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.

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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.

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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

Why didn’t you use me as your Realtor?

I was recently approached by a family member who wanted to apologize for not using me as their Realtor when they sold their house.  I get it.  I really do.  Do you know how many real estate agents I knew before I got into the business, tons. They are everywhere and I know that.  Let me tell you a secret, working with close friends and family is extremely stressful.  I feel more pressure to sell or find a home for my brother or best friend. It’s true.

In my short 2 years as a licensed Realtor I have found a solution, referrals.  Before I went to real estate school, and yes I went to ReeceNichols Real Estate School, I didn’t even know that referrals existed in this industry.  For example:

My best friends are getting a divorce and they need to sell their family home.  Obviously I don’t want to get involved in this transaction for so many different reasons.  There is so much stress, emotions, financial issues, and personal information involved in a normal real estate transaction but would be at an all time high while doing it during a divorce.  In this case I would REFER my friends to a amazing agent that can get the job done for them.  And the bonus is, I get a referral fee from that agent without being involved in the transaction.  Everyone wins.

In my small community in Piper, there are 5,657 real estate agents.  Some good, some not so good, some full time, and some part time.  What I am saying is that there is a lot of competition but we still are all working together for our clients.  The point of this post was to let you know that yes, sometimes it hurts that a friend or member of my family goes with another agent but I understand.  If I can’t help you, at least let me find a great agent that will be a great fit.

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Repairs to Make BEFORE You List Your Home

As a smart seller, you’ll want your home in tip-top shape — but you don’t want to eat into your profits by overspending on home improvements. You won’t be around to enjoy them anyway. The key is to focus on the most important repairs to make before selling a house to ensure every dollar you spend supports a higher asking price.

Smaller and less expensive updates in combination with good staging will have a great return. But how do you know what things to do before putting your house on the market? Prioritize these updates — and consider letting the rest go.

#1 The Most Important Repair to Make Before Selling: Fix Damaged Flooring

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Scratched-up wood flooring; ratty, outdated carpeting; and tired linoleum make your home feel sad. Buyers might take one step inside and scratch the property from their list. Want to know how to increase the value of your home? Install new flooring.

Replace what’s worn out.  Buyers don’t want to deal with replacing carpet, and giving an allowance is generally not attractive enough. Spring for new, neutral carpeting or flooring.

If your home already has hardwood floors, refinishing does the job. Expect to spend about $3,000 on the project — and recoup 100% of the cost, according to the “National Association of REALTORS® Remodeling Impact Report.”

Consider swapping any old flooring for new hardwood. This project costs more at around $5,500, but you could recoup more than 90% of that at resale. If that’s not in the budget, any flooring update makes an enormous difference.

#2 Fix Water Stains

You’ve learned to live with the results of a long-fixed plumbing snafu, but for buyers, a water stain suggests there could be a dozen pesky problems hidden beneath the surface. That’s why this is one of the things to do before putting your house on the market.

First, make sure the problem is fixed: Bring in a plumber to look for leaky piping or poor yard drainage if your basement is damp. Diverting rainwater from your foundation may cost as little as $800, and repairing a leaking pipe costs approximately $300.

As for the repair work, replacing a water-stained ceiling runs about $670, and drywall costs around $1.50 per square foot.

All are cheaper than a lost sale.

#3 Repair Torn Window Screens

So super inexpensive — and even DIY-able. You can purchase a window screen frame repair kit from a home improvement store for $10 to $15.

Considering the simplicity of this repair, making the fix is always worth it — and so are other small but highly visible issues. When you’re debating how to increase the value of your home, nix any small problems, snags, or ugly spots that might make buyers scrunch up their brows.

#4 Update Grout

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Is your grout yellowing or cracked? Buyers will notice. New grout, on the other hand, can make old floors look like they came straight from the showroom.

The best return-on-investment projects before selling a home involve making a home look like new.  This is another small fix with a big impact: Simple bathroom re-grouting may cost just $1 to $2 per square foot, increasing to $10 per square foot for more complicated jobs. And if you’re handy, you can save even more DIY-ing it.

#5 Resuscitate a Dying Lawn

Fixing the problem doesn’t cost a ton of money — and you’ll get it all back (and then some!) once you sell. Hiring a lawn care service to apply fertilizer and weed control will cost about $375. Once you sell the home, that comparatively cheap fix could recoup $1,000. That’s an unbeatable 267% return on investment.

#6 Erase Pet Damage & Pet Smells

Did your (sort of) darling kitten scratch your bedroom door? Fix the damage before listing your home. Otherwise, buyers may consider the scuffs a canary in the coal mine. The minute I walk into homes, I can almost always know if they have a pet.

Refinishing a door costs between $100 and $215 (or less, if you’re willing to DIY). Replacing pet-damaged carpeting or hardwood may be a bigger job than buffing out some scuffs — but it’s worth the cash.

#7 Revive an Outdated Kitchen

A full kitchen renovation is rarely worth it when it comes time to sell — even though buyers love a fresh look. Kitchens are still one of the most important features for buyers.

The problem is, this $65,000 upgrade isn’t something that buyers will pay you back for. Sellers recoup about 62% of a full-on kitchen renovation. If you’re updating the space just for your sale, focus on low-cost, high-impact projects instead.

Updating the kitchen doesn’t need to be expensive.  Painting wood cabinets, updating hardware, or installing new countertops or appliances could be enough.

Setting up your home for selling success doesn’t have to be expensive. Focus on the most important repairs to make before selling a house by picking projects that do more than look pretty. Choose updates that get your home in selling shape and justify a higher asking price.

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Article by Jamie Wiebe

Questions to Ask When Buying New Construction

Buying a new home is exciting. Buying a brand new home can be even more so with the realization of being the first owner and possibly being able to choose your own layout and finishes. The prospect of owning new construction is definitely exciting, but it doesn’t come without its own set of questions. If you’re in the market for a new home, and considering new construction, make note of the questions below when you begin your property search.

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WHAT ARE THE LONG TERM PLANS FOR THE COMMUNITY?

Unless you’re looking at custom homes on acreage, it’s likely new construction in your area will be located in a new development or in a master planned community. With this in mind, feel free to ask about the plans for the community. If it’s a large area, find out if any subdivisions are planned. If there are only a few houses built so far, it’s likely to mean lots of construction in the months to come – which means a lot of noise and construction traffic. Also ask about the builder – if they’re well known and respected, it’s unlikely they’ll lose funding and the community will likely continue on as planned.

WHAT ARE THE HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION’S RULES AND REGULATIONS?

Many new developments and master planned communities come with a set of rules and regulations set by a homeowners association. If you’ve never lived in a community with a HOA, it’s important to find out the rules before investing in it. The bylaws and the CC&Rs will let you know what is and isn’t allowed in the community (especially when it comes to the exterior of your home). You’ll also want to find out when the HOA fee begins – in some communities, it can start before the home is even finished.

DO YOU OFFER ANY BUYER OR FINANCIAL INCENTIVES?

If the community or development is still in the early stages, there might be incentives (like a buyer discount, builder upgrades or other financial incentives or freebies) for buyers. Sometimes these offers come with a catch – where something is expected from the buyer in return for the incentive – but it’s important to ask about any offers that may be available, especially if the community is still up and coming.

DO YOU PROVIDE WARRANTIES?

New homes often come with different warranties. Ask if a workmanship and structural warranty come with the home. A workmanship warranty (or builder’s warranty) is a warranty for newly constructed homes that offer limited coverage on workmanship and components of the home like windows, siding, roofs, doors, plumbing, electrical and HVAC. Traditionally a workmanship warranty will cover a one or two year period; another likely warranty is a structural warranty, which covers the structure of a home. If a warranty is provided, make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t covered and how much you’re responsible for in case of any issues.

CAN YOU CONNECT ME WITH SOME CURRENT HOMEOWNERS?

Just as you would check reviews before buying an item online or booking a service, the same can be said for a home builder. Just because the product that’s being offered is a shiny new home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your due diligence and check references before making a large investment. While it’s likely that the builder will provide glowing reviews, checking reference and review websites and even knocking on the doors of current homeowners will provide additional information and give you a wider understanding of the builder and its practices. Talking to current homeowners will provide information about the actual community.

New construction is exciting, but you want to make sure you have all pertinent information before you go through with a home purchase. Your real estate agent will be able to help navigate the waters of new construction. Reach out to your agent with any questions you may have about buying new construction in your area.

If I could tell you only one thing when it comes to buying new construction it would be HIRE YOUR OWN REALTOR!  The builders and their real estate agents are only looking out for themselves usually. 

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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.

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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