What to Expect During Inspections?

From finding an inspector to dealing with surprises — this is your guide to getting a house checked out.

The first thing you need to know about home inspection: You’ll feel all the feels.

There’s the excitement — the inspection could be the longest time you’re in the house, after the showing.

Right behind that comes … anxiety. What if the inspector finds something wrong? So wrong you can’t buy the house?

Then there’s impatience. Seriously, is this whole home-buying process over yet?

Not yet. But you’re close. So take a deep breath. Because the most important thing to know about home inspection: It’s just too good for you, as a buyer, to skip. Here’s why.

A Home Inspector Is Your Protector

An inspector helps you make sure a house isn’t hiding anything before you commit for the long haul. (Think about it this way: You wouldn’t even get coffee with a stranger without checking out their history.)

A home inspector identifies any reasonably discoverable problems with the house (a leaky roof, faulty plumbing, etc.). Hiring an inspector is you doing your due diligence. To find a good one (more on how to do that soon), it helps to have an understanding of what the typical home inspection entails.

stainless-steel-refrigerator-beside-white-kitchen-cabinet-2343467
Your dream kitchen might end up being a nightmare.

An inspection is all about lists.  

Before an inspection, the home inspector will review the seller’s property disclosure statement. (Each state has its own requirements for what sellers must disclose on these forms; some have stronger requirements than others.) The statement lists any flaws the seller is aware of that could negatively affect the home’s value.

The disclosure comes in the form of an outline, covering such things as:

  • Mold
  • Pest infestation
  • Roof leaks
  • Foundation damage
  • Other problems, depending on what your state mandates.

During the inspection, an inspector has three tasks — to:

  1. Identify problems with the house that he or she can see
  2. Suggest fixes
  3. Prepare a written report, usually with photos, noting observed defects

This report is critical to you and your agent — it’s what you’ll use to request repairs from the seller. (We’ll get into how you’ll do that in a minute, too.)

The Inspector Won’t Check Everything

Generally, inspectors only examine houses for problems that can be seen with the naked eye. They won’t be tearing down walls or using magical X-ray vision, to find hidden faults.

Inspectors also won’t put themselves in danger. If a roof is too high or steep, for example, they won’t climb up to check for missing or damaged shingles. They’ll use binoculars to examine it instead.

They can’t predict the future, either. While an inspector can give you a rough idea of how many more years that roof will hold up, he or she can’t tell you exactly when it will need to be replaced.

Finally, home inspectors are often generalists. A basic inspection doesn’t routinely include a thorough evaluation of:

  • Swimming pools
  • Wells
  • Septic systems
  • Structural engineering work
  • The ground beneath a home
  • Fireplaces and chimneys

When it comes to wood-burning fireplaces, for instance, most inspectors will open and close dampers to make sure they’re working, check chimneys for obstructions like birds’ nests, and note if they believe there’s reason to pursue a more thorough safety inspection.

If you’re concerned about the safety of a fireplace, you can hire a certified chimney inspector for about $125 to $325 per chimney; find one through the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

chairs-inside-living-room-2343466
What is lurking in that fireplace?

It’s Your Job to Check the Inspector

Now you’re ready to connect with someone who’s a pro at doing all of the above. Here’s where — once again — your real estate agent has your back. He or she can recommend reputable home inspectors to you.

In addition to getting recommendations (friends and relatives are handy for those, too), you can rely on online resources such as the American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) Find a Home Inspector tool, which lets you search by address, metro area, or neighborhood.

You’ll want to interview at least three inspectors before deciding whom to hire. During each chat, ask questions such as:

  • Are you licensed or certified? Inspector certifications vary, based on where you live. Not every state requires home inspectors to be licensed, and licenses can indicate different degrees of expertise. ASHI lists each state’s requirements here.
  • How long have you been in the business? Look for someone with at least five years of experience — it indicates more homes inspected.
  • How much do you charge? The average home inspection costs about $315. For condos and homes under 1,000 square feet, the average cost is $200. Homes over 2,000 square feet can run $400 or more. (Figures are according to HomeAdvisor.com.)
  • What do you check, exactly? Know what you’re getting for your money.
  • What don’t you check, specifically? Some home inspectors are more thorough than others.
  • How soon after the inspection will I receive my report? Home inspection contingencies require you to complete the inspection within a certain period of time after the offer is accepted — normally five to seven days — so you’re on a set timetable. A good home inspector will provide you with the report within 24 hours after the inspection.
  • May I see a sample report? This will help you gauge how detailed the inspector is and how he or she explains problems.

Sometimes you can find online reviews of inspectors on sites like Angie’s List and Yelp, too, if past clients’ feedback is helpful in making your decision.

Show Up for Inspection (and Bring Your Agent)

It’s inspection day, and the honor of your — and your agent’s — presence is not required, but highly recommended. Even though you’ll receive a report summarizing the findings later on, being there gives you a chance to ask questions, and to learn the inner workings of the home.

Block out two to three hours for the inspection. The inspector will survey the property from top to bottom. This includes checking water pressure; leaks in the attic, plumbing, etc.; if door and window frames are straight (if not, it could be a sign of a structural issue); if electrical wiring is up to code; if smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working; if appliances work properly. Outside, he or she will look at things like siding, fencing, and drainage.

The inspector might also be able to check for termites, asbestos, lead paint, or radon. Because these tests involve more legwork and can require special certification, they come at an additional charge.

Get Ready to Negotiate

Once you receive the inspector’s report, review it with your agent.

Legally, sellers are required to make certain repairs. These can vary depending on location. Most sales contracts require the seller to fix:

  • Structural defects
  • Building code violations
  • Safety issues

Most home repairs, however, are negotiable. Be prepared to pick your battles: Minor issues, like a cracked switchplate or loose kitchen faucet, are easy and cheap to fix on your own. You don’t want to start nickel-and-diming the seller.

If there are major issues with the house, your agent can submit a formal request for repairs that includes a copy of the inspection report. Repair requests should be as specific as possible. For instance: Instead of saying “repair broken windows,” a request should say “replace broken window glass in master bathroom.”

  • If the seller agrees to make all of your repair requests: He or she must provide you with invoices from a licensed contractor stating that the repairs were made. Then it’s full steam ahead toward the sale.
  • If the seller responds to your repair requests with a counteroffer: He or she will state which repairs (or credits at closing) he or she is willing to make. The ball is in your court to either agree, counter the seller’s counteroffer, or void the transaction.

At the end of the day, remember to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling about all of this. You need to be realistic about how much repair work you’d be taking on. At this point in the sale, there’s a lot of pressure from all parties to move into the close. But if you don’t feel comfortable, speak up.

The most important things to remember during the home inspection? Trust your inspector, trust your gut, and lean on your agent — they likely have a lot of experience to support your decision-making.

That’s something to feel good about.

Article by HouseLogic

Trusted Home Inspectors:

Diamond Property Inspections

Legacy Home Inspections

Common Mortgage Myths

For the average person, mortgages are super confusing.  They are always changing and every lender has different programs and rates.  The best thing you can do before you start searching for a home is to have a meeting with a reputable mortgage lender in person, not a company that you apply with on a phone app.  My two recommendations would be Doreen Hansen with HomeServices Lending, soon to be Prosperity ( a Berkshire Hathaway company).  Doreen has been in the mortgage business for over 15 years here in Kansas City and is great to work with with.  The other mortgage lender I would suggest would be Katie Grimes with Fountain Mortgage.  Fountain Mortgage is a locally owned mortgage company and they take care of their clients and customers better than anyone else in the business.

Common Mortgage Myths

For most Americans, being able to buy a home or property with cash is not a reality. Because of this, banks and other lenders offer mortgage loans to those that qualify. A mortgage loan isn’t a bad thing – for millions of Americans, it’s a way for them to have their own home. As with any popular subject, there are some common myths surrounding mortgage loans. While not every buyer will need a mortgage loan, it’s important to discern the myths from the facts when it comes to mortgages in the United States.aerial-photography-architecture-building-1546168

“YOU NEED TO HAVE 20 PERCENT FOR A DOWN PAYMENT”

This is probably one of the most popular myths surrounding mortgage loans, and it’s also one of the most outdated. While it may have been a requirement generations ago, a buyer does not need to have 20 percent of a home’s purchase price in order to qualify for a mortgage loan. While it may be financially better to put down 20 percent (the total loan amount will be less with a bigger down payment amount), there are a number of different loans and options that allow potential buyers to get a mortgage with less than 20 percent down. An FHA mortgage for first-time buyers requires 3.5 percent down; VA mortgages allow for zero down; USDA home loans require nothing down; and a number of other programs allow buyers to put anything from 3 to 10 percent down. If you’re thinking of buying a home and you know you’ll need a mortgage loan, don’t be fooled by the 20 percent down myth – there are way more options out there now than there used to be.

“ONCE YOU’RE PRE-QUALIFIED YOU’RE GUARANTEED THE LOAN”

It may seem like, with the steps you go through to get pre-qualified, that a mortgage loan will be a sure thing. But that’s not the case. Pre-qualification is not pre-approval. Pre-qualification is the initial step in the mortgage process, and while it’s an important one as it can give a person an idea of a mortgage loan amount they may receive from a lender, it is not the actual approval. Pre-qualification usually does not include a credit report analysis or an in-depth look into one’s ability to buy a home. Because of this, being pre-qualified is not a sure thing and it’s not a guarantee of a mortgage loan. There have been buyers who have been pre-qualified only to be told they were not actually approved for the mortgage loan itself. All of this being said – if you’re looking at homes and know you’ll need a mortgage loan, get pre-approved before you decide to make any offers. Even pre-approval comes with certain conditions, but is much better than a pre-qualification.

“YOU NEED EXCELLENT CREDIT AND NO DEBT TO GET A LOAN”

There are a number of factors that go into mortgage approval, and while creditworthiness and debt-to-income ratio are both considered, you do not need to be ‘excellent’ in either of these areas in order to get a mortgage loan. The minimum credit score necessary for a conventional loan is 620, and an FHA loan with 3.5% down requires a score of 580. With the median FICO credit score in the U.S. at 700, a buyer doesn’t need to have excellent credit in order to qualify for a mortgage loan. As for debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: while it’s best to have as little debt as possible when looking to purchase a home, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (government-sponsored agencies that publish standards for conventional mortgage approval) have the maximum allowable DTI at 50 percent, meaning those with current debt are not at a loss when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage loan.

“30-YEAR FIXED-RATE MORTGAGES ARE THE BEST OPTION”

The financial and housing crisis that occurred in the U.S. in the late 2000s left a sour taste in the mouths of many Americans when it comes to non-traditional mortgage loans. Adjustable rate mortgages and mortgages other than fixed-rate were seen as bad and predatory. While some lenders took advantage of hard working Americans and many people lost their homes, non-traditional mortgage loans are not a bad thing, especially for certain buyers. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is a great option for someone that plans on staying in his/her home for many years, but for someone that knows they’ll likely move within five to seven years, an adjustable rate mortgage might be a better option. Fixed rate loans also come in other than 30 year terms; shorter lengths have a higher monthly payment but can save a lot of interest charges. Those buyers looking to retire soon may be better off with a shorter loan length than someone who is younger and still has many more years in the job force. If you’re in the market for a mortgage, it might be worthwhile to look at all the options available and see which one best aligns with your personal and career goals – it may not be the traditional mortgage loan.

computer-drink-iphone-586339.jpg

“EVERYONE RECEIVES THE ADVERTISED INTEREST RATE”

It’s often said if it’s too good to be true, it generally is. The same can be said for mortgage interest rates. When looking for a loan, interest rates will be listed online, in newspapers and wherever else they advertise. Those advertised rates will likely look great and will be incredibly low, but the reality is that most of the time, advertised interest rates are only reserved for those who have a perfect credit score, have an incredible debt-to-income ratio, and are likely putting down a very large down payment. Interest rates are influenced by a number of factors, which of course aren’t included in the advertisement (just in the incredibly small fine print); because of this, take all advertised interest rates with a grain of salt and go into the mortgage loan process with the understanding that you may not receive the advertised interest rate.

Mortgage loans can be confusing and intimidating, especially with the number of myths out there about them. If you still have questions, your agent can help or refer you to someone with more knowledge – they may even have a lender they’ve worked with and recommend. Buying a home with a mortgage loan is still widely popular in the U.S. – don’t let the myths fool you out of achieving the goal of home ownership.

October Newsletter

The Scariest Thing About Being a First Time Home Buyer

One of the scariest things about being a first-time buyer is the unknown. It’s probably one of the main reasons 90 percent of all buyers do hours of online research before deciding to buy a home.

The entire process can be stressful. It’s complicated. It’s filled with paperwork. It’s most likely the biggest financial decision of your life. And it’s peppered with deadlines and boxes that must be checked or the entire deal can fall apart!

Halloween girl

Real estate agents are here to uncomplicate the buying process for you. An agent is your matchmaker: he or she will help you define the qualities of your dream house and work hard to turn that dream into a reality. And since they’re pros, they’ll manage the deadlines and check those countless boxes for you so you can make an offer on your dream house with confidence.

A home purchase may be your largest financial transaction to date, so it’s important to make the right decisions and to keep an eye on the details. With the assistance of your Residential Mortgage Lender and real estate agent, it should be an efficient, pleasant, and ultimately rewarding experience.

Count On Your Real Estate Agent To:

  • Preview available homes to weed out those that are overpriced, or undesirable in some other way.
  • Present the homes that suit your needs as you’ve defined them.
  • Help you determine the difference between a “good buy” and a property which, because of its nature (neighborhood, market appeal, etc.), might have to be discounted if you decide to sell in the future.
  • Negotiate the best deal for you. With a Pre-Qualification letter from us in hand, your Real Estate Agent will be able to demonstrate that you are a qualified and capable borrower. This will strongly influence the Seller, and may make the difference between the Seller accepting your offer or someone else’s — even if your offer is lower!

Count On Your Loan Officer To:

  • Assist you in selecting the best loan to meet your personal situation and goals. (This single decision can save you thousands of dollars throughout the years!)
  • Keep you informed of your loan status throughout the entire process.
  • Keep your Real Estate Agent informed of our loan progress (Note: your personal information is always kept confidential between you and us; only deal points and progress are shared).
  • Get the appropriate loan for you at the best rates and fees. This will save you significant money “up front” and throughout the years to come.

Count On Yourself To:

  • Keep your Real Estate Agent informed of any questions or concerns as they develop.
  • Keep the process moving by providing documentation and decisions as soon as reasonably possible. By doing so, many of the details are taken care of early in the process so you can comfortably concentrate on any last-minute details or events that require your attention.
  • Enjoy purchasing your home, but do remain objective throughout — to make the business decisions that are best for you.
  • Make sure you are pre-approved as early as possible. This will put the power of financing behind you so you can concentrate on selecting your home.

I am not a mortgage lender and I will never pretend to be.  I ALWAYS encourage my clients to make an appointment with a reputable lender and actually sit down to go over all options.  There are so many options out there other that just the typical Conventional, FHA, and VA loans. Contact Tracy Geer at First State Bank Mortgage for more information.  Find her pre approval link on my website.

fullsizeoutput_76

My October Obsession: Carrot Cake

CARROT CAKE
INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 1/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Sugar
4 Large Eggs
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 cups Grated Carrots
3/4 cup Chopped Pecans
3/4 cup Coconut (I don’t use coconut because I think it is disgusting!)
1 8oz can Crushed Pineapple (put in strainer and let juice drain. I used a fork to press out more liquid.)
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line the bottoms of 3 (8inch) or 2 (9inch) round pans with wax or parchment paper, grease with shortening and flour the paper and pans for easy release when turning out……carrot cake has a tendency to stick so be sure to use the paper.
Whisk together for 30 seconds the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set Aside.
In a mixing bowl, add 2 cups sugar , 4 eggs, 1 cup oil and 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix 2 to 3 minutes at medium speed until well blended and light colored.
With a spoon stir in the flour until moistened, then add the carrots, pecans crushed pineapple and coconut.
Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Refrain from opening the oven door or touching the center of the cake to test for doneness until very near the end of baking time or it could cause the cake to sink slightly in the center.
Makes 6 1/2 cups batter
Cool cake layers in pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack then turn out. Cool completely before frosting.

It’s healthy because it has carrots.  Just go with it.

Places to visit in October in Kansas & Missouri:

  1.  Weston, Missouri- Weston Red Barn Farm, O’Mally’s Pub, and Pirtle Winery
  2.  Parkville, MO- Wines By Jennifer A hidden gem in downtown Parkville.  Stop in to taste their featured wines of the month and listen to the stories of their travel.  Don’t forget to join the Wine Club!
  3. Lawrence, KS- Lawrence is so pretty in the fall.  Walk down Mass Street and check out all the local shops.  Make reservations at 715 for dinner, my FAVORITE!

Pumpkin Patch