Friday, October 18, 2013

5 Things Homebuyers Should Know, but Don't (Posted at

5 Things Homebuyers Should Know, but Don't

Source: Wikimedia Commons
A house is the biggest asset that the majority of Americans will ever own. But while most of us delude ourselves into thinking that we actually know something about real estate, the truth is that few of us have any idea what we're talking about.
It's for this reason that I solicited the advice of several highly respected real estate professionals to help our readers navigate the process of both buying and selling their homes. What follows, in turn, are five things that most homebuyers should know, but don't.
1. When you buy a home, you're making two purchases
Of all the advice that I came across, this was probably the most insightful: "When you buy a home, you actually are making two purchases," Dave Ness of Denver's Thrive Real Estate Group told me. "You are buying the home, and you are buying the money to buy the home."

It's tempting for homeowners to think of a mortgage as an incidental expense. But the reality is that the loan itself may be the most significant piece of the transaction.
"For every 1% rise in interest rates, home prices must fall by 10% in order for you to maintain the same monthly mortgage payment," Ness says. "And at the end of the day, that's what matters, the monthly payment. So take advantage of low rates; they add much more buying power to your purchase than low prices."
2. Homes are like people -- they all have problems
This was a point multiple real estate professionals that I spoke with made. "All houses have issues," Hilary Bourassa of Portland's Oregon First Real Estate told me. "Some just have more than others."
The shock generally comes when prospective buyers get their inspection reports back. "Inspectors are professional pessimists, which is why we love them," Bourassa said. "But many issues only require simple and/or inexpensive fixes."
Along the same lines, Ness analogized the experience to "when someone knocks over the DJ table at a wedding and the music stops." All of a sudden, the bliss from going under contract goes away.
"Most inspection reports will be 40 to 50 pages long, and most inspectors will take close-up, HD photos of problems," Ness went on to note. "So while the actual listing shows gorgeous pictures of granite countertops, the inspection report will show awful pictures of a cracked driveway. By the end of the report you'll be thinking, 'This house is a total and complete lemon.'"
3. Your real estate agent is a partner, not a salesman
My industry sources were obviously biased on this point, but there's a lot of truth to what they said.
"Your Realtor should be focused on helping you find a great property, not selling you something," Bourassa advises. Before settling on one, she urges homebuyers to "interview at least a few in order to find the fight match."
The flipside of the coin is that you, too, are a partner in the relationship. And that means knowing and respecting the boundaries.
"Sometimes clients forget (particularly first-time buyers) that Realtors have other clients and lives outside of work," Ness says. The key is to make sure that both parties have a clear understanding of communication expectations.
"What is their normal response time? How much lead time do they need to arrange showings? What medium of communication is best -- text, call, email, or something else?" These are the types of questions that Ness encourages homebuyers and real estate agents to settle at the outset.
4. HGTV does not resemble reality
My wife and I love to watch cooking shows. We've watched so many, in fact, that we've deceived ourselves into believing that we could actually compete on them. Of course, given the opportunity, we would most certainly -- and I do mean "most certainly" -- crash and burn in the most humiliating fashion.
And the same can be said about the proliferation of "realty" television shows on real estate -- think HouseHunters, Flip That House, Holmes on Homes, Property Virgins, and Property Brothers, among others.
"The reality is, hundreds of hours or footage is shot and edited down to a 16-minute show (when you take out the Lowe's commercials)," Ness pointed out. "Yes, they're real buyers, but you don't see the half of it. So don't think you're going to waltz into your market and find the perfect house right away, beat out all the other offers, and then walk into the sunset with your significant other. Finding a home can be tough, and take time."
Ness' advice? "Gear up for the homebuying process. It's worth it, but it ain't Hollywood!"
5. Always think about resale
This final piece is something that all people buying assets should always keep in mind: At some point you're going to resell it and will want to maximize what you eventually get.
"When you're buying your home, you're probably not thinking of the day that you will have to sell it," Bourassa said, "but you will be thanking yourself one day if you remember three little things ... location, location, location!"
The bottom line
Most if not all of us will buy at least one house in our lives. With that in mind, you should save yourself the trouble of making the same mistakes that most of your peers will. Take these five pieces of information into consideration. You'll be doing yourself a favor if you do.
The stock Warren Buffett wishes he could buy, but can't
It's often assumed that small investors are at a great disadvantage relative to hedge fund managers and other institutional investors. But that's not always true. Bound by multibillion-dollar portfolios and strict bylaws that govern what they can and can't invest in, these giants are often prohibited from tapping the market's greatest stocks until it's too late -- that is, after the stocks have already shot into large-cap status. In this free report, our analysts identify one such stock that Warren Buffett himself wishes he could buy but is effectively restricted from doing so because of its size. To discover the identity of this stock instantly (and for free!), simply click here now.
The article 5 Things Homebuyers Should Know, but Don't originally appeared on
John Maxfield and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Copyright © 1995 - 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is A Long Home Inspection Bad News For The Seller? Posted by: Reuben Saltzman in The Star Tribune

LINK: original article

Is A Long Home Inspection Bad News For The Seller?

Posted by: Reuben Saltzman under Real Estate, Real Estate Updated: July 11, 2013 - 6:11 AMI recently had someone email this question:
Is a longer home inspection good news for the seller, or bad news? Or neither?
Great question.  The quick answer is that there are so many variables that affect the duration of a home inspection that the time of the inspection alone won't give much meaningful information when it comes to determining the condition of the home.  I'll discuss several of these variables to help give a better understanding of what makes a home inspection take longer. With all of the items listed below, the assumption is that all other things are equal.

The House

Large houses take more time to inspect than small houses.
Old houses take more time to inspect than new houses.  Part of the reason is that the house has had time for components to fail, rot, or reach the end of their life expectancy.  Used houses typically have many different components that are in different stages of their life expectancy, and it's the home inspectors job to let the client know about components that are at the end of their life expectancy.
Remodeled / renovated houses take longer to inspect.  When new systems are mixed in with old systems, the house gets more complex.  This frequently means additional HVAC systems, electrical subpanels, etc.  All of these additional components considerably add to the time it takes to inspect a house.
Complicated houses take longer to inspect.  The more types of roof coverings, siding, windows, floor coverings, etc, the longer the inspection will take.  Several small rooms will take significantly more time to inspect than one large room.
Attics and crawl spaces add to the inspection time.  Multiple attics and/or crawl spaces considerably adds to the inspection time.
Tall buildings take more time to inspect than short buildings.  This is because it's more work to access the roof on a tall building.  It's a piece of cake for a home inspector to pull a Little Giant ladder out of their vehicle and hop on the roof.  That works great for shorter buildings, or buildings where the upper roof areas can be accessed from the lower roof areas.  It's a lot more work to unstrap a 28' extension ladder from the truck and set it up, then carry it back it strap it back on to the truck when done using it. For example, I recently spent nearly an hour inspecting the roof surfaces at the home pictured below because I used different ladders, and I ended up taking a lot of photos of the roof.
Long Roof Inspection
Houses with deferred maintenance (aka - "no maintenance") take a lot longer to inspect.  It takes time to document problems, and these problem areas then need to be further inspected to help determine what else might be wrong.
Bank owned and short sale properties usually take much longer to inspect because of deferred maintenance.

The Inspector

One inspector could easily take twice as long as the next inspector to inspect the exact same property.  Sometimes, this is a direct reflection of the quality of the inspection.
Inspector F might inspect the crawl space by looking in to the opening, inspect the roof from the ground with binoculars, and say the attic was obstructed with personal items and could not be inspected. On that same house, inspector A might inspect the crawl space by crawling through it.  Before doing so, the inspector might have to set up a tarp outside the crawl space so as not to make a mess when coming out, go out to their vehicle and change in to some coveralls before going in to the crawl space, spend ten minutes inspecting the crawl space, then clean everything back up.  This same inspector might not have any problem moving the sellers items to gain access to the attic, and would surely walk the roof to inspect it.  Just these three items could easily add an hour on to the inspection time.
Some home inspectors produce their inspection reports on-site, which adds a considerable amount of time to the inspection.  At least it should.  If a home inspector says that producing a report on-site doesn't add much time to the inspection, they're probably producing a poorly written inspection report filled with generic disclaimers about everything under the sun, and lots of sentences ending with "for its age" (eg - "The 30 year old roof was in normal condition for its age").
Some home inspectors just talk more.

The Client

Clients with a lot of questions make the inspection take longer.  Especially the 'why' questions.
Engineers take more time to explain stuff to.  They're usually not satisfied until they can successfully explain a problem back to me.
Inspections for first time home buyers take longer than inspections for experienced homeowners.  First time home buyers often need to have the basics explained; what a furnace is, how it operates, how to change the furnace filter, etc.
Multiple clients at a single inspection will usually make things take longer.  For example, I might inspect the roof and find a problem with the chimney before the buyer shows up.  Once Mr. Home Buyer arrives, I'll explain the chimney problem to him.  Mrs. Home Buyer arrives an hour later and wants to hear about the chimney, so I take her outside and we discuss the chimney again.  Their contractor arrives about halfway through the inspection, so I show him photos of the chimney problem.  These all add up.

The bottom line

Don't put too much stock in the amount of time that a home inspection takes.  The duration of a home inspection is affected by too many variables for a home seller to draw any conclusions.  A long home inspection isn't necessarily bad news.
Author: Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

terrylwebJul 11, 137:08 am
Far more important (as Reuben suggests) is WHAT is being inspected and to what degree. A cursory glance is very different from a detailed look with testing and measurement. Experienced and trained inspectors know enough about homes to make observations, which lead to investigation, which leads to measurement, which leads to a conclusion and finally a recommendation. A home buyer should expect that type of look into ALL components of a home--structural, mechanical, electrical, and energy use related. How else are you going to know whether the asking price is fair and what repair/replacement costs you might be facing after you move in?
swschradJul 11, 1311:47 am
I think we can all agree a 10-minute walk-through and "yup, it's all clear" would not be an adequate inspection. particularly if the inspector is extremely slow and careful in closing the door behing them ;)
wallyworldmnJul 11, 134:20 pm
40 pages of boilerplate from a word processor does not constitute a thorough inspection. Photos and specific explanations are a must. There really is no "perfect" house that an inspector finds nothing to comment on. Likewise, the inspection is not a destructive process that will allow the inspector to find things that have been intentionally covered over. Sometimes they only get clues to underlying issues. That is where experience is important.

I’m Terry, your Commendable Home Inspector.
We Offer Home Inspection services in the area around Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs and New Port Richey, Florida.

Visit our Website to schedule your inspection

Friday, March 22, 2013

9 Ways to Keep Your Washer and Dryer Healthy - WasherDryerInfo

Great tips on keeping your High Efficiency (HE) Washer and dryer operating at peak efficiency from your Commendable Home Inspector.  

We recommend drying the clothes a little LESS than required then hanging them to get the final dampness out.  This makes economic sense, and the wrinkles will disappear as the garment dries. 

We also recommend to remove the soap drawer when you've finished the wash for the week and allow it to drain and dry in the sink.  This helps prevent fungal growth inside the soap dish piping to the washer drum.

See more great HE washer & dryer advice here:

9 Ways to Keep Your Washer and Dryer Healthy - WasherDryerInfo