Connect with us

Real Estate

How and when to inspect a home

Skipping it improves your offer but comes with risk

Published

on

property inspections, gay news, Washington Blade
Some jurisdictions specifically add chimneys and environmental hazards to the list of possible inspections.

Property inspections have long been a part of the real estate buying process. Traditionally, a buyer would make an offer subject to a satisfactory home inspection. If something were found to be functioning poorly or not at all, the buyer would request that the seller make repairs and that request would be negotiated between the parties until they agreed on what was to be done.

As with everything else, there have been changes to the process over the years. There are now options for radon and lead paint inspections, and inspection of wells and septic systems that are more commonly found in outlying areas. Some jurisdictions specifically add mold, chimneys and environmental hazards to the list of possible inspections.

Now, when preparing an offer for a buyer, an agent will discuss how, when, which, or if inspections should be conducted, in what manner the process may differ in each jurisdiction, and how a buyer’s market or a seller’s market can affect the process. She will also caution the buyer to focus on systems that are malfunctioning and safety concerns rather than on cosmetic issues.

Sometimes a listing agent will advise a seller to have a home inspection before putting the house on the market to identify items in need of repair upfront. The seller can then make the repairs and provide the report and invoices for the work to the buyer. If no repairs will be made, the information about the condition of the home can be used to set its price or market it “as is.”

In D.C. and Montgomery County, for example, there are two types of home inspections, one where a buyer can choose between the ability to negotiate repairs with the seller and the opportunity to cancel the contract for any reason he is dissatisfied with the inspection, or both.

A general inspection in D.C. need not be conducted by a certified home inspector but can be carried out by the buyer’s brother-in-law, best friend, or anyone else the buyer chooses. An inspector in Maryland as well as in Virginia must be licensed and insured. Radon, lead and well/septic inspections are required to be conducted by professionals who specialize in those areas.

At this time, we are still experiencing a seller’s market in many portions of the metropolitan area, although condominium sales are slowing, with 1,160 of them available just in D.C. and nearly 300 of those on the market for more than 60 days.

That means that houses in sought-after areas in pristine condition will still command multiple offers. When that is the case, a seller is looking for an offer with as few contingencies as possible. A home inspection contingency of 7 to 10 days leaves the seller in limbo, holding her breath to see if the transaction will continue or the buyer will opt out, so you can understand why she would look more favorably on an offer that has no such contingency.

One of the ways around this is by doing a pre-offer inspection, also referred to as a “walk and talk.” With the seller’s permission, you go to the home with your inspector prior to making your offer to determine whether you want the house and how much you are willing to pay for it based on its condition.

A walk and talk inspection is often less invasive and less expensive than a traditional inspection. You will either get an abbreviated report or none at all, so it’s important to take notes and photographs while you’re there with your inspector. Having this type of inspection allows you to write an offer without an inspection contingency, increasing the value of your offer to the seller.

While I don’t recommend it, sometimes a buyer will opt to bypass an inspection altogether. For example, in new construction a buyer meets with the builder’s representative prior to settlement to check the physical condition of the property and make sure systems and appliances are working properly. Items of note are entered on a punch list for repair by the builder.

Other examples may include a condominium, where the roof, basement, and some of the major systems are the responsibility of management, and a cooperative, which often requires an inspection by the building manager. Items identified must be repaired by the seller prior to transferring ownership.

And a word of caution about quick flips: During sellers’ markets, everyone with a hammer and a screwdriver becomes a renovation expert. There may be a pig hiding behind that lipstick.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202- 246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real Estate

My Best Of’s in D.C. real estate

Favorites in buyer programs, paint colors, and more

Published

on

Forget shiplap, wallpaper is back!

As I congratulate my colleagues and friends who have received the coveted Best of Gay DC awards, I thought it appropriate to share with you my own, subjective “Best of” list. 

Best Housing to Buy. With 233 of them on the market in D.C., the one-bedroom, one-bath condominium under $400,000 may be the best option for a personal residence or investment. Given a median price of $320,000 and 49 days on the market, there are deals to be made. You have your choice of areas around the city and of buildings large and small.

Best First-time Buyer Program. D.C.’s Housing Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) is by far the best option to use if you are eligible. This program is based on household income and size and can provide up to $84,000 toward the purchase of a D.C. personal residence. For example, to receive the full amount, the income of a party of two is limited to a total of $51,600, 50% of the median family income for D.C. Other requirements may apply.

Best Tax Reduction Program. If you qualify, you may be able to take advantage of the DC Tax Abatement Program. Using the example of our party of two working adults buying a personal residence for less than $516,800, the income limit is $79,020 or $113,500 in designated Economic Development Zones.

Approval for the program exempts buyers from paying property taxes for up to five years and reduces the closing costs for the purchase by eliminating the buyer-paid recordation taxes and distributing the seller-paid transfer taxes to the buyer instead of to the DC tax office. For the buyer of that $516,800 personal residence, that can mean a savings of nearly $15,000 in closing costs.

Best Neutral Paint Color. First it was Builder Beige, then Gray was OK, then they blended into Good Grief Greige. While neutrals can be bland and boring, these days, expect to see a variety of off-whites gracing the walls of homes for sale. Sherman Williams 7008, Alabaster, did the trick for my most recent sellers. 

Best Wall Décor. Sponge paint and other effects are long gone. Forget shiplap unless you live in a house at the beach or on an actual ship. Distressed wood may still be suitable for a cabin in the woods, but in a modern, urban setting, wallpaper is back, baby! 

This is not your grandmother’s wallpaper. No chickens, tiny prints, borders, or faux grass cloth are in sight. Today’s wallpapers are bold, geometric, or a throwback to mid-century modern and are primarily used on an accent wall so they’re not overwhelming. Love vs. Design (lovevsdesign.com) can create custom wallpaper to match your color scheme in a peel and stick application that eschews the mess of wallpaper paste.

Best Indoor Plant. For us plant growing novices, the award goes to The Easy Care Bundle at The Sill (thesill.com). For only $45, you get two potted succulents that are very hard to kill, a Snake Plant and a ZZ Plant. 

You can also set yourself up on a subscription. $60 plus a $10 shipping charge buys a medium sized plant-of-the-month with a black or cream-colored planter. Choose classic plants or select pet-friendly, non-toxic plants for only $5 more with a 3-month minimum subscription. You can even purchase these as gifts.

Best Balcony Plant. For homes with a balcony or a deck, the winner is a potted Winter Gem Boxwood. It’s an evergreen that will turn a golden shade in the winter then green again in the spring. It also grows in both full and partial shade – almost a set it and forget it type of shrub – needing water only once a week or twice in hotter climates. Cut it as a topiary à la Edward Scissorhands for a little architectural interest.

Best Freestanding Refrigerator. I would be remiss if I didn’t include a best appliance category.An upscale fridge with see-through doors and built-in versions of computers, televisions and smart home elements holds a certain appeal until one of the glitzy attractions breaks and you spend as much for a new motherboard as you would for a whole new refrigerator. 

The winner of this category, therefore, is Samsung’s model RF28R7351SR. This bad boy is available in both standard and counter depth and features a French door top with external water and ice, a pull-out freezer with dual baskets, and a middle drawer that can be set to one of four temperatures to accommodate food or wine.

There you have it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to judge the Best of Blake Miniature Schnauzers category. I’m thinking a 4-way tie is in order.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs

Continue Reading

Real Estate

Helpful tips for homebuyers in seller’s market

2021 has been a great year for home sales

Published

on

COVID-19 housing market, gay news, Washington Blade

Without question, 2021 was a great year for home sales. Sellers across the country, in many cases, found themselves listing their homes and quickly having not just one, but multiple offers, many of which were at asking price or above. With limited inventory and high demand, it has been an ideal year to sell—and conversely, often a difficult year to buy. Buyers who are interested in a particular home, or even in a specific neighborhood, often find themselves facing stiff competition to have offers accepted. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that many buyers haven’t had successful and rewarding home buying experiences—just that doing so often means making an extra effort and taking helpful steps to make an offer the most competitive that it can be. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few helpful tips for buyers in a seller’s market:

  • Plan ahead with mortgage pre-approval: While there are certainly a wide variety of strategies that real estate agents and financial advisors may recommend, and while those strategies might vary depending upon the buyer and the circumstances of a particular market, one thing almost all experts agree on is that obtaining a mortgage preapproval is a smart decision. A mortgage preapproval is an ideal way to reassure sellers that a reputable lender has verified your credit and approved your buying power up to a certain limit. If you’re caught in a bidding war with another potential buyer, having preapproval establishing that you are ready, willing, and able to buy just might give you the advantage you need in a competitive market.
  • Be willing to look under budget so you can bid higher: In this highly competitive market, many home buyers find themselves in a situation where they are in a bidding war with another—or even several other—buyers. In that situation, you may find yourself having to make an offer at, or even in many cases, above, the asking price. This means that you may want to adjust your budget—and bidding—accordingly. Choosing to make an offer on a home that has an asking price that is already at the top of your budget may mean that you simply don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to making an offer over that price. Choosing a home slightly under the top of your budget means you’ll have more flexibility to make a bid that is more competitive and likely to be accepted.
  • Consider offering non-price-oriented incentives: Without question, making a highly competitive offer is going to be the key to increasing your chances of having that offer accepted. It’s important to remember that there is more to an offer than just price, however. Buyers may want to consider increasing the appeal of an offer by supplementing it with other incentives beyond just the dollar amount itself. Examples of such incentives might include things like foregoing the seller-paid home warranty that is often offered as part of the process, offering a shorter closing period, not making the purchase contingent upon the sale of a currently-owned home, or other such incentives. Doing so may give you the edge you need to have your offer selected over other competitive bids.
  • Retain the right real estate agent: Often, for LGBTQ buyers, especially in a competitive market, this piece of the puzzle is particularly important. In many, although certainly not all, cases LGBTQ buyers are drawn to specific areas of a city or community where other LGBTQ individuals live. That means that in a market where inventory is already limited and going quickly, there can be even fewer homes available upon which to bid. When that is the case, you will need a real estate agent who knows the community that you’re interested in, and who can quickly help you identify and take action toward making offers on homes that fit your needs. Having the right agent can make all the difference between a smooth and successful home-buying experience, and a stressful one

Jeff Hammerberg (he/him/his) is the Founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526, [email protected] or GayRealEstate.com

Continue Reading

Real Estate

Help, I’m under contract!  They accepted my offer?!

Buyer and seller need to work as a team

Published

on

What are the most common questions real estate agents, title companies and lenders get once a client is under contract? Well, luckily on my team we send out a next steps letter to all of our clients once an offer has been accepted and this helps them to know what to do the first week, the second week, and in any subsequent weeks before the settlement.  

For example, the letter will go out and say, “Make sure to get your EMD check to the title company in the agreed upon amount of time.” The EMD is your earnest money deposit, and most contracts have a buyer write a check for several thousands of dollars that will go the title company as sort of a “security deposit” on a contract that later gets applied to the buyers’ closing costs.

The letter will also instruct a buyer to contact their lender and confirm with them that they are under contract and to get the contract over to the lender so they can start preparing the loan and order the appraisal. The letter also states that later in the process the buyer will get the wiring instructions from the title company where settlement will be held for the down payment money. If there is to be a home inspection, we will also get that scheduled, usually in the first week after going under contract also.  

If selling, the letter is a different one with information about moving companies and getting any staging out of the listing. Both parties will receive instructions on how to change the utilities from the seller to the buyer the week of settlement. The title company will also follow up with the buyers and sellers to get any needed info. They will ask any questions necessary to possibly help the buyer to get any deductions or credits they might qualify for that could lower their closing costs. A good lender will do this also.

What each buyer and seller needs is good teamwork to make the dream work whenever a house is changing hands and a large transaction is going to be handled. For more information, you can contact me to attend my next Homebuyer’s Seminar on Oct. 12 in the evening, which will be on Zoom.  

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor at the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or at [email protected].

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular