Five Things to Know About Home Inspections

The home inspection is an important part of the home sale process, both for buyers and sellers. When it’s time for you to hire an inspector, here are five things you should be thinking about:

1. It’s your choice: You are not bound or obligated to use any particular inspector. Your real estate professional may have some recommendations, but it’s ultimately up to you. Ask around and choose wisely—better to pay a little more now for a highly-respected inspector than to be surprised by a problem that the inspection didn’t reveal.

2. Looking for big problems: The inspector will be focused on the integrity of the home—safety, electrical work, foundation, load-bearing walls, etc. The inspector is not there to point out problems with ugly paint colors or light fixtures.

3. The report: There are hundreds of items to inspect in a home, so the inspector’s report will focus on the basics: What’s damaged, what needs repaired, etc. The report should be easy to read and understand.

4. Code of ethics: Though the inspector is working for the party that pays the inspector’s fee, the inspector will not deliver a report that intentionally hides or omits damaging information about the home. The report is private between you and the inspector, but if you’re the seller, you’re required to disclose any problems that the inspection reveals.

5. The inspector is not liable: Even the best inspectors can’t find every single problem in a home. They can’t see inside the walls or through the floors, so there could still be problems lurking. If a problem is revealed down the road, the inspector can’t be held responsible.

Buying and Selling Condos

Condos (condominiums) can be the prefect option for people who want to live a low maintenance lifestyle, but still want the perks of home ownership. They often come with awesome amenities such as pools, club houses, workout rooms and more. Before you buy or sell a condo though, it’s important to understand how the purchasing process differs from all other dwelling types.

Buying a Condo

When you are looking to buy a condo it’s very important that you work with a Realtor (and Lender if you are getting financing) that has experience with condo purchases. If you are a cash buyer, the process is the same as when you would buy a single family home (put in an offer, get an accepted contract etc.), although I still suggest looking into the HOA to make sure there are no potential issues that can arise.

If you are getting financing for your condo purchase though, lenders have very strict guidelines on condo complexes they will finance in. When starting your search, your Realtor can easily find out if specific condo complexes are FHA approved. If they are FHA approved this makes for a quick smooth process. The problem is that not very many complexes are FHA approved. Most condo financing available will be conventional and VA loans. Remember those strict guidelines I talked about though? The trick is that you only usually find out if the complex meets those guidelines AFTER you have an accepted contract. Once you find a condo you like, your Realtor can talk with the HOA to try their best to get the needed info. Often times though, this information is not shared. So to move forward with your condo purchase you make an offer and negotiate until you and the seller have agreed on price and terms (this doesn’t mean you will know you can finance it yet though!). Once you have an accepted contract, your lender will send out a condo questionnaire to the HOA (at a COST TO THE BUYER usually about $50). This is the form that will see if the complex will meet the lenders condo guidelines. It will ask the HOA questions such as what percentage of units are owner occupied, how much money is in the HOA reserves, are there any current litigations that the HOA is involved in, etc. There are two different questionnaires based on the amount of money you can put down and the type of loan you are applying for. If you are putting down less than 20% on a conventional loan, you would need to have the full review done by your lender. This has more questions and tighter guidelines. If you are able to put down at least 20% down on a conventional loan or you are applying for a VA loan you would have a LIMITED REVIEW done by your lender. If at all possible, the limited review is better as there are less questions that are asked and not as many guidelines to follow.  You usually hear back from the HOA in a week/week and a half, but if the answers to these questions do not meet the lender guidelines (such as if below 50% of units are owner occupied) the complex will not qualify for the loan and you will need to cancel the contract. The good news is that there is a contingency in the contract that says if financing doesn’t work out,  all earnest money is returned to the buyer. So the only downside is that you can lose the condo questionnaire fee and some time in your search. If the condo questionnaire does meet the lenders guidelines though, you are good to go ahead and move forward in the purchasing process.

Selling a Condo

When selling a property you don’t often think about your neighbors effecting your ability to sell. With condos though this can be the case. The process of selling a condo is different than the sale of a single family home, so it’s important to work with a Realtor that understands the steps of a condo sale and who can educate you on what to expect in the process. Before your property is even active, your Realtor should be working with your HOA as well as a lender to find out if there are any potential problems that can arise and types of financing that are available in the complex.

If you are able to get a cash offer, the process would be the same as a single family home sale. Financing (what most people do) is what can be tricky for condos. For a lender to finance a condo sale, they have very strict guidelines that must be met within the COMPLEX (not your specific condo, the WHOLE complex!). So let’s say that you get an offer that includes the buyer getting financing (again this is MOST offers). It’s important for you to know that even once you have an accepted offer, you do not yet know if that buyer’s lender has approved financing in the complex yet. After there is an accepted offer is when the lender in the transaction will send a condo questionnaire to your condo’s HOA for them to fill out. This questionnaire will ask questions such as is the HOA involved in any current litigations (if they are you have to wait for them to settle), what ratio of units is owner occupied, how much money does the association have in reserves. etc. So why is this important to know as a condo seller? It’s important because if the numbers on the condo questionnaire don’t meet the lender guidelines, that means that the loan will be declined and the contract will need to be canceled. This is how your neighbors can effect your sale. For instance if you have over 15% of residence delinquent on their HOA dues, this could mean that your complex doesn’t qualify for financing and make your property much harder to sell. It’s also important to know so that you can fully evaluate the offers that you have come in. For instance if you had 2 offers come in at the same time, one conventional 5% down and one VA 5% down. Your best bet would be to go with the VA financed offer because they have fewer guidelines in their loan process. The bottom line is that condo sales can be tricky. When interviewing potential Realtors to work with, make sure that they are experienced in condo sales and that they will be able to properly represent you!

If you have further questions about condos or would like to see an example of a condo questionnaire feel free to comment, email me at Rachell@TwinsAndCompany.com, or call/text 602.574.3438. 

5 Things That Can Make Your House Unattractive (Part 1)

Everyone has their own personal taste and sense of style when it comes to home decorating and upgrades, but there are five things I have found that most people seem to be put off by. These five things are important for all homeowners to know, even if you’re not considering selling your house in the near future. Maybe you are considering some home improvement projects down the line and want to add the most appeal and value you can for your money. Or maybe you are thinking of selling your home and want to make a few changes before listing your home. No matter your situation these are important to keep in mind!

1) Types of Flooring

Flooring is the number one thing I hear complaints about while showing houses! Through the 90’s it was very common to see vinyl and linoleum. Now days though, people generally like wood, tile, and carpet. A majority of homeowners are even gravitating less towards carpet and more toward hard flooring that’s easy to clean and maintain. It’s very typical to see carpet only in bedrooms now, although wood and tile are on the rise even in bedrooms. When changing flooring in your house, consider the whole house and how it will flow. If there are too many flooring types with different transitions it makes it feel chopped up, busy, and unplanned. If you’re updating your living areas to tile, consider doing your bathrooms in the same material as well. Sometimes you plan to do it later, and the same material can be hard to find or no longer available.

2) Brass Hardware, Lighting, and Faucets

If you bought a house in the 1990’s or early 2000’s you probably have (or did have) brass accents throughout your house. Unfortunately, the brass finish has lost it’s appeal and now people prefer brushed nickel and oil rubbed bronze accents. The good news is that upgrading your door hardware, lighting, and faucets can be an inexpensive way to make a big difference in the look of your home. It can also be done in baby steps, new door hardware this month, faucets in 3 months, and new lighting as you find pieces you like. An interior design friend of mine even shared the trick that some lighting can be taken down and spray painted (have you checked out all the spray paint options lately?) to achieve the desired finish look rather than buying and installing new pieces and spending much more money then is needed to get the desired look.

Light Fixture Before and After3) Countertops

The average countertop used to be laminate, only luxury homes used to have granite. Boy has this changed! Buyers now consider laminate counters to “cheapen” the look of the kitchen and also don’t like that it can peel up, chip, or scorch easily.Granite is now the new norm, and many people will not even consider laminate or even tile countertops anymore. With so many types of modern looking counters that can also better handle daily kitchen functions can you blame them for not wanting laminate? Now countertop options include Corian, granite, quartz (natural or manmade), concrete, butcher block, marble and more! The safest bet for counters these days is to go with a granite that doesn’t have too busy of a design. Not only has research proven that granite is more attractive to buyers, but it’s also proven that it adds value to your kitchen.

Check in on Saturday for the final two things that can make your house unattractive…

Welcome!

Rachell Pintor

My name is Rachell Pintor and I am a Realtor with Twins & Co Realty in the greater Metro Phoenix Area. One thing that distinguishes me from other local Realtors, is that at heart I am an educator. My first career path was teaching elementary school. While I loved teaching, each year I found myself being drawn more and more to the family business, real estate. My years in education have helped me be an even better Realtor and provide excellent service to my clients. My natural drive to educate means my clients understand the buying and selling process better, helping to produce smooth and seamless transactions that are enjoyable for all parties.

I created R.A.D. Real Estate with Rachell as a way to help educate and discuss residential resale in the Phoenix area. R.A.D. stands for Resale Advice and Discussion. So while I’ll be posting some helpful info on the changing resale market, this is also a place for us to discuss any real estate questions you may have and clear up some common misconceptions and fears with buying and selling homes. I’m also planning to have some fun guest bloggers post with informative information about mortgages, home inspections, home renovations, and much more. Be sure to check back in and see the most recent posts, and feel free to ask questions in the comments or email them to me at Rachell@TwinsAndComany.com.