Why Home Inspections are Important

When you’re buying or moving into a new house, you want to make sure the structure is stable
and that there are no potential hazards. That’s why it’s very important you get your home
inspected by a professional. By doing so, you will know if any fixes or changes need to be made
before you can fully move in. Moreover, you will be able to avoid purchasing a house with
serious structural problems. In the rest of this article, we will help you understand what home
inspections are and why they are so important.

What Does A Home Inspection Cover?

While inspectors differ in terms of experience and thoroughness, a good inspector should look at
critical aspects of a house and then write a report detailing their findings. During the inspection,
they should inspect the roof, basement, driveway, foundation, electrical, insulation, and
plumbing systems. An experienced inspector will look at the general condition of the house and
any signs of future problems. For example, a radon inspection is rarely covered by regular home
inspections but can be done at a request.

The inspection typically lasts two to three hours. During the process, you should be there to hear
a firsthand explanation of the inspector’s findings and, if required, to ask questions. Also, rather
than relying merely on the snapshot images in the report, any issues discovered by the inspector
will make more sense if you see them in person.

What Isn’t Covered B A Home Inspection?

While a home inspection is a thorough look at the house from top to bottom, there are certain
parts inspectors can’t look at. An inspector can only look at visual clues during a home
inspection. Because this isn’t a comprehensive examination, it’s crucial to understand that
inspectors are unable to check the insides of some parts of a house. For example, inspectors can’t
check the inside of a chimney, behind electrical panels, inside walls, or check for toxic mold or
asbestos. However, the fact that there are certain things that home inspection doesn’t cover
doesn’t mean it’s not a very important part of the home-buying process or that it shouldn’t be
done before moving into a new home in a new town.

Best Reasons To Have A Home Inspection

In the introduction, we already mentioned one or two reasons why it might be a good idea to
have your home inspected before you buy it or move into it. However, there are plenty more
reasons why home inspections are important. Some of them are:

To Uncover Potential Safety Issues

A home inspection gives you the chance to properly explore the home you’re considering buying.
If you’re investing in a house, it’s in your best interest to have it checked out before you make a
deal and settle on a price. However, remember that a good house inspector will identify some
flaws in any property, even if it’s a brand new building. Moreover, some of the faults discovered
may not be significant, while others may pose substantial safety risks. For example, improper
electrical wiring, inoperable windows, and plumbing inadequacies are just a few of the most
frequent concerns inspectors discover during a house inspection. These issues can easily be fixed
and are not a substantial threat to your investment.

To Reveal Possible Pest And Insect Problems

Insect and pest infestations can sometimes completely damage a property. While the risk of
having a pest or bug problem varies depending on where you live, it’s still a good idea to check if
you have a problem with one of these. Termites, along with carpenter ants and powder post
beetles, can seriously damage or even destroy the wood inside your home. That’s why it’s best
you identify them before it’s too late.

To Forecast Future Expenses

Because purchasing a house is a significant commitment that might drain a buyer’s financial
account, it’s crucial to know what to expect in terms of costs in the future. That’s why having a
house inspected before buying means you can predict future expenses. For example, if the
inspector reports that the roof isn’t in great shape, you might have a few years before it starts
leaking and needs fixing. By knowing what can be a potential problem in the future, you’ll know
when to set aside money and plan ahead for such problems.

It Can Help You Negotiate The Price And Delay The Process

Another reason why home inspections are important is that they can help you renegotiate the
price of the home you’re buying if it has any significant or structural flaws. While sellers usually
hate this, it’s an entirely valid move for a buyer. If severe issues are uncovered during the
inspection, those results can be used as a justification for a price reduction. As a buyer, you have
to consider all the costs of repairs you will have to make after you move in. Combining those
costs with the costs of purchasing a house and moving can add up to a lot.

Furthermore, when certain problems need to be fixed, that can affect your planned timeline. For
example, if you discovered some structural flaws and decided to buy the house, you’ll most likely
want to fix those problems before you move in. This means your move-in date will be pushed
further. However, if you hire reliable interstate movers to handle your relocation to a
different state, they will likely be flexible and understanding of the circumstances. They will
make sure you and your belongings are taken care of and carefully moved no matter what.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, home inspections are important for many reasons, and you shouldn’t skip them
during the home buying phase. However, most importantly of all, they are important because
they give you peace of mind. By foregoing a home inspection, you may be causing yourself
unneeded concern and stress. On the other hand, you will be able to calm your anxiety knowing
that you are acquiring a very sturdy and secure property if you have a home inspection
performed.

Is the Fall a Good Time to Sell?

The early spring through the summer are generally the busiest times of the year for home sales, but the fall can be a particularly advantageous time of year for sellers. Housing inventory drops off during the fall months, so sellers have less competition. That means you can expect higher offers, fewer contingencies, and less scrutiny from buyers. You maintain more power over your terms.

Fall buyers are serious buyers! Early in the year you can get lots of lookers who are just thinking about buying at some point, but by fall the buyers still looking are ready to get under contract and often have a deadline. Many fall buyers are anxious to get settled before the holiday season and, if they have children in school, they will want to get them in their new schools before too much of the school year passes.

Employers who pay to relocate employees also like to shop off-season to save on moving costs. If you live near a large hospital, university, technology center, or industrial area, your home may be attractive to relocation services.

Fall is also prime time for buyers who aren’t shopping school districts. Young professionals and empty nesters are two populations more likely to shop in the fall. If you are marketing to these populations, you might want to show off multi-use spaces for exercise rooms, a home office, or game room.

The fall is much more fun for showing a home than the dead of summer. Use the mild weather and a festive atmosphere to enhance your home’s showing potential. As the temperatures cool and we welcome crisp, clear fall days, it becomes easier to maintain your yard and add to your curb appeal. You can use fall colors and foliage in your home décor to create a cozy atmosphere. Don’t forget some pumpkin spice scented candles or warm oatmeal cookies to warm buyers up for a sweet deal.

If you’re thinking about selling but can’t decide between listing now and waiting until after the holidays, now is the time. Give me a call, and let’s tie the whole process up in a pretty red bow long before the new year.⁣

Understanding Home Equity

Home equity…Everybody wants it, but what exactly is it, and how do you get it?

Equity represents the degree of ownership an individual or entity has in an asset after subtracting any debts against the asset. To say someone shares equity in a company means they would share in any assets remaining after all debts are accounted for.

For example, if your business has sold $500,000 worth of product this year, but you have rent, operating expenses, and a business loan payment totaling $400,000 for the year, you have $100,000 of equity in your business. Equity changes as the value of your assets and debts change.

Home equity works the same way. When you take out a mortgage to purchase a home, your home is collateral on the mortgage loan, so the outstanding mortgage principal must be deducted from the value of the home to determine your home equity.

In most cases, you make a down payment when you purchase your home. That down payment is your initial home equity. If you pay a 20% down payment on a $200,000 home, you have $40,000 equity when you close on your purchase.

As time goes on and you continue to pay down your mortgage principal, your equity grows. Usually, the longer your own your home, the more equity you gain because you are paying down your mortgage. However, any debts you take on using your home value as collateral, such as a second mortgage or home equity line of credit (HELOC,) decrease your home equity.

The changing real estate market also influences your equity. If you paid $200,000 for your home, and two years later the homes in your neighborhood start selling in the $400,000 range, your theoretical equity increases. (Theoretical because you don’t realize your home equity until you sell your home and pay off all debts against it.) You can also lose equity if the market takes a dive but be patient and it should recover in time.

Equity also grows if you make improvements on your home that increase its value. Let’s say you add a swimming pool and all new appliances. You have increased the value of the home. Your equity doesn’t increase by the amount your spent on the improvements, but on the value you get upon resale. This is an important point when considering making improvements prior to putting your home on the market, and one that is often misunderstood.

Let’s say Joe spends $50,000 on upgrades to his home. He might tell his neighbor, “I have $50,000 in my home,” but when he goes to sell, the current market dictates how much he will actually get in return. If Joe ends up selling for $40,000 more than he originally paid, his $50,000 investment got him $40,000 in home equity.

Some things you can do to increase your home equity include:

1) Make a large down payment when you purchase your home. The more cash you put down, the more equity you begin with.

2) Make increased or extra payments on your mortgage principal. Adding to the principal portion only on your monthly payments, or making extra payments when you are able, helps chip away at your outstanding debt.

3) Be smart when making home improvements. Not all improvements build equity. Some improvements may be personal preferences that don’t necessarily add value for resale. Improvements such as a new HVAC system, new appliances, or a new roof are usually more reliable investments than a fountain in the front yard or surround sound speakers throughout the house.

4) Don’t borrow against your home equity unless you must. Home equity is often a homeowner’s biggest asset, and can help to build your retirement nest egg, but it can also come in handy if life throws you a curve ball and you need to borrow against it for an unforeseen emergency. Be careful not to borrow against your equity for frivolous purposes, so it will be there if you really need it.

5) Sell when the market is favorable. If you are counting on your home equity to help finance your next home, pay for your children’s education, or add to your retirement funds, try to sell during a seller’s market when inventory is needed in your area.

Secrets for Selling Your Home, #5

I’m rounding out this month of luck with the last secret in our 5 Secrets of a Successful Sale — secrets that together will help you sell your home without a hint of luck or wishful thinking.⁣

Before jumping to Secret #5, a quick review:⁣

Secret #1: It’s your kitchen that’ll sell your home.⁣
Secret #2: Declutter, depersonalize, and stage your home.⁣
Secret #3: Don’t go overboard on upgrades.⁣
Secret #4: Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15-20% off the price to spark a bidding war.⁣

And last but certainly not least…⁣

Secret #5: Work with the right agent.⁣

How do you know I’m the RIGHT agent?  Just look at my credentials and testimonials!

~I was awarded Associate of the Year at Gables & Gates, REALTORS, for 2020
~I’ve been selling real estate for 23 years⁣
~I love Knoxville and have lived here for 31 years
~I’m just a phone call, text, or email away, and always respond as quickly as possible
~I don’t pressure my clients, but listen to them and work with their needs

“We worked with Janet in both the buying and selling of our homes, and in all instances she demonstrated the same determination and commitment to ensure our needs were met. She made our Real Estate transactions a pleasant experience, helping us every step of the way, even well beyond closing” ~ Forrest and Julie Stover

“I have purchased two houses and sold one using Janet. She has been exceptionally attentive and response to anything I needed. Her knowledge of the area is fantastic, and she helped guide me to sound purchases both times. Highly recommend her!” ~ Bob Sledzik

There are a ton of AMAZING agents out there. So don’t settle! Let me help you sell your home and I’ll make getting a successful sale as smooth as possible (and maybe that pot o’ gold!).

Secrets for Selling Your Home, #4

Got the kitchen looking great?⁣
Got your home decluttered, depersonalized, and staged?⁣
Chatted with a realtor about worthwhile upgrades?⁣

Fist-bump! You’re SO ready for Secret #4 in our 5 Secrets to a Successful Sale! ⁣

While this one won’t require any elbow grease, it will take a tiny leap of faith. Secret #4 is all about pricing your home to sell — fast.⁣

Secret #4: Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15-20% off the price to *hopefully* spark a bidding war.⁣

Sound scary? That’s okay — I’m here to walk you through every step. Here’s why I love this pricing strategy: ⁣

• Pricing your home just below market value instantly gets buyers’ attention and motivates them to schedule a showing ASAP.⁣
• Once buyers see your home (and LOVE it), they’re more likely to put in an offer if they feel like they’re getting a deal.⁣
• When they realize there are other offers on the table, buyers tend to get competitive and are willing to increase their bid to land the home they want.⁣

With interest rates at historic lows and a lower than normal inventory, if you’re looking to sell, you’ll 100% be in the driver’s seat. ⁣

Curious what your home is worth in today’s market? I’d love to run the numbers for you — just drop me a message.⁣

Secrets for Selling Your Home, #2

Got a sec? Great. All alone? Perfect! It’s time to lean in real close cause I’m back with Secret #2 in my 5 Secrets of a Successful Sale. ⁣

Secret #1: It’s your kitchen that’ll sell your home.⁣
Secret #2: Declutter, depersonalize, and stage your home.⁣

Buyers must be able to picture themselves living in YOUR home. Give ’em a chance to do just that by decluttering, depersonalizing, and staging your home:⁣

• Declutter: Picture your home as a vacation rental. If you wouldn’t see it out in a rental, you shouldn’t see it out during a showing.⁣
• Depersonalize: A few modest photos here and there is fine, but pack away the excess, take down oversized monograms, and remove wall letters from the kids’ rooms.⁣
• Stage: If you’re using the dining room as a craft area or home office, reset it as a space to dine. Also, get rid of unnecessary furniture to make your living room feel airy and spacious. Staging doesn’t have to be costly or complicated — it simply helps buyers make sense of your home and see its potential.⁣

When it comes to getting your home ready for the market, less is ALWAYS more. Need advice on how to get your home prepped? I’d love to help. ⁣

Stop back by tomorrow for secret #3!

Should I sell or should I remodel?

It’s the question every homeowner asks at one point or another: Should I sell or should I remodel? Here are a few questions to ask as you make the king-size decision.⁣

First up, Team Remodeling:⁣
• Do I love my current home’s location?⁣
• Do I have space (inside and out) for an addition?⁣
• Will remodeling address my biggest concerns about my home?⁣
• Do I have a place to temporarily move during the remodel (or the patience of a saint to live in an “under construction” house)?⁣
A YES to most of the above means remodeling is probably in your future.⁣

Next up, Team Time-to-Move:⁣
• Do you anticipate needing more space than a remodel can provide in the next 5 years? (more bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.)⁣
• Will remodeling put your home above neighborhood value?⁣
• Would you prefer a home that’s closer to your everyday places (work, school, shopping) or do you desire a different school district or a larger lot?⁣
Resonate with these questions? Find a realtor and at the very least, take a look at what’s on the market. Sometimes moving in one direction is just what you need to clarify your thinking.⁣

Whether you’re leaning towards remodeling or moving, send me a message. I’d love to do a quick analysis on your neighborhood and give you the stats you need to go along with your intuition!

The Do’s and Don’ts for Investing in Real Estate

Are you thinking about investing in real estate in 2021? It may be the perfect year to purchase a rental property, a vacation home, or to flip houses. I would be happy to help you find the perfect investment property, and I’ve put together this list of tips to help you get the best return on your investment.

First, consider what type of investment property is best for you and your family.

If you are thinking about a rental property, such as a vacation condo or rental home, consider how much time will be needed for things like maintenance, managing a website or rental listings, and vetting potential tenants. For rental homes, make sure the areas you are searching are attractive to tenants in terms of proximity to nearby business centers and transportation hubs, and in good school districts for family tenants.

Is a family vacation property more to your liking? Make sure you read any and all rules pertaining to owners and guests, as well as rules on renting your property out when you are not using it, if that is something you plan to do. Also be sure that your vacation property is somewhere you foresee your family wanting to travel to often enough to make it worthwhile.

For new house flippers, you want to find out what return you can expect to get in your market area and talk to contractors and suppliers to get realistic estimates on renovations, both in terms of price and time to completion.

Here are some additional Do’s and Don’ts for investing in real estate:

Do aim for at least a 15% return on investment.

Do look for homes priced in the low end of the median price range.

Do look for 3-bedroom, 2-bath single family homes for rentals or flipping.

Do focus on one neighborhood or area.

Do purchase rental properties close to your home if you plan to manage them yourself.

Do use one real estate agent to help with all your buying and selling needs.

Don’t purchase a second property until the first is earning revenue.

Don’t buy properties that you wouldn’t want to manage, even if you plan to use a property manager.

Don’t buy a home that you cannot afford to carry for several months in case of a slow market.

Don’t buy a home or condo without having inspections performed.

Don’t buy without title insurance.

Don’t buy more properties than you are able to manage.

As I said, I can help you search for investment properties. Sometimes buyers make the mistake of searching on their own and contacting the sellers or listing agents directly. Working with several different people wastes your time and increases the chances that you will miss out on a deal. Also, working with one agent allows that agent to learn your tastes, needs, and parameters, so I can be out looking for the right property while you are busy doing other things.

Why should you check for RADON?

What is Radon gas and why is it important to you, the homeowner?  Taken from the TN.gov website, “Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soils. Radon gas is tasteless, colorless and odorless. The only way to know if it is in your home is to test for it.”  The geological landscape of Tennessee makes radon gas a common enough issue that we recommend testing before purchasing your home. Some homes even have radon mitigation systems installed.

Again, from the TN.gov website, “The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) considers radon to be a very serious problem in our state.  No matter where you live in Tennessee, there is the potential for radon to enter your home. Radon gas has been identified as the second leading cause of lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year.  About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. As radon gas breaks down, it emits high-energy alpha particles. These particles are in the air we breathe, and once inhaled, they can be deposited in our lungs. The energy associated with these particles can alter cell DNA, thus increasing the risk of lung cancer. Persons who smoke and live in a home with elevated radon levels are at a very high risk to develop lung cancer.”

Do you have questions regarding radon in your area?  There are several businesses that can help you, and if you are looking for a home in East Tennessee, let me help you through this process. I’ve been selling real estate here for over 20 years, and have the experience and knowledge to guide you.

Sellers FAQ and Guide

“What do I need to know about selling my home?”  Is that a question you find yourself asking during this booming real estate market?  You aren’t the only one wondering these questions.  I’ve put together a FAQ of many of the common questions.

When is a good time to sell?

An easy answer is when it’s best for you! Obviously, if you are closing on a home purchase, moving for work, or want to get settled before the new school year, you have a timeline you need to work with. But, if you have the luxury of choosing when to sell, there are a few considerations. Spring is traditionally a time when there are more buyers looking, but you may also have more competition. Fall, and closer to the holidays, is a good time to get a higher price from buyers that need to move before the new year. Watching the market is always smart. A seller’s market, meaning there are more buyers than sellers, is always a good time to list.

What is my home worth?

Determining your home’s market value is one very important reason to use a real estate agent. I will do a comparative market analysis (CMA) to help you set the correct listing price. I look at recent sales of comparable homes, similar homes that are under contract, and homes that are listed in the same price range of your home. Then I compare features of the homes including the size, style, number of rooms, age of the home, amenities, condition, lot size and placement, and the location or neighborhood. (Note: the tax appraiser’s assessed value of your home has nothing to do with the market price.)

How do I determine the right listing price?

What your home is worth and what you should list it at are not the same. You always want to have room to negotiate with buyers, so setting a “firm” price to avoid the negotiation process is not usually a good strategy. Neither is setting a very high price to “see what we get.” Setting an unreasonably high price usually results in longer time on the market, which does not look good to buyers and will frustrate you. Many sellers ask about the price that Zillow or other real estate websites give for their home. These are not reliable because these sites are only taking into consideration very general demographics.

How long will it take to sell my home?

The length of time on market will depend upon the market in your area at the time of listing and whether the home is priced realistically. I am always working to get you the highest price in the shortest time possible. On average, a home that is priced right goes under contract in two to three months. If you need to sell fast, that should be reflected in the list price.

How much will I pay in commissions?

The standard real estate commission is 6% of the sales price, split between the listing and selling sides. Commissions are not paid directly to the agents, but to our brokers. They collect fees for marketing your home on MLS and other websites, administrative costs, insurance fees, and required fees for storing your transaction records as required by law. My broker then pays me for representing you in the transaction. As your agent, I will work very hard to represent you ethically and with your best interest always the priority. If you have any questions about the commissions, I’d be happy to talk with you further.

What do I need to do to get my home ready to sell?

I recommend that you give the home a thorough cleaning– get rid of anything you aren’t taking with you, declutter surfaces, take care of repairs, make sure the major mechanical systems are in good operation, have the exterior pressure cleaned and the landscaping spruced up. You may also consider repainting if it is overdue or if the home is painted in dark or bold colors.

How will the showing process work?

We will decide together on how to handle showings. We can set parameters as to the hours and days that showings are allowed, and how to notify you in advance. Homes show best when the homeowner is not present, but if this is not possible, we will work together to create the best experience for the buyer that also fits your lifestyle. Usually we use an electronic lockbox that allows buyers’ agents to access your housekey. These boxes also notify me any time they are opened, so no one is accessing your home without my knowledge. If you have pets in the home that need to be tended to during showings, we will work out the best way to handle them. Furthermore, I will try to get feedback from each showing and pass that information back to you.

Should I consider FSBO or a flat fee listing service?

I strongly discourage those routes, not only because I want to help you sell your home, but also because they can be a huge burden and don’t get you the best price. Buyers know that when a home is sold FSBO or on a flat fee service, that the seller is paying little or no commissions, so they will offer less. Consider that when you sell your home by yourself, you will have to be present for all showings, and you won’t have someone to advocate for you through all the steps of the contract and closing process. If something goes wrong, you’ll want me in your corner to prevent problems or save the deal, so you don’t have to start over.

What marketing will you do to help sell my home?

Hands down, our best marketing tool is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS.) This is the database all real estate agents use when searching for properties for buyers. And buyers are using websites like Realtor.com, which is why all my listings automatically show up on these websites. My broker will list your home on our company website, and I may also use additional avenues such as open houses, brokers’ opens, and direct mailing, depending on your home and market.

Should I offer incentives like a home warranty, closing costs, or selling agent bonus?

Incentives are something I like to consider on a case-by-case basis. There are certain circumstances where it may be smart to offer an incentive. Some incentives can be offered from the start. For example, if your home is in an area that doesn’t get a lot of traffic, we may offer an incentive to agents to bring us a buyer. Or if you know the appliances are at the end of their lifetime, you may offer a home warranty to help the buyers replace them. Other incentives, like helping with closing costs, are better used during the negotiation process.

What do I need to disclose?

It’s smart to disclose any issues right up front. Your buyers will have the right to inspect the home, so it’s best they not be hit with bad news after going under contract. If you know of problems with the appliances, plumbing, electric, HVAC, roof, foundation, property lines, or deed, these need to be listed on the Seller’s Disclosure. If there are repairs that you can have done before listing, go ahead and take care of those. Anything that cannot be remedied before listing should be considered when setting your list price.

What happens if my home doesn’t appraise above the contract price?

It sometimes happens that a home does not appraise at or above the contract price. When this happens, we go back to negotiations to determine if we can save the deal by adjusting both the sales price and the terms of the contract to the satisfaction of both buyer and seller. Usually we are able to work it out and save the deal. You always have the right to refuse to lower the price to meet the appraisal, but it’s usually in your best interest to try to work with the buyer to resolve the issue as the next appraisal could result in the same valuation. If you are concerned about the appraisal value, go ahead and have your home appraised before setting the listing price.

How do you negotiate multiple offers?

A multiple-offer scenario is a fun position to be in as a seller. I will help you through the negotiation process to select the right buyer– and that is not always the one with the highest offer. We need to consider how strong the offer is, whether they are offering cash or financing, how much they are financing and what type of loan they are using. How much they are offering to put in escrow and the terms of the inspection process are indications of their commitment to the deal. You may also draw on sentiment: are they buying your home as an investment or a place to raise their family?

I’m here for you.  I’ve also put together a Seller’s Guide of Information that I can provide for you to read at your leisure.  Let me help you with your real estate needs; it’s what I’m here for!