Using the Power of Pre-inspectionImagine finally finding a buyer for your home, negotiating the offer, opening up escrow and beginning to pack your prized spoon collection when disaster strikes. The home buyer's pest and dry rot inspection has revealed issues that have caused the buyer to panic. Your sale is now in danger of failing!
While most states require that sellers disclose all known defects to a buyer, it's the unknown issues that inspectors are hired to find. These paid consultants have the tough job of crawling into the nooks and crannies of your home, the places most of us rarely if ever visit, to identify problems that can haunt the home buyer if not addressed prior to closing.
So how can you avoid a nasty surprise? One popular way is to consider the power of pre-inspections. A pre-inspection simply means you have your home inspected before you receive an offer from a buyer. The advantage to this approach is that if your home does have some challenges you can fix them before you receive an offer. Also by having a pre-inspection you may be able to outflank your competition by advertising the fact that your home has a "clean" bill of health which will potentially help you sell faster and for more money.
So what kinds of pre-inspections might you consider? There are a wide range of inspections that can be performed on any home and choices vary by region, which is why it is always best to consult with a local agent before deciding on which pre-inspections are right for your home. All of that being said, some of the most popular inspections include:
Whole home inspections - A top to bottom review of your home from the foundation to the roof. These inspections are often very extensive and include detailed reports on all of the systems of the home including plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling, and structural components.
Pest and dry rot inspections - These inspections are focused on identifying evidence of active (and inactive) wood destroying organisms like carpenter ants and termites and the damage they may have caused. In addition inspectors will identify issues that can cause rot in a home like leaking water pipes, poor ventilation, earth to wood contact, and moisture problems.
Well and septic inspections - In rural areas many homes use well and septic systems for drinking water and sanitation. Inspections of wells focus on gallons per minute production and the safety of the drinking water while septic inspections focus on making sure the tanks and lines moving the waste water away from the home are functioning properly.
Pool inspections - In areas of the country where pools are popular it is common for buyers to request a pool inspection. These inspections often review the area around the pool for safety including the pool itself, the pool deck, pool liner, lighting, heating and pump systems, and filtration systems.
Roof inspections - A roof inspection will evaluate the current state of the roof system identifying problem areas such as missing tiles, valleys and flashing which may need repair, gutter systems, downspouts, and the estimated life span of the current materials.
Foundation inspections - Often a foundation inspection may be called for if a home is built on a soil type or area that has a history of slippage, or if the foundation is showing signs of fractures. In addition many buyers order a foundation inspection if a home is older or if the home has beams which are sagging due to a lack of support.
One word of caution: anything you learn as a result of a pre-inspection will no doubt need to be disclosed to a potential buyer (even if you don't fix it) because of disclosure laws.
There is no doubt that these services are valuable to any family that decides to sell. The only question is – how valuable? One of the main reasons For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) don’t use a real estate agent is because they believe these services are not worth the fee an agent charges. But, what if those services didn’t cost the seller a penny?
A study by Collateral Analytics, however, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save anything and, in some cases, may be costing themselves more by not listing with an agent.
In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:
“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.” (emphasis added)
The study makes several suggestions:
If you are thinking of selling, FSBOing may end up costing you money instead of saving you money.
Americans ranked “owning a home I love” higher than any other options (including “starting a family” and “finding a fulfilling career”) as an important part of the American Dream.
Despite some claims that homeownership’s importance to the American Dream is in decline, the report found that the dream of homeownership remains strong.
Of Americans who said they think achieving the American Dream is important, 70% think homeownership is important to the dream, and 41% think homeownership is very important to the dream.
Hearth addresses the desires of millennials by explaining:
“Contrary to popular opinion, millennials who want to achieve the American Dream are 5% more likely than Baby Boomers to think homeownership is important. And two-thirds of millennial renters view homeownership as important to the American Dream. Although millennials are often portrayed as fickle and transient, they actually seek the stability of homeownership even more than their parents.”
“Contrary to popular opinion, millennials who want to achieve the American Dream are 5% more likely than Baby Boomers to think homeownership is important. And two-thirds of millennial renters view homeownership as important to the American Dream.
Although millennials are often portrayed as fickle and transient, they actually seek the stability of homeownership even more than their parents.”
The report concluded:
“This survey revealed a powerful finding: Across demographic groups, homeownership remains a precondition of the American Dream.”
Married couples once again dominated the first-time homebuyer statistics last year at 66% of all buyers, according to the most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers. It is no surprise that having two incomes to save for down payments and contribute to monthly housing costs makes buying a home more attainable.
Many couples are deciding to use what would otherwise be their wedding fund as a down payment on their first home, as unmarried couples made up 8% of all first-time buyers last year. If you’re single, don’t fret; you can still buy your dream home! Single women made up 17% of first-time buyers in 2016, while single men accounted for 7% of buyers.
According to a survey by the Wedding Report, the average cost of a wedding in the United States at the start of the year was $25,961, which equates to a 10% down payment on a median priced home.
A recent article from the New York Times found that many singles are now asking their parents to allow them to use the money they’ve saved up for their wedding day to instead buy a home.
In the case of Carrie Graham, a Protestant minister from Austin, TX, her parents had saved a ‘five-figure sum’ for her wedding and were more than willing to give her that money as a down payment on her dream home. Graham told The New York Times,
“Buying the home wasn’t me saying, ‘I’m never going to get married’ or I am going to get married.’ My own home had way more than equity benefits. It was a real gift to have a home in an extremely desirable neighborhood in a city that I love. It’s brought me joy.”
More and more first-time homebuyers are finding a way to purchase their dream homes, even if that means delaying their dream weddings.
Whether you are selling or buying a home, the real estate agent you hire is critical to guaranteeing your family makes the right decision. Most agents can walk you through the process and explain the industry ‘lingo,’ but you should expect so much more than that.
The housing crisis made everyone aware that truly understanding the real estate market is more complicated than it seems. Today, there are many questions your real estate agent must be able to answer to ensure your family is making the right decision. Here are just a few:
When you are interviewing an agent to represent your family in your next real estate transaction, make sure they can intelligently answer all your questions, while simply and effectively explaining what is happening in the current housing market.
If you are debating listing your house for sale this year, here is the #1 reason not to wait!
The National Association of REALTORS’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun recently commented on the inventory:
“Last month’s dip in closings was somewhat expected given that there was such a strong sales increase in March at 4.2 percent, and new and existing inventory is not keeping up with the fast pace homes are coming off the market.Demand is easily outstripping supply in most of the country and it’s stymieing many prospective buyers from finding a home to purchase”.
“Last month’s dip in closings was somewhat expected given that there was such a strong sales increase in March at 4.2 percent, and new and existing inventory is not keeping up with the fast pace homes are coming off the market.
Demand is easily outstripping supply in most of the country and it’s stymieing many prospective buyers from finding a home to purchase”.
The latest Existing Home Sales Report shows that there is currently a 4.2-month supply of homes for sale. This remains lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market, and 4.6% lower than a year ago.
The chart below details the year-over-year inventory shortages experienced over the last 12 months:
Anything less than a six-month supply is considered a “seller’s market.”
Let’s get together and discuss the supply conditions in your neighborhood to be able to assist you in gaining access to the buyers who are ready, willing and able to buy now!
So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found one! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!
Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their latest Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:
“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”
This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process.
As we’ve mentioned before, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).
“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”
According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report, the inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 3.7-month supply; this is well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.
Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.
Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:
“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”
Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways that you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market!
“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”
“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.
Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”
If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller, or cancel the contract.
Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in their market is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly. Happy House Hunting!