10 Repairs that Kill a Home Sale on Inspection

Thinking of selling your home in 2022?

Before you upgrade your kitchen or paint your walls to get it ready to put it on the market, take an even more important inventory. How are the bones of your home? 

 

Take a hard look at the structure and core systems of your house. And get ready to identify at least a few areas that need work now. Fix them this winter and you’ll be all set to pass your home inspection with flying colors this spring. And for perspective buyers, feel free to use this troubleshooting guide (as well as our 5 ways to protect yourself at closing post) as a checklist!

 

Experts recommend these key areas ship-shape (or at least shored up):

1. Is your roof giving you good coverage?

Even if Hurricane Ida didn’t visibly damage your roof, it’s likely that an inspector will find something as a result. Especially if the last time you got a new roof was after Hurricane Katrina. Major roof repairs can be expensive, and most buyers won’t compromise here. If you didn’t have an inspector take a look after the storm, you might want to now. Just so you know what you’re up against. If they say the roof still has a few years of life left in it, get that in writing.

2. But does it actually wash dishes?  

You might think that just because your appliances are all stainless, you make the cut. But how old are they? Does the ice maker work? Does your stove vent out (instead of back into the house)? Does the dishwasher actually get the plates clean? Appliances are built to last only so long, especially if not regularly maintained. Buyers and inspectors will be looking for the telltale signs. 

3. How cool is your house? (And how hot in winter?)

Heating and cooling systems are so expensive! It’s easy to put off that upgrade, but it’s even easier for a buyer to say no to a home with an ancient, inefficient HVAC. Especially one that’s not well maintained. You’ll thank yourself for taking care of this one right away because –bonus–your utility bills should reflect immediate savings. 

4. How cool/how hot? Part II

Another easy (and much less expensive) way to make a big impact on temperature and efficiency is with an insulation upgrade. Blown-in insulation can usually go right over older fiberglass batt and roll insulation as long as it isn’t wet or damaged. Or add fresh fiberglass and watch your energy costs drop. It’s usually more affordable to have this done in winter because the team won’t need IV hydration after a day in a hot attic. Better time for you, too, if you choose to DIY. 

5. Is there a shockingly simple way to look good on the electric portion of the inspection? 

Yes. Simply by getting your home’s electrical systems up to code. Unless you have the older and considerably less safe knob and tube wiring, your electric issues are probably a quick, affordable fix. Inspectors will always point out the need for grounded outlets near water sources, exposed wiring and switches that don’t work. Especially in older homes. Find an electrician you trust and with just a few hours’ work, you should be able to avoid that dreaded “hazard” label on inspection.

 

6. Can I flush out trouble before it gets worse?

Plumbing is that out-of-sight out-of-mind system we forget about. Until it’s backing up during a dinner party. Or a home showing! If you’re noticing any slow drains, stay on them. And while you love your big, old-growth oak, it could be growing roots into your pipes. Depending on the age and landscape of your home, springing for a video inspection of your pipes could be the ticket to finding out too late that your plumbing system is compromised.

 

7-10.  Can local weather sink my sale? 

With proper maintenance, your home will stand up to the ravages of mother nature. But around here, we all know that 

  1. poor drainage
  2. leaky gutters
  3. mold and 
  4. wood rot 

are all big red flags for buyers. Even newer built homes will break down under the elements eventually. 

 

The good news is, most of these items are quickly visible. The bad news is, if left unchecked, it might seem like you could care less about the upkeep of your property and makes buyers look more closely at other potential problems. For every issue you’re unable to take care of now, be prepared to negotiate on it in the final sale price. 

When you do finally land that sale and make an offer on another home, keep Clean Title, LLC, in mind. We’re researching the past to protect your future! Don’t miss our popular Title FAQs for tips that will give you the peace of mind only a clean title can. See us on our Facebook page and check out the details of our services on our website. Or call 985-277-5095 to speak to one of our title professionals today!

How can a first-time buyer survive in a hot real estate market?

 

Experts agree: there’s never been a housing market like this before. 

 

High prices were a problem even before the pandemic. In the U.S. they’re up from around $260,000 median rate to more than $380,000 today. Thanks largely to a lack of supply, list prices are up almost 15% this year alone. Some cities, like Austin and Denver, are seeing meteoric rises of more like 30%. So. With the few, expensive houses that are available, how in the world can a first-time buyer get a home (let alone survive the process)?

 

Don’t panic

In any challenging market, it’s easy to get rushed or frustrated. Your expectations aren’t being met and sometimes it seems to take forever. Don’t let impatience, or worse, that feeling that there just aren’t enough houses so you have to spend more… or you need to settle… get the best of you. In fact, that’s the last thing you need and you’ll likely end up with a home you regret buying later.

 

Here are a few tips for keeping your cool in a hot or tight market:

 

Get pre-approved

Before you even schedule your first viewing, connect with a lender and get preapproved for a mortgage. Not only does this signal to a seller and an agent that you’re a viable buyer who means business, but it’s also one of several ways of knowing how much home you can afford. (Don’t forget to account for taxes, insurance, closing costs, utilities, commute costs, and future needed repairs!)

 

Don’t “guess” on your realtor

Toss out the yellow pages on this one! Ask around, get three or four personal recommendations, interview at least two, and make sure to get an experienced, proven professional agent who can act as a guide through this challenging process. Especially since it’s your first time. She or he not only needs to be knowledgeable but also empathetic of what could indeed turn out to be an up and down process for you and your family. 

 

Keep emotion low and logic high

It’s almost impossible not to get excited (or upset) when shopping for a home. But logic will save you in so many ways. Logic would state that at a certain cost level, you won’t be able to afford the rest of your life. Logic should set the line in the sand, the amount you refuse to go over and write it down to remind you. And when emotion says “maybe for this very special home we could stretch a bit,” logic should point back to the absolutely-not-one-penny-higher price on paper and just say no. 

 

Wants vs. needs: be flexible

If you find yourself adjusting your expectations multiple times along the way–good. It’s a great survival tactic. Keep your list of non-negotiable “must-haves” as short as you can and it opens up more possibilities. Maybe you thought there was no way you could live in a condo? And yet by downgrading your size needs, you might find a great first-time home option that will help you build some equity so that you can swap up when the time is right. Maybe you watch too much HGTV and expect a subway tile backsplash and brushed nickel fixtures. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint and some affordable DIY finishing touches can do to upgrade a room.

 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

You’ve decided you want a new home and you want it now. But especially in a difficult market, that’s not how it works. Instead, you have even more research to do and need even more patience to do it. You’ll probably look at dozens if not hundreds of homes and you may lose out on multiple offers. Steady and grounded wins the home-buying race. Don’t be afraid to take a break. When you come back, the market might even be more in your favor!

 

When you do finally land that sale, keep Clean Title, LLC, in mind. We’re researching the past to protect your future!

​Don’t miss our popular Title FAQs for tips that will give you the peace of mind only a clean title can.  See us on our Facebook page and check out details of our services on our website. Or call 985-277-5095 to speak to one of our title professionals today!

Help! My House isn’t Selling (even though the market’s hot)!

If you List it, it Will Sell! Or Not?

The sign is in the yard. Your home is live, online. Now, everyone and their cousin say we should just stand back while the buyers come beating down your door with a contract in hand. And watch them offer “above asking price” and waive the inspection. Let them help your neighborhood break a record for the highest price-per-square-foot sold.

And yet, crickets! So what do you do when the fast sale doesn’t happen?

It’s true that mortgage rates and market listing numbers are low, and demand is through the roof. But just because the real estate market is hot doesn’t mean you’ll sell the next day. (And just because you don’t sell right away doesn’t mean you won’t ever.) 

If you feel stuck in listing limbo, don’t despair. We’re sharing some common issues with manageable solutions to help you take advantage of the current buying frenzy. And hopefully, earn that coveted “SOLD” sign!

THE PROBLEM: You’re too optimistic

THE FIX: Is your home overpriced? Start with a check of the average price-per-square-foot in your area. Are you in the middle of the pack? Your agent should be able to check comparisons on recently sold houses and evaluate the market. You’ll want to share how much work you’ve done on the home (and how much you still have yet to do!) and adjust accordingly.

THE PROBLEM: Your book’s being judged by its cover

THE FIX: Stand in the street in front of your house. How’s your curb appeal? Is your lawn tidy, and are the edges trimmed? Does the landscaping look fresh and green? Do the siding and sidewalks look clean? A fancy bathroom renovation isn’t going to count for much if your buyers can’t get past the moldy siding and cracked front porch bricks. Outdoor upgrades are one of the easiest ways to boost your home’s value: well-landscaped homes are worth up to 10% more than homes with no landscaping.

THE PROBLEM: You’re a unicorn

THE FIX: If your house is unique (or maybe even a tad odd), you may expect that it could take longer to find the perfect fit with the right buyer. If your house is the most expensive in the neighborhood or the largest among relatively small homes, this can also add to the length of list-to-sale time. Someone might love the quirky features, so don’t be tempted to reduce your price too soon. Or they could love the area enough to overlook that your home is different from others nearby. However, a price adjustment could be in order, bringing you more in line with the other houses on your street.

THE PROBLEM: You need some TLC

THE FIX: The fix is THE FIX. You need to fix what’s broken, update what’s dated, and make sure you can come through your inspection with flying colors. Every house has “its thing,” but a home in evident disrepair will scare off buyers more than a next-door neighbor with a pit bull. And if things are obviously broken, it’s an easy guess that there could be a ton of hidden problems, too. And while you’re at it, make sure to clean and nicely stage the whole house. Pack away excess photographs and your silver spoon collection. You want a buyer to say, “Wow, I could see myself here!” right as they walk in the door.

THE PROBLEM: You need to up your online game

THE FIX: It’s an era of open concept plans, Pantone paint, and HGTV-worthy listings. Shadowy or blurry pictures won’t inspire buyers. You want the most high-definition, brightly lit, gleaming photographs you can afford so you can spotlight the very best of your house. Check your photos for blur factors, and make sure you’re not accidentally displaying grimy windows or your neighbor’s overgrown backyard. Write a description that points out the unique features and not just what you can see clearly in the photos. Set yourself up for faster success: create a crackerjack listing that’s much more likely to motivate buyers to want to look at it right away.   

THE PROBLEM: You stink

THE FIX: As the saying goes, “if they can smell it, you can’t sell it.” This one’s hard to hear, and if you’ve been living there a long time, hard to detect, too. Ask your realtor or a friend if they smell anything when they walk into your home. Then try a few remediation remedies. It might be as simple as burning a few candles or turning the air conditioner too low for a day to dry it out. But if you have carpet and a lot of cloth furniture, you might need a deeper clean. Finally, be sure to get to the heart of any moisture issues that might create an aroma that makes potential buyers turn up their noses. 

The longer a listing sits, the more likely its sale price will go below the list price. Studies show that after 120 days, the sale price dropped to an even smaller percentage of the asking price. Buyers likely see a long-term listing as a potential poor-quality home. While that isn’t always true, don’t you want to do all you can to try to avoid the long-listing pitfalls?

As always, ask your realtor (or research a new one!) for more information and help.

When you do finally land that sale, keep Clean Title, LLC, in mind. We’re researching the past to protect your future!

​Don’t miss our popular Title FAQs for tips that will give you the peace of mind only a clean title can.  See us on our Facebook page and check out the details of our services on our website. Or call 985-277-5095 to speak to one of our title professionals today!

Don’t Break the Bank: 4 Tips to Rehab a Home for Less

Last month we talked about the BRRR method for creating real estate wealth. Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat is a way to stack investment properties by building value in one to create funding for another. But for newbies, it’s often that critical second step–renovation–that becomes the biggest obstacle to making money. Check out these tips to avoid cost overruns and max out your profit.

Don’t blow out the budget

When renovating a home, you can’t do it all. (And if you don’t plan to live there yourself, why would you want to?) So start with a list and stick to it. Come up with a budget that includes up to a 20% cushion for unexpected costs that crop up.

Remember the biggest return on investment comes from roof repairs, landscaping, bedroom additions, and kitchen and bathroom upgrades. But if you aren’t flipping the home, rental value can be a lot more about the way the home looks. 

Try DIY

We aren’t suggesting you watch an internet video and then lay new tile on your kitchen floor, but think about how much you can save doing the basic work yourself. Remove cabinets, tear down a fence, pull up old carpet, and probably easiest and most cost-saving of all, plan to do all the paintwork. 

Unless you’re super handy (and frankly, somewhat skilled), you’ll want to hire a contractor for some of the technical work. Ask what’s included in the contractor’s fees and get a good estimate for total costs. If the price is prohibitive, act as your own contractor and start getting good recommendations for hired labor. And then get on the phone. You’ll be there awhile… but you’ll save money, too!

Skimp on supplies

This area, especially with supply low in this current market, is likely to be the most challenging to keep within the budget. You’ll find decent savings with used fixtures, recycled (or rescued) items, and building supplies from the Habitat Humanity Re-Store. Or try one of several building wholesalers or bargain stores with partial pallets available for purchase. 

And ask your contractor. He may have items left from another remodel. He might even be willing to discount your total costs when you let him know there could be other home renovations in your future. 

Take a shortcut

Ask yourself what work is critical to rehab and what could be touched up for the maximum benefit. Maybe the kitchen cabinets are quality wood but just need a fresh color to brighten the space? (New knobs are a nice touch, too!) A contemporary light fixture in a wide-open space can really make it shine. Don’t count out peel-and-stick flooring, especially in low-traffic areas like the laundry room. 

Especially if you’re renovating with the plan to rent the home to tenants, basic options and affordable swaps can often cover your needs and improve your property

Don’t forget that anything you remove can potentially be donated (see Habitat for Humanity Re-Store above). Donations mean a tax write-off, something you should covet as you Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance and Repeat!

At Clean Title, LLC, we’re researching the past to protect your future! We’re very proud of our track record and the recommendations our clients have shared. (Check out some of our reviews on our Facebook page.)

Check out our home buyers’ Clean Title FAQs and reach out at 985-277-5095 anytime with questions!

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to give legal advice. Keep in mind that each state has different real estate laws and that throughout Louisiana, rules, and customs can vary among parishes and regions. If you’re buying or selling a home, please check with your local Real Estate professional or Real Estate Attorney on the specifics of all Real Estate matters.

 

So you want to be a landlord? Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat

 

The BRRRR Method.

Interested in building real estate wealth? Try BRRRR! No, you don’t need a sweater… in fact, you need a little sweat! Sweat equity that is. 

The BRRR method–better known as Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat–is a way to stack investment properties by building value in one to create funding for another.

In simple steps, here’s what BRRR investors do:

  1. Purchase a property at a cost they can afford to rehabilitate
  2. Rent out the newly revitalized property to tenants for an extended period
  3. Use the rental income to pay the mortgage, earn profits, and build up equity over time 
  4. Purchase a second property through the funding that comes from refinancing the first home
  5. Return to step one, repeat the actions and slowly build an empire 

And, here’s some basic advice on each step of the method:

Buy

This might well be the hardest part of the process since an overstep can result in the whole plan losing money. When searching listings, a buyer has to balance property vs income, making sure a property represents a sound investment in a desirable area that promises to perform well as a rental property.

First you’ll need to calculate cost of renovations + estimated monthly rental expenses. Are you able to ask for high enough rental income to cover those expenses and ensure a tidy profit? 

A few things to consider for best outcomes: 

  • Research the lower end of the listings in the strongest rental markets
  • Ensure the purchase price leaves enough in your budget for renovation costs
  • Verify the rehab work will add value to the home 

Rehab

It’s easy to hit cost-overruns on upgrades. Renovations that exceed what a property owner can produce through rental charges means lost funding. And opportunity. Shoot for livable, functional and clean ahead of elegance and decadence.  

Rehab projects with the highest return on investment include:

  • Roof repairs
  • Kitchen and bathroom upgrades
  • Landscaping
  • Bedroom additions

Rent

While extended vacancies, bad tenants, and needed repairs can cut into profits, once you’ve found a trustworthy renter, your income should start to flow.

To avoid the pitfalls, you want to start back at step one to ensure your market is viable. And that the population can support–if not drive–demand for a rental. To stay above water, it’s critical to vet your tenants carefully and leave a cushion for maintenance and repair.

Refinance

Once your property starts to accumulate wealth and you’re starting to pay down the mortgage, you can devise a plan on how to refinance it. Most banks require you own a property for a specific amount of time before they’ll consider refinancing against the appraised value of the property. 

Cash-out options are typically considered the better refinancing situation versus banks that want to pay off outstanding debt. A cash-out refinance offers additional advantages, like favorable interest rates and control over your timing.

Repeat

You’ll know you’ve made it when you can use the cash-out refinance from their first rental property to fund the purchase and rehabilitation of a second. Return to research mode and weigh your cost-benefit analysis as you decide on your second property. 

 

BRRR can have a pretty steep learning curve at first. As long as you’re careful to make sure mistakes don’t sink you, the wisdom you gain will serve you well with each additional property. As always, do your research. The pride you’ll feel leveraging a freshly rehabbed home into improved property value and steady income from monthly rents just can’t be beat!

 

At Clean Title, LLC, we’re researching the past to protect your future! We’re very proud of our track record and the recommendations our clients have shared. (Check out some of our reviews on our Facebook page.)

Check out our home buyers’ Clean Title FAQs and reach out at 985-277-5095 anytime with questions!

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to give legal advice. Keep in mind that each state has different real estate laws and that throughout Louisiana, rules, and customs can vary among parishes and regions. If you’re buying or selling a home, please check with your local Real Estate professional or Real Estate Attorney on the specifics of all Real Estate matters.

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