Carol George's Blog
Homeowners can sometimes overlook things in the excitement to buy a property. When purchasing a property, there are a few red flags that you should be aware of:
1. Fresh paint on some walls
Some homeowners sometimes use a fresh paint job to hide problems with the house. If you find out some walls are freshly painted while others are not, ask the homeowner or the real estate agent some questions. Compare the answers of the seller with the agent to see if they match. Then compare the information with the seller's disclosure beforehand about any issues or past repairs with the property. If you suspect that the home contains some home renovations that you are not aware of underneath the fresh paint, then you should call an experienced general contractor to help you take a look.
2. Title issues
A home buyer or lender will carry out a title search while the home is in escrow. You should pay attention to the preliminary title report and check if there are liens, restrictions, encumbrances and anything else that could restrict how you can use the property. When doing due diligence during the escrow period, make sure you understand your rights as a buyer on the property and any third parties included in the title. As a rule of thumb, the longer a title report is, the more likely there's something there that you should know. A preliminary title report is an important document that you should go through. If you do not understand the terms on the title document, ask for help from your real estate agent or a lawyer.
3. Cheap flips
Today's real estate market is filled with people who are looking to make money from flipping homes cheaply. Be wary to avoid becoming a victim of a quick flip. Many houses are products of extensive renovations. Sometimes the contractors use substandard building materials that may have problems despite their shiny looks. As a buyer, you should check the kind of materials used in the home you want to buy. If you don’t know much about construction, hire a general contractor to help you inspect the home extensively.
Pay attention to the seller’s disclosures to identify any red flags that may be there and if they will cause you problems in the future. Consult with a real estate agent or lawyer to help you avoid issues with your home purchase.
Preparing your home is one of the most important things you can do before leaving for an extended period of time.
Whether you have a vacation home that you spend your summer months in, you travel for work, or you simply have a second property that will be unoccupied for an extended period of time, it’s vital to take the steps to preparing the home for the elements while you are gone.
In this article, we’ll talk about winterizing, preparing a home for heavy rains, and protecting it from a number of external forces. That way you can rest assured that your property will be safe while you’re away, saving you money in costly repairs.
Many Americans spend the winter months in a warmer climate. Similarly, it has become quite common to purchase vacation homes and cabins in the northern part of the country to visit during the summer months. Regardless, these homes will have to be winterized to avoid damage.
First, and most important, be sure to turn off the water at the main supply sources. Next, open up your faucets and drain all of the lines that carry water throughout your home and yard. Drain, and put away your garden hose, to protect it and your fittings from damage.
Now that you’re protected against water damage, you’ll want to protect against potential fires. Turn off and unplug all appliances. Not only is this a way to avoid fire, but it will also help you avoid needlessly spending on electricity.
It’s a good idea to turn your thermostat down so that your home is kept above freezing, but not at a needlessly high temperature.
Preparing a home for extended leave
Even if your home isn’t facing the winter cold, there are still measures that should be taken during an extended leave.
Cleaning your refrigerator out completely and then washing the interior will help avoid odors from spreading throughout the house.
Other odors can arise from the drains in your home, especially if it’s likely to get hot. To prevent this you can cover up your drains with painter’s tape.
You’ll also want to remove any food from your cabinets that could attract mice, ants, or other pests. While you’re cleaning, wash and put away any linens that you won’t be using for some time.
Be sure arrangements have been made at the post office for any mail you receive at your home. You could set up mail forwarding, have neighbors take in your mail, or purchase a PO box for the time you’re away. Regardless, it’s a good idea to not have mail piling up outside an empty home as it could attract the attention of those seeking to benefit from your house being vacant.
Before leaving, make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked. Remove any spare keys from obvious locations around your home, and make arrangements for someone, such as a neighbor, to check on the home and report any problems to you.
You may have wanted to apply for a mortgage at some point but were put off by something negative someone said about this type of loan. Similarly, you may have been encouraged to apply for one based on some false information but met with a quick rejection. Some of the information that bred these misconceptions may not be false but has merely become outdated. Below are some of those misconceived ideas and the truth behind them:
1. You cannot get a loan with a bad credit score
While it is true that most traditional banks will consider you too risky if your score is below 620, other non-traditional lenders will listen to you. Those offering house loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) can approve borrowers with a minimum score of 580. Remember, though, that lenders will cover the risk of lending to folks with a low credit score by fixing a higher interest rate. So you might want to clean up your debt before looking for a mortgage.
2. You have to raise 20% as a down payment
In the past, this was true. You had to stump up at least 20% of the value of the property before you approached a lender. Some would require up to 30%. These days you can find lenders who will only ask for 6% to get closing on your mortgage deal. FHA-backed loans will accept even 3.5%.
3. Being pre-approved and pre-qualified are the same thing
Being pre-approved is as almost as good as having the cash to buy a property. Before you get pre-approval, you have to have submitted all required documentation to the lender. Based on your financials, the lender will arrive at a maximum amount they can advance you for the purchase of the property. Your real estate agent can, therefore, use that pre-approval to go house hunting. Getting pre-qualified doesn’t carry this much weight- it only means you have engaged a lender and that you’re ready to begin the application process.
4. The interest rate quoted is what you’ll close with
The rate quoted is subject to change unless you lock it in. Interest rates fluctuate daily, changing severally even on the same day depending on how mortgage bonds trade. From the time you get the initial quote when beginning the pre-approval process to the time you settle on a property and want to close, the rate could have changed by a few points. You can only lock the rate once you've identified a home to which you want to commit.
Ask your mortgage officer all the questions you can think of before you close your deal.
Today’s home buyers see hundreds if not thousands of real estate photos when they’re in the market. Odds are that they’ll eliminate a number of homes from their search before ever even setting foot in them.
As you can imagine, that makes your home listing’s photographs all the more important to securing solid leads on your house.
In spite of the importance of photographs, a number of sellers get them wrong. To ensure that your home listing’s photos make a great first impression, we’re going to take a look at some of the common mistakes to avoid in your listing photography.
1. Not taking enough photos
In the age of digital photography, you can never take too many pictures. Experiment with different lighting, setups, and angles, and don’t be afraid to take as many photos as necessary to get the shots you want.
2. Going overboard with the uploads
It might be tempting to upload all of the pictures you took of your home, but it could hurt your overall presentation. Sort carefully through your pictures and pick one or two photos that best showcase each room and another one to three photos of the home’s exterior and land.
Visitors to your listing will get bored and click away if you have a slideshow with hundreds of images. Make it easy for them to find exactly what they’re looking for by limiting the number of total photos of your home.
3. Avoid close-ups
Your home should be spotlessly clean and tidy when taking photos. However, that doesn’t mean you need to get up close to each object in your home to take photos. Try to take wide shots that make your home feel spacious and welcoming.
4. Look out for mirrors and reflections and other distractions
If there’s one way to ruin an otherwise serene photo of your home, it’s when you spot the photographer accidentally showing up in the shot. Plan your angles so that you don’t get any flashes, glare, or reflections in your photographs.
And, while we’re on the topic of distractions, it’s a good idea to take your pets out of the room before your start shooting. Remember, potential home buyers don’t love your dog or cat like you do.
5. Don’t settle with your first shots
The different (or lack) of lighting your home receives throughout the day can make or break your photos. Try taking photos of your home at midday, when there are the least amount of shadows. Then, shoot some photos at golden hour (just before the sun sets) to capture warm tones. Finally, right after dusk, turn the lights on in your home and take some shots from outside. These photos give the illusion of a warm, cozy place where the light is always on.
Home improvement has reached new technological heights with the introduction of the Numi 2.0 intelligent toilet from Kohler. The Consumer Electronics Show recently held in Las Vegas, Nevada, saw the debut of the trapezoidal-shaped unit under the control of Amazon Alexa. When offered such a staggering variety of personalization choices, some folks might never leave the bathroom.
Not content to merely flush away waste, the Numi 2.0 connects via Bluetooth® to sync your favorite music into your early morning experience. If relaxing on the throne is your ideal, Numi 2.0's got your err … backside. On the other hand, if you prefer productivity during your morning go, the embedded Alexa will check traffic, weather, stock prices, or breaking news for you. Ask Alexa to access your personalized playlists to make your experience truly personal.
Set your environment with Numi 2.0’s mood lighting too. Choose from a solid glow surrounding the base and back panel to dynamic light changes progressing from color to color. And don’t forget temperature control. The Numi 2.0’s heated seat also responds to Alexa so no more shivering on cold winter mornings, while the lid raises and closes on your command.
Best of all, the Kohler app, called KOHLER Konnect®, lets you personalize your experience and preset it for you and other users so that upon your return, your voice brings you (or your family member's) preferences back to life. Download your KOHLER Konnect® app from the App Store or get it on Google Play.
Not just for the going functions, the Numi 2.0 changes the cleaning experience as well. With warm-water cleansing and adjustable water pressure, spray, and temperature options, the toilet’s self-cleaning wand, precision air dryer, and deodorizing filter practically do all the work for you.
The little extras
- Eco-friendly dual-flush gives you a choice of either 0.6 gallons or 1.28 gallons per each flush.
- Motion-activated and touch-free opening and closing of both the lid and the seat provide hands-free operation.
- Chair-height seating offers ease of sitting and standing.
- Another economy option is the power saving option that detects usage and changes the settings of the heated seat to save you energy.
- Support in emergency power outages with up to 100 flushes.
- Best of all, it fits into standard plumbing with only the addition of power access.
If you want to add some luxury to your lifestyle, this $7,000 (for white) or $8,000 (for black) toilet suits your needs. In high-end housing, a fantastic specialty product like this one can be a difference-maker. Talk to your luxury real estate professional about how it can increase your home's value.