Home Inspections – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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p: lasvegasrealproperty.com

If you are buying or selling a house in Chittenden County, Vermont then heed this warning, “The house may not pass a building inspection.” What do you mean, “pass an inspection?” Are inspections now pass or fail? The short answer is “yes.”

Your Purchase and Sale Contract may include an Inspection addendum, with the caveat “Inspection report shall be to Purchaser’s satisfaction.” Satisfaction? Like a Yelp review on a restaurant? Does satisfaction mean a 5-star review? Or just, yeah, okay, satisfactory, like a 3-star review. Or satisfaction like the Rolling Stones, “Can’t get no satisfaction?”

And finally, is it a case of, there are no bad inspections, just buyers with high expectations? Let’s explore.

Let’s dive into the good, a 5-star inspection. Congratulations, the house you are buying has no significant structural, mechanical, electrical or plumbing defects. You may move along toward closing, this contingency is satisfied and the purchase price on the original contract remains intact. Or, maybe the house needs some GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and a mixing valve on the hot water tank. Oh, and the smoke detectors are over 10 years old and now need to be photoelectric. As the seller you will have to sign a document that states the smoke/fire/co2 detectors meet the current electric code. Most sellers will concede to some electrical updating along with the smoke/fire/co2 detectors.

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p: thebalancesmb.com

Let’s look at a bad inspection, one that produces a laundry list of items that includes every historical leak (darn it, we knew we should have repainted the ceiling after the tub overflowed 5 years ago), creak, nail pop and flaw in the house, interior and exterior. The exterior suffers from peeling paint on the trim, curling asphalt shingles on the roof, gutters that are full of leaves and a driveway with potholes.

Now, let’s look at a plain old ugly inspection. This one has an active leak, usually a sewer pipe in the basement (don’t step in the puddle), mold (dead or alive?) in a poorly ventilated attic, and, everyone’s favorite, an old oil tank in the basement or an old furnace.

The issues that arise at inspection range from good, bad to ugly. That is why you want to hire an experienced real estate agent to walk you through the different scenarios. As a buyer, your agent can tell you which items you should ask the seller to take care of, if you should ask for money back, or if you should back out of the deal all together. As a seller, your agent will be able to advise you on which items are typically taken care of and what you can say no to.

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6 Reasons to Sell With a Realtor®

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p: MarketWatch

If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, you’ve likely thought about selling on your own to forgo the cost of commission. Listing your home on your own can cost your time, stress, and in reality, it can end up costing you money – research shows that FSBO (for sale by owner) listings sell for about 5.5% less than comparable properties sold through the MLS.

Before you decide to go the do-it-yourself route, consider 6 of the invaluable benefits listing with a Realtor® offers:

Knowledge – A Realtor’s knowledge is priceless, we can provide insight that you cannot get online. We know how to make sense of the data and the entire selling process so that you and your home are fully prepared before hitting the market.

Time – Do you have time to play the Realtor’s role? Are you available to show your home at a moment’s notice? How will you handle showing requests if you are away? Are you able to respond to buyer’s questions, concerns, and/or objections in a manner to help overcome hesitation and move forward? Are you able to offer solutions to buyer-perceived obstacles with the property? Are these questions stressing you out? Uncertainty in any of these areas could translate into a lost opportunity, thankfully, we handle everything.

Presentation – Image is everything when it comes to real estate. Do you know how to prepare your home for sale? We can tell you what your home needs, what you need to get rid of, what needs to be fixed, and how to stage it to appeal to potential buyers. We also take professional photos and video to show your home in the best light.

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p: Zillow

Marketing – How are you going to market your property? You can post your listing yourself on Zillow, FSBO sites, or Craigslist, but you’re not going to reach all of your potential buyers. We have a network of agents that we pre-market your property to, sometimes selling a property before it even hits the market! We also enter your listing in the MLS that sends the listing info to all of the top real estate sites that buyers are searching.

Negotiation – So you’ve received an offer, how do you respond? What do you look for in a purchase agreement? Are you prepared to take multiple offers in a hot market? Do you know how to negotiate to keep the buyer in the game versus walking away? What costs should you and shouldn’t you incur? We negotiate on your behalf to ensure you are getting the best deal possible, while still working with the buyer to put the deal together.

Inspection – How should you handle items that are flagged as needing repair or replacement by a home inspector? Who do you contact to take care of the repairs? We will negotiate with the buyer’s agent to only take care of necessary items, and once the list is nailed down, we have a roster of professionals we recommend for the work.

This post was adapted from “8 reasons selling without a real estate agent is a recipe for disaster” by Cara Ameer, inman.com.

4 DIY Projects Under $500

It seems there is always something that could use a little sprucing up, and with HGTV, DIY Network, and Pinterest, it’s hard not to catch the renovation bug. Luckily, there are some budget-friendly projects that you can handle yourself on a weekend! Here are our top 4 DIY projects under $500:

076a1834479ec7782ee48b24169cebd7--fern-on-front-porch-front-door-patio-ideasHit the refresh button on your entry. If your front entry is looking a little tired and offers no curb appeal, it’s time to freshen things up. A welcoming entrance will improve the whole house and it’s easy to create. Add a fresh coat of paint and new hardware to your front door – switch out old brass hardware for oil-rubbed bronze. Choose some sleek house numbers to add to the door or next to the door. A few brightly colored plants and a new welcome mat will add some life to the entry.

Update lighting. Changing out dated light fixtures is a quick project that will make a huge impact. Consider swapping any brass fixtures with brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze. Select fixtures that complement each other and your home’s overall style.

Replace kitchen hardware. It’s amazing the difference upgrading your kitchen cabinet and drawer pulls will make! Hardware comes in a huge array of styles and price points. Look at the finishes that already exist in your home – if you have stainless appliances, brushed nickel hardware will match well. If you’ve gone the route of black stainless appliances or have oil-rubbed bronze light fixtures, flat black hardware will blend nicely.

small-bathroom-makeover-ideas-astonishing-on-pertaining-to-best-25-makeovers-pinterest-11Upgrade the bathroom. Since it’s typically one of the smaller rooms in your home, the bath is a great area to upgrade, and a little will go a long way. You can choose some more expensive finishes in this space because it is so small. If you’ve had your eye on some marble tile, splurge on the small bathroom floor. Replacing the vanity will completely change the look of the room – you can find simple, single sink vanities for under $500, but will likely have to spend more for double vanities. Upgrade your shower head for a touch of luxury that will make you want to get out of bed.

These improvements will make your home more stylish and will help you to enjoy your home more every day. If you’re thinking of selling, these projects will add value by making your home ‘show ready’ to garner that all important positive first impression.

5 Ways to Stage a Home on the Cheap

At The Weaver Team, we wholeheartedly believe in the power of staging. Staging will create a more buyer-friendly space that will help your home sell faster and for a higher price. Here are 5 staging tricks you can implement that cost little to no money:

Langlais SummerCurb appeal – The exterior appearance of your home should entice buyers to come in and see more, so keep it neat and tidy. Make sure to mow the lawn, trim the bushes, weed the flower beds, and add a new layer of mulch to really freshen up the landscape. Add some flowers or plants in colorful pots to the porch and dress up the front door with a seasonal wreath to add warmth and a ‘welcome’ vibe.

Declutter – If there is only one thing you do before putting your home on the market, get rid of the clutter! Buyers cannot see past your personal items. Use the 90 day rule – remove anything that you will not need for 90 days. This applies to every area of the home, even closets and cabinets. Think of it as preparing for your move, you won’t have to pack these items again when your house sells! If you do not have storage space in a basement and garage for the boxes, rent a small storage unit.

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P: Houzz

Stage rooms with a purpose – If you’ve been using your dining room as an office, it’s time to get rid of the desk and bring in your dining table. If you’ve got a spare bedroom that you’ve been using for storage, remove the boxes and bring in a bed and side table, or stage it as an office with a desk and chair. Make sure each room has a single purpose, if it’s not clear to the buyer they may be confused as to how they could use the space themselves.

It’s all in the details – Go beyond your every day cleaning routine and really make your home sparkle. Detail each room – dust every surface, wipe down all baseboards and trim, and shine any fixtures. Replace any broken or worn outlet covers and switch plates with contractor grade plates that are inexpensive, but will make a world of difference. Fix any dripping faucets, squeaky hinges, or loose fixtures.

bright-living-room-on-living-room-pertaining-to-bright-colored-design-ideas-9Light it up – Clean all of the windows to let the light shine in! If you have heavy drapery that blocks the light, opt for a lighter or sheer curtain to ensure light fills the room, or remove the drapery all together. Make sure all of the light fixtures have working bulbs, and all at a similar wattage so that they all glow evenly.

5  Inconvenient Truths About Finding a Good Real Estate Agent

Finding a good real estate agent may not be as easy as searching Google or Yelp, read on to learn why you can’t believe everything you see on the Internet when it comes to real estate.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.05.40 PM1.     The “Premiere Agent” on Zillow has paid to be in that #1 position. Many agents pay third party search engines to pop up at the top of the list of real estate agents in your area. This truth extends to Realtor.com, Trulia.com and Yelp.com. Many times, your top local real estate experts who provide exceptional service and results stay in business through repeat clients, past client referrals, and general “word-of-mouth” networks. Ask your colleagues, friends and family who they recommend before jumping on the internet to look for an agent.

2.     All “public” websites that provide house searches include “for sale by owner” properties. Many buyers are thrown off guard when they find out that the house listed on Realtor.com and other real estate websites may not necessarily be offered through a real estate agency. Buyer beware as dealing directly with the owner may result in a “lopsided” transaction where the buyer is not aware of traditional real estate practices in their local area and many times is at a disadvantage dealing with the seller.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.34.09 PM3.     Internet sites that promote “We will match you with a Top Agent” usually send your information to several agents that have signed up for that websites services. These agents scramble to be the “first” to contact you and the agents pay a hefty “finder” fee to the service.

4.     Reviews may not tell the whole story about an agent. While it’s interesting to read the 5 star reviews, sometimes when you see a “plethora” of them you may need to ask “Why are there so many reviews for this one agent?” There are no rules or regulations governing the procurement of these reviews from previous customers. Let that sink in.

5.     Sometimes your “marquee agents” burn and churn their clients. Again, the agents that pay to show up on searches may not be the type of agent that you are looking for. Many so-called “top” producing agents are working with multiple agents on their team who are doing most of the work with the buyers and sellers. You may not have access to the “top agent” at all.

 

Hurricane Season in Vermont?

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P: Mashable

This year, as Texas and Florida recover from Harvey and Irma, respectively, we are reminded how the weather effects the real estate industry. Yes, occasionally there is a rogue hurricane that whips through Vermont and causes flooding havoc like Hurricane Irene in 2011. But, for the most part, Vermont’s weather tends to be best known for cool autumn evenings and long, cold winters.

If you’ve lived in New England you know the saying, “If you don’t like the weather wait a minute and it will change.” Now, more than ever this seems to be the case. On the heels of a few weeks of cool, fall weather early in September many of us removed our window air conditioner units. Now, since the air conditioners are safely tucked away until next season, we are experiencing high humidity and summer-like temperatures that reach 80+ degrees during the day. It’s tough to think about mums and pumpkins when your annuals are still blazing with color.

What does this mean for Vermont real estate? It means that our local market is sensitive to changes in the weather. When it’s hot and humid few people find it appealing to look at houses. When it’s raining and snowing buyers like to look on-line rather than “in person.”

Roberts FallBut, does the real estate market slow down in the fall? How about winter? Years ago, real estate was more of a “seasonal” business, and, in some parts of the country it still is. Real estate market statistics are useless unless you see a “seasonally adjusted” number along with the monthly charts.

On the Weaver Team we have experienced the ups and downs of the years and the seasons, though none of our “trends” seem to hold from one year to the next. On one year we can have a record breaking December and the next year, not so much. A “January thaw” can jump start the next year’s sales. Due to the unpredictable nature of the weather and the market, it seems like real estate is turning into a year-round business, no longer dependent on the infamous “spring market.”

Many of our sellers decide to keep their houses listed and on the market through the holidays and winter months as the competition tends to drop off. We have sold houses right after major Nor’easter storms. You never know when a family will make a decision to make their home here, Home Sweet Vermont.

Specialist or General Practitioner?

19437377_1440448489379498_3950650927319035020_nDo you need to hire a “specialist” or do you need a “general practitioner” when assessing the best real estate agent when you are looking to jump into the real estate market as a buyer or seller?

If you come across a real estate agent that is touting themselves as a “specialist” here’s what you need to ask:

“I see you are a ‘Listing Specialist’ do you ever take buyers out to look at homes?”

“I see you are a ‘Buyer Specialist’ do you ever list homes and meet sellers?”

If the answer is no, then proceed with caution. The only way you can “specialize” in today’s real estate market is to understand the market from the buyer’s and seller’s unique perspectives, rarely do these overlap.

As a “general practitioner” I work with both buyers and sellers. The combination of meeting with sellers for listings and taking buyers on home buying tours invites a unique perspective on the whole marketplace, not just a segment.

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P: msrealtors.org

If you don’t take buyers to see houses, how do you know how houses compare to each other in your local market? Likewise, if you don’t counsel sellers on pre-marketing strategies, how do you know the best way to position their house in the market compared to other houses you have taken buyers to see? The short answer is – you don’t! You don’t know how houses compare in your local market place unless you are “all over” the market in terms of buyers and sellers.

Instead of a “specialist” you need a general real estate practitioner. Much like a family doctor who sees a wide range of maladies, your general real estate practitioner deals with the whole market, buyers and sellers. At the core of a general real estate practitioner, one who deals with buyers and sellers, is a true “specialist.”

 

6 Low-Cost Kitchen Cabinet Upgrades

If your kitchen cabinets look a little shabby, your whole kitchen will look outdated. No need to break the bank and completely replace the cabinets, just give them a simple facelift with one (or all) of our inexpensive kitchen cabinet updates:

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P: fanofugifts.com

Paint – Nothing will create a bigger impact than a fresh coat of paint. This is a project you can take on yourself, but the key is in the prep. Start with a thorough cleaning to remove any grease or dried on gunk. Fill holes and nicks with putty and sand to create a smooth, even surface. Lay cabinet doors flat to paint, and wait until completely dry before painting the other side. Create some visual interest by mixing up colors on upper and lower cabinets, or on cabinets and islands.

Hardware – Installing new hardware is probably the easiest way to dress up tired cabinets, but you need to be careful here as cabinet hardware can get very fancy and expensive. You can find simple, contemporary hardware in packs of 10 or 12 at Lowes or Home Depot.

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P: BHG

Ditch the Doors – Remove outdated cabinet doors and go for the open-shelf concept. They will make any kitchen look larger and you can accessorize the shelves to reflect your personal style.

Molding – Adding crown molding to the top of cabinets will add height and create a more high-end look. This added touch of luxury isn’t as pricey as you may think – three-inch, primed composite crown molding with a dentil design costs as little as $20 for 8 feet.

Glass Inserts – Changing or adding a decorative glass insert will give stock cabinets a custom look. Not all cabinet doors can accommodate a glass insert – check the backs of your doors to see if the center panel can be taken out. Glass inserts typically cost between $7 – $9 per square foot.

Task Lighting – You can easily add lighting under and inside cabinets with battery powered peel-and-stick LED lights. At about $8 each, you can afford to buy several and scatter them around. Under cabinet lighting is not only practical, it will also make the room feel much brighter and bigger as the dark shadows under the cabinets would otherwise visually shrink the space.

 

5 Tips to Make an Easy Move

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P: The Chicago Greenbox

Moving is stressful! Sure you are super excited about your new digs, but getting all of your things from point A to point B can be a pain. Follow our 5 tips for a stress-free move:

Use boxes wisely. Assign a set of boxes to each room, then pack like items together – glassware, linens, decorative items, etc. Make sure to clearly label each box with the room they are going to and what items are in the box – that way there will be zero confusion about where stuff belongs and you won’t need to open every box to find the silverware!

Pack for “a trip.” Pretend you are going on a 2 week vacation and pack a suitcase for each family member. That way, everyone will have what they need to function while things are packed away in boxes just before, during, and after the big move. Don’t forget to include valuables and important documents.

Get the essentials. To avoid several trips to the store on move day, buy everything you need for cleaning and organizing ahead of time. Get multi-purpose cleaner, paper towels,  a broom, shelf liners, furniture pads, etc. It also doesn’t hurt to include paper plates, plastic utensils, cups, and napkins for your first meal before unpacking. Pack everything in one box and keep it in your personal vehicle so you know where it is and can easily access it on move day.

Couple Moving Into New Home And Unpacking Boxes

P: iStock

Set up key areas. Once all of the boxes are in, start by unpacking the rooms you need to use to take good care of yourself. Set up your bed and put on the linens, stock the bathrooms with supplies, and unpack the kitchen.

Schedule breaks. You may just want to power through and get all of the boxes unpacked, but stopping to eat, taking a quick stroll through your new neighborhood, and going to sleep at a reasonable hour will keep you calm and energized.

Follow these tips for a smooth transition that will turn a traditionally stressful event into one of excitement!

5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal

First impressions are everything – you don’t want a potential buyer to pull up to your house and decide to not even enter because they don’t like the look from the outside. It’s easy to enhance your front yard with a few weekend projects. Here are our top 5 ways to boost your curb appeal:

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P: The Decorologist

Paint your front door. Adding a splash of vibrant color to your front door will create a welcoming entry and draw potential buyers in, and will only cost about $30 for a gallon of exterior paint. Check out DIY Network’s 28 Inviting Colors to Paint a Front Door.

Replace your house numbers. Installing new numbers on your house is an easy fix to spruce up your curb appeal. There are tons of options out there – choose metal numbers that match the finish of your exterior lighting fixtures or get a customized plaque that matches the vibe and style of your house.

Update exterior light fixtures. Replacing outdated light fixtures will immediately modernize the look of your entry. Look for fixtures that have the same mounting system as the current ones that you have to save yourself some time.

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P: Lowes

Add potted plants to your front porch. Add a pop of color to your entry with colorful pots filled with flowers, succulents, or ornamental grasses.

Tend to your yard and garden beds. A well-manicured lawn and groomed garden beds tell potential buyers that a home has been well-maintained. Cut your grass regularly and edge your lawn for a professional look. Weed your planting beds and spread mulch to give your landscaping a fresh appearance.