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Home Inspection 101

by Greg Sapp

Home Inspection 101

It pays to find the right inspector.

A home’s history gives it character and charm, but also takes a toll. Over time, roofs sag, mortar cracks, and furnaces lose efficiency. Beyond this normal wear and tear, older homes can harbor mold, water damage, termites, or other structural threats that can cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix.

The easiest way to handle these issues is avoiding them altogether, or building the solutions for them into your home purchase agreement. To do this, you need a seasoned inspector with your best interests at heart. Here are some tips on inspecting your future home.

New homes need inspections, too

New or old, a house isn’t a car—you can’t just trade in a lemon. Regardless of its similarities to neighboring structures, every home is different. Each home is build by different hands, at different times, on different land, and each responds differently as it settles. A home inspection before purchase your new home can alert you to long-term risks, identify immediate problems your builder must fix, and help you get the most from your new home warranty before it expires.

There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Even if there were, it wouldn’t last long. Climate, material flaws, poor workmanship, and even gravity conspire to tear every home apart. Home maintenance is a necessary cost of home ownership, but homebuyers need to make smart decisions about acceptable costs. A home inspection is the most cost-effective way to go into a purchase with your eyes open.

What they won’t cover

When you schedule an inspection, have the inspector outline special conditions he or she does not cover. Lead, radon, asbestos, and other toxic substances are generally not covered, and may require an inspector with a special certification.

Inspecting the Inspector

Finding a good home inspector can take some work, but it’s worth it. When you’re comparing inspectors, remember TEN—Transparency, Experience, and Neutrality.

Transparency

There’s nothing magic about home inspection, and good inspectors will be completely forthcoming about what they look for, how, and why. If you don’t understand something, ask. Professional inspectors will always answer your question to your satisfaction. Ask to see the home inspection, or better yet—go along on the inspection. It’s your house, after all. If the inspector hedges, walk away. Don’t be shy. Your home is worth more than their pride.

Experience

Every home inspector should provide references. Call them. Even though most inspector-provided references will be overwhelmingly positive, you may pick up helpful details, especially if you ask leading questions such as “What do you wish the inspector had spent more time on?”

Neutrality

Inspectors work for you, not the realtor, the owner, or a contractor. A well-established inspector will have worked with all sorts of real estate and construction professionals, but recommending those professionals is a conflict of interest.

Certifications

Not all states require certifications, and a certification doesn’t guarantee There are dozens of certification associations, but some of the older and larger include ASHI, the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers, and the National Association of Home Inspectors.

 

A Homeowner's Spring Maintenance Checklist

by Greg Sapp

A Homeowner’s Spring Maintenance Checklist

A leaky or blocked gutter can divert damaging water into your home's walls.

Whether you live in rainy Oregon or snowy Vermont, winters are hard on homes. With spring winds and showers and a long hot summer coming, now is the time to perform a thorough spring maintenance to keep your home safe, beautiful, and at its highest possible value.

As you go through your regular maintenance routine, be sure to include checks of these five trouble areas.

Gutters

Debris-choked gutters are a leading cause of water damage. Even a single clog of leaves can redirect water out of gutters and into your home’s walls. Be sure to follow proper safety precautions when inspecting your gutters, and when you’re in doubt, hire a professional.

Plumbing

Cold winters can be brutal on pipes. Get into the basement and check your plumbing hill washing the dishes, watering the lawn, or taking a shower–any time you’re pushing a large amount of water for an extended time. Look for leaks, drips, or even surface moisture. A small leak is an easy fix that will save on your water bill, but if a leak grows and floods, pipe repair will be the least of your problems. Recheck the pipes an hour later for signs of dampness and slow leaks.

Foundation

Runoff and freezing temperatures can cause cracks in your foundation. Be sure to seal these cracks as you find them, and consult a pro if you have any questions about hidden damage or any impact on your home’s structural integrity. Pay special attention to any areas where water might pool against the foundation, often caused by lost soil.

Air Conditioning / Ventilation

Your AC unit will get a workout over the summer, so be sure your vents are free of debris and your filters are new. If you use window-mounted units, ensure that window seals are tight and wall-mounted supports are securely fastened.

Seals

Heat and cold are both hard on rubber seals and caulking. Replacing seals around your doors and windows can pay for itself in just a month and requires very little effort, so there’s no reason to avoid it.

 

The Phoneix real estate market is abundant with properties that are great investments, not only for home buyers, but for investors looking to make a nice profit in the next few years.  I just purchased two houses recently  in the $50's that originally sold for over $200,000.  Granted, I had to put some money into the homes to make them habitable again, but still, the return on my investment is excellent.  For the Phoenix home buyers, with interest rates between 4.5 and 5%, they should jump into our real estate market NOW!!!  You never know when the market bottoms out, until it is on it's way back up. 

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Greg Sapp
Realty Executives
645 E. Missouri Ave, Suite #210
Phoenix AZ 85012
(602)861-3300
Fax: (602)-861-3301