Final Walk Through Tips

Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases many people will make in their lifetime. Therefore, it is important to always do a final walk-through of the property with your real estate agent before closing. This allows the buyer, with guidance from their agent, to ensure the property they are purchasing is in acceptable condition. If repairs were requested it is also a time to make sure they are completed in an acceptable fashion.

When walking through the property if you discover certain repairs, as stated in the contract, are not completed. Then have your agent document the findings and send the sellers a list of items to be completed before closing. Also, if certain items or fixtures are taken and/or sellers’ personal property has yet to be removed this too can be documented and fixed before closing.

A big mistake that some buyers make is forgoing the final walk through instead of reassessing the property one last time. Oftentimes the buyers feel that they have been to the property numerous times, and everything seems okay so they pass on the walk through. On many occasions, buyers have waived the walk through and found themselves moving into a dirty house or one still containing the seller’s debris and/or personal property.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to do a final walk through after the sellers have vacated the property. Sometimes the sellers are not set to move until the real estate transaction closes. If this is the case then it is still highly recommended to have a walk through. This is to make sure that sellers are at least in the progress of moving out.

What can you do if the sellers do not adhere to their contractual obligations (i.e take items that were included in the sale, not fix repairs, or leave debris and/or personal property)? First, make sure that your agent immediately notifies the listing agent to see if the situation can be rectified. Then you can delay closing, if possible until all contractual obligations are met.

However, it is not always possible to delay closing so an alternative would be to fix all the contractual obligations and send a bill to the seller. If you do not get reimbursed, consult a real estate attorney immediately.

Are Home Warranties Worth the Cost?

kitchenAs a home buyer or home seller, you may have wondered whether a home warranty is worth the cost. Homeowners insurance protects your home against unforeseen accidents or damage.  A home warranty, on the other hand, is a supplement to this insurance. Simply put, a home warranty is a convenience program that covers normal wear and tear on the major electrical and mechanical systems in a home, typically for a one-year period.

A home’s ventilation, heating and air-conditioning, plumbing, water heater and kitchen appliances are typically covered by a home warranty. However, be sure to read the fine print on any home warranty. Be sure to note what exactly is covered and what isn’t.

Another wrinkle with home warranty plans is that they don’t offer quick fixes to any problems that are discovered within the home. Home warranties are not the same as emergency home service contracts, where the homeowner can make a phone call and have the problem diagnosed and fixed within the same day.  Instead, with a home warranty, the homeowner will have to file a claim, and the home warranty company will choose a local service contractor to diagnose the problem for a service fee, which isn’t covered by the warranty.  Then, the claim must be approved by the company.

While a home warranty can be a nice back-up plan, it’s critical that any homeowner identify any necessary repairs during the home inspection period.  The home inspection will typically uncover any major issues with the maintenance of the home, and will set a precedent for regular service of the major mechanical services. For example, some home warranty companies won’t cover an air-conditioner that hasn’t been serviced in a past set number of months. Therefore, having this done during the home inspection negotiation period will help to set up a seamless transition to the home warranty service period. Home warranties in Arizona average around $400-500 depending on the size of the home.

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Treating Termintes

pest controlWhether you are buying, selling or living in a home, termites are likely something you will encounter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that homeowners spend more than $2 billion annually on termite pest control and on repairs caused by termite damage. Termites also damage more than 600,000 homes annually here in the United States, thus making termite prevention and control a critical part of home maintenance.

The first thing to remember is that termites do work slowly. Most termite colonies take 2-3 years to form. Therefore, if you do see evidence of termites, you have time to determine how you’re going to deal with them most effectively, and it’s not going to be an emergency situation. Generally speaking, termites become more active in times of moisture as they can’t move around without moisture. So here in Arizona, that time is typically after monsoon season has ended, and the temperatures have dropped; mid-September through December.

It’s critical that you have a termite inspection of your home at least once a year. In between the inspection times, be sure to personally walk around the exterior and interior of your home every few months to look for mud tubes. The mud tubes look like dry brown tubes about the width of a pencil on the walls. If you discover evidence of termites in the form of these tubes, it’s time to call a termite exterminator.

Finally, take steps to prevent future termites. Preventing moisture from getting inside the walls of your home is critical. Therefore, keep your home’s foundation dry by preventing irrigation systems from dripping or leaking near your home’s structure. Keep attics well-ventilated and seal all openings into your home such as cracks and knotholes. Taking these simple steps will go a long way to prevent these omnipresent wood-loving bugs.

Imperative Home Inspection Repairs

estate gate photoMost home inspection will reveal a list of things that need repairs and/or replacements and this is where the second round of negotiations begin.  If you are not buying a brand new home, the home will most likely need some cosmetic touches but this is not where your focus should be. Sellers are usually willing to at least make some changes or improvements to the condition of a home before they sell it, and as long as you feel like you’ve got some bargaining power in terms of your offer, it’s a good idea to see if the seller will take care of at least a few of the problems that your home inspection has shown. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most common issues you should ask about.

Infestations: Whether you’re talking about termites, rats, bats, squirrels, or any number of other creatures or insects that could be infesting a home, if your home inspection returns results of any type of infestation or pest problem, you can request that the seller take care of this before the home is sold. Although some sellers will be unwilling to do so, most will realize that they probably won’t be able to sell the home until this problem is resolved anyway.

Mold or water damage:  Mold and water damage are both major issues that your seller should be willing to fix before the home is sold. Some types of mold are much more dangerous than others, and if possible, it may be a good idea to find out if the mold in the home is of a dangerous variety or not. Either way, it’s best if you can talk the seller into repairing any water leaks or cleaning up any mold before you sign.

Structural issues:  If the roof or foundation of the home are seriously damaged, you can request that the seller fix these problems before you buy. In some cases, if a home inspection turns up these kinds of problems, the seller may choose to re-list the home on an as-is basis instead, rather than having to fix the structural problems going on. Some sellers, however, will be happy to fix the problems before they sell.

Lead paint and radon levels:  If a home inspection shows high levels of radon or lead paint present in any part of your home, your seller should be notified and you should absolutely request that this be resolved. Although sellers are not required by law to fix either of these problems, they are required to disclose lead paint if they know about it beforehand. Many sellers don’t realize their home has lead paint, and most are willing to take care of it when a home inspection shows that is is present. Radon mitigation is almost always something the seller will need to cover before a home can be sold.

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Requests To Avoid From Your Home Inspection

pool photoWhen it’s time for you to buy a home, you probably already know you’ve got a home inspection coming up in the near future. It’s very important to get a home inspection done before you finalize anything in the home buying process, but just because the inspection turns up some problems, that doesn’t mean you have to rely on the seller to solve all of them. Check out the list below to help you figure out which home inspection issues you can take care of yourself instead of risking losing the home of your dreams by asking the seller to do it for you.

Cosmetic issues in the home or yard:  No home is going to look perfect when you buy it, especially if it’s been lived in previously. It’s unrealistic to expect the seller to take care of cosmetic problems, especially if those problems are subjective. Even if it’s something everyone agrees on, such as paint that’s chipping badly on the exterior of the home, plan to take care of this yourself.

Removal of external buildings:  If you buy a home that has sheds other small external buildings on the property, you usually shouldn’t talk to the seller about removing them before you buy. In some cases, the seller will be fine with it, but in a seller’s market it’s usually best to assume you’ll need to take care of this on your own.

Outlets that don’t work:  There are usually outlets in older homes that don’t work, but this is something you can take care of yourself after you purchase the home. This isn’t something to get hung up on when you’re trying to make a deal with the seller, especially since it’s a low-cost fix.

Concrete floor cracks:  Cracks in concrete floors or sidewalks are to be expected, especially if you’re looking at an older property. As long as there are no cracks in the walls, you should have no issues going on if you see concrete floor cracks. Always have a home inspection to determine if there are any structural issues you need to know about.

Repairs under $100:  Even a home that’s only a few months old probably has something going on that could stand to be fixed or upgraded, but if you’re trying to get your seller to take care of little things under $100 per repair, try taking a step back. Think of it from the seller’s perspective. Would you want to deal with a buyer who is making a lot of unnecessary requests before signing?

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