Protecting Your Home

Good Morning Everyone,

Your home is a valuable piece of real estate that deserves protecting. It provides shelter for your family and your belongings, and can increase in value as an investment. Many criminals are opportunists and look for quick and easy access to your property, and improving your security against them can be simple and inexpensive. Take a moment to think like a criminal and find fast ways to make their lives more difficult.

Locks

If a criminal discovers an open door or window, they will quickly enter your property; grab the easiest asset available such as a purse, wallet, jewelry, or small electronics; and run. Your best protection is to keep your windows and doors locked at all times, even when you are home.

Clean Up

Check the area outside your home for screwdrivers, hammers and other tools or toys that could be used to pry open a door or break a window. Easy access to these types of tools could encourage a criminal to try breaking into your home.

Landscaping

Trimming trees and shrubs can eliminate means of entry to your home and places for criminals to hide, according to San Francisco’s Safety Awareness for Everyone. Criminals can climb trees to access low roofs and upper story windows, and they can hide behind shrubs beneath windows or near doors. Keeping your landscaping in good condition also improves the value of your real estate investment.

Windows

Older homes might have weak or broken window locks or panes made from easily broken thin glass. If possible, replace these windows with newer models with double-panes and strong locks. Or, secure bars or metal mesh over your windows and any air conditioning units that sit in windows. For less expensive security, cut a wooden broom handle and place it upright in your window to make it more challenging for a criminal to break in. If you leave your window open at night for ventilation, cut the broom handle so that your window will open no more than 4 inches. Close your drapes or blinds so that criminals cannot see easily into your home, and keep valuables away from windows where they are attractive targets and can be easily stolen.

Sliding Glass Doors

Use the broom handle trick to make your sliding glass doors more difficult to open. Cut the handle to fit in the door’s sliding tray so the door will not move unless the broom handle is removed.

Please remember to stay safe and be careful of your surroundings.

Please contact us for any questions.

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers, Realtors
(210) 479-1222sa1

Advertisements

The Home Inspection

Hello Everyone,

Today I wanted to share some information regarding the Home Inspection process. It is very important to understand what to look for and how to avoid a meltdown when problems come up. The Home inspection can either make or break your contract if you are not careful and if you are not aware to look out for. Below are some of the importnant things to watch out for during your home inspection.

THE BIG PICTURE

The first step in inspecting a home is to examine the big picture for the home. Notice the area the home is located in. Are there other homes of similar age and construction details relative to the home you are inspecting? A comparison will give you a general idea of the up keep of the home. Have there been significant modifications to the exterior of the building and if so, how is the workmanship?

EXTERIOR

Start at the exterior front of the house and work your way around the house (clockwise or counter-clockwise) at a distance which allows you to view a complete face comfortably. On each face (front, sides, rear) start your visual inspection at the top of the structure and work your way down to the ground and lot area. As an example, you would start at the front and note the roof and chimneys, the gutters, fascia and soffit’s. Then, moving down the exterior wall coverings (brick, wood, aluminum), noting windows, doors, etc. Examine any porches or decks down to the foundation, then the grade or slope of the lot area, followed by any coverings, such as flower beds, walkway’s, interlocking brick, driveways, etc. Move closer to the house, to examine more closely any details which may have attracted your attention, without skipping any items. Having completed the front, move to the side of the house and start the same procedure (roof to ground).

INTERIOR

On the interior, begin your inspection in the basement and then follow the system throughout each floor in the house. The system for inspecting the interior is to begin with the floor, go to the walls and then the ceiling, and then consider any appliances or other items in the room. Move from room to room, always in the same direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) so as to not miss any areas. If you see a door, open it!
In the utility room in the basement, first notice the floor, the walls (possibly the foundation walls are visible here), then the ceiling (floor joists may be visible), then go to the furnace, hot water heater, electrical panel, plumbing system, etc. When inspecting the floors, walls and ceilings, scan the entire areathat is visible, not just one section.
In a finished room you would notice the floors, walls (including windows) and ceiling. Next look for the heat sources, electrical outlets and switches, fireplaces, closets etc. In bathroom or kitchen, notice the floor, walls and ceiling, then the plumbing fixtures.

CONDITION

While performing the inspection, whether at the exterior, the interior or one of the mechanical systems, note the system first, then its relative condition. For example, if you were inspecting a wall on the interior of the home you would first note that the wall is plaster, and then examine the wall for cracks and irregularities.

PROBLEMS

The following are some typical problems or occurrences to look for in the major components and systems of the home.

ROOF
Is the ridge (peak) showing a sag, or is it straight and level?
Is the roof sagging between the rafters or trusses?
Are there any signs of deterioration of asphalt shingles, such as curling, warping, broken edges, rounded corners or key holes(slits) becoming wider that normal?
Any loose flashing’s, at the chimney, roof-to-wall connection or elsewhere?
Does the wooden roof deck appear rotten or delaminate under the last row of shingles?
Are there any roof vents visible?

CHIMNEYS
Is the masonry cap cracked or broken?
Are any bricks flaking or missing? Mortar missing?
Is the chimney leaning?

SOFFITS AND FASCIA
Note whether the soffit and fascia are wood, aluminum or plastic.
Any loose or missing sections?
If wood, are there any paint problems? Any visible rot?

GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS
Ensure gutters slope down toward downspouts.
Any rust or peeling paint?
Apparent leaks or loose/sagging sections?
Are the downspouts extended away from the foundations?

WALL COVERINGS
Look for missing mortar
Are the bricks flaking or cracking?
Look for loose, missing or rotten siding, deteriorated paint.>
Does the siding appear new? Does it hide the foundation wall?
Exterior walls bowed, bulged or leaning?

WINDOWS AND DOORS
Look for problems with paint or caulking, and rotted wood components.
Are the windows new or older? Are they the original windows? How old are they?

PORCHES AND DECKS
Cracking or flaking masonry?
Check for paint problems, rotted wood, and wood-earth contact.
Note any settlement or separation from the house.
Inspect the underside, if accessible.

FOUNDATIONS
Check for cracks, flaking or damaged masonry.
Note any water markings and efflorescence (whitish, chalky substance)
Any bowing, bulging or other irregularities?
Soft mortar?

LOT AREA
Does the grade slope away from the house?
Any settled/low areas next to the foundation, or cracked walks/driveway?
Is the property lower than the street or neighboring properties?

BASEMENT
Note any evidence of water penetration (stains, mildew/odors, efflorescence, loose tiles etc.)

FLOORS
Check for deteriorated coverings or cracked ceramics.
Any water staining or other damage?
Sloping or sagging?

WALLS
Randomly sample to check that the windows and doors work.
Are the walls straight vertically and horizontally?
Look for cracked or loose plaster.
Look for stains, physical damage or previous repair evidence.
Any drywall seams or nails showing?

CEILINGS
Check for cracks in the plaster or loose, sagging plaster.
Look for stains, mechanical damage or evidence of previous repair.
Seams or nails showing?

BATHROOMS AND KITCHENS
Check that all fixtures are secure.
Are there any cracks in the fixtures? Are the faucets working? Do they leak? Sufficient water pressure?
Note the condition of the tiles and caulking in the tub/shower area.

Look for staining and rot under the counter-tops
Randomly sample the operation of the cabinet doors and drawers.

ELECTRO-MECHANICAL CONSIDERATIONS
Type, style and age of heating & cooling systems. When were they last inspected or serviced?
Type of water supply piping and drains – any visible rust and corrosion?
Size and age of electrical service – are the outlets grounded? Visible wiring in good condition?
Have there been any upgrades?

Remember, when going over your home inspection realize that all homes, even new homes will have something that is quite not 100%. It’s important to understand what you need fixed before move-n and what can be done yourself after closing. I really hope this blog helps and if you have any questions rememeber we are only a phone call away!

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers, Realtors
(210) 479-1222C21 Black Bkgnd

10 Rookie Buyer Mistakes to Avoid

c21
Hello Everyone,

I came across this great article this morning that I wanted to share with everyone. This article talks about some of the mistakes to avoid as First Time Home-Buyers.

It was supposed to be a momentous occasion for Brian, who was about to close on his first home. But after signing a thick stack of documents—and taking part in the ceremonious passing of the keys—something felt off for the then 26-year-old Montgomery County, Md., resident. There wasn’t even a chilled bottle of bubbly or a housewarming gift to punctuate this pivotal moment. “My Realtor told me that I can take him out for a steak,” recalls Brian, who prefers that only his first name be used to guard his privacy. “He made me feel like I owe him something, when he just got paid a $12,000 commission. It felt like a kick in the face.”

Just a few years later, Brian is dishing out thousands of dollars to replace a badly splintered deck, a tired heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system, and a broken window the home inspector—chosen by the real estate broker—didn’t catch. He recalls a handful of instances in which his real estate agent should have been more active as they toured the 16-year-old town home that Brian ended up purchasing, including pointing out his end unit’s cozy proximity to the busy street. “Now I can’t sleep past 7 a.m. because I wake up to the sound of rush hour,” Brian says.

If you’re a property virgin about to take the plunge, here are some common blunders to avoid—and helpful tips that could mean the difference between financial security and a mountain of debt:

1. Not checking your credit report and score

You’ve clicked through hundreds of online listings, compared floor plans and square footage, and are eager to jump-start your search. But before you even think of setting foot in an open house, make sure you get a copy of your credit report. The cleaner your credit report and the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be preapproved for a mortgage at a low interest rate.

Review your credit report a few months before you begin your house hunt, and you’ll have time to ensure the facts are correct and dispute mistakes before a mortgage lender checks your credit. You can access a free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com once every 12 months.

2. Not getting preapproved

After you’ve assessed your credit report, it’s time to establish with a qualified lender how much you can afford. “First-time home buyers need to take the time to get an approval from their lender before looking at homes,” advises Ray Boss Jr., a seven-year licensed Realtor with RE/MAX Realty Group in Maryland. “This includes getting a credit check and giving their lender a copy of W-2s, pay stubs, and bank and brokerage statements.” Getting preapproved can help you save time by looking for homes that you know you can afford instead of lusting after something out of your price range. And it will put you in a better position over another bidder with no preapproval.

3. Not creating a long-term budget

If the housing crisis proved anything, it’s that mortgages were given to people who clearly did not have the means to pay them back. To avoid making this mistake, home buyers should create a budget before even beginning their home search to determine just how much house they can really afford. A good rule of thumb is to devote no more than a third of your monthly household income to housing costs, which include mortgage principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. There are several work sheets available online to help you figure out how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford each month for the next 15 or 30 years.

4. Forgetting about the hidden costs

You grossly underestimated what you can afford to pay each month. You factored in the purchase price of the home but didn’t consider the cost of taxes, insurance, utilities, and fees. There are several hidden costs that first-time home buyers neglect to prepare for. They can be anything from the closing costs to appraisal fees, escrow fees, homeowner’s insurance fees, property taxes, and even moving costs. Another factor is the cost of repairs and maintenance. “When you’re renting and the furnace goes out, what do you do? You call the landlord,” says Tom Vanderwell, mortgage officer for Fifth Third Bank in Michigan. “When you own a house, what do you do? You have to fix it yourself.” You may find there are numerous “nickel and dime” things to account for that could add up to a significant chunk of money over time.

5. Not using professional help

Sure, it’s possible to go out and buy a home without the aid of a professional real estate agent. But think about how much time and stress a good agent can save you. For starters, Realtors have access to all the homes on the market through the multiple listing service, or MLS, plus all the ones that are under contract and have been sold. A specialist has time to sift through all of these listings, says Boss, and make the appointments to show you the houses, create comparative market analyses to determine proper pricing, and meet with necessary inspectors. Real estate agents also can help buyers traverse a taxing, 70-page legal contract. “I would want someone who is going to look out for my interests first and foremost,” says Boss. “Someone who knows the contracts, who has experience negotiating, and who can walk me through the entire process smoothly—step by step—and make sure I get the house that’s right for me.”

6. Picking your real estate agent and lender blindly

“One of the mistakes a lot of people make is finding a Realtor they aren’t comfortable with,” says Boss. Begin your search at the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, a nonprofit that represents buyers. Or ask relatives, friends, neighbors, and coworkers for referrals.

First-time home buyers, Boss says, are generally more time-consuming than the average buyer and require more attention. A good real estate agent will be friendly and accommodating, show only homes that fit your parameters, and help you with strategies during the bidding process—but never pressure you into something you’re not comfortable with. “It’s important that the Realtor be experienced with first-time buyers, understand their wants and needs, and be able to connect with them well,” says Boss.

Similarly, the buyers should feel at ease with and have complete confidence in their mortgage lender, and they should fully discuss and understand their financing options with that lender. “Don’t apologize for asking questions,” says Vanderwell, who stresses the importance of knowing what you’re getting into. “There’s a pretty substantial chunk of people who are in really rough straits right now and would not have been had they done their homework.”

7. Thinking you’ll get everything on your “wish list”

Another mistake people make is being too close-minded while searching for their home, says Boss. He suggests sitting down with your real estate broker before searching for a home and creating a need/want list. Some of the items you might want to include as “must haves” or deal breakers are the towns you’d want to live in, square footage, or accessibility to transportation. The second part of the list would be things you don’t necessarily need but wish to have, such as a garage, new kitchen appliances, or an extra room for an office. “As you search for your home, you may realize there are certain parameters you really want or don’t want,” says Boss. “Understand that a certain amount of flexibility is essential.” Your aim is to be able to afford everything you need—as well as some items you want—all while staying within a long-term budget.

8. Not keeping your feelings in check before hiring a home inspector

You’ve already chosen the perfect paint color to match your living room set. But hold on: Before you start picking out accent pillows for your sofa, you need to bring in a home inspector to check the safety of your potential new home. Inspectors will evaluate the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the home and will give you the approximate price of repairs that may be needed. They will examine everything from the electrical system, water heater, and HVAC system to the foundation and floors.

Buyers should find and hire their own inspector—independent of the real estate broker—to ensure there isn’t a conflict of interest. When you make your offer, make sure the seller is aware that your offer is contingent on the house passing inspection. You can also add a clause to the contract stating that the seller will pay up to a certain amount for any repairs required as a result of the inspection.

9. Not researching your neighborhood

You may be living in your dream home, but your neighborhood’s a nightmare. Or you may have children or are planning to have children in the near future, but you didn’t consider the quality of the school districts or parks in the vicinity. You should ask yourself a number of questions during your home search, such as “Are there good schools nearby?” and “Do I feel safe coming home at night?”

Boss suggests that if schools are an important factor, you should go check them out personally. Speak with the principals or the parents waiting on the steps outside to pick up their kids. To learn more about the community, open up the local newspaper, Boss says. You can find out about community events or even how good the local high school football team is. Today’s buyers can gather all sorts of neighborhood information from real estate blogs and websites like Zillow and Trulia. “It is the responsibility of the buyer to check crime reports, school options, churches, and shopping,” says Boss. “Remember, you can change your house, but you can’t change the neighborhood.”

10. Not considering the resale value of your home

You’ve just started the home-buying process. The prospect of selling a home hasn’t even crossed your mind. Besides, you’re thinking you might live in whatever home you buy forever. Yet life is full of surprises, whether it is a job transfer or having another child or taking care of an incapacitated relative.

Please give us a call to schedule your appointment with one of our Agents today!

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers, Realtors
(210) 479-1222

6 Tips for Property Investors

Good Morning,

Property investment can turn out to be extremely profitable, if you are good at it and you are willing to take your chances. Nonetheless, it is essential to be fully aware of both the positive and negative aspects of property investment, before moving on to purchasing and renovating homes. If you are a property investor or you think about becoming one in the near future, here you will find 6 tips if you are ready to invest in property:

1. Focus On Promising Areas

Location plays an essential role when you purchase a home. It is pointless to invest in a home located in a bad and barely accessible area. For this reason, it is a lot better to invest more money in a home located in a central area, with lots of potential. In a nutshell, focus on areas where people would like to live and raise their children, areas that are safe and have good transport system.

2. Do Your Research

This aspect is particularly important if you are a young property investor. Market research is vital before investing in property, as you will get a deeper insight into the current investment trends and the most popular areas of your city. Moreover, you can also get in touch with older, more experience property investors who can give you some useful hints and tips.

3. Build A Strong Property Portfolio

Your property portfolio is like your business card – the stronger it is, the more respected and trusted you will be. Expand your portfolio on a constant basis, and remember that your own home should be a part of it!

4. Never Spend More Than You Can Afford

This is undoubtedly the golden rule of property investment – never spend more money than you have. The reason is very simple: investment market is very unstable, it is similar to a rollercoaster, it has its ups and downs. You can earn money overnight, but you can also lose significant amounts of money. You must be fully aware of all the risks, and you must never invest more than you can afford. If you cannot afford losing money, then you need to define your budget limits and stick to them. Overspending may lead to bankruptcy, and that certainly does not look good on the portfolio of a reputable property investor!

5. Define Your Target Tenant

If you want to purchase homes and rent then afterwards, then you should define your target tenant. Will your tenant be a student, or will you market the home towards young families? This aspect is essential, as it can help you decide on the location of the home. It also plays a pivotal role when you want to renovate/redecorate the home.

6. Negotiate A Discount

If you are a first-time buyer, then this is worth a shot. Negotiate a discount and see if you can get the home at a lower price. At the moment of speaking, we are in a very tough market, so you have nothing to lose if you try to lower the price of a house!

In conclusion, if you are a property investor and you want to minimize the risks associated with property investment, these 6 hints can help you do so. You can increase your profits in a fast, safe and effective way, as long as you are informed with regards to both the advantages and the pitfalls of this industry.

When Is The Right Time To Invest?

The financial crisis has affected the real estate market (and not only!) all around the world, to some extent. Despite the fact that most countries managed to overcome the crisis, its effects are still visible today. If you think about investing, then you must know when it is the right time to do so – only this way, you can minimize losses and maximize profits. Is it the right time for investing? In this article you will find detailed information and tips that will help you decide!

Discipline Is The Key To Successful Investing

First and foremost, it is essential to understand that if you want to be a successful investor, you must stay calm at all times. Only this way you can make rational decisions. You must never go against the trend, especially if you are a beginner in the art of investing – if professional investors decide it is time to buy, then you should do the same. Going against the trend can be extremely profitable at times, but this involves many risks that few people are willing to face.

When To Invest?

The answer to this question is quite relative – it is obvious that you should invest in property when the prices are lower than normally. However, as a general advice, it is highly recommended to focus on median-priced properties, provided that they are located in central areas. It is pointless to buy a home for 30% of its initial price if it is located in the suburbs and nobody is interested in purchasing it. Focus on areas where tenant demands are greatest – this way, you can be sure that somebody will rent your property in the long run, and you will slowly but surely get the ROI (return-on-investment).

Invest When You Have A Well-Designed Plan!

One of the biggest mistakes beginners tend to do is that they rush to invest in property without having a plan. This is a huge mistake – you must have a well-thought plan, with step-by-step instructions and stick to it (more info at https://www.statecustodians.com.au/home-loans/guides/property-investing/property-investment-plan). Use asset allocation whenever you want to invest. In other words, this means that you should not limit yourself to just one type of investment. This strategy aims to minimize risks, in case something goes wrong with one of your investments, you can rely on your other types of investments. However, asset allocation is recommended to those who can and are willing to take their chances, and can afford losing money if the investment is not profitable.

Focus On Long-Term Investing

Last but not least, the market potential is another essential factor that must be taken into account when deciding whether this is the right time for investing. It is pointless to try and predict the next market “boom”. As a successful investor, you want to be in the market for a long period of time – for this reason, it is important to focus on properties with great potential in the long haul.

To summarize, these useful hints can help you decide when is the right time to invest in real estate, and not only. Do not go against the trend, focus on long-term investment and carefully design an investment plan that you can stick to. This way, you are more likely to make a name for yourself in the investment industry!

Please give us a call to discuss all of your investment needs and questions!

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers, Realtors
(210) 479-1222C21