When to Use a Professional

Real Estate Advisor: December 2015
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As homeowners, we want our properties to reflect our styles and the designs of the current day. If you have purchased an older property, or you just want to update your current home, a certain degree of work and projects are required to bring your property up to the level you strive for. While many of us have experience with home projects, there are some of us that don’t. Below are some of the common projects homeowners embark upon, and suggestions on when it’s best to do it yourself or call a professional for help.

Walls

Sheetrock - When to Use a ProfessionalMost painting jobs are DIY, pending you have a steady hand. Should you have structural repairs or water damage, call a pro, especially if you’re going to demolish the existing wall, replace or re-frame anything, install new Sheetrock or drywall or anything else that is labor intensive.

Floors

Floor repairs can be fairly easy, from cleaning to repairing small nicks in the flooring. If you want to take on a larger project, it might be worthwhile to hire a pro if your project requires installing hardwood floors or laying tile. With the amount of work required to install a new floor, hiring someone with the experience can save you time, money and a lot of body aches.

Windows

window caulk - When to Use a ProfessionalIf you’re doing minor maintenance and repairs (like repairing or replacing wood sills or caulking around windows), you should be able to do this type of project no sweat. But if you’re looking to replace a window, or need to rebuild a window frame, count on calling a professional for help.

Electrical

If you have no experience with the electrical system of your home, keep your improvements limited to changing outlet covers and switch plates. You can also change all your current light bulbs to energy saving bulbs.

Tile

Tile - When to Use a ProfessionalTiling a back splash or replacing dirty old grout are projects most homeowners will be able to tackle on their own. But if your project requires tiling floors, walls, or large tile installations, it might be worthwhile to contact a professional for help, especially if your project requires cutting any tile.

Plumbing

Plumber - When to Use a ProfessionalDIYers should be able to do small projects, like replacing a toilet flapper, addressing drips, upgrading shower and sink fixtures, and other small things that don’t require a lot of tools. If your project requires moving or installing any plumbing or pipes, call a pro for help.

Home Repairs for a Professional:

Plumbing

Small leaks can mean thousands in repairs if they’re not caught in time. If you need to modify your plumbing system, then you should definitely call a professional. Welding pipes together requires a torch, and if you don’t have that experience, it’s best to rely on the experts for this type of work.

Electrical

If your project requires direct contact with electricity, call a pro. This includes rewiring, adding power to areas that do not currently have power, and any installation of large or heavy light fixtures (think a chandelier). Electricity is no joke, and the last thing you want is to cause yourself harm, or harm your home, during a DIY project.

Asbestos, Mold and Lead Paint

If you have a new home, you will not encounter asbestos or lead paint. But if you are interested in older homes, asbestos and lead paint are a possibility. Once used as insulation, asbestos is toxic, and there are laws that govern how it’s removed and disposed of. Lead paint is also highly toxic, and removal should be done by a lead professional. Should you have mold in your home (certain types are toxic), it’s best to leave the removal of all of these to the professionals: they know how to remove and dispose of all toxic materials, and they can do it safely.

Roofing

Repairing a roof shingle might seem like an easy task, but there is more danger in getting on and off a roof than most homeowners realize. Tools, multiple trips up and down a ladder, and constant attention paid to the incline of the roof make roof repairs tiring, and if you’re not prepared, dangerous. Stick with the professionals – they have the proper gear and the experience required to do the job right.

Anything with Gas

Gas is similar to water: if it can find a way out, it will escape. If you’re replacing appliances that run on natural gas, it’s best to hire someone to help with installation. The last thing you want is for gas to escape and result in a buildup of carbon monoxide in your home.

Fast and Easy Updates to Help a Home Sell

REA_August2015

We are smack dab in the middle of home buying season, and while some properties are off the market before they’re even on it, others haven’t had such luck. A great way to boost your home’s selling power is to make small and affordable updates throughout the home. These quick updates and fixes won’t break the bank or a budget, and they will help make your home more inviting to potential buyers and a potential sale.

Spruce Up the Front Door

The front door is one of the first things potential buyers see when viewing your home. Spruce up the front door by touching up paint (either paint over chipped or fading paint, or change the color completely), adding a kick plate, changing out the hardware, or you can replace the door completely. A new front door can add energy efficiency and additional security if you choose a metal door. Making the front door pop not only adds a special touch to your curb appeal, but potential buyers definitely notice a door that’s been taken care of.

Freshen Up the Kitchen

Closeup of Woman Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchens appeal to so many buyers. If you don’t have the budget or time to overhaul your kitchen, don’t panic. If you have nice wood cabinets and don’t have the budget to update them, consider adding a coat of paint to freshen them up. You can also add new hardware (knobs, handles or pulls) to help give cabinets a younger look. You can also change out any outdated countertops, and adding a new faucet to the sink is another way to give a kitchen a new vibe. If you have the time and the budget, consider changing any flooring that is chipped, cracked or broken. Vinyl flooring is economical and affordable, and it’s available in a number of types and styles to suit any kitchen design.

Update Porch Columns

Porch columns are another item buyers see immediately; if you have columns that have chipped paint, are decaying, or don’t match the style of the home, consider updating or replacing them completely. Sand and paint over chips, or update the look with vinyl wraps. If you have the budget to replace the columns, consider fiberglass, which is weather resistant and helps support the weight of the porch roof.

Tidy Up a Bathroom

Brand new modern luxury bathroom interior

 

Bathrooms are another large selling feature of properties, and outdated bathrooms are a top sale killer. Update within reason of your budget and time: replacing the vanity, counter, sink and faucet can be a quick fix that is also budget friendly (some home improvement stores have entire kits available for this). If this doesn’t fit your budget, consider painting the vanity and replacing the hardware and faucet. Other updates that can be done in the bathroom: change out a toilet (you can usually find energy efficient toilets at a local big box store for under $200), update a showerhead, and replace any vanity or overhead lighting for more modern and energy efficient options.

Update a Staircase

Many staircases are located just as you enter a home, which means they are a focal point and something buyers look at and judge the moment they walk into a property. If your staircase has seen better days, take the time to do some small updates. Fix any broken or loose steps and evaluate the railing; refinish a wood staircase, replace a broken railing, change outdated balusters, and, if the stairs are carpeted, clean or replace the carpet.

Jazz Up a Fireplace

Fireplace and Television in Luxury Home

 

Whether it’s gas or wood, many homes have fireplaces, and many buyers love them for their purpose and as focal points. An updated fireplace can say loads about your home, and a great looking fireplace can help a sale. You can paint and transform outdated brick or add ceramic tiles to add color. You also have the option of adding budget-friendly artificial stone veneer or natural stone (if you have the time and money). Mantels are a large part of fireplaces – add, update or replace a mantel with wood, stone or marble. An updated fireplace and mantel can help any home sale.

Light Up the Yard

Lighting can take the exterior of a home from drab to fab. Dark homes don’t pop to buyers, and outdoor lighting can add a ton of appeal. Update any outdated outdoor lighting fixtures, especially those that no longer work or are broken. If you have some extra money to put toward projects, consider adding additional outdoor lighting in the way of a lamppost or path lights, and if you live in a sunny climate you also have the option of solar lights.

Organize a Closet

Wardrobe

 

Buyers will go through cupboards and closets, and a cramped bedroom closet can be an issue with some buyers. A quick and budget-friendly fix is a closet organizer. Organizers come in a variety of options, from wood and plastic-laminate to wire, and most are DIY, which cuts down any installation costs. If your closets are stuffed or poorly organized, buyers will see this and could potentially be turned off by it.

Make an Attic More Usable

Most homes have some kind of attic, whether it be a small crawlspace that’s barely accessible or a large attic area accessed by a staircase. Make sure your attic area is accessible: if it’s not, add a ladder and insulate the door for better energy efficiency. If your attic area is just studs, add a plywood floor to make it more accessible and ready for storage. By adding a couple extra things to an attic area, you’re adding usable space and making your home more marketable to potential buyers.

These fixes are relatively easy, and most shouldn’t break the bank. If you can afford to do some, go for it, but do what is in reason of your time and budget. You want to sell your house, and you don’t want to spend a fortune updating it. Small fixes can be the ticket to a quick sell, or they can help a home that’s been sitting for a while finally get some movement.

 

Taken from Real Estate Advisor – August 2015

4 Tips for Getting Value From Your Home Inspection

The inspection can be your chance to learn about your potential home and discover possible trouble spots.

- 4 Tips for Getting Value From Your Home Inspectionshutterstock 208429627 56bdd3 900x350 - 4 Tips for Getting Value From Your Home InspectionMany buyers assume that the home inspection is their opportunity to pick the home apart and find its flaws. While the inspection often results in a second round of negotiations, buyers should view the inspection as the introduction to their potential home. Here are four tips for getting the most from your home inspection.

Enlist a pro

It’s best to use a well-known, local inspector — preferably someone your agent refers. If your Uncle Bob is a contractor, it may seem like a good idea to bring him instead. But you need a licensed inspector who is familiar with the area, and different types of homes and systems.

An impartial third party, the inspector should be a voice or reason, not an alarmist or overly optimistic. They are liable for inspecting to the best of their ability.

Come prepared

Bring a list of your concerns and questions about the house. During the viewings, you probably had questions about some aspects of the construction. Write down your concerns.

If the seller provided property disclosures or you’ve received documents about the property from the local building department, bring them to the inspection. The inspector normally starts off with a discussion about what he seeks to accomplish, then asks what questions or concerns you have. Lay them out at the beginning so that the inspector can keep them in mind as he goes through the home.

Walk around with the inspector

Some inspectors prefer to work independently, but most will give you the opportunity to walk around with them. This is your chance to learn about your home. You want to know and see firsthand where your water heater and electrical panel are. It’s easier to understand if you are there, in front of the inspector when he points something out, than to hear about it at the end.

As a homeowner, you will need to know all about your systems because there won’t be a landlord to call when something goes awry.

Use the inspection to compile a maintenance plan

Parts of the home often break down or fall apart because nobody properly maintained them. Changing the filter on the HVAC system, replacing old plumbing valves or monitoring leaks will help keep things working. Nobody wants a broken boiler in the middle of January, or their water heater to break mid-week.

The inspection is a great way to learn about your home and what it will need going forward. If the boiler is near the end of its life, find out what you need to do next winter to make sure it lasts the season. Make a financial plan to replace it in the future.

Home inspection is one of the biggest components of the real estate transaction. You should take it seriously, and come prepared to ask questions and learn about the home.

Shared from Zillow Blog

The Market Needs Your Homes!

Uncle-Sam

The real estate market has rebounded. So much so that there is a short supply of available homes for sale on the market. Especially for lower priced homes.

How does real estate help our economy?

The increased sales mean increased sales prices. Increased sales prices mean increased values for homes. Even those who aren’t selling their homes will realize the increased values. This in turn boosts  consumer confidence and consumer spending.

NAR compiled data from research conducted by the Bureau of Economic Analysis & Macroeconomic Advisors on the economic impact of a home purchase.

After reviewing the data, they concluded that the total economic impact of a typical home sale in the United States is an astonishing $52,205.

The more homes that are sold the better the economy. The better the economy the better it is for everyone.

How does this help you?

Homes listed in todays market go fast! And with mortgage rates still low this may be the time to upgrade your current home to a bigger house or one in a nicer location.

Give us a call and we will happy to show you what your options are.

Is Getting a Mortgage Getting Easier?

Is Getting a Mortgage Getting Easier? | Keeping Current Matters

There has been a lot of discussion about how difficult it is to get a home mortgage in this market. There is no doubt that the process is not as easy as it was eight to ten years ago and that’s probably good news. However, it does appear that availability to mortgage money is increasing with each passing day.

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association publishes the Mortgage Credit Availability Index(MCAI). According to their site the index is “a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time”. As we can see from the graph below, mortgage availability has been increasing dramatically over the last six months.

Mortgage Availability | Keeping Current Matters

Accompanying the latest index was this comment from Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Chief Economist:

“A number of factors contributed to a loosening of credit in March: Freddie Mac’s introduction of their 97 LTV program (Fannie Mae’s was implemented in December) [and the] additional loosening of parameters on jumbo loan programs… Although credit remains tight by historical standards, this increase in availability, coupled with low rates and job market strength, should lead to stronger home purchase activity this spring.”

Bottom Line

If you have remained on the sidelines regarding homeownership because you were concerned about your ability to qualify for a mortgage, it may be time to get into the game.