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April 13, 2017

A Buyer’s Guide to Open House Etiquette

By: Annalisa Burgos
Homebuyers get away with a lot of things these days. Lowball offers. Closing cost credits. Tax credits.
But just because you’re in a hot buyer’s market doesn’t mean you should waltz into every open house and demand things. (Though you might get them if the seller is motivated enough.)
Restrain yourself and stick to these rules of open house etiquette to ensure a pleasant house hunting experience:

Have a Game Plan

If you’re giving up an hour on a Sunday, you might as well set aside the entire afternoon. Research properties you want to see and schedule your day so you hit up open houses in one area, move on to the next area and so on. Allow yourself enough time to see each home and travel to the next one.

Wear a Comfortable + Appropriate Outfit

It’s not a fashion show so leave the Armani suit and Jimmy Choos at home. That said, a tank top and Daisy Dukes are inappropriate. Keep it reasonable. Plus, you’re going to do a lot of walking through rooms and up and down stairs so wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

Be Polite to the Host

Even if you dread dealing with real estate agents, don’t give the agent hosting the open house the cold shoulder. Smile and greet them. Sign in. If the agent seems pushy or is trying to solicit your business, kindly tell him you already have an agent. Thank him when you leave.

Focus on the Property

This isn’t social hour, so after you’ve greeted the host, get down to business. Prepared sellers will hand out a property description sheet with information like square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and special features. Use it to take notes and check off things as you walk through the house. If square footage is important to you, bring a tape measure.

Ask Before Taking Photos + Videos

Remember, in many cases, the home is still someone’s private residence so before you snap a photo or pull out the camcorder, ask permission.

Feel Before You Sit

Some homes for sale are empty and staged with fake furniture, such as airbeds and cardboard box couches. So make sure you check it’s real before plopping on the sofa.

Look, Don’t Rummage

Make sure there’s enough storage space in the home, but don’t go through someone else’s private belongings. Check the width and depth of the closets, kitchen and bathroom drawers, cupboards and cabinets. And while you’re at it, see if anything is broken or squeaks.

Hold the Criticism Until After You Leave

Like you learned in kindergarten, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Again, the seller still calls the place home, so don’t badmouth it during the tour. Who knows who may be listening — the seller, a neighbor, a friend? If you end up in a multiple offer situation where price and terms are similar, you don’t want the seller choosing the other buyer because he heard you criticizing his home.

Avoid TMI

Meaning YOU divulging details about your situation, such as how your home search is going and when you need to move. While there’s nothing wrong with a little chit-chat, keep the conversation focused on the property. And use your best poker face. Even if you’ve walked into your ultimate dream home, don’t show any emotion.
Remember, the agent works for the seller so you don’t want to share any information that could compromise your bargaining position. Think Miranda rights — anything you say can and will be used against you in a potential negotiation.

Ask Probing Questions, Politely

It’s okay to ask about the seller’s motivation and if there are any offers. Find out if there are special assessments or other fees. And it doesn’t hurt to get the agent’s insight on the neighborhood and nearby schools.
Sometimes the open house agent is filling in for the actual listing agent and won’t know anything about the property, or he/she can’t answer certain questions (like those that fall under fair housing laws). It can be frustrating, but keep cool and ask where you can get the information.

Listen to Other Buyers

They may be your competition, but they may know something you don’t about the property or neighborhood, such as the barking dog next door. Listen to other guests’ reactions to the home and engage in polite conversation. You don’t have to divulge details of your own search, but you never know what someone else might say.
March 16, 2017

Selling Your House? Better Prepare for the Home Inspection

You’ve got a contract on your home for sale—congratulations! But before you pop the cork on the champagne, you’ve got to go through an ordeal that could make or break that sweet deal: a home inspection.

The home inspection is a contingency written into most offers, meaning that if the buyers aren’t happy with the result, they can cancel the sale without losing their earnest money deposit, or reopen negotiations and ask for a price reduction.

So it’s important to prepare yourself and your home for this important step of the process. How? Hey, we’re glad you asked! Let’s start at the beginning.

Will there always be a home inspection?

If your buyers are planning to tear down your home and build their own dream house, you might feel a pang of regret, but at least you won’t need to worry about the quality and condition of your property. These buyers are trying to get the lowest price possible and, if they think a clean contract without an inspection contingency will make them an attractive buyer in a competitive market, they’ll often forgo an inspection contingency.

But most buyers who are planning to live in your home want to know what they’re getting into. They want to know which systems work, and which don’t. They want to know how much money they’ll need to plow into the purchase, and which items you, dear seller, are willing to fix or replace to seal the deal.

The results of home inspections can give buyers peace of mind, or a tool they can use to bargain down the price. In the worst case, people with buyer’s remorse will use results of a home inspection to back out of the deal without penalty.

Sound scary? Don’t fret just yet. That first home inspection will let you know everything that’s wrong with your home. Armed with that information, you can fix problems before the next buyer shows up, adjust the price to reflect necessary repairs, or simply have a ready response when the issue comes up again.

Inspectors will look at everything

A home inspection is no quick once-over. Inspectors have a 1,600-item checklist, according to the National Association of Home Inspectors. Yep, you read that right—1,600. 

“If we can get to it, we’ll inspect it,” says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Here are just some of the areas of the home your inspector is checking, and what a home inspector is looking for:

  • Grounds: Standing water, faulty grading, sick or dying trees and shrubs, crumbling paths and walls
  • Structure: Foundation integrity, rotting or out-of-plumb window and door frames
  • Roof: Defects in shingles, flashing, and fascia; loose and hanging gutters; defects in chimneys and skylights
  • Exterior: Cracks or rot; dents or bowing in vinyl; blistering or flaking paint; adequate clearing between siding and earth
  • Window, doors, trim: Rotting frames, peeling caulk, damaged glass
  • Interior rooms: Water-stained ceilings, adequate insulation, and sufficient heating vents
  • Kitchen: Proper venting, no leaks under the sink, and cabinet doors and drawers operate properly
  • Bathrooms: Toilets flush properly, showers spray, and tubs are securely fastened
  • Plumbing: Drains flow properly; water has proper temperature and pressure
  • Electrical: Proper electrical panels and working light switches and outlets

How can you prepare?

The home inspection isn’t a test that you need to study for. But there are some things you can do before a home inspection to make the process go more smoothly.

  • Clean and de-clutter your home: Yes, inspectors will look way beyond the superficial sparkle of a clean home. But you want to make sure they have easy access to attics, basements, and electrical panels—and aren’t tripping over your kids’ toys while trying to do their job. Think of it as an early start to your packing.
  • Get your paperwork together: You should create a file with documentation of all maintenance and repairs you’ve done on your home. If you’ve had an insurance claim on your house, keep those papers together, too, so you can prove that you took care of the problem.
  • Provide complete access to your home: Make sure you unlock gates and doors to a shed or garage that doesn’t have lockbox access.

You could consider getting a pre-inspection to eliminate any surprises; some sellers choose to hire their own inspector to give the house a once-over and point out any problems, so they can fix them before the buyer’s home inspector arrives on the scene.

But be careful with this tactic.

“It’s not a good idea,” says Bill Golden, an Atlanta-area real estate agent. “If you have five different inspectors inspect the home, you’ll get five different lists of items they’re concerned about. Just because your inspector didn’t have a problem with something doesn’t mean the buyer’s inspector won’t.”

More important, if your inspector points out a problem, you’re obligated to disclose it to buyers.

“This could be a potential turn-off to buyers,” Golden says.

Do yourself a favor, and leave

Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, give the inspector your cellphone number, grab your car keys, and go to a movie or out to lunch when the home inspector shows up. Your anxiety will only make everyone uncomfortable, which isn’t a productive atmosphere during an inspection.

“Inspectors and buyers are not at all comfortable with the seller being present during an inspection,” Golden says. “They need to be able to freely inspect and discuss any and everything they come across. You may think you are being helpful by being present, but you are not; you are impeding the process.”

And don’t play eager hostess. You don’t need to set out cookies and drinks; or provide ladders and other tools the inspector needs. He’ll bring his own.

Check your ego at your own door

Buying and selling a house is a competition: Sellers want to get the highest price, and buyers want the lowest. It’s not personal—it’s business. Remember that when a home inspector presents list of problems with your home as long as your arm.

“A home inspector’s job is to point out each and every deficiency and safety violation they see,” Golden says. “Arguing with the buyers about an inspector’s findings is not helpful.”

Keep your head in the game, and solve the problem with the buyer.

“It may be agreeing to fix an item, it may mean giving them some money toward a repair, or it may simply be providing documentation,” Golden says.

And that’s where an experienced real estate agent earns his or her commission. Agents know how to interpret inspection reports, which issues are vital to address, and which are red herrings designed to reopen price negotiations.

 

February 27, 2017

New Homeowners Check List

Congratulations! You have just purchased your first home. Now you can relax, right? Not at all! You are just getting started. This is an important time to take steps to make sure your homeownership is as stress-free as possible in the future. Here are five of the more important things to take care of as you move in.

  • Packing/Unloading Organization – While packing, moving and unloading are all obvious “to-do” items when you buy a first home, there really is an art and science to doing it right. Organization is the key. Label the boxes with their basic location (kitchen, bedroom, etc.) and make a list of all the boxes as well as the separate items that are too large to pack. Do not rely on a moving company to do that for you.
  • Utility Hookups – Make advance preparations with your utility provider to have the electricity, gas, water, etc. turned on before you arrive. You will also want to make advance arrangements for trash pickup and to change or transfer your communication services (phone, TV, and Internet).
  • Gather and Log Information – There are many details that you need to investigate, understand, and write down before you forget it in a time of crisis.

Emergency needs are the first step. Verify the location of smoke/CO2 detectors and fire extinguishers and make sure that they are in working order. Learn where all of your water and gas shutoff valves are, as well as all breaker boxes. Test them to make sure they work, and label all the breaker box circuits. (If breakers are already labeled, verify the labels – phantom circuits are not uncommon). Immediately fix anything broken or inaccessible.

Verify your evacuation route and protection plans for emergencies like tornadoes and fires. Prepare a home first aid kit. Make sure you have accessible numbers for your local police, fire department, government offices, utility company and other important numbers. They are available in your local phone book (remember those?).

If your home was pre-owned, make sure you get information (warranties, manuals, etc.) on existing appliances and items like security and irrigation systems. Don’t forget items like alternate keys, garage door openers, or security codes.

Immediately set up a storage and filing system for all of your papers related to the mortgage, appliances, and other home-related issues.

Finally, have your yard marked for underground utilities. The services are free, and even if you do not plan to dig now, it would be good to know where utilities are located.

  • Maintenance Preparation – As a homeowner, you now have maintenance to consider along with eventual home improvement projects. Buy a basic tool set with screwdrivers, a hammer, pliers, and at least one adjustable wrench, along with a simple drill. Buy other tools as you need them.

Don’t forget simple things like flashlights and the most important tool you will ever own – a toilet plunger.

Set up a schedule for your regular home maintenance. Online resources are available to serve as a basic guide – just add anything specific to your house.

  • Change of Address – Make sure that no important mail is missed during the transition period. Forward mail from your old address, and notify credit card, communication service providers, and other vendors of your new address, as well as agencies like the DMV and the IRS.

Remember to bring all of your important records like school records, insurance files, and medical/dental records – they will be important as you establish new contacts.

As much as you would like to relax, take some time to do these preparatory steps. You will never know how much headache you saved yourself by doing so.

July 31, 2016

What’s Covered in a Typical Home Inspection

Home Inspection

A standard home inspection look at the basic issues a house may have if there is a problem. Like a general primary care physician, if an issue outside of a standard exam were to arise (such as an abnormal beating heart), then a heart specialist will need to take over and evaluate the patient further. The same can be true for a home inspection that yields far greater problems.

If you’re curious what inspectors look at, check out the list below:

The Roof: The shield of your home is important to the overall quality of a home. Inspectors need to know how old a roof is, as well as check the downspouts, draining systems, and buckled shingles. If a home has a chimney or skylight, you can be sure they will be evaluated too.

Electrical Work: Everything from the outlets, breakers, fuses to the wires, service panels are inspected in each room to ensure safety. If a major issue is identified, it’ll be written up in the final inspection report outlining our recommendations.

The Foundation: The framework of the house should be sturdy and have the ability to withstand gravity and the weather. An inspector will verify if that is the case for a home. If we identify a major problem, you’ll be informed and it’s updated in the report. Our recommendation may be that you bring in a specialist to assess the seriousness of the problem — this is something you can probably get the seller to do once he/she is aware of the problem.

Interior: The stairs, stairways, railings, walls, cabinets, garage system, counters, tubs, toilets, and ceilings are checked by an inspector to verify whether or not it is functional. Damages or defects that are found will immediately be reported.

Exterior: The windows, doors, sidewalk, trim, balconies, porch, deck, and surface drainage will be tested.

Plumbing: Everything concerning the water system in the house is evaluated to determine the quality and safety of the water supply. The lining, pumps, and pipes including the drainage, fuel, and heating systems are inspected. There should be adequate water pressure and the plumbing should be free of rust spots, corrosion, or banged pipes which are problem indicators.

Fireplace: Fireplaces are attractive, but can be the most dangerous, so an inspector will check out the flue and vent and the fuel burning appliances to determine if it poses a fire risk. If a home has a fireplace, it will be evaluated, but it something a specialist should look at if you are worried.

Air Conditioner and Heater: Both appliances are turned on to see if they work and are powerful enough to cool or heat the home efficiently. Their age and energy level are inspected too and reported up.

Ventilation: insulation and ventilation are important in the house so heat and toxic substances can exit the house. Fires, mold, mildew, and toxicity problems may be found in a home that does not have proper ventilation.

Got questions about our inspection process? Give us a call right now!

SCHEDULE A HOME INSPECTION NOW Call Reliable Home Inspections now! 972-365-4631
July 15, 2016

What Are Home Defects and is the Buyer or Seller Responsible?

Home Defects

An inspector’s job is to help a buyer decide if they want to buy a home by providing them with information they were previously unaware of in the form of a home inspection report. Home defects can pose problems for a buyer, so it’s vital you understand how minor or how serious a problem is.

As a Dallas home inspector, it’s our job to find and identify defects that fall into three main categories:

  1. Defects in the Structure: If a structural defect should be found, that’s something you need to be aware of. The heart of a home is the foundation, and if it is found to be defective, the home may be dangerous to live in. It could also mean you’re not able to build onto the house as well.
  2. Safety Issues and Hazards: There are various types of safety issues an inspector may find with a home you may not have caught, such as radon, termite damage, a bad or faulty roof, poor plumbing or bad electrical work. Depending on how severe an issue is, the hazard found could be life threatening if it’s not fixed immediately.
  3. Defects due to a variety of faulty conditions often from neglecting proper maintenance, poor workmanship, or a combination of the two. Cosmetic issues that are found are often not a serious problem, but issues can arise when things like improper outlet placement near water and severe mold accumulation are found.

How “bad” a non life-threatening defect is in the home will ultimately be defined by the customer after a professional inspection report is handed over to the client.

It is important that buyers know about defects prior to closing on a home if they do not want serious issues to become their problem after they become the owner. A detailed home inspection report puts you in a position to negotiate who fixes what. It also puts you in a better position to negotiate the price of the property down so you can take on the repairs yourself.

Don’t skip out on getting an inspection … a detailed inspection report puts you in control… Call us today!

SCHEDULE A HOME INSPECTION NOW Call Reliable Home Inspections now! 972-365-4631
July 5, 2016

Don’t Share Your New Home With Termites!

Termites

Termites are little buggers that can cause big problems in a home when they gnaw away and destroy wood on site. Normally, when you are in the process of purchasing a home, many lenders require you check the house for termites before they approve you for a mortgage.

There are also occasions where it is not required, but avoiding a termite check when you have the option to choose one can wind up costing you more.

Our Dallas home inspection company can help you determine if a home you’re considering to buy has termites before the sale is complete.Termites are very destructive and many homeowner insurance policies seldom cover it. Hiring an inspector to check for termites can save you in the long run.

Termite inspections take about an hour to complete and it is important to be there when it is done, that way the inspector can show you what they see as well. They can also describe issues to you directly that would have likely been more complex to understand if you were to rely on the written report alone.

If a home had issues with termites before, but doesn’t currently have an infestation, it should not necessarily deter you from wanting to continue going through with the purchase.

Depending on the home, an inspector may also recommend a previously treated home get treated again if they find evidence of underground termites regardless if there is not current activity, or any sign of them.

Need help inspecting your home for termites?

SCHEDULE A HOME INSPECTION NOW Call Reliable Home Inspections now! 972-365-4631
June 29, 2016

Does the Home You Want to Buy Have a Pool?

dallas swimming pool inspection

Nothing makes a home more appealing than a swimming pool. But there’s a lot to think about when deciding to buy a home with a pool. For example, there’s the required maintenance, increased water bill and heating bill (if the pool is heated), and so on.

Taking care of a pool is easier when it doesn’t have a lot of problems to begin with. Pools by themselves can be complex because of the various equipment and supplies that’s involved to ensure it stays clean and clog-free.

The pool itself needs to be inspected to ensure it is solid and leak-free. There are filters, gears, pumps, and heaters that need to be checked along with the plumbing and electrical equipment.

The decking surface around the pool, the covers that serve as a security blanket, and the hardware surrounding it should also be tested to determine the longevity and condition of the pool.

When a pool is in good condition, it should run smoothly without any problems. Whatever issue is not found when equipment is turned off will be found when they are on. Another test, a pressure test, should also be conducted to determine if a pool has leaks.

If you know you want a house that comes with a pool, you should discuss all the details mentioned above with the seller before you close on the home.

Normally, when you buy a house with a pool, you are agreeing to purchase it as-is. Before you sign any papers, know what you are getting into. Not rushing will keep you from getting stuck with a dysfunctional pool on your own.

In the event you have never owned a pool, or don’t understand the mechanics involved to ensure the pool you buy is good, Reliable Home Inspections can offer you a pool inspection alongside your standard home inspection.

You want to be able to purchase both your home and pool with confidence. We have been in business for over 18 years and our inspectors are experienced and are trained to look for problems.

SCHEDULE A HOME INSPECTION NOW Call Reliable Home Inspections now! 972-365-4631
June 19, 2016

Home Inspectors Can Help with Mold

Mold Problem

There’s not a person in the world who’d willingly want to buy a home that is infested with mold. However, purchases like these are made because the microscopic spores can be hard to detect with the eyes when it is not severe.

The best areas to check for mold are the ceilings, beneath the floor, between the walls, or in less conspicuous areas such as the attic and basements. Mold is highly attracted to water and can be found where there is carpet, paneling, pain, or wallboards.

It can also nest in other areas that have poor ventilation, extreme dampness or areas that did not have adequate time to dry in the event the house once dealt with flooding.

Mold is a fungus that may be green, gray, black, or white and it comes in various shapes and can cause serious health complications.

Side effects such as rashes, unusual bleeding, respiratory issues, seizures, and extreme fatigue can occur when mold is toxic. Worst case scenario: it can also produce mycotoxins which are far more deadly.

If you are uncertain if a home has mold, or would like a second opinion, give Reliable Home Inspections a call.

If you do decide to go on with the purchase, and the owner was not aware of the mold, you can ask the seller to lower the asking price on the house so you can pay to resolve the problem. Alternatively, you can have the seller take care of the mold issue before you finalize the purchase.

SCHEDULE A HOME INSPECTION NOW Call Reliable Home Inspections now! 972-365-4631
June 8, 2016

It Pays to Heed the Advice of a Dallas Home Inspector

Roofing Inspection Dallas

There’s typically two types of home buyers … one that is unaware of the pending complications a home has; and those that are aware the home has a flaw or two, but tend to undermine how serious those complications are.

While it may be acceptable for you to hold off fixing minor issues you can deal with later, it’s a good idea to watch out for a few of these red flags mentioned below:

Buying Homes that were ‘flipped’ – While you can find great deals with these kind of homes, you want to have an inspector see if corners were cut. Oftentimes, investors buy damaged properties with the sole purpose of flipping for a quick profit. Many times, they’ll try and fix big problems by spending as little as possible. You want to have an inspector who is experienced and know what to look for. Our Dallas home inspectors can help you avoid buying a ‘lemon’.

Check the Windows – Windows are meant to ensure cool air and heat does not escape, and windows also prevents water or dampness from entering the home. Windows that are foggy, potentially have broken seals, and should be checked. If the damage is extensive, sliding doors or windows may need to be replaced. But if you’re aware of these problems prior to buying, you put yourself in a great situation to negotiate the repair by the seller.

Plumbing in the Home: Plumb lines are installed inside the walls of a home. If the plumb lining is bad, it can lead to water leaks and other damages.  Reliable Home Inspections can also check to see if a home has polybutylene piping, which are no longer in production because they are notorious for causing leak complications. In the event a home has it, we’ll disclose that in your home inspection report.

Old HVAC Systems: Any HVAC system that is over 20 years old likely needs to be upgraded. We can check out the unit to see how well it functions. If it’s time for a new unit, we’ll let you know.

Bad Roofs: The same goes for shingles … If it’s discovered the shingles are curling, this is typically an indication of roofing problems. This matter will need to be investigated further.

Mold of any degree is bad because it can grow like wildfire; this is something that should be talked about with the owner before you buy the home or property.

Should an inspector find any fed flag issues, the real estate agent you work with can help you negotiate with the seller. Contact us right now to discuss your home inspection needs in the Dallas metro area.

SCHEDULE A HOME INSPECTION NOW Call Reliable Home Inspections now! 972-365-4631