Saturday, February 24, 2018

Selling Your Home? Don't Neglect These 6 Maintenance Tasks—or Else (Part 3 of 6)


3. Service your heating systems

It’s not sexy, but the hidden guts of your home need regular attention, whether you’re still living there or not. That means having your HVAC systems professionally serviced.
First up, your furnace: If you get it addressed before you list your home, it won't smell like dust when you crank up the heat during an open house on a chilly day. While you're at it, have the duct work and filters cleaned as well. And if you have baseboard heaters, vacuum those out, too.
(Speaking of heat, Roberts suggests keeping the thermostat at 66 degrees Fahrenheit when agents are showing your house so buyers can visit your place comfortably. This will also avoid any issues with pipes freezing or bursting.)
Have a chimney? Be sure to have it inspected and cleaned as well.
“You want to make sure there are no cracked flue tiles, and that from the exterior, there are no gaps in the mortar between the bricks,” Hiscock explains. “Otherwise, you could potentially have the chimney fall over onto the house, and that’s a very expensive fix.”

Friday, February 23, 2018

Selling Your Home? Don't Neglect These 6 Maintenance Tasks—or Else (Part 2 of 6)


2. Clean the gutters and check the roof

This one's easy to forget about, even when you don't plan on going anywhere. But when it comes to gutter and roof issues, neglect can cause a dangerous domino effect.
Overflowing gutters can damage your foundation, and also lead to drainage issues. And, of course, you don’t want buyers seeing puddling water as they approach your house.
Just ask Alise Roberts, owner/broker at Alise Roberts & Company in Bellevue, WA. In the rainy Pacific Northwest climate, she frequently has to remind her clients to keep sidewalks clear of moss and clean gutters of pine needles and leaves.
"Buyers, seeing the house when it’s raining, will also see your gutters overflowing," she says. "That’s a terrible first impression.”
And then there's the roof. Of course, it'll be examined during the home inspection, but it would behoove you to do it before putting your home on the market. Small roof cracks can remain undetected for years, causing water to slowly infiltrate your home and damage ceilings and walls.
“If water starts to penetrate a property, it can be a very difficult sale," Hiscock notes. "Water in basements or in homes is one of the top three things buyers are scared of.”

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Selling Your Home? Don't Neglect These 6 Maintenance Tasks—or Else (Part 1 of 6)


If you're a homeowner, you already know that keeping your property in tiptop shape requires dedication and patience for ongoing maintenance. But what if you've put your home on the market, or even accepted an offer? Perhaps you're thinking: Not my problem anymore.
Sorry, folks, we've got news for you: Just because you’re selling doesn't mean you're off the hook from routine maintenance tasks—and that's especially true if you’ve already vacated the house.
Sure, a well-cared-for house shows better: Small things like broken doorbells and leaky faucets make buyers wonder if your property also has bigger issues elsewhere. But more important, a little routine maintenance can help you avoid a catastrophic problem down the line (e.g., burst pipes, roof leaks, critters moving into your attic) that could devalue your property and derail that sale.
To prevent minor issues from escalating into full-blown, money-sucking, sale-killing problems, focus on these six important areas you can’t afford to neglect.

1. Keep up the yard and walkways

Whether you're still living at the home or not, you'll want to make sure to keep your landscaping tidy—remove dead tree limbs, rake leaves, and clean out flowerbeds.
If your home is already vacant, have someone tend to the yard regularly so that grass and weeds don’t detract from your home’s appearance, suggests Kyle Hiscock, a Realtor® with Re/Max Reality Group in Rochester, NY.
“If your home does not have a well-maintained exterior, (potential buyers) will keep driving,” he cautions. “Plus, this kind of neglect can be a bull's-eye for vandals to break into your property.”
Consider having lights on timers so the house doesn’t look dark all the time, and arrange for driveways and walkways to be plowed weekly in the winter months. And don't let mail pile up in the mailbox.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Cost vs. Value: The Home Improvement Projects With the Highest ROI in 2018


A strong housing market isn't necessarily all good news for sellers. As evidenced by Remodeling magazine's newly-released Cost vs. Value Report for 2018, average return on investment (ROI) for home improvement projects dipped across the board, with "upscale" projects taking the biggest hit.
The report, which measures the average cost of 21 popular remodeling projects and their average resale value one year later, found that garage door replacement has the highest ROI at 98.3 percent (up from 85 percent year-over-year). Backyard patio jobs garner the lowest ROI, at 47.6 percent (down from 54.9 percent year-over-year).
The reason for the sweeping decrease in ROI isn't immediately obvious, but Remodeling magazine's editor-in-chief (and manager of the report) Craig Webb notes that it's likely related to the strength of the housing market currently.
"It's not clear if...nationwide affordability concerns are leading (real estate) pros to question the value of renovations that would make a house even more expensive at resale," says Webb.
However, a silver lining from the report relates to when the data was compiled. Remodeling magazine put all the cost information together before the country was struck with several natural disasters, including massive forest fires and several hurricanes. Since then, building supplies and the price of skilled labor has increased, but that's expected to change over the course of 2018. As a result, expect to see the ROI of most of these projects level out by the end of the year.
Despite these events, some longtime trends continued through the new year. Remodeling is still far more cost-effective than replacement, but, according to real estate pros, replacing is still the way to go. This year, there's a 20-point difference in ROI: 76.1 percent for replacement jobs, versus 56 percent for remodeling.
Nationally, when it comes to renovation ROI, curb appeal still wins out. Here are the top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report's "midrange" cost category:
Manufactured Stone Veneer (97.1% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $8,221
  • Average Resale Value: $7,986
Entry Door Replacement (Steel) (91.3% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $1,471
  • Average Resale Value: $1,344
Deck Addition (Wood) (82.8% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $10,950
  • Average Resale Value: $9,065
Minor Kitchen Remodel (81.1% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $21,198
  • Average Resale Value: $17,193
Siding Replacement (76.7% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $15,072
  • Average Resale Value: $11,554
The top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report's "upscale" cost category are:
Garage Door Replacement (98.3% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $3,470
  • Average Resale Value: $3,411
Window Replacement (Vinyl) (74.3% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $15,955
  • Average Resale Value: $11,855
Window Replacement (Wood) (69.5% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $19,391
  • Average Resale Value: $13,468
Grand Entrance (Fiberglass) (67.6% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $8,591
  • Average Resale Value: $5,809
Bathroom Remodel (56.2% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $61,662
  • Average Resale Value: $34,633
Nationally—and on the complete other end of the spectrum—here are the five projects with the lowest ROI in the "midrange" cost category:
Backyard Patio (47.6% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $54,130
  • Average Resale Value: $25,769
Master Suite Addition (56.6% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $123,420
  • Average Resale Value: $69,807
Major Kitchen Remodel (59% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $63,829
  • Average Resale Value: $37,637
Bathroom Addition (59.9% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $44,717
  • Average Resale Value: $26,769
Deck Addition (Composite) (63.6% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $17,668
  • Average Resale Value: $11,239
The five projects with the lowest ROI in the "upscale" cost category are:
Master Suite Addition (48.3% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $256,229
  • Average Resale Value: $123,797
Major Kitchen Remodel (53.5% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $125,721
  • Average Resale Value: $67,212
Bathroom Addition (54.6% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $83,869
  • Average Resale Value: $45,752
Bathroom Remodel (56.2% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $61,662
  • Average Resale Value: $34,633
Grand Entrance (Fiberglass) (67.6% ROI)
  • Average Cost: $8,591
  • Average Resale Value: $5,809
The 2018 Cost vs. Value Report compares, across 149 markets, the average cost of 21 popular remodeling projects with their average value at resale one year later. Average resale value is calculated based on estimates provided by real estate professionals. View the full report, including project descriptions and city-level data, here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

5 Things You Didn't Know a VA Loan Could Do for You (5 of 5)

5. Extra assistance with appraisals

When a home that a veteran is considering purchasing is having trouble reaching the purchase price during the appraisal process, buyers and lenders can ask the VA appraiser to consider adjusting the valuation before making a final determination.
Appraisers notify lenders in the event the appraised value is likely to come in low, giving buyers and real estate agents 48 hours to supply additional information that the appraiser might not be aware of to help justify the home’s value.
"Typically I assemble an itemized list of upgrades and improvements that the seller has performed on the home in the past three years that the appraiser didn’t know about, and therefore didn’t include in the home value," Lukavich says.
This process "gives the agents an opportunity to assist the appraiser in making sure they have the whole picture of the home and gives the local agent an opening to help an appraiser be educated on specific local values,” she adds.
It's just another benefit of VA loans aimed at helping our service men and women buy the home of their dreams.

Monday, February 19, 2018

5 Things You Didn't Know a VA Loan Could Do for You (4 of 5)

4. Limited closing costs

Legally, veterans are allowed to pay for certain closing costs, which include the following:
  • Appraisal
  • Credit report
  • Origination fee
  • Recording fee
  • Survey
  • Title insurance
But there are some fees that veterans are not allowed to pay. And the VA allows lenders to charge no more than 1% to cover the costs of originating and underwriting the loan.
So for example, if the purchase price is $280,000, the veteran might offer $300,000 and ask for 3% back to cover the closing costs.
“In this way the veteran is essentially financing their closing costs into the loan, meaning less out of pocket at the start,” Dinsmore explains.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

5 Things You Didn't Know a VA Loan Could Do for You (3 of 5)

3. No mortgage insurance

Most conventional buyers have to pay private mortgage insurance if they put less than 20% down. FHA loans come with their own forms of mortgage insurance. But a VA loan waives that insurance requirement.
And trust us—this one's important.
"This can be a big savings in monthly payments, since PMI typically runs around $200 a month," says Realtor® Twila Lukavich with Russell Real Estate Services in Cleveland.
Even though there's no mortgage insurance, there is a "funding fee"—an upfront cost applied to every purchase loan or refinance. The proceeds help the VA cover losses on the few loans that go into default. But borrowers can roll it into their monthly payment, or pay it all at once. Plus, it's tax-deductible. And veterans with a service-connected disability don’t have to pay the funding fee at all.