today's market.

Likewise, some homeowners believe it's better to rent out their home than to sell it for less than its worth, if they can sell it all. Those considering renting out their property shouldn't make a hasty decision. Neglecting to weigh the costs and potential risks could put first-time landlords in a poor situation. Moco, Inc., a company that provides screening services to property owners, managers and employers throughout the United States, offers the following tips:

* Look at the numbers. Renting might not be the best option. If you're going to lose money each month, it might make more sense to sell, even if you won't get your asking price. Consider all potential costs, including property taxes, income taxes on your tenants' rent, maintenance, and the normal wear and tear your property will experience. Remember that you won't be able to pocket all of the rent money; you will have to put a portion of it back into the property.

* Find quality tenants. Nightmare tenants can be, well, a nightmare. Prepare for a careful screening process. Many private landlords can't access the quality screening products available to larger businesses without going through a lengthy certification process. However, you can avoid time and expense by asking your applicants to visit MyScreeningReport.com. The report includes a consumer credit report, SSN verification, comprehensive criminal search, eviction search, national sex offender registry search and an OFAC (federal terrorism database) search – everything you need to determine whether a potential tenant meets your standards.

* Use an all-encompassing lease. Whether you use a template or hire an attorney to write your lease, make sure that the lease clearly states your expectations. The lease should state who is responsible for what, when you expect rent to be paid and what penalties you will impose if it is late.

For more information, visit www.MyScreeningReport.com.

Which comes first: The real estate deal or the buyer’s list?

 

This question is kind of like another question where people can't seem to agree on the answer; "Which came first; the chicken or the egg"? Real estate investors all have a different opinion when they are asked whether you should find a deal first or start a buyer's list and then find a deal.  For me, the answer has always been "the deal." If you have a great deal, you can always find a buyer for it.

I had someone email me recently that said they had wanted to begin wholesaling houses for a couple of years, but he just couldn't bring himself to buy that first investment property. He was afraid he wouldn't be able to sell it. This man had spent a number of years learning the business, but had become paralyzed with fear over this prospect of putting a house under contract that he wouldn't be able to sell.

If you are just getting started and you find yourself having the same problem, here are 4 tips for you.

1. Know What a Good Deal Looks Like

This is no doubt the hardest part when you are brand new. You almost always pay too much for your first couple of deals. Before you sign on the dotted line, run your potential deal by someone that is an experienced investor. Marginal deals are hard to sell.  If you have any doubt about the numbers or the area where the house is located, just walk away and find another deal. There's always another one around the corner.

2. Know Where Investors Like to Buy

It won't do you any good to get a house under contract at a great price if it is in an area where investors don't like to buy.  Ask experienced rehabbers and landlords where they like to buy. Be sure to find out what types of properties they like, and the price range they prefer. In general, you will be pretty safe in bread and butter neighborhoods; the kinds of neighborhoods for first time homebuyers.  In my area there is a market for more expensive houses, but there are fewer investors in this group.  Buy houses that would work for either a rehab that would be sold to a retail buyer, or a home that would make a great rental and they will always be in demand.

3. Put an Escape Clause in Your Contract

This is vital especially when you are brand new.  Make the deal subject to inspection or partner approval. This is your safety net. It will make it easier for you make offers with confidence.

4. Begin Immediately to Build Your Buyer's List

There is nothing like having a good buyer's list to call or email when you have a property you want to sell quickly. It is truly a wholesaler's secret weapon.  These folks will be loyal repeat buyers if you always have great deals for them, and if you conduct your business with them in an ethical manner 100% of the time.

Implementing these 4 tips will make it easier to make those first offers and get your first few houses under your belt.
Finding a Buyer for Your Deal

There are a number of ways you can quickly find a buyer for the property you have under contract even if you don't have a buyer's list.

You can take the deal to your local REIA group where you will find a group of people that are looking for their next house.  At my monthly meeting, we have a table set up for vendors and for folks that want to put out fliers about properties they have to sell. This is usually the first place people head after signing in.

You could list the house on Craigslist. I have sold several properties there, but I would rather much sell to someone at my REIA group; they are usually more experienced investors.  But even if they are brand new, they will almost always be educated to some degree if you find them at this meeting. Most investors are more than willing to help them if they can close the deal.

Concentrate on getting a great deal, and you can be sure you will find a buyer.

Author: Sharon Vornholt

Sharon's Website: http://LouisvilleGalsRealEstateBlog.com