Category Archives: Real Estate

Memo to Real Estate Professionals RE: Inspecting Crawlspaces with Water

TO: All Real Estate Professionals

FROM: InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors

RE: Crawlspace Hazards

As the world’s largest inspector association, InterNACHI puts its members’ safety first.  InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice for Performing a General Home Inspection provides a minimum inspection standard for home inspectors to follow, and includes limitations, exceptions and exclusions.  Continue reading

Originally posted 2016-09-19 08:00:51.

House-moving

by Nick Gromicko, InterNACHI

House-moving is the process of picking a house up off its foundation and transporting it elsewhere, sometimes many miles away. While it may seem that moving hundreds of tons of fragile building materials is impractical, there are, in fact, many legitimate reasons to relocate a whole house:

  • to escape environmental threats, such as flooding;
  • to rescue houses from planned development, such as encroaching highways, railroads or shopping centers. Many historical houses are rescued from destruction in this way;
  • to save the owner the cost of demolition. In some instances, it might be more cost-effective to move a house elsewhere and have it re-occupied than to dismantle it and dispose of the parts;
  • because it’s environmentally friendlier to recycle a livable house than send its many parts to a landfill;
  • to increase the home’s value by moving it onto a more valuable plot of land;
  • to subdivide a property so it can accommodate more homes; and
  • to escape the view, the neighbors, the odors from a new garbage dump nearby, or countless other personal and practical reasons.

And, occasionally, a homeowner just wants to give their house away to a friend. In one publicized instance, old friends offered their old home to a couple in Avalon, New Jersey, because it was in the path of the construction of their planned new home. The New Jersey couple also received $20,000 – the price that the original owners would have had to pay to have the house demolished – to help transport it off the lot. The three-bedroom ranch-style home found grateful new owners, while the home’s original tenants freed up their space for new development without excess expense.

Nevertheless, moving an entire house comes with its share of challenges:

  • Some jurisdictions require a moved house to meet the same building codes as new construction, such as inspection for asbestos and lead paint. Be sure to hire an InterNACHI inspector to help the house comply with local requirements when the house-move has been finalized.
  • A structural engineer may need to be brought in to make sure that the house is safe to move.
  • Contractors will need to be hired to remove wiring, plumbing, drywall and foundation supports before the move, and then set everything back up in the new location.
  • The expense of the move itself can be prohibitive, depending on the size of the building and the distance of the move. Other factors include:
    • the condition of the roads. Ideally, the roads between locations will be wide and straight enough to accommodate the house-truck combination. A house might not make it to a plot of land at the end of a narrow, winding country road;
    • utility companies will likely need to lower or raise power lines and other public utilities to make room for the house move;
    • some parts of the country are too crowded to permit cost-effective house relocation. It’s difficult to come out ahead financially on the East Coast, for instance, where the maze of traffic, traffic lights, utility wires and buildings make such a large move difficult. The West and Midwest are generally easier places to relocate a house; and
    • special insurance may be required, in case the move causes property damage or injury.
In summary, houses are transported at great expense for a variety of reasons.  House-moving businesses with the appropriate contacts and resources can help those considering such an undertaking in the decision-making process.

Originally posted 2016-06-24 07:00:55.

Should the seller attend the home inspection?

Should the Seller attend the home inspection with the buyer? After all, they’ve lived in the home for years and know all of its inner workings. I say, emphatically, “NO!” and here’s why…

Smooth sailing: The buyer, seller, realtors, and inspector all want smooth sailing, without unnecessary waves.

  1. I think Rule #1 for Realtors should be to keep the Seller and Buyer away from each other, at all costs! I have seen at least 10 deals in my time go awry because the Buyer simply didn’t like the Seller, or vice-versa. Maybe it was something the Seller said, or their mannerisms, or it could even have been their hygiene. Looked at another way, when you rent a room in a nice hotel, do you want to know who spent the night previous so you can ask them questions about the room? I wouldn’t want to know ANYTHING about the people who lived in the home prior to me; this is going to be my home and that’s the only picture I want to have in my mind. I think it’s the same for most Buyers.
  2.  If Sellers REALLY want to tell the Buyers all about their home, have them put it in writing. Go for it, make a manual! Just keep them apart so emotions have no chance to escalate, potentially souring the transaction and wasting everybody’s time.
  3. Sellers and Buyers are EMOTIONAL. The inspector’s job is to find deficiencies with the home and put them into proper perspective for the Buyer (and give the home credit where credit’s due). The Seller, on the other hand, often times takes deficiencies personally; this is their home, after all, and how dare you point out her faults! She’s perfect! It can be tricky for inspectors and Realtors to navigate the emotional waters when Sellers and Buyers are both at the inspection. It can be an awkward, tension filled environment. All Sellers are anxoius about the home inspection, and it shows. This is not good for the Buyers to see up close and personal! It’s certainly not good for the deal. Help relieve everyone’s anxiety by keeping the Buyer and Seller apart.
  4. Buyers can’t speak candidly in front of the Seller. Buyers are typically polite and the last thing they want to do is point out a problem with the Seller’s home in front of the Seller. That’s rude! Often times, when the Seller is present, I have to find a “quiet space” where the Buyer can speak to me and ask frank questions. Most times, if this is not possible, I’ll politely ask the Seller to let us speak in private so the Buyer can ask candid questions about the home.
  5. When Sellers and Buyers- and likely their Realtors- all present at the inspection, it TAKES WAY MORE TIME! Most inspections should take 2-3 hours; it’s in nobody’s interest to extend their schedules unnecessarily. Frankly, nobody really has the endurance for a 4+ hour inspection. My goodness!

Here’s what I tell the Sellers who want to be present. “Mr. and Mrs. Seller. In my experience, having done this almost 5,000 times, it is really in your best interests to NOT be present at the home inspection. The home inspection is a time for the Buyer to ask the Home Inspector frank questions about the home; this can be difficult for Buyers when the Seller is present. Furthermore, I’ve seen several deals actually go awry simply due to emotions between Buyers and Sellers. Emotions that have nothing to do with the home at all! Knowing you want to sell this home, I recommend you vacate the home for about 3 hours so we can perform the inspection, and so the Buyer can get a good feel for the home and ask frank questions. It’s really in everyone’s best interests. Trust me!”

Keeping the Buyers and Sellers apart during the process will help ensure smooth sailing for all parties!

Originally posted 2016-05-24 07:00:02.

Closing costs

When a home is sold, there is a point in the transaction known as the closing, when the title to the property is transferred to the new owner. The buyer and/or seller commonly incur miscellaneous fees, which are collectively known as closing costs. These fees can be significant, averaging approximately 2% to 4% of the purchase price, although they may be as much as 8%.
Take a look at the following guide to get a better idea of what buyers and sellers are expected to pay upon closing:
  • inspection fees. Lenders may require a termite inspection or an analysis of the structural condition of the property in order to assure that a home will be reliable collateral to secure against a loan. An inspection of the septic system and water supply tests may also be required in rural areas. Always be sure to hire an InterNACHI inspector to get the most out of an inspection.

(read full article on InterNACHI)

Originally posted 2016-03-29 07:00:55.

For Sale by Owner: Pros and Pitfalls

When deciding how to go about the process of selling their homes, homeowners should carefully consider the pros and cons of hiring a real estate agent. While most sellers opt to hire an agent to assist them with the sale, a minority of them choose to sell it themselves.  In 2006, these “for sale by owner” (or FSBO) sellers totaled 12% in 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors. FSBO sellers stand to save an enormous amount of money, but to do this well, they must be knowledgeable and shrewd in a territory which they may find unfamiliar.

(read full article here)

Originally posted 2016-02-10 16:55:41.

How to Be a Successful Landlord

Being a competent landlord requires a unique set of responsibilities and skills that makes the job unfit for many people. They must know how to find a safe and smoothly functioning property that will function as a money-making rental, and know how to generate interest in the property while being honest and not scaring anyone away. Perhaps most difficult is that they must be mature during inevitable conflicts, and have the courage to evict a tenant, when necessary, without becoming emotionally involved. Good landlords must perform these duties and more in a way that satisfies their tenants and earns a profit, all while maintaining a calm countenance, even during disputes. To make the job a bit more manageable, we sat down with career landlord Geoffrey Bostwick to compile a few tips that prospective landlords should study before entering the field. (read full article on InterNACHI)

Originally posted 2015-12-29 07:00:11.

Buying a Foreclosure

Purchasing foreclosed homes in desirable areas at below-market values can be a sound investment strategy. Appreciation on their original prices may be tax-free.  Buying foreclosed rental properties can provide positive cash flow, as well as valuable tax deductions. On the other hand, buying a foreclosure involves homework, patience, and a certain amount of luck. For those wishing to get a bargain house through the foreclosure process, it’s best to learn the basics…(read the full article here)

Originally posted 2015-10-16 07:00:56.

Young People Ready to Move

Where are the 79 million members of Generation Y/Millennials (people age 19 to 36) living now and where do they see themselves in the future? These questions are important to every homeowner in the country because this cohort is the largest generation ever seen in U.S. history and comprises 25 percent of the population. Their decisions about all aspects of the economy, as well as home ownership, will have a profound Impact on the real estate market for many decades to come.
In a report published by the Urban Land Institute, 21 percent of respondents reported they currently live with parents or another relative. This is the same proportion as reported four years ago, which means that despite an Improving economy, as many Gen Y’ers moved back home as moved out of their parents’ homes over the past four years. Out of the numbers of young adults living on their own, 26 percent have actually made the step to homeownership. And even among those that haven’t, almost every member of this generation expects to own a home within the foreseeable future. Their reasons include seeing home ownership as a good long-term investment; wanting more space and privacy, and the stability provided by home­ownership. Many expect to use money they have saved for their down payment. What are the factors that will be most important to these future home buyers? In the survey, cost of housing ranked as one of the most important criteria when purchasing a home. Neighborhood safety is another marker, along with proximity to work. School quality is hugely important to those with children. Community character, encompassing such intangibles as ambiance, visual appeal and walkability, are top requirements as well. Other attributes important to Generation Y members include proximity to family and friends, as well as availability of shopping, dining, and entertainment.
While home ownership is important, Millennials also place a high value on work-life balance. Many Millennials feel they are underemployed. Roughly twenty-nine percent of Millennials with full-time jobs earned less than $35,000 a year, and more than half made less than $50,000, which affects the price they are able and willing to pay for housing. Many continue to compromise, such as renting for the moment, instead of buying. Millennials are paying a median rent of $925 and twenty-seven percent of renters have roommates to divvy up the costs. The significance of Millennials extends beyond their numbers. Not only are they the first generation to have had access to the Internet during their formative years, Millennials also stand out because they are the most educated generation In our history. About 61 percent of adult Millennials have attended college, whereas only 46 percent of the Baby Boomers did so. They are the generation that will shape our economy and our country for decades to come.

Originally posted 2015-08-11 07:00:12.

Disaster Preparedness

Develop a family action plan and share with everyone in your family, so you will know where to go if an evacuation is called. Review at least two exit routes from your home or neighborhood to a designated meeting place for your family. Plan ahead for your pets as many shelters will not accept them.

Create a disaster supply kit that will allow you to remain in your home after a disaster or for use after evacuating to a safer location. Be sure the necessities in your kit are fresh and restored every six months.

Stay tuned to radio, TV and NOAA Weather Radio for official updates and critical life saving weather information. Remember, reception is usually best if placed near a window.

Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet and two feet of water to move an SUV-sized vehicle.

If you live in a high wind area and do not have tested and code approved shutters for protection from windborne debris, temporarily protect your doors and windows by mounting exterior grade, 5/8″ minimum thickness plywood and fastening it into place. Visit www.flash.org for detailed instructions on how to use plywood for emergency board up.

Secure lawn furniture and any other loose outdoor items that can become windborne and can cause injury or damage during storms with high winds. Don’t forget trash cans, grills, toys and potted plants.

Use Surge Protective Devices (SPD) in your home to protect electronic appliances from all but the most severe electrical surges or direct strikes. The devices should be installed to afford the highest level of protection.

In wildfire prone areas, remove fine (dead grass, leaves, etc.) and coarse fuels (dead twigs, branches, etc.)within 30 feet of a building to create a survivable space in case of wildfire. Be sure to remove dry leaf and pine litter from roofs, rain gutters, decks and walkways.

Get free advice and learn more about disaster safety for your family and home by visiting the non-profit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc–Flash at www.flash.org or www.iccsafe.org consumer safety pages.

Originally posted 2015-06-30 07:00:51.