The Necessity of Home Inspections

When purchasing a home, most people will naturally get a home inspection. It seems like the right thing to do because everyone is doing it, right?magnifying_glass_part4_by_photoobject_lens

Maybe it’s time to learn what home inspectors are really looking for.

In an article from Investopedia called Do You Need a Home Inspection? you can discover what home inspectors are looking for when they give your potential property the once-over.

Some important areas the article highlights are the exterior features such as the walls of the home, foundation, roof condition, and grading. Grading is important so you know if water is going to flow away or toward your property.

Inspectors look inside the home at plumbing, electrical systems, and all those potentially big investments like water heater, HVAC, etc… Really important things that could cost you thousands if not taken care of properly.

While it’s true that they look at just about everything, it’s important to remember that a Home Inspector is a generalist. The article points out that in most cases they will give ball-park estimates but refer you to a specialist to determine the extent of damage or services. I think that’s a good thing. It’s better than having an untrained person making vague suggestions and giving you under-estimated costs which could affect negotiations toward closing.

Question: did your inspector ever find something you did not expect?

Spring Cleaning Tips That Will Make an Impression

Spring has finally come and with it is the time to refresh. You’re home has been shut tight all winter, and the dust and clutter has been building up. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as performing the yearly ritual of Spring Cleaning.

Even though it takes time and energy, nothing is more cleansing as opening the windows and zionpic2shaking out the rugs.

If you’re not sure on where to start, check out Better Homes and Garden’s Spring Cleaning Guide. This useful guide gives you 22 tips on cleaning. My favorites are cleaning the patio door track (somehow I have never thought of this) and vacuuming the drapes.

For a more comprehensive list on cleaning or you need a step-by-step checklist, read  The Complete Guide to Spring Cleaning. Blogger Kelly goes room-by-room with a fine tooth comb making sure you clean every nook and cranny.

If you have plans to sell your home this spring, then these tips are great cleaning advice that will make any buyer take notice.

So my questions is: have you started Spring Cleaning?

10 Ways To Tell If You Need a New Roof

We’ve had a hard winter. It’s been long and very, very wet. Snow and ice have fallen from the sky in huge amounts and that means piling up on your roof.

If you’re like most everyone else in the world, you take for granted that your roof is perfectly fine. 30 Yr Landmark Shingles - ValleyYou just had one put on 10 years ago, so why worry? Every day you walk underneath your shingled cover without giving it a thought.

Well Spring has officially sprung and it’s time to dig yourself out of the dark corners of your house and take a look at the roof. It kept you dry all winter (hopefully). Maybe it’s time to show it some love and give it a good look over.

I found this list of 10 Ways to tell if you need a new roof. Check out the link for further explanation but I’ll list them here.

From inside the attic check to see:

1. Places where the roof deck is sagging

2. Signs of water damage or leaking

3. Dark spots or trails

4. Outside light showing through the roof

From outside your house:

5. Visually inspect the roof for cracked, torn, bald, or missing shingles

6. Scan for loose material around chimneys, vents, pipes, etc…

7. Check for excessive amounts of shingle granules

8. Check for signs of moisture, rot, or mold

9. Examine drainage in cutters and downspouts and that they are firmly attached

10. Check that all vents empty air outside and not in the attic

Don’t leave your roof to fend for itself all year long. Help it out and give it a good look twice a year. It will pay in the long run.

QUESTION: when was the last time you looked at your roof?

What Color Is Your Home?

Everyone has their own idea when it comes to painting. I’m talking wall and room painting, not canvas painting (though everyone has their own ideas about that too).

No matter what colors you love and what colors you choose for your home, each bold and bright hue can express emotion and pronounce character.

Check out this photo gallery from HGTV. They have put together collections of rooms grouped in photo colors. Trying to figure out what to freshen your room up with? Now’s the time to get some ideas. After you take a look at the site answer this question:

What’s your room color of choice?

THE COLOR COLLECTION

dd-allen-purple-kitchen_lg

3 Kitchen Organizing Tips You Can’t Miss

Deborah Ginn is a Board Certified Professional Organizer. Since 2003 she has been helping clients organize their living spaces and simplifying their lifestyles. Deborah started her own company Nowhere But Up, Organizing which currently serves the Cincinnati, OH area.

Deborah guest blogs this week and shares some great kitchen organizing tips.

Messy Kitchen
mknobil / Foter / CC BY-NC

1. Purge, Purge, Purge! The first step in organizing your kitchen is Purge it! Grab a trashcan and donation box. Start with the surfaces and work your way into cabinets and drawers. Be ruthless! Don’t be afraid to get rid of things not used in years. Chances are that you won’t need them.

2. Placement.  It’s the most important process in organizing any area of your home.  it’s like a pilot in a cockpit of an airplane.  He has everything he needs at arms reach.  this is what you’d want to achieve.  Bring everything in at an arms reach or one step away, if possible.  This should be within your main preparation area.  Pay attention to your steps.  It there are too many, create less.  items needed occasionally or seasonally should be stored further out.

3. My favorite organizing tips are:

- Less is more. Only have items you use for the type of cooking that you do.  If you don’t bake from scratch, do you really need all the fancy bake ware?  Maybe a mixing bowl, measuring cup, and spoons will be enough.

- I love the 3M utility hooks for hot pads, measuring cups, and spoons.  Place inside cabinet doors next to the stove and prep area.  Make sure you follow the directions.  They’re simple and much needed.  Make sure that you wait 24 hours before using.

- If your pantry has open wired shelving.  Take corrugated boxes and cut down to a 3-4 inch height.  This works great to contain smaller items, cans, and jars that fall or tumble over.  This simple trick gives an organized look without investigating a lot of money in an out of sight area.

- Lazy Susans are awesome for corner shelving in pantries, refrigerators, and cabinets.  They also work well for medications, spices, and condiments.

- I normally recommend medications to not be stored in bathrooms.  The constant change of temperature is not good for medications.  Create a home in our kitchen for all medications in a high out of reach place from children.

- Maintain.  It’s always good to check your spaces every 6-12 months.  I like using the one-in-one-out rule for myself.  I place a donation box in my front closet.  As I come across items no longer needed, I place them in the box.  When the box is full, I take them to a charity of my choice.

You can connect with Deborah Ginn at her website Nowhere But Up, Organizing and on Facebook.

QUESTION: do you have a secret organizing tip or a comment for Deborah? Let’s talk in the comment section below!

It’s Okay to Hate going to Open Houses, but….

It can seem like an awkward experience. Rummaging through someone else’s home, looking through their closets (obviously to check the space) and confronting a scary real estate agent.

Plus who wants to give up their precious Sunday afternoon when a surf on the internet can suffice?

Ranch style home in Salinas, California
Foter / CC BY-SA

They can be tedious and weird and you could really dread going to them, but open houses can be one of your best weapons in your search for a new home. Here are 3 good reasons why visiting open houses can be your best searching tool (even if you hate going.)

1. The computer screen is a 2-dimensional device.

That’s right. You can’t touch the house on the other end. You can’t smell that funky odor in the pantry. If you don’t have an agent and you’re trying to rule out certain homes the best way is through an open house. Photos online are great, but you don’t get the depth and true perspective of a home until you step through the front door.

2. Cruising the neighborhood.

Google maps allows you to see what the outside of most homes look like and even entire neighborhoods. Too bad most of them are dated years before. When you visit the home, you take in the surrounding structures and the landscape. It’s easy to see if the neighbors are tidy or could use some yard assistance. This information is invaluable when making such a major decision.

3. Interviewing the agent

No one wants to do this, yet it can be an important step in the open house process. Sometimes they can give key insights on the home’s history or why the sellers are moving. Maybe you don’t have an agent yet. This could be a great time to interview how the host agent works. Do they greet each visitor? Are they attentive and responsive? Get as much information as you can. It’s free after all.

If you do not have an agent already, going to open houses is a great first step in the home-buying process. With an agent you have access to any home you’d like to see, but open houses allow an opportunity for everyone to peruse. Time to take advantage of it!

QUESTION: do you like going to open houses? Why or why not?

How to Tell a Good Renter from a Bad One

If you’re like many in today’s economy you may be buying a property for investment purposes. And why not? Property is a great place to put your money. Even if the market gets edgy like it did in the past 6 years you can count on it rebounding.

Good year for apples! - EXPLORED
Axiraa – Busy / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Until it rebounds, you must deal will renters. And believe me there are great tenants in the world. They are lovely people who care for property as if it were a golden mansion.

Then there are the bad ones who treat property like a garbage can.

So how do you sift out the bad apples to find those golden gems? Check out this list on the USAA website.

10 Ways to Find a Good Renter

There are some great suggestions on finding tenants who are honest and work well for your property. There is another website you can check out.

Tenant Alert

It is a tenant screening website that offers background checks and other great services.

Don’t be caught unprepared. It’s always smart to know who will be living in your property especially if you plan on interacting with them for years to come.

QUESTION: would you ever want to own rental property?

Winter Home Sales Progress Report

Have you been wondering how the housing market is fairing? Check out the latest chart for Hamilton County, Ohio.

According to the chart, it is a buyer’s market right now. In January there were 3026 properties on the market and 649 properties pending sales. That’s still a lot of homes on the market.

What can this mean for you? It means there are plenty of homes still on the market. This trend seems to be holding through February.

Let me know if you’re in the Cincinnati area and I can do a market research for your specific area. It pays to be informed when you’re looking for a new home.

Question: have you thought about buying a new home?

How Long Should You Rent Before Owning?

My wife and I currently rent. It’s been good especially recently with all the snow. Having the plow come up and down the drive and even clean parking spots is a nice morning surprise. And sidewalk snow removal is bliss. If the water heater goes out (which it has twice) they are so quick to replace it. Those are the high points.

Then there are the neighbors. In an apartment they are very close. And you know that no one is as quiet as you want them to be.

So when is it time to stop renting and start owning? Or is it ever time to stop renting?

If you’re just thinking about it financially, check out this sweet calculator from the New York Times.

CalculatorJust impute a few simple facts into the left sidebar on the site. Here’s an example:

Monthly rent: 750

Home price: 160,000

Down payment: 20%

Mortgage rate: 4.5

Annual property taxes: 1.35 (very rough estimate)

After you impute your info, it gives you a lot of statistics. For my example it will say buying is better than renting after 10 years. They try to factor in buying closing costs, renter deposits, and so much more.

Check it out and have some fun with it!

QUESTION: do like renting or owning better?