July 2017 - Comey & Shepherd Realtors

9 Home Issues To Be Aware Of Before Listing Your Home

From a leaky or aging roof to a positive radon test in the basement, there’s probably a lot on your home sale to-do list. And while, yes, you want your house to look its best for prospective buyers, there are some less-than-obvious issues you should probably address before you list your home for sale. Here’s the lowdown on some common issues that can cause a home sale to fall through.

  1. Leaking or Old Roof. Roof issues are responsible for 39% of homeowner insurance claims, according to the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association. The typical lifespan of a roof is 20 to 25 years for shingles, and if your for-sale home’s roof is approaching the end of its lifespan, replacing it could get you to the closing table faster.
  2. Damaged Gutters.  Routine gutter maintenance could prevent thousands of dollars in damage to the foundation of a home Recognizing the importance of this chore may require a big storm to pass through, but you’ll be glad you did when your home’s siding, windows, doors and foundation avoid water damage.
  3. Creaky Doors and windows. Expect buyers to open and close doors and windows. A jammed window or creaky door is a quick fix for you but could be a red flag to buyers who want a well-kept home. Replacing windows can bring a 50% to 80% return on your investment, but if they’re not a imperative fix, some sellers would be better served to bump this down a few notches on their must-do list.
  4. Outdated Appliances. Most buyers know they can easily buy a new fridge, but if most of your appliances look as if they belong on That ’70s Show, buyers may wonder what else needs replacing. If you’re planning to take your refrigerator with you when you move, make sure that’s mentioned in your sellers’ disclosure.
  5. Old Heating and Air Conditioning System . A well-maintained HVAC system can last up to 25 years, but an aged one could be a point of concern for buyers — and costly to repair or replace on the fly for a seller who doesn’t want to lose a sale.
  6. Termites. Termite infestation causes more than $5 billion in damage to U.S. homes each year, and sellers are typically required to disclose it. Adding a termite warranty from a remediation company can give your buyer peace of mind. But be warned: termites in your home can often be a deal breaker.
  7. Cracks in Foundation. Cracks in walls or a foundation are often a sign of larger problems. Be prepared to fix structural problems before your house hits the market, or have a plan in place for repairs if a buyer balks after an inspection.
  8. Radon. Radon is a naturally occurring, carcinogenic, radioactive gas that’s formed from the breakdown of uranium. In the home, radon is typically found in the basement or in lower levels. To put in perspective just how dangerous radon can be, consider this: Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer — radon is No. 2.
  9. High listing price. Pricing your home too high could ultimately cause your house to miss out on the right buyer, stay on the market longer, and bring in a lower price than the market supports.

How to test drive a home before making an offer

When it comes to assessing a potential new home, the savvy buyer knows to relentlessly sleuth for any hidden problems. Like you would at a car dealership, test drive your potential future home for important features that easily go unnoticed. That waterfall shower head is beautiful, but how’s the water pressure? If the laundry area is near the living room, can you still hear the TV when the dryer is going? Do the neighbors frequently enjoy late-night soirees? Make like a crime-scene detective and put your potential home to the test — before you submit an offer.

1. See what the neighbors are like

Before you step foot in a potential new place, play the role of private investigator and do a few drive-bys. What’s the foot traffic like in the neighborhood? Do the strolling neighbors look more like young professionals or marrieds with children? How much noise do the neighbors make? (Sneak in a Saturday night visit to get the full taste.) If you drive to work, test your morning and evening commutes and time how long it takes you.

2. Head out on a walking tour

Once you’ve stalked the place by vehicle, it’s time to repeat on foot. See how long it takes you to get to the nearest coffee shop or restaurant, and make sure you love the local cuisine or cup of joe. (A walkability score considers only quantity, not quality, of amenities.) Scope out the nearest public transportation stations while gauging the condition of sidewalks and public plantings — a well-manicured neighborhood usually suggests stronger civic engagement.

3. Test out the plumbing

Don’t get seduced by the stand-up shower with the exposed copper pipes and wraparound glass doors — try it out yourself. (Really, it’s not that weird.) How hard is the pressure? How quickly does the water heat up? Test the bathroom and kitchen sinks while you’re at it. Water pressure shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but low pressure could indicate a damaging leak and more water problems (and expenses) down the road.

4. Open the windows

Even if it’s chilly, open a few windows, especially in the room that may be your future master bedroom. This is a good way to check if any windows are stuck, but also an opportunity to listen. Can you hear a lot of traffic or neighborly noise? Do your windows seem to bring in a lot of cross breezes, or do neighboring buildings block the airflow? When the windows are closed, can you feel drafts around the edge of the frames? Windows are crucial for the look and feel of your home.

5. Inspect the home’s natural lighting

If the open house happens on a cloudy day, schedule a follow-up visit when the sun is out. See how the natural light flows through each room, especially high-traffic areas. If a room seems especially dark, consider whether the paint color is causing the problem. On the same note, you’ll want to see how dark the bedrooms can get. Close all the shades in all the bedrooms and see if the light still filters through; you might want to throw room-darkening shades onto your shopping list.

6. Keep your ears open for any unwanted noise

This is a biggie — condo sounds in particular can drive homeowners insane. Make multiple visits to a unit to catch surrounding neighbors when they’re home and making noise. If there are multiple condos for sale in the building, bring a friend and have her walk around upstairs or in the adjacent unit to see how noise travels. And be sure to ask if children live in the building; the pitter-patter of little feet is far less charming to those who live below them.
Once you’ve assessed noise levels, you should determine how sound travels within the home. Turn on the dryer to hear how loud it is. March around in the guest bedroom to determine how thick the walls are. If you’ll need to invest in sound insulation and throw rugs, it’s better to know now.

7. Scope out storage space

Some sellers clear their homes of all clutter, but many don’t. Rather than turn up your nose at an overstuffed bedroom closet, take out the tape measure and record some dimensions. The space may be larger than it seems; you can also take those measurements home and plan out a closet scheme online to see how much stuff it can really handle.

8. Don’t forget your marbles

Are those newly stained hardwood floors level? Bring a marble to find out. Discreetly place the marble on the hardwood floors: Does it stay put or start rolling? If the slope is especially steep, there might be a structural problem at play, but even a slightly uneven floor can become a bargaining chip.

Source: Trulia.com

How to use your home equity in retirement

(BPT) – Most of us save and plan for decades to enjoy the period of our life when we no longer need to go into the office and work an eight-hour day for a paycheck.

But even with those decades of hard work, it can be tough to save up enough cash to cover all your costs in retirement. Many soon-to-be-retirees face a shortage between what they saved for retirement and what they actually need to live on.

For homeowners, that may be a problem that’s relatively easy to solve. Tapping into the equity in your home can help you stretch your nest egg quite a bit further.

Use a home equity loan or line of credit

You can tap the equity in your home with a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (known as a HELOC). A home equity loan works like most other loans: you agree to borrow a set amount of money, receive a lump sum, and pay that back with interest and in installments each month.

A HELOC works a little differently, because it’s not a loan with pre-determined monthly payments. Instead, it’s a revolving line of credit, similar to a credit card. You usually have between five and 25 years to borrow against a certain amount of equity and repay (with interest) whatever you take out.

The time during which you can use the HELOC is called the draw period. The line of credit revolves during this period, so you can borrow and repay the balance multiple times. The total amount is due back in full with interest at the end of the draw period. Any time you have an amount outstanding, you will make monthly payments.

You can use a HELOC or home equity loan during retirement, but remember that you will need to pay the money back. You should have a plan in place for how to repay the funds — and the interest — before you agree to take a loan or a line of credit on your home.

Use a home ownership investment

A home ownership investment is a powerful way to unlock some of the equity in your home without taking out a loan.

The Unison HomeOwner program can unlock up to $500,000 of your home equity and the money can be used for anything you want — including paying monthly expenses, paying off debt or making home improvements. Because it’s a home ownership investment, not a loan, there are no monthly payments and no interest charges. Learn more at www.unison.com/homeowner.

Unison invests in the home alongside you. In return for the company’s investment in your home, they receive a portion of the future change in the value of your home. Unison shares both the upside and downside risk with you. When you choose to sell your home, up to 30 years later, if the home value rises, both you and Unison share in the appreciation. If the home value falls, both you and Unison share the loss.

Consider a reverse mortgage

A reverse mortgage can allow homeowners 62 years or older to turn equity in their homes into cash in a way that provides them with the income they need through retirement. You can get your cash in a lump sum or in monthly payments, or in a line of credit.

But it’s important to remember that a reverse mortgage is still a loan that comes with origination fees and interest charges. It requires that you have no other debt on your property, so if you have an existing mortgage loan, you will have to repay that in full from the reverse mortgage proceeds. You will also need to pay the reverse mortgage loan back when you move out of the home, sell it or pass away.

A reverse mortgage can give you income in retirement and whenever the home is sold, the money is used to pay off the loan. However, reverse mortgages can cause a lot of trouble if you’re not careful, and the high fees that you incur when you sell the home can leave you in a worse financial position than if you skipped the reverse mortgage altogether.

Source: Brandpoint.com