You’ve Bought Your First Home Now What?

You’ve did it!  You purchased your first home, but now as you sit in your fabulous home you’re feeling a little overwhelmed because of all of the “things” that come with owning a home.  You know what I’m talking about, the maintenance, the yard work, the furnace, etc.

While this can be completely overwhelming having a quarterly schedule of maintenance items to be done can really help.  I’m going to provide. you with a few tips for each quarter of the year to help you get started:

 

SUMMER 

Remove the lint from your dryer, dryer vent and vent hose.  According to the US Fire Administration approximately 2,900 clothes dryer fires are reported each year and it is estimated that they cause five deaths, 100 injuries and $35 million in property losses.  In addition, failure to clean the dryer is the leading cause of home dryer fires in America.

Clean the exhaust fan in your kitchen.  You would be amazed at how greasy and icky they get over a year from all of the cooking that we do.

Check your dishwasher, around kitchen/bathroom cabinets and toilets to see if there are any leaks.

Seal your tile grout.

Prune trees and shrubs.

FALL

It’s time to rake your leaves and aerate your yard.

Have your trusted HVAC company come out and make sure your furnace is in proper order for the colder winter months.

Do touch up painting on the exterior and trim of your home.

Have your fireplace professionally inspected and have a chimney sweep come out.  Unfortunately I don’t think you’ll be on any adventures with Bert from Mary Poppins when they do come out.

Drain and store your hoses, and also drain your sprinkler system.  You don’t want spring to roll around and find out you have broken pipes.

WINTER

Cover your A/C unit.

Inspect your roof, gutters and downspouts after any major storms.  Left over leaves, and pine needles can clog them after major storms and create problems for you the next time it rains.

Clean the drains in your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, bath tubs and showers.  It’s amazing how much hair can wind up going down the drain and start to clog things up.

SPRING

Change your A/C filters in preparation for the warmer days that are ahead.

Clean windows and screens.

Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

Fertilize your yard

 

Keep in mind that this list doesn’t include all of the items you can do to keep your new home in tip top shape it does hopefully give you good start.

 

It’s Home Inspection Time.

You’ve got an accepted offer and now it’s time for the home inspection.  This can be a stressful time for both buyers and sellers as they wait to see what the inspector has to say, and if he finds something that could kill the deal.

As you prepare for this time it’s good to remember that the home inspector is there to tell you about the general health of the home, like your primary care doctor tells you about your general health.  If there are issues with the home that require an expert such as HVAC, roof, mold remediation the inspector should recommend that a licensed professional come out to asses the issue.

When it comes to the report a good write up will give you four main points:

What are they inspecting.

Where is it at in the home.

Why is the issue a problem.

How the buyer should consider handing the problem.

For example, in my own home purchase the report informed me that there was a duct vent from the laundry room vent that had fallen in the attic and was not property attached to the roof vent which is there to help prevent excess moisture and other problems.  As the buyer they inspector let me know that to handle this problem I needed to have the duct work reattached to the  roof vent.  It was an easy fix that my husband took care of for me after I moved in.

It doesn’t matter what the item is you should always see a what, where, why it is an issue and what you should do about it.  If it is something out of the scope of the home inspector assessing the general health of the home say cracks in the foundation, they should suggest that you get a qualified contractor or engineer to come out and assess the foundation to see if there is an issue or not.

You should also know that there are items that are not in the scope of the home inspectors work.  For example if the home were to have a pool and hot tub that would not be something that the home inspector would be looking at.  As a buyer you would want to have a pool specialist come out and tell you if the pool was in good mechanical working order.

As a seller the home inspector isn’t there to find all sorts of things to make you fix, and potentially kill the deal.  We all love our homes and think that they are in fantastic order, however when we live in them for awhile there are things that we sometimes don’t notice.

Once that home inspection is over it’s time to consider what items you want fixed and what items you can deal with and maybe fix later.  I always tell both my buyers and sellers that we ask/fix items that are of a health and safety concern, such as a leaking roof or T111 siding that is rotting at the bottom.  If the home is older you may see the inspector indicate that the home lacks GFCI outlets and recommend that they be installed.   If they recommend it for the kitchen and bathroom then yes that would fall under the health and safety items as both of those places deal with water.  However if the inspector indicates that it should be done through out the home in order to bring it up to code then I like to have a discussion with my sellers/buyers.  Codes are constantly changing and home was built to code for the time it was constructed.  Health and safety should not constitute bringing the home up to current code.  It would be costly as well as very time/labor intensive.

As you prepare for your home inspection please keep these things in mind, and hopefully it will help make the process a little less stressful.  You also might consider picking up Matt Fellman’s book Home Inspector Confidential. It provides some fabulous information from a well respected Portland area home inspector.

You’re Ready to Move-Up to Your Next Home, but Where Do You Start?

As a first time seller, or a seller who hasn’t sold a home in many years you may be wondering where to start.  You may believe that you find a Realtor® sign a contract and put a sign up in the yard then wait for the offers to come rolling in.  You certainly can use this approach however, if you receive and accept an offer quickly you will only have 30-45 days to get packed up and ready to move, all while going through the transaction process, and that can be STRESSFUL!

I know you’re wondering what can I do to help reduce some of the stress during the home selling process?  Here are a few ways that I help my clients to reduce some of the stress of selling their home.

  1.  Meeting with them two to three months before they are ready to put their home on the market.  At this time we discuss the time frame of when they would like to list their home and set a target “Go Live” date.  During this meeting we discuss any improvements if any that they are considering doing to determine if they are worth it.  Often sellers know that they need new carpet but decide that they won’t install it because the buyer will want to choose their own.  The reality is that this can lead to lowball offers because the buyer’s see that the home needs new carpet and start to wonder what else hasn’t been taken care of in the home so they offer a low price to offset those costs.  Being able to say home has new carpet in the listing is always beneficial.
  2. I look at your home through the lens of a prospective buyer.  We talk about what items you should remove from your walls and pack as you prepare for your move.  Buyers need to be able to see themselves living in your home.  They often have a hard time doing that with family photos out.
  3. I help you “stage” your home with items you already own, and if needed will add in some neutral decor items to help your home “pop”.
  4. I discuss the benefits of a pre-listing inspection with you.  You bring in a home inspector and have them do an inspection on your home just like they would for a buyer during the transaction process.  This allows you to know up front if there are any major issues with your home that would come up in an inspection, and gives you the opportunity to address them prior to listing your home, or to determine how you will proceed during the transaction process.  Keep in mind that anything you learn during this inspection will need to be disclosed.
  5. I recommend that you start packing things that you do not need now such as seasonal clothing items that you won’t be needing.  It’s also a great time to determine what you want to take to your new home, and the items that can be donated or thrown away.  This also takes some of the packing pressure off of you because you’ve already started.

Once your home is “camera ready” it’s time to bring in the photographer and prepare to list your home.  Depending on the location, size of your home/lot I do bring in a drone for drone photography.  These photos can provide a potential buyer with a great view of the neighborhood and if you are on a large lot allows them to see just how big the lot is in comparison to other homes in the area.

I know that not everyone has the opportunity to take time when listing your home so I hope that these tips will help if you find yourself in a position that you need to list and sell your home fast.

So You Wanna Buy A House…….

When you start to think about the process of buying a house one of the first questions a future buyer asks is how much home can I afford?   There is so much more to this question that you would think.

The first step and most often the longest step in preparing to buy a home is to start saving money.  Why?  You’ll need money for your downpayment.  There are some loan programs out that will allow you to put down as little as 3.5% of the purchase price to be put down towards the purchase of your home.  Many folks think that they need the traditional 20% like their parents did.  While this is great if you are able to save up for it, it isn’t always realistic.  If you find yourself in a situation where it’s hard to save money one way to help is to look for loan programs that offer downpayment assistance.  They can often be found at your state and local levels.  Not to mention that if you are a first time home buyer there are often incentive programs out there for you.  To find out what options are available to you talking to a trusted local lender is important.

While you’re saving for your downpayment another expense to remember when you buy a home is that you will have closing costs – the fees associated with conducting the real estate transaction that will need to be paid as well.  These feels are on top of your downpayment.  Having your lender and/or title company prepare an estimated closing cost sheet will help you plan for these expenses.

Once you’ve saved for your downpayment and closing costs you may think that you’re good to go, however there’s something else that you need to consider because your lender certainly is.  It’s your debt to income ratio.  Lenders look at this to see how much debt you have compared to how much income you’re bringing in.  Many buyers do not realize that lenders will be looking at this in addition to your credit score.  While your credit score allows the lender to see your track record with making payments on time, the debt to income ratio allows the lender to see how well you handle your money and if you are capable of taking on more debt.

As the lender looks at this ratio they like to see a debt to income ratio under 50%.  If your debt to income ratio is above 50% it is a good idea to take steps to lower it before applying for a home loan.  This ratio is going to greatly factor into how much a lender is willing to lend to you, what your interest rate will be, and other loan terms.  If you are sitting at close to that 50% mark I would encourage you to work to pay it down if at all possible.

After preparing for all of these things you may say I’m ready to buy that house and find out how much I can afford.  As you prepare make sure that you also have some funds saved up for moving expenses, utility hook ups (yes some do request a deposit), any new furniture you may need to buy (do not buy this while in the process of purchasing your home, any large purchases can change your debt to income ratio and affect your ability to procure your home loan) and finally any home improvements you may want to make after you move in.

There are many factors that go into determining how much home you can afford but what I ultimately like to tell my clients is that it’s not about how much you were approved for, it’s about the monthly payment you are comfortable with.  If the loan amount you are approved for is going to put you with a mortgage payment that you are stressed out about making each month then you will be missing out on the joy that is home ownership.

 

For more great information on preparing to purchase a home be sure to check out Fannie Mae!

Is your Zestimate Accurate?

Let’s be honest thanks to the internet there are so many different ways for sellers and buyers to get information about their own homes, as well as homes in their community it can make your head spin.  You fill out price calculators, pre-qualifying certifications, mortgage estimates, and value tracking….all online.  That’s a whole lot of information to be sharing, and it probably looks great when you are looking at it.  It feels empowering to have all of those numbers sitting in front of you, but you need to ask yourself are they actually correct?  And should you trust them?

The reality is that many of the big box website calculators have been known to be off – sometimes by as much as $100,000 or more, and that’s a huge amount when you’re trying to decide if you should sell your house right?  You’re probably asking yourself why are they off by so much?  Well here’s the truth:

  1.  They use your WHOLE county’s data – not just your neighborhood.  They’re looking at the whole pie, not just your piece of it.
  2. They don’t perform a Comparative Market Analysis which can only be done by a Realtor® to come up with the value.  Instead they use AI.
  3. They don’t take renovations or improvements into consideration.
  4. They weight their results heavily on the prices of homes that have recently been listed at, not the price that the homes actually sold for which skews the data.

So yes, an automated estimate can be a great starting point, it’s safe to say that it does best paired with a real estate agent who can gather more personal data about your neighborhood, street and any improvements or repairs that are needed in the home.  As a Realtor® I’ able to do the research need to know where your home stands in the current market, and what kid of market conditions you’re going to be dealing with. That alone can be a major difference in the listing price that is going to bring you top dollar and still allow for a quick sale.

If you’re reading this thinking that you may need some guidance around the area of automatic home evaluations, and feel like you have no place to start please reach out to me.  I am happy to help you through the process with no pressure, no sales tactics, just the help and guidance that you need.  Please feel free to email me at maryann@nexthomepdx.com