4 Things Home Inspectors Don’t Often Check

Most home inspectors carefully scrutinize a house from top to bottom, many with checklists that contain more than 1,600 features to evaluate. But some items require a specialist for a more thorough evaluation.

The fireplace and chimney

Inspectors often open and shut dampers to make sure they’re working properly. They may shine a flashlight up the chimney to look for any obstructions. But for anything further, buyers likely will need to hire a fireplace inspector to look for things like soot and creosote buildup, which are possible fire-starters. Those extra inspections could cost anywhere from $80 to $200.

Foundation issues

A geotechnical or structural engineer may need to be brought in if a buyer has concerns about the ground underneath the home, such as whether any shifting, tilting, or sinkholes have caused damage. Professionals will test the soil for several potential problems. Basic testing likely will cost between $300 and $1,000, while more invasive testing can cost upwards of $5,000. Buyers on a budget might consult a free site called PlotScan, which reveals any history of sinkholes and other natural catastrophes in the vicinity of the home, to better understand whether they need further inspection help.

Well and septic systems

Some home inspectors trained to evaluate septic systems may be willing to do an extra inspection for an added fee to test a home’s well water and septic system. Otherwise, buyers will have to hire a well inspector. These professionals will collect water samples to test in a lab for coliform, arsenic, and other harmful bacteria and chemicals. They’ll also make sure that seals, vents, and screens have been properly maintained and that the well and pump are producing enough water. That typically will cost about $250 for an inspection.

Roof

“We’ll go up on roofs if it’s safe,” says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors. “But if it’s raining or it’s too high, we’re not able to get to it.” A specialized roof inspection, which costs about $500 to $750, offers a closer look. Some roof inspectors will even do an initial consultation for free. Those who don’t go on the roof can sometimes conduct an infrared inspection to look for any temperature differences along the roof to see where heat or air conditioning might be escaping.

Source: “4 Things Home Inspectors Don’t Often Check,” realtor.com® (June 28, 2017)

Summer Home Security Tips

An increase in burglaries during the summer months means it’s time to help safeguard your while you’re away on vacation or if you’re absent while your home is on the market. Realtor Magazine offers six tips for preventing break-ins.

  1. Front door surveillance. Because 34 percent of break-ins happen through the front door of a home, a good recommendation is to install a smart doorbell that routes to your phone. Other security options include two-way speakers that will give visitors the impression the owner is home, or video cameras so your clients can see who’s at the door from their phone.
  2. Secured windows. The second most common break-in location is a first floor window, the access point of 23 percent of burglars. Install sash locks and wireless motion sensors that will alert you if a window is opened or broken.
  3. Don’t forget the AC unit. Pushing in a window air conditioning unit is another common break-in method. Remove the AC unit while you’re away or install motion sensors near the unit.
  4. Barring patio and sliding glass doors. Sliding doors should not only be locked, but should also have a barrier bar in the tracks. Consider installing motion detectors in this area as well.
  5. Leave the lights on. The goal is to make the home appear lived in, even if you are vacationing or have already moved out. At the very least, use light timers or try smart lights that can be controlled from your phone.
  6. Call 911 from afar. A homeowner trying to reach the police from a remote location can take valuable minutes. Many home security companies, such as Ooma, offer remote 911 calling.

Rising Interest Rates and Your Home Buying Power

A couple of weeks have passed since the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter point, or 0.25 percent. It’s the fourth time since December 2015 that the Fed has raised interest rates. Projections are that the rates will be increased at least one more time in 2017. The good news behind that is that it means the economy is much healthier. And, despite the increases, the rate is still extremely low by historical standards. But what does it mean for home buyers?

First, don’t panic! While the rate increase will raise borrowing costs for consumers (ie. home buyers) and may impact the price of the home you can afford in order to maintain a monthly mortgage payment that’s within your budget, it doesn’t mean you have to reconsider buying your new home. There are many more factors to consider–such as the trends and sales data an experienced and licensed real estate agent can provide. REALTORs act in their client’s best interest to get them the best deal possible–giving you the information you need so you’ll know what to expect and not be caught by surprise. Let our #1 team help you maximize your purchasing power. Contact us at info@petersenpartners.com today or check us out at www.PetersenPartners.com.

 

 

A Compilation of Recommended Vendors & Service Providers

Are you planning to sell your home this year and need to get it ready to go on the market? Do you need a reliable plumber or electrician? Maybe a tree removal service or home stager? Download your free Vendor Resource Guide here.

Petersen Partners has compiled sources for its Vendor Resource Guide from a select group of REALTOR® colleagues based on personal or client experience. We recommend you do your own research to find the vendor(s) that best suits your needs and situation. We welcome your positive or negative feedback on any of the names contained in this list. Your comments and suggestions will help us achieve our goal of providing the names of the best, most reliable vendors in our area.

Are Your Home And Garden Ready For Summer?

 

Manicured House and Garden displaying annual and perennial gardens in full bloom.

Colorful blooms all over the country are evidence that spring has sprung. It’s time to chase the winter gloom from your home and prepare to welcome summer.

A little seasonal maintenance can go a long way toward ensuring safety and security. Traveler’s Insurance provides a home maintenance checklist to help you do just that:

Indoors:

  • Furnace – clean or replace the filter
  • Fireplace – remove any ash and have the chimney swept
  • Smoke detectors – change the batteries and check that detectors are working
  • Water heater – inspect for leaks or corrosion
  • Air conditioning – have the system checked and tuned by a professional before turning it on for the season
  • Electrical outlets – check outlets and cords for frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Fuse boxes and extension cords also should be checked to make sure they are not overloaded.
  • Dryer – Clean lint build-up from the clothes dryer exhaust duct and the space under the dryer. Use a specialized brush to clean out the vent pipe.
  • Windows – Let the sun shine in through clean windows all over the house

Outdoors:

  • Roof – Check for loosened shingles or any damage from snow or ice, and make repairs now to reduce the possibility of leaks
  • Gutters: Clean leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts to keep water flowing and reduce the possibility of water damage
  • Trees: Visually inspect trees for damage or rot and remove, or have professionally removed, any dead trees or limbs. Be sure all healthy trees and bushes are trimmed and away from utility wires
  • Lawn Equipment: Make sure lawn mowers, tractors and other equipment are tuned up before using. Store oil and gas for lawn equipment and tools in a vented, locked area.
  • Walkways and Driveways: Repair any cracks and broken or uneven surfaces to provide a safe, level walking area.

 

Reposted courtesy of http://rismedia.com/2017/06/11/are-your-home-garden-ready-summer/#close

Show the Fun In Your Home

When you read or hear advice about staging your home for sale, it’s predictable—declutter, depersonalize, and neutralize as much as possible. But what you’re never told is how to make your home really memorable. One way is to make it look like a really fun place to live.

Here are three ideas for making your home more appealing to a potential buyer:

  • Put a badminton net in the backyard. Leave a note by the racquets with some bottled waters inviting homebuyers to play. Ping pong is also becoming a popular backyard activity—ask a local store if you can rent a ping pong table for the day.
  • Most homes are older, so turn age into a positive. Set the dining room table with a fondue pot surrounded by flower power napkins and plates. Put some Al Green on Pandora for showings. Showcase the trendy, vintage quality of a home with history.
  • Speaking of history . . . Include a fun detailed history sheet explaining that unique aspects of your home. For instance, mid-century homes epitomize the postwar automobile, jet and space travel culture. That’s why the garages are attached and Sputnik stars were a popular motif. Better vacuums meant no more rug beating—hence the luxury of wall-to-wall carpet.

Click here for more tips and benefits of staging your home.

How Much Mortgage Should You Borrow?

As the spring housing market heats up, you may have to act fast to get the home you want. But that doesn’t mean you should skip crucial home buying steps. Have a plan and stick to it to find the home you want.

  1. Be prepared. Choose2302640.medium a lender, share your financial information, and decide the down payment amount. The lender will come back with the highest amount you can borrow and your interest rate. Don’t fool yourself with a risky loan; get the safest loan for the longest term you can afford.
  2. Shop within your means. By fixing the financial variables, you also fix your price range. While you may be tempted to look at fancier homes to see what they have, but that will only make you less happy with the homes in your range.
  3. Don’t skip inspections. Sellers expect you to examine the home. You not only need to know what the home costs, but what it’s likely to cost soon for repairs, replacements and remodeling.
  4. Think long term. To recover closing and moving costs, you will likely need to occupy the home you buy for five years or longer. Choose the home that is most likely to meet your household’s needs for the longest foreseeable future.
  5. Add value. By adding on or making other improvements, you’re bringing the home up to the area’s best standards, which will help it hold and increase its value and appeal strongly to the next buyer.

Don’t Make These Three Mortgage Mistakes

For most buyers, the mortgage is the largest monthly expense they will ever have. Yet many borrowers don’t know how to prepare, negotiate or shop for mortgage loans.2302642.medium

  1. Compare lenders. A loan officer works for a bank or savings and loan and offers you proprietary loan packages. A mortgage broker shops your deal around to various lenders and gets quotes for you. You’ll have to share personal financial information to get a realistic rate, and then pick the lender’s offer you like best.
  2. Pay attention to terms. All fees are negotiable. It’s all in your loan estimate and closing disclosure form when you’ve applied for the loan, so ask for a blank one up front so you can compare fees. Ask the reason for each fee if it’s not apparent.
  3. Choose the right type of loan. Current market conditions favor fixed rates, because rates are rising from all-time lows. Yes, they cost more than hybrid loans or adjustable rate loans, but the base amount is fixed and doesn’t change. Only your taxes and hazard insurance will cost you more over the years.

If you get an adjustable rate mortgage, you are at the mercy of market conditions. While there’s a cap on how high your interest rate can go, it’s only a good risk if you plan to occupy your home less than five years.

Ask your lender to explain the risks and benefits of the types of loans available.

 

Speed Clean for Showings

Life is messy, and cleaning your home in time for an unexpected showing is never convenient. But you can do a speedy pick-up and spot clean so your home sparkles for homebuyers. Here’s how.2302641.medium

  1. Get everyone on board. Selling your home is a team effort. Start good habits now so there’s less for everyone to do later. Remind kids to put their toys away and hang up their clothes before bedtime and to make their beds every morning. For weekends, assign each household member a room to pick up in addition to their bedrooms.
  2. Keep baskets handy. Make a five-minute clean up drill fun. Give each household member a basket. Show them what belongs and what should be put in the basket for each room. Blow a whistle to begin and then a quick pick-up drill becomes a fun race.
  3. Clean litter boxes daily. Pets contribute a lot of odors to homes, so make sure cat litter boxes are sifted daily and wash dog beds weekly. Don’t forget the back-yard dog run!
  4. Shortcuts for speed. It’s crucial that kitchens and baths are spotless for showings. Keep a plastic housekeeper’s caddy loaded with toilet bowl cleaner, bleach wipes, paper towels and glass cleaner. Be ready to go for a five-minute once-over on counters, mirrors, etc.
  5. Reward good jobs Look over each room before heading out the door with the kids and the family dog. The one who did the best job gets to pick a treat – ice cream, a movie or the park.

8 Plants That Repel Bugs and Mosquitoes

According to this article from our friends at RealSimple.com, these 8 plants can beautifully help fight mosquitoes and bugs! Most on this list do really well here in Georgia, plus they’re pretty and some are even tasty! Check it out before you do your spring planting!

Citronella Grass

 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Citronella Grass

The citronella candles on your patio are made with the oil that comes from this plant. “Citronella is by far the most popular plant that repels mosquitoes,” says Carmen Johnston, a garden lifestyle expert. “It has a very pungent odor. I often place this in small eight-inch terra cotta pots and mix in with my centerpieces when entertaining outdoors. You can either use the clippings mixed in with arrangements or use the plant itself as the centerpiece.”

Petunias

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Petunias

This perennial is sometimes known as “nature’s pesticide,” because it can repel aphids, tomato hornworm, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, and squash bugs. “Petunias are very easy to grow and you can plant them in the ground or keep them potted,” says Peyton Lambton, lifestyle expert and star of My New Old House. “They like sun, and I recommend buying transplants and placing them in light, well-drained soil in full sun after the last spring frost.”

Lavender

 Juliette Wade/Getty Images

Lavender

“Lavender has a fragrant smell that deters mosquitoes,” Johnston says. “I have this planted in clusters at the entryway of my garden, and I love those purple blooms. It likes to be hot and dry, so it’s perfect for summer.” You can also apply lavender oil to your skin as a natural repellent.

Germany, Rhineland-Palatinate, Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

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Nasturtium

It repels whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, several beetles, and cabbage loopers. This one will help other plants in your garden, too. “They produce an airborne chemical that repels insects, protecting not only themselves but other plants in the grouping,” says Chris Lambton, a professional landscaper and star of My New Old House. “Plant these in early spring in moist, well-drained soil in full sun. They should be regularly watered and deadheaded to promote blooming.”

Rosemary

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Rosemary

It not only adds flavor to your dishes, but it will also help keep the bugs away. “This one is another plant perfect for summer heat because it likes to be dry,” Johnston says. “It is one of my absolute favorite smells, but mosquitoes can’t stand it. You can plant it in containers, but it also works well as a hedge.” Johnston says the plant also adds texture to arrangements, so why not place it in an outdoor centerpiece to repel bugs and provide some eye candy?

Basil

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Basil

“It’s an annual herb and repels houseflies and mosquitoes,” says Chris Lambton. “Ensure that the plant gets six to eight hours of full sun daily, and its soil should be moist and well-drained. When you see blossoms start to form, pinch them off at the base to ensure the best-tasting leaves.” This versatile herb can also treat mosquito bites, Johnston adds. She recommends rolling several leaves between your hands to release its natural oil and apply to your bite to ease swelling.

Lemon grass in garden, Horizontal

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Lemongrass

Lemongrass is closely related to citronella and repels mosquitoes, but unlike the latter, it’s edible and is commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking. “It can grow three- to five-feet tall and adds lots of extra height and texture to the garden, so it needs a larger container,” Johnston says. Keep this plant in a sunny spot.

 

Mint

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Mint

Refreshing mint can be used in dishes and cocktails, but it has an added bonus. “It’s a perennial that repels mosquitoes,” says Peyton Lambton. “Mint is easy to grow, but once established in a garden, it can be tricky to remove. Plant it in a pot instead and frequently pick its leaves to keep the plant at its best. You can grow the plant indoors all winter long—and it will help keep flies outside, too.”