Real Estate

Three Deadly Mistakes Every Home Buyer Should Avoid

Your Seattle, Washington home inspection company, The Home Detective, is pleased to share with you three deadly mistakes every home buyer should avoid.

Deadly Mistake #1: Thinking You Can’t Afford It.
Many people who thought that buying the home they wanted was simply out of their reach are now enjoying a new lifestyle in their very own homes.
Buying a home is the smartest financial decision you will ever make. In fact, most homeowners would be broke at retirement if it wasn’t for one saving grace — the equity in their homes. Furthermore, tax allowances favor home ownership.
Real estate values have always risen steadily. Of course, there are peaks and valleys, but the long-term trend is a consistent increase. This means that every month when you make a mortgage payment, the amount that you owe on the home goes down and the value typically increases. This “owe less, worth more” situation is called equity build-up and is the reason you can’t afford not to buy.
Even if you have little money for a down payment or credit problems, chances are that you can still buy that new home. It just comes down to knowing the right strategies, and working with the right people. See below.
Deadly Mistake #2: Not Hiring A Buyer’s Agent To Represent You.
Buying property is a complex and stressful task. In fact, it is often the biggest, single investment you will make in your lifetime. At the same time, real estate transactions have become increasingly complicated. New technology, laws, procedures, and competition from other buyers require buyer agents to perform at an ever-increasing level of competence and professionalism. In addition, making the wrong decisions can end up costing you thousands of dollars. It doesn’t have to be this way!
Work with a buyer’s agent who has a keen understanding of the real estate business and the local market. A buyer’s agent has a fiduciary duty to you. That means that he or she is loyal only to you and is obligated to look out for your best interests. A buyer’s agent can help you find the best home, the best lender, and the best home inspector in your area.
Trying to buy a home without an agent or a qualified inspector is, well… unthinkable.
Deadly Mistake #3: Getting A Cheap Inspection.
Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make. This is no time to shop for a cheap inspection. The cost of a home inspection is small relative to the value of the home being inspected. The additional cost of hiring a certified inspector is almost insignificant by comparison. As a home buyer, you have recently been crunching the numbers, negotiating offers, adding up closing costs, shopping for mortgages, and trying to get the best deals. Don’t stop now! Don’t let your real estate agent, a “patty-cake” inspector, or anyone else talk you into skimping here.
Get yourself a professional, home inspector today!
Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The HomeDetective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

You can view last weeks post here.

Seattle Real Estate Market – Meeting Buyer’s Demands

Your Seattle, Washington home inspection company, The Home Detective, is happy to share with you how to meet the buyer’s demands in any real estate market.
With many real estate industry watchers predicting 2014 will be a seller’s market, you may think you won’t need to do much to sell your home this spring. Not so fast – while more buyers are likely to be competing for homes, that doesn’t mean they’re willing to settle for less than perfect. In fact, coming out of the real estate crash of a few years ago, buyers have learned the importance of getting the maximum value for their home investment.
While home prices are expected to rise in 2014, buyers continue to have high expectations. Homes that meet buyers’ lists of “must-haves” and “would-love-to-have” features will be positioned to sell more quickly and closer to – or above – list price, experts say. So what are homebuyers looking for in 2014?
Whole-home, beautiful energy efficient features
In the earliest days of the efficiency trend, many buyers would have settled for a house that reduced heating and cooling costs through good insulation, or cut electricity bills with energy-sipping appliances. Modern buyers, however, are interested in homes that take a holistic approach to energy efficiency. That means supplementing energy savings with more thoughtful features like daylighting and natural ventilation through energy-efficient skylights, using solar-powered water heaters, and employing intelligent controls for skylights, other lighting and heating/cooling systems.
Buyers want energy-efficient upgrades that also offer high aesthetic appeal in addition to functionality, making features like ENERGY STAR-qualified skylights particularly popular. In fact, 55 percent of homebuyers in a National Association of Home Builder’s survey said skylights are desirable or essential. Skylight manufacturer VELUX America notes that installing no-leak, solar-powered fresh air (venting) skylights not only enhances indoor air quality, but can boost energy efficiency, working in concert with windows. Add remote-controlled, solar-powered blinds and skylight energy performance ratings can improve as much as 45 percent. And solar powered skylights and blinds, as well as the installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent Federal tax credit.
Smarter size and space
While buyers will always look to get the most bang for their buck, many are deciding that “bang” does not necessarily mean “bigger.” The great recession saw many families downsize into smaller homes – with more manageable mortgages. Even with the economy moving again, many homeowners have found they like the efficiency and utility of smaller, more purposeful spaces.
The functionality of a room is now as important as its size. Buyers will continue to embrace rooms that make the most of the space available, such as compact kitchens that maximize storage, smaller bathrooms that optimize lighting efficiency and privacy, while saving wall space through use of skylights, and open rooms that serve multiple purposes. To see how skylights would look in any room in your home, get a skylight planner app, take pictures in your home, and overlay skylights and blinds on the images with a few clicks.
Aging-in-place potential
As more baby boomers approach and enter their golden years, homebuyers are looking toward the future and seeking homes that offer the potential of allowing them to age in place. In demand are home features that not only look good now (such as an open floor plan or larger bathroom) but that can be easily adapted for older occupants who may face challenges with mobility, vision and other age-related issues.
A range of home features fit the bill, including ground-floor bedrooms, ample natural lighting to enhance vision, open floor plans that minimize obstacles to mobility, larger bathrooms that can easily be fitted with grab bars, kitchens with age-friendly features such as touch faucets, and smaller yards with lower maintenance requirements.
While higher demand and less inventory are likely to make 2014 a better year for sellers than buyers, if you’re selling your home, knowing what buyers are looking for can help ensure a faster, more rewarding sale – in any market.
Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Seattle, Washington home inspection company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Seattle Smart Home Investing

Your Seattle home inspector, Reid Guthrie, is pleased to present to you how to increase your resale value with smart investing.
Investing in home improvements is a smart idea when you’re thinking of putting your home on the market. So where is the best place to spend your money?
While it may be tempting to make cosmetic home improvements including decorating touches or fresh coats of paint, upgrading vital home systems such as heating and cooling can really pay off. In fact, making smart improvements can help you save money on your utility bills now, while increasing your home’s value to potential buyers later on down the road.
Heating and cooling is one of a home’s biggest costs, accounting for more than half the average home’s utility costs, according to energy.gov, which means it makes good sense to make efficiency improvements that positively impact your budget every month. And for the long term, potential buyers want assurance that basic home systems, including heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical, are in working order before they buy, RealEstate.com reports.
* Heating and cooling: On average, you should consider replacing your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system every 10 years in order to take advantage of the latest energy-saving technologies and cost efficiencies. Replacing your old system with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of up to 20.00, such as American Standard’s AccuComfort Platinum ZV air conditioner, can save you up to 60 percent on your annual cooling costs.
* Home automation: You can also stay ahead of the real estate curve and provide additional value for your home through the use of advanced home automation technology. For instance, Nexia Home Intelligence enables you to remotely manage multiple features and functions of your home including heating and cooling, as well as door looks, indoor and outdoor live video surveillance and storage, lights and shades, via any Web-enabled computer, smartphone or tablet.
* A programmable control: Another way to reduce energy consumption is to install a programmable HVAC control, which can save up to 15 percent compared to traditional non-programmable thermostats. The American Standard AccuLink Platinum ZV Control makes it easier than ever to monitor the indoor and outdoor temperatures of your home. You can also monitor heating and cooling use over time, so you can manage energy and comfort even further.
* Home inspection, repair and advice: As you look ahead to warmer weather for making home improvements, remember that now is an ideal time to purchase a new home comfort system. A qualified HVAC dealer can perform an inspection, advise you on preventative maintenance and make recommendations on heating and cooling systems that best fit your home’s needs. Choosing an American Standard Customer Care Dealer means you’re assured of an independent dealer who is committed to being the best in installation, customer satisfaction and employee training. Find one near you at AmericanStandardAir.com.
Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

The Home Inspection: Cavemen, Home Inspectors, And The Way It’ll Always Be

Here is a good way to describe real estate and home inspectors, from way back in the ‘caveman’ day to modern day, in a lighthearted way of course…
In prehistoric times, when a family was considering a move to a different cave (Hey…who wants to stay in the same old cave their whole life?), they probably communicated with their cave-dwelling neighbors to get an opinion as to whether or not their new cave was up to par…whether or not their potentially new abode was in satisfactory condition…whether it was prone to leak…or to leave them out in the cold.
There were likely some fellow cavemen that had a bit more experience with the evaluation of caves than others. So, they were sought out to give their opinion even though that opinion might have been delivered through a series of gestures and grunts…since they didn’t have any hand-held PDA’s, touch-screen computers, or highly developed language to convey their thoughts and findings.
And, no doubt, their were various levels of professionalism among the acknowledged and preferred cave assessors that led the cave-dwelling masses to choose one assessor over another in their search for new shelter…some combination of combined experience and ability to effectively communicate (Arghghhh…Urgghh…Hyrpthmblomsit) that separated them from some other creature. It’s the same way today with modern Home Inspectors…although most can communicate in their native dialect and most use computers, some sans the touch-screen, of course. Some are good, some are not so good, and some are, well…pretty darned good.
While a fairly high percentage of most all modern Home Inspectors do a reasonable job of assessing the physical condition of a home, they can be generally divided into 5 categories or types:

The Nit-Wit Inspector – This is the inspector that advertises the cheapest prices (sometimes referred to a Cheap Charlie) and gives the least value to his clients. They speak as little as possible (perhaps out of necessity), deliver their poor hand-written reports in a week or so after being repeated prompting, and rarely engage in anything approaching a high degree of critical thought process beyond how to get home as quickly as possible. Often, they often have little knowledge or concern about the rules and standards that pertain to their field of work. The Nit-Wit inspector is sort of like the cockroach on the wedding cake….and is best avoided by everyone.
The Gloved Inspector – This is the inspector who, while perhaps technically competent, has no intention whatsoever of reporting on anything that might damage their chance of future client referrals. They perform the ole’ soft-shoe routine, dancing around any potentially troubling issues, and deliver their candy-coated findings in such a way as to offend nobody at the sometimes partially disguised expense of inferiority. This inspector should be avoided almost as much as the Nit-Wit inspector
The Alarmist Inspector – This is the inspector who just can’t seem to control themselves when it comes to describing issues. Their description is usually accompanied with flailing arms, a red-faced demeanor along with the occasional emotional fit, and a general tendency to scare the ever-lovin’ bejeebers out of everyone within a three block radius including the home-buyer, the real estate agents, the home-seller, and the guy standing on the corner down the street. Everything’s a disaster just waiting to happen and they’re really eager to be credited for saving someone from certain and impending doom. Be careful with this type of inspector because they may burst into flames at any time
The Professorial Inspector – This is the inspector who is technically competent, is probably a reasonably effective communicator, and knows what they are supposed to do…but insists on relating, to anyone within earshot, everything they know about everything they’ve ever had the occasion to learn about anything. Sometimes, too much information is, well, too much information. Form your own opinion about this inspector…although, you may actually end up getting a pretty thorough Home Inspection
The Professional Inspector – Not to be confused with the Professorial Inspector above, this is the inspector that will provide the very best value to their clients even if their clients have to a pay a bit more to get that value. They’ll fully and calmly explain what they are going to do, how they are going to do it, why they’re going to do it a particular way, do it, and then explain what it is that they have done. They’ll welcome client questions and participation, and they’ll understand that the amount of time it takes to inspect the home is time for which the client is providing payment and not the other way around. They won’t participate in alarmist reporting practices. They won’t try to impart allot of information that is not pertinent to the Home Inspection and the home being evaluated. They’ll be courteous to all those present and they’ll be fair to the home; they won’t inspect or report upon a 100 year old house as if it were somehow expected to be brand new, and they’ll possess a thorough knowledge and understanding of their profession. They’ll be an active member of a national Home Inspectors organization such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).They’ll accurately convey the findings of their inspection, in accordance with their applicable Standards of Practice, in an even-keeled and informational manner while making reasonable and proper recommendations based upon their observations. And, they’ll convey their findings in a good, readily understandable Home Inspection report

Some things never change and so it likely goes with Home Inspectors. Home Inspectors, as with any other types of professional service providers now or as it likely was in the day of the caveman, will vary widely insofar as their knowledge, level of education, communications skills, inspection methodologies, and the delivery/explanation of their findings are concerned; it’s always been that way and it’ll likely always be that way.
For the very best Home Inspection experience, actively seek out a Home Inspector with the demeanor, education, experience, and professionalism that will provide you with the highest level of comfort and confidence.
Urghh…Arguff…Hyrpthmblombsit!

Gary Gentry is the owner of Quality Residential Inspections, a Raleigh Home Inspection firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is a veteran Home Inspector, having performed many thousands of fee-paid inspections of residential, commercial, and industrial properties. You are cordially invited to visit their website at http://qriquality.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Gary_Gentry
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5701696
Many thanks to fellow home inspector, Gary Gentry for such an awesome article. So very true and to the point. Reid Guthrie

The Best Kind Of Home Improvements:

High-Impact, Low-Maintenance
Yes, everyone knows making home improvements is a worthy investment in your greatest material asset. Sure you want every improvement job done well with top-notch end results. But when all is said and done, do you really want to have to put a lot of effort and money into maintaining those improvements? For most people – whether they’ll admit it or not – the answer is “no.”
The best home improvements are the ones that not only enhance your home’s value and livability, but also require little work from you afterward to keep them looking great and functioning well. If you’re looking for high-impact, low-maintenance home improvements, consider these popular projects:
No-leak skylights
When it comes to an improvement that brightens your home, enhances its indoor air quality and boosts energy-efficiency, skylights deliver. Unfortunately, early skylights had a reputation for being leaky – a problem that simply doesn’t occur with modern, no leak, energy-efficient skylights like those made by Velux America. Pre-engineered flashing kits (the metal shield that surrounds any opening in a wall or roof) work with all types of roofs, from shingles to metal, to ensure a properly installed skylight won’t leak.
Need further low-maintenance points to make the case for adding a skylight? Not only do modern skylights keep water out, they’re energy efficient as well. Energy Star-qualified, no leak solar-powered fresh air skylights, like those from Velux, deliver fresh air through cost-effective passive ventilation. Adding remote-controlled, solar-powered blinds allows you to easily open or close a fresh air skylight and shade it when the sun hits that part of the roof, boosting the skylight’s energy efficiency by 39 percent. Keep the shade open during cold weather to admit warmth and reduce heating costs. A 30 percent federal tax credit on both products and installation costs makes a skylight project even more appealing. Visit www.veluxusa.com for a tax calculator to show your savings for a new installation or replacement skylights and a skylight planner app to show exactly how skylights and blinds will look in any area of your home.
Lighting upgrade
Older light fixtures not only look dated, they often use outdated, inefficient bulbs and are lacking in the energy-efficient emphasis that comes with newer fixtures. Upgrading lighting throughout your home is a great way to ensure you won’t have to think about it again any time soon.
If a total lighting redesign is out of the question, you can still make your existing light fixtures lower maintenance simply by swapping out old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs with newer, electricity-sipping versions. Options like CFLs and LEDs provide all the light of incandescents while using a fraction of the energy. Energy.gov says Energy Star-rated LEDs use at least 75 percent less power than incandescent bulbs, and last 25 times longer. Imagine the time, hassle and money you’ll save not having to replace bulbs constantly – especially in lights that get a lot of use, like porch lights, or that are hard to reach, like the chandelier in your two-story entryway.
Vinyl siding
Wood, fiber cement, stucco, brick – there are nearly as many types of exterior siding as there are colors to paint it. When it comes to low- or no-maintenance siding, vinyl remains the gold standard. In fact, more new homes are built using vinyl siding than any other type of siding product, according to the Vinyl Siding Institute.
While early versions of vinyl siding introduced in the 1950s earned criticism for being less lovely than wood, even those less sophisticated versions had staying power; it’s possible to find homes in use today sporting vinyl siding that was added to the house in the 1970s or even earlier.
Vinyl siding never needs to be painted, and when properly installed provides exceptional shielding from the elements. New technology has made modern vinyl siding look better and last longer without fading issues associated with older versions of vinyl. It requires basic cleaning, and overall maintenance demands are much less than other types of siding. Visit www.vinylsiding.org to learn more.

One of the best home inspection Seattle is the Home Detective.
Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Myth Busters: Why Vinyl Siding Is America’s Hottest Home Design Feature

Chances are, you’ve seen and heard a lot about vinyl siding on home renovation television shows, in magazines and in your neighborhood. Once seen as a drab and boring alternative to aluminum siding, vinyl siding is now driving new design trends, effortlessly adapting to any architectural home style.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, vinyl siding is a hot home exterior material, appearing on nearly one third of all new homes built in 2012, more than any other cladding material. Still unsure about vinyl siding? Consider these myth-busting facts:
Myth: Vinyl siding is boring and looks cheap
Vinyl siding has come a long way since it was introduced in the 1950s and manufacturers have made strides in research and development efforts for design and performance. Nearly 350 vinyl siding colors have been certified for color retention, according to the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI). The variety offers homeowners a virtually endless palette of fade-resistant colors, combined with complementary trim, accents and accessories. Additionally, the texture and attention to detail on the siding panels make high-end vinyl siding nearly indistinguishable from wood clapboard, cedar shake shingles or other traditional materials. –
Thanks to these advancements in color and technology, top designers on shows like “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “George to the Rescue” have recently made vinyl siding a focal point of their renovation and new-build home designs. And many historical societies across the U.S. have turned to vinyl siding for historic home renovations because of the wide selection of period colors, architectural details and low-maintenance benefits.
“After the devastating tornado in Joplin, Mo. in 2011, we built seven houses in seven days using vinyl siding exteriors,” says Kim Lewis, architectural designer of Kim Lewis Designs and former lead designer for ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. “At first I was skeptical, but we were able to bring forward character-driven design on each of the home’s exteriors with vibrant colors and architectural elements. After spending some time with the material, I have a more positive outlook on vinyl siding.”
Myth: Vinyl trim doesn’t have the authentic look of wood
A common misconception about vinyl siding is that trim options don’t offer a high-end look like authentic wood. Though in recent years, siding manufacturers such as Ply Gem have made significant strides in the design of low maintenance, holistic finishing solutions for windows, doors, eaves, gables, columns and more, introducing trim and mouldings made from cellular PVC.
These trim packages are designed to look and function like real wood, accentuating the best features of any architectural home style, but eliminating the need to clean, replace or stain in years to come. With today’s trim options, even the most discerning homeowners will find there’s no need to compromise beauty to get low-maintenance curb appeal.
Myth: Vinyl siding isn’t durable
Don’t let the light weight of the product fool you. Products like Mastic Home Exteriors by Ply Gem vinyl siding are manufactured with technologies tested to resist wind speeds of more than 200 mph. These products have been put to the test and withstood the elements in recent storms such as Superstorm Sandy.
In addition to holding its own against Mother Nature, vinyl siding puts up a pretty good fight against Father Time. The product has tremendous longevity, in many cases lasting 30 years or more with very little maintenance and low cost of ownership. Vinyl siding does not need to be painted and it can be cleaned with simple soap and water.
If you believed the myths above, don’t be discouraged. One thing that is undeniably true is that vinyl siding will continue to lead the way in exterior home design. For links to more facts and studies on vinyl siding, visit www.plygem.com. Manufacturer sites like these are also a great resource for homeowners who want to experiment with vinyl siding colors and options before committing to a new build or renovation, offering exterior design tools for photo-realistic virtual makeovers on a variety of architectural home styles.
 
Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!