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Passing the Home Inspection – What Calgary Home Buyers are Looking for

When you put your home up for sale you place it directly under the scrutiny of buyers. Superficial changes, such as new paint and resurfaced floors can do a lot to enhance your home’s appeal, but when it comes to an offer, most serious buyers will seek the assistance of a professional home inspector to ensure that the house is sound beneath the surface.

During most home inspections there are over forty problem areas that will be examined for correct function and condition. It is important that you are aware of what areas buyers will examine, and what you can do to ensure that these are in proper working order. In most cases you’ll be able to conduct a reasonable inspection yourself, if you know what to look for. This report will elaborate on some of the more important home inspection points, and will include information on:

  • Home Inspection areas and what to look for
  • How to make sure your home is as good beneath the surface as it is above

Home Inspection

Selling your home can be a difficult job, especially since you’re competing against hundreds of other properties. It’s important that you ensure that your home is in top condition, and doing a pre-inspection in anticipation of buyers doing the same is extremely important. Below are some areas that you should inspect:

Plumbing

Plumbing is of high priority when it comes to home inspections. Defective plumbing is classified in three ways namely leaking, clogging, and corrosion. A visual inspection will detect leaks and corrosion on pipes. Turning on all faucets in the highest bathroom and then flushing the toilet can gauge water pressure. The sound of water flowing through your pipes often indicates that the pipes are undersized. Additionally, if water coming from the pipes is dirty or contains debris, then the pipes are most likely rusting. The home inspector will evaluate all of these.

Damp or Wet Basement

The basement or crawl space is often the most revealing area in the building and usually provides a general picture of how the building works.

An inspector will check your walls for a powdery white mineral deposit a few inches off the floor, and will look to see if things you store right on your basement floor have suffered any moisture-related damage. Mildew odors are also a red flag for home inspectors. Difficult to eliminate, and indicative of other problems, an inspector will certainly be conscious of them.

Depending on severity and location it could cost you between $400 and $1,100 to seal a crack in your basement foundation. Another option is to add a sump pump and pit, which could cost around $750-$1,000. Finally complete waterproofing of an average 3-bedroom home could cost between $5,000 and $15,000. It’s important to factor these costs into the calculation of what you want to net on the sale of you home.

Damp Attic Spaces

Just as detrimental to a home seller as basement dampness are mold and mildew problems in the attic. Improper ventilation, insulation and vapour barriers can cause water and moisture to accumulate in the attic. This moisture and associated mold and mildew can lead to premature wear of the roof, structure and building materials. Oftentimes costs associated with fixing this damage can be in excess of $2,500.

Roofing Problems

The major problem associated with roofing problems is leakage, which can occur for a variety of reasons. Physical deterioration of asphalt shingles, mechanical damage from a windstorm or ice build-up as a result of poor drainage are all common causes of roofing issues. Leaky gutters and downspouts can also damage siding and exterior walls. Remember that it is only a matter of time before external damage becomes an internal problem.

Rotting Wood

Rotting wood, an issue particularly prevalent in older homes, can occur in many places such as door or window frames, trim, siding, decks and fences. Building inspectors will oftentimes probe the wood to check its integrity – and are particularly skeptical of woodwork that has been freshly painted.

Masonry Work

Brickwork commonly succumbs to water damage, minor ground and foundation settling and a host of other time-related changes. Redoing brickwork can be expensive, but when left unattended can sag, warp or even collapse. It’s particularly important to inspect your chimney for signs of moisture damage and structural integrity as problems in this area can lead to falling bricks and collapsing roof stacks.

Inadequate Wiring and Electrical Systems

Inadequate wiring can occur in many forms. Home inspectors will look at octopus plugs and extension cables as indications of inadequate circuits and potential fire hazards. Also your home should have a minimum of 100 amps service, and this should be clearly marked. All wiring should be copper or aluminum.

Unsafe or Over Fused Electrical Circuits

Unsafe electrical conditions are created when more amperage is drawn from a circuit than is intended. 15 Amp circuits are the most common in typical homes, although larger circuits are used for appliances such as stoves and dryers.

Older homes will also contain fuse panels rather than circuit breakers. Replacing a fuse panel with a circuit panel can often cost hundreds of dollars, but will be a factor that the home inspector will examine.

Poor Heating and Cooling Systems

A home inspector will scrutinize heating and cooling systems for efficiency and performance.

Insufficient insulation, and an inadequate or poorly functioning heating system, are the most common causes of poor heating. A home inspector will check the age of your furnace to see if it exceeds the typical life span of 15-25 years. Additionally, in a forced air gas system, the inspector will place the heat exchanger under particular scrutiny examining for cracks and damage as a potential source of carbon monoxide in your home. If the heat exchanger is damaged it must be replaced as it cannot be repaired.

Cooling systems are of equal importance. A home inspector will examine your air conditioning unit to evaluate size, installation, noisiness, dehumidification and cooling ability. A home inspector will pay particular attention to the exterior compressor/condenser units to make sure they are free of debris and have sufficient room in which to operate.

Adequate Security Features

A home inspector will examine your home for proper locks on windows and patio doors, dead bolts on the doors, smoke and even carbon monoxide detectors in every bedroom and on every level. Installing these components can add to your costs, but will demonstrate an adherence to basic security standards in your home. A purchased security system will also be examined.

Structural/Foundation Problems

An inspector will most definitely examine the underlying footing and foundation of your home. A cracked foundation or unstable footing can cost thousands in your home’s value.

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Why it’s Important to Ensure Your Home is Correctly Priced and Marketed Properly

“… Your home is your castle–even when it’s for sale…”

Let’s say your terms are competitive: your timing’s clearly set. Now, what about your asking price? Without question, price is your most important sales tool. Here’s why:

The period of best opportunity for selling a home at a reasonable price is the first four weeks after it is put on the market. Buyers who have seen most available listings are waiting for just the right house to come on the market. If your house is priced right from the beginning, you are in the best position to attract the maximum number of buyers able to pay the price your home is worth – and to sell your home within your timetable.

  • If your house is under priced, you may be swamped with lookers and perhaps get many offers. But you could lose thousands on one of your family’s largest investments.
  • If your house is overpriced, lookers are apt to be few and far between, with little chance of any offers to pay your unrealistic price. You may lower your price later, but by that time you will have missed many of the most interested buyers.

How do you Set the Right Price?

Arriving at an asking price involves up-to-the-minute research and experienced judgment. Besides enlisting my help in checking out the current real estate market conditions and financing trends, the basic steps include:

  • Measuring your home against similar neighborhood homes that have recently been sold or are currently on the market.
  • Determine what features make your house stand out among others currently on the market. After all, buyers are comparison shoppers. Weighing the spending of a reasonable amount of money on cosmetic fix-ups that might enhance the marketability of your house and earn the highest possible sale price.

The right price is usually within 5% of market value (a constantly changing factor) and usually results in a fair-dollar sale within a reasonable amount of time. As we say, “price sells.”

Why is overpricing risky?

A price more than 5% over market value may have these results:

  • Buyers may resist inspecting your home because they can find better values elsewhere. (Overpriced houses tend to sell the competition first.)
  • Potential buyers who can’t afford the price don’t bother to look–or to make offers.
  • A buyer willing to pay an over market price may have difficulty getting financing. Lenders may not approve a loan if the appraisal is lower than the contract price. (The delay from a failed sale can mean missing out on the critical first 30-day marketing period.)
  • Your unsold home will begin to get “stale,” as the marketplace assumes there is “something wrong” with the house.
  • To make up for lost time you might be inclined to lower the price below competing houses in order to move it.

Is it Ever Smart to Under Price?

Setting a price below market value usually isn’t preferable because you may be losing money. If time is more important than money and you need a faster-than-average sale, you may consider setting a bargain price to attract the greatest number of prospects. Market value delivers the optimum number of prospects at the best price for a quick sale.

When you’re ready to sell your home, take advantage of my real estate expertise to help you price your home to sell.

How a Market Analysis Helps Price it Right

Only a professional market analysis can give you the accurate, reliable foundation you need to price your home right. When you ask me to make a fair-market analysis of your home, here is what I do:

  • Evaluate your home’s location and lot size; your home’s age, size and condition; the number of bedrooms, baths, total rooms; the kinds of extra feature you have (such as improvements, built-ins, garage, tool shed, spa).
  • Examine the condition and appearance of your homes exterior and interior. I can help you determine what repairs or refurbishing may be needed to sell your home at its best price.
  • Review the assessed value of your home, its previous sale prices, your maintenance and utility costs and your local taxes.
  • Compare your home with similar area properties currently for sale or recently sold.
  • Note current real estate market conditions with a practiced eye; also current interests rates and lenders’ criteria
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9 Buyer Traps and How to Avoid Them

No matter which way you look at it buying a home is a major investment. For many homebuyers however, it can be an even more expensive process than it needs to be because many fall prey to at least a few of the many common and costly mistakes which trap them into either:

  • paying too much for the home they want, or
  • losing their dream home to another buyer, or
  • (worse) buying the wrong home for their needs.

A systematized approach to the home buying process can help you steer clear of these common traps, allowing you to not only cut costs, but also secure the home that’s best for you.

This important report discusses the nine most common and costly of these homebuyer traps, how to identify them, and what you can do to avoid them.

Bidding Blind

What price should you offer when you bid on a home? Is the seller’s asking price too high, or does it represent a great deal. If you fail to research the market in order to understand what comparable homes are selling for, making your offer would be like bidding blind. Without this knowledge of market value, you could easily bid too much, or fail to make a competitive offer at all on an excellent value.

Buying the Wrong Home

What are you looking for in a home? A simple enough question, but the answer can be quite complex. More than one buyer has been swept up in the emotion and excitement of the buying process only to find themselves the owner of a home that is either too big or too small. Maybe they’re stuck with a longer than desired commute to work, or a dozen more fix-ups than they really want to deal with now that the excitement has died down. Take the time up front to clearly define your wants and needs. Put it in writing and then use it as a yardstick with which to measure every home you look at.

Unclear Title

Make sure very early on in the negotiation that you will own your new home free and clear by having a title search completed. The last thing you want to discover when you’re in the back stretch of a transaction is that there are encumbrances on the property such as tax liens, undisclosed owners, easements, leases or the like.

Inaccurate Survey

As part of your offer to purchase, make sure you request an accurate property survey that clearly marks your boundaries. If the survey is not current, you may find that there are structural changes that are not shown (e.g. additions to the house, a new swimming pool, a neighbor’s new fence that is extending a boundary line, etc.) Be very clear on these issues.

Undisclosed Fix-ups

Don’t expect every seller to own up to every physical detail that will need to be attended to. Both you and the seller are out to maximize your investment. Ensure that you conduct a thorough inspection of the home early in the process. Consider hiring an independent inspector to objectively view the home inside and out, and make the final contract contingent upon this inspector’s report. This inspector should be able to give you a report of any item that needs to be fixed with associated, approximate cost.

Not Getting Mortgage Pre-approval

Pre-approval is fast, easy and free. When you have a pre-approved mortgage, you can shop for your home with a greater sense of freedom and security, knowing that the money will be there when you find the home of your dreams.

Contract Misses

If a seller fails to comply to the letter of the contract by neglecting to attend to some repair issues, or changing the spirit of the agreement in some way, this could delay the final closing and settlement. Prepare a list of agreed issues, walk through them, and check them off one by one.

Hidden Costs

Make sure you identify and uncover all costs – large and small – far enough ahead of time. When a transaction closes, you will sometimes find fees for this or that sneaking through after the “sub total” – fees such as loan disbursement charges, underwriting fees etc. Understand these in advance by having your lender project total charges for you in writing.

Rushing the Closing

Take your time during this critical part of the process, and insist on seeing all paperwork the day before you sign. Make sure this documentation perfectly reflects your understanding of the transaction, and that nothing has been added or subtracted. Is the interest rate right? Is everything covered? If you rush this process on the day of closing, you may run into a last minute snag that you can’t fix without compromising the terms of the deal, the financing, or even the sale itself.

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Major Mistakes Made by Sellers

From incorrect financing to lack of preparation, there are countless mistakes that a seller can make when putting their house on the market. This report covers some of the most common mistakes made by sellers during the property selling process.

If you’re serious about selling your house, it’s important that you know the facts. It seems like a simple prospect – just put your house on the market, show it to a few buyers, and make the sale – but as many sellers find out, selling a home can be a difficult, expensive and long prospect. By knowing some valuable information about the real estate industry, as well as some tips and tricks about selling your property, you’ll be able to more effectively tackle today’s real estate market. This report will tell you how you can:

  • Avoid making mistakes when selling your home
  • Make you aware of the most common mistakes home sellers make

Selling your home can be a difficult job, especially since you’re competing against hundreds of other properties. It’s vital that you be aware of what works and doesn’t work when it comes to home selling. Consider the following list of the most common mistakes made by home sellers:

Mistake 1: Setting the wrong price for your home

Experience shows the right price sells a house faster than any other factor. When the listing price is more than 5% over market value, the price alone discourages buyers. That’s because an overpriced house scares away potential buyers who think they can’t even afford to look. Buyers who do look at an overpriced house know they can get more house for their money elsewhere.

Mistake 2: Selling your home in ‘As-Is’ condition

In today’s competitive market, most buyers will not even consider a house that needs fix ups. In contrast, a sparkling showcase home gets top dollar when it comes to the bottom line. What most buyers are looking for is an inviting home in move-in condition, one that looks as good as a model home. Buyers who are willing to tackle the repairs after moving in automatically subtract the cost of needed fix-ups from the price they offer. Either way, you save nothing by putting off fix-ups and likely slow the sale of your house.

Mistake 3: Selling your home with a dull interior

A clean, bright decor is what buyers want. Probably the best dollar-for-dollar investment for selling your home fast is fresh paint. Neutral colors are best. Next to fresh paint, new carpeting–replaced for either condition or color–makes a big difference. Elbow grease can be as effective as spending cash to brighten your home. Start by ruthlessly getting rid of the junk you’ve accumulated. Clean each room top to bottom. Dare to make your home look better than you’ve ever had it looking before. Focus on the three rooms most inspected – kitchen, master bedroom and garage (if you’ve got one). Forget those and you may as well forget the buyer, too. In the kitchen, clear off counters and organize cupboards. Keep in mind, some prospects will judge the whole house by the cleanliness of the oven or refrigerator. In the master bedroom, move or remove furniture to create spaciousness. The ideal garage stores only cars and perhaps an orderly display of garden tools, so throw out your junk to show off room for theirs.

Mistake 4: No ‘Curb Appeal’

Your house gets only one chance to make a good first impression. That’s why “curb appeal” is one of the most critical points in selling. Buyers are apt to fall in love at first sight – or not at all. If your home lacks curb appeal, chances are the first impression will not be counteracted by the most perfect floor plan or the most tasteful interior. Spruce up the view of the house from the street, including lawn, shrubs, shutters, windows, front door, mailbox. Add potted flowers out front, a wreath on the door, brass outdoor lighting fixtures – whatever will enhance your home’s “buy me” look.

Mistake 5: Over-improving your home

While it’s important to fix whatever needs fixing to get your home ready for sale, undertaking a major project could cost more money than you would recover from the sale. Spending too much on remodeling projects just drains money out of your pocket. If your improvements will push your home’s value more than 20% over the average neighboring home values, don’t expect to recoup the entire cost. (Some major projects, however, like replacing a roof, should be done if they are needed.)

Mistake 6: Financing Incentives

The more buyers you appeal to in terms of financing, the greater your chances of selling faster. Be flexible, consider paying closing costs or points, providing a decorator’s allowance or other irresistible buyer incentives.

Mistake 7: Stretching out buyer negotiations

One of the most important moves you can make is to reply immediately to an offer. When buyers make an offer they are, right then, in the mood to buy. Moods, as you know, change, and you don’t want to lose a sale because you stall in replying.

Mistake 8: Being Adversarial during negotiations

No one wins if you enter negotiations with boxing gloves on. Instead, approach negotiations in a positive frame of mind, not as an adversary of the buyer. After all, you both want the same thing–a sale. Leave most of the discussion of price, terms, possession and other conditions up to your agent. We’ll make it our business to get you the best deal.

Mistake 9: Not having a presentable house

The presence of your family can make prospective buyers feel like intruders. If you’re at home when your home is being shown, be your usual friendly–but low-key–self and keep children and pets out from underfoot. It’s the agent’s job to show buyers what they need to see. Buyers can better focus on your home’s advantages by viewing them than by socializing. If an open house is scheduled, plan to be away from home, but let us know how to reach you quickly. When you’re not at home at other times, agents accompanying prospects will leave their business card. Please alert us afterward so we can follow up.

Mistake 10: Selling without a professional

Going it alone like General Custer could invite disaster. Without a professional adviser, you probably won’t sell. Even if you do sell, surveys show self-sellers often net less from the sale than sellers who use a real estate agent. Selling a house is a team effort between you and the listing agent. You’ll find agents do a lot more than most people know–from bringing qualified buyers to keeping things on track to settlement.

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Condominiums: The First Choice in Home Ownership

WHY OWN A CONDO


When it comes to high-value and developed neighborhoods, single-family home ownership can be prohibitively expensive, especially where building space is scarce. In such places, the best “bang-for-the-buck” particularly for new home buyers, comes in the form of condominiums. Condominiums open the door of home ownership to those who want to live in a nice and developed neighborhood but are not quite ready to commit to a single-family home. If  you are looking to own a home in a Calgary suburb or inner-city location, but can’t quite afford to live in a house, a condo is a great way to get started on your journey. Along with owning a condo, there come a number of benefits that surface – even when you’re ready to upgrade to something larger!

Ownership Instead of Renting

Make your home – your own and have control over customizing your living space. Condo ownership brings along with it many benefits. Such benefits include the continuous increase in the value of your property outside of the age of your neighborhood. Unlike a traditional home, condominiums have the added benefit of increasing in value not only due to the increased desirability of the building, but also due to the consistent improvements paid for by the condo corporation.

 

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Everything is Taken Care Of

It’s been long established that a condo provides a wealth of offerings which streamline your living. Things such as heat, insurance, janitorial service for the common area, landscaping, professional management, and water/sewer are included in the condo fees. Some units even include pre-paid utilities such as internet and television. There’s no need to shovel snow, trim the bushes or mow the lawn, a condo allows you to enjoy the important things in life, without being bogged down by chores.

 


Amenities All-Round

Condo ownership comes with its set of perks that are unavailable to most traditional homeowners. No more snow plowing, gardening, or landscaping need be done! In addition to heated underground parking: condos are generally located close to schools, shopping centers, walking paths, fine dining, and more! The right condo in the right location gives you the opportunity to do more and worry less!

 

 

Perfect Fit for Small Families

A family with their first child can comfortably live in a condo without feeling confined. Many condos include 2 bedrooms and even 2 bathrooms which provide great benefits in terms of comfort and privacy. In addition to being safer in a condo, many multi-families are placed close to schools and shopping making travel much easier for Calgarians looking for a more simple, hassle-free life.

 

 


Security

In addition to having your front door safely behind a locked entrance, condos have the added security of having a close-knit community within your building. Being part of condo associations gives you the unique benefit of getting to know your neighbors in the long-term and better ensuring no unfamiliar face has access to your building.

 


Post-Ownership Opportunities

If you are ready to upgrade to a more traditional home, or you’d just like to move elsewhere, your condo can become an investment property rather than a home to sell. Many condo owners choose to rent their condos out and create a recurring income (or mortgage payoff) by allowing a new tenant to either rent and make their mortgage payments for them, or rent indefinitely creating a potential source of income for your family.