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Archive for the ‘Property Value’ Category

house_inspectedHome inspections are a tense time for everyone. Sellers are fervently hoping that
nothing major is wrong with their home that could hold up the transaction.
Buyers are eager to hear that their new house is in prime condition. Whatever the
wishes, one thing is for sure; any news from an inspector is usually bad news.
Home inspectors have a tough job. They have to be trained to spot hundreds of
potential issues with a home and be knowledgeable of local codes, community
restrictions and residential permit parameters.
Stay one step ahead of your home inspector by reading the list of common home
inspection issues below. Then hopefully your inspection won ’t reveal any
unwelcome surprises.
Electrical Wiring
This is a common bubble-busting issue, especially in older homes. Wiring might
have been up to code when the home was built, but it now violates code and is a
fire hazard.
Look for ungrounded outlets, shoddy wiring or a mass of confusing connections
in the electrical panel. Replacing an entire electrical system can be expensive,
but it ’s worth it not to risk a fire.
Plumbing
Look for signs of water damage in the ceilings. This could be a sign that
something above, like a bathtub or sink is leaking into the floor or walls. Look
around toilets and inside kitchen cabinets for traces of wet flooring or wood.
While external leaks are easy enough to fix, interior pipes might require you to rip
up flooring.
Foundation And Framing
Examine the foundation and framing of your home for any structural issues. You
’ll want to keep an eye out for cracking in the foundation due to water runoff or
settling. Also, look for signs of wood rot or termite damage.
These issues affect the framing of your home and could cause scary structural
problems if left unattended.
Roofing
While it ’s probably too difficult for you to inspect the roof yourself, just stand
back in the yard and see if you can notice any bare spots. Also, check for water
damage around the roofline from rain leaking in. Don ’t get too discouraged about
roof issues. It might not call for a complete replacement, but just a repair on one
section.
These common home inspection issues affect both sellers and buyers. As a
buyer, you ’ll want to keep a eye out for these problems so that you know what
you ’d be getting for your hard-earned money.
As a seller, it ’s good to stay one step ahead of the home inspector so that
whatever price is agreed upon goes through.

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Saving for a home

Selling your home for more money is always top importance for sellers. However, sometimes they don’t know how to add value to their home. Not all remodeling and maintenance projects increase the value of your home. Some may not even provide equal return on investment, at least not initially. Think solar. That may take a while to recoup the expense of the installation.

The following are remodeling and maintenance projects that tend to increase not only the value of your home but also its mass appeal to buyers:

1. Updating electrical and plumbing,
2.Bathroom remodel,
3. Kitchen remodel,
4. Painting,
5. Outside maintenance.

When you think about what buyers are looking for, it’s easy to understand why improving these areas would bring increased value. Moving into a home that has major, or even minor, electrical and plumbing issues can be a real headache. Electricity and plumbing are two major necessary conveniences in the home. When they’re malfunctioning it’s often not only time consuming to fix but possibly costly. Take time to note the areas of your home that have electrical and plumbing issues. It may just be a minor issue such as an electrical outlet needs fixing. If that’s the case, fix it before you have buyers coming through your home.

During home inspections, many things are noted. Then the buyer studies that report and often wants to have the seller fix the issues and/or take money off the sale price. Be a step ahead by taking care of the issues you know are problems. Better to cross them off the list rather than wait for the buyer to discover them and add them to their list of reasons the home should have a lower price.

Bathroom remodels are projects that are often long overdue. It may be that a bathroom is very tiny and an expansion is desperately needed. Or it might be that there’s mold behind the shower walls and must be properly removed, cleaned, and replaced with better products, or, maybe, the bathroom simply needs an updated look, or just a maintenance repair such as fixing a leaky faucet or toilet. I recognize that most people don;t want to remodel their bathroom only to turn around and sell their home. However, fixing problem issues is always a good idea. And, if you’re planning to stay in our home for a few years, then giving some thought to a bathroom renovation might be to your benefit. That way you can enjoy it for the time that you remain in the home and then recoup the expense when you do decide to sell. Be careful not to go for extreme trendy materials and patterns that will give the bathroom a dated look in the years to come.

Kitchen remodel. This is attractive to nearly everyone, even those who don’t cook! There’s something really appealing about a beautifully remodeled kitchen. Again, remodeling an entire kitchen to then immediately sell isn’t in the budget for most sellers.

But simple things can help like new paint on the kitchen walls and throughout the house. It can brighten and freshen up even a very old home. Resurfacing the cabinets or giving them a good cleaning can also make a big difference. Then clearing clutter from the shelves, cabinets, inside the pantry and refrigerator will help make the kitchen feel cleaner and look bigger.

Outside maintenance is one of those areas that is a must do. Why? Because it’s outside and it’s often the largest and first area buyers see. Yes, curb appeal matters. If your home doesn’t look inviting from the outside, chances are, no matter how cute it is on the inside, buyers won’t look at it. Call it unfair, but that’s the way it goes. First impressions count. So, make your home as charming as possible from the outside in.

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loansComparing mortgage loans is one of the most important things you can do when you’re buying a home. The decisions you make will determine the size of your monthly payments, how much you pay upfront, and how much interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

You might find it simpler to compare loans if you ask each lender a series of questions, including:

  • What is the loan’s interest rate?
  • Will I be charged points?
  • What are the closing costs and all other fees?
  • What is the annual percentage rate, or APR – the rate you’ll pay per year for all the costs associated with the loan?
  • Is there a pre-payment penalty?
  • How is the loan amortized, meaning how quickly is the principal paid off?

Find out the answers to these questions no matter what type of loan you’re considering. Each can affect the overall cost of your loan.

If you are considering an adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM, you can compare loans by asking:

  • When does the rate adjust?
  • How often does the rate adjust?
  • Is there a cap limiting the amount by which the rate can adjust? What would my monthly payments be if my interest rate hit that cap?
  • What is the index and margin that will determine my rate? How has the index changed over time?

ARMs are inherently more risky than fixed-rate mortgages because you’re gambling on whether interest rates will go up or go down before your rate adjusts. Understanding the best- and worst-case scenarios can help you weigh the pros and cons as you compare loans.

But there’s one other big question to consider before you get an ARM:

  • How does the discount introductory rate compare with rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans?

If there’s not much difference when you compare the two, the fixed-rate loan might be a safer bet. You won’t save much in the short-term, and could save a lot over the long term. Plus, you reduce your risk if interest rates shoot up and you can’t refinance before the rate adjustment.

Finally, to truly compare loans, you have to ask yourself some questions:

  • How long do I expect to stay in my home?
  • Are my job and income secure over the long term?
  • Will I be able to afford higher payments in the future?
  • How comfortable am I with risk?

In the end, the best loan is the one that works for your needs.

Written by Lending Tree on Monday, 07 October 2013 13:30

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short-sale-see-sawWhat does “SHORT SALE”  mean?

Short Sale  means the lender has to accept LESS than what is owed on the mortgage – or the house can’t be sold.

Homes purchased at the TOP of the MARKET (often with a minimal downpayment and/or with a hefty mortgage) can be tough to sell in this market … simply because the expected SALES PRICE is below what the owner needs to repay on the loan.

Given the current real estate environment  (and significant drop in real estate values)   mortgages can be higher than a home’s market value, what it’s worth or what it will likely sell for.  That can make a house virtually unsellable unless the current owner can cough up the difference and  pay-off his or her mortgage  …OR  convince the bank to accept a reduced pay-off.

What constitutes a SHORT SALE:

1) IT’S  NOT A SHORT SALE if the owner can come to  the closing table with sufficient funds to pay off the loan.

2) IT IS A SHORT SALE IF THE BANK  AGREES TO (even if just in theory!) A SHORT PAY-OFF (ie. less than the amount due on the loan).

The difference between Approved & Unapproved Short Sales:

1) With an APPROVED SHORT SALE  the lender has already agreed to the SALES PRICE.

2) With an UN-APPROVED SHORT SALE  the  lender is aware of the predicament the seller is in (having to sell in a market where the value of the property is less than what’s owed on the loan).  An unapproved short sale  means that the lender  has theoretically agreed to the idea of entertaining an offer on the property (for less than the amount owed on the mortgage).  But the lender’s commitment is rather nebulous.  An official commitment  from the bank won’t come until well after the contract offer-to-purchase has been accepted by the seller,  then presented to and reviewed by the lender (AND IT’S THE LENDER WHO HAS THE FINAL WORD!).  The lender is free to entertain the offer in any fashion they please: counter, accept, or reject it outright … Typically an un-approved short sale is a long and drawn-out process (3-8 months).

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Hughes LandingThe first Hughes Landing tenants began moving in to their new offices in One Hughes Landing in early September, but the office building is only the first of many projects on the horizon. With residential, retail and dining projects planned in the near future, demand for space is strong for the 66-acre mixed-use development.

 Plans for Hughes Landing include 1.5 million to 2 million square feet of office space, 800–1,000 apartment units, 175,000–200,000 square feet of retail, 200,000 square feet for a hotel and a fitness center to serve workers, said Alex Sutton, co-president of The Woodlands Development Company.

Within two years, much of Hughes Landing—located on the east side of Lake Woodlands between Grogan’s Mill Road and Lake Woodlands Drive—could be completed, including a grocery store, parking garage, restaurants and luxury apartments, he said. Sutton said the entirety of the development, including as many as 11 office buildings, could take five to 10 years to complete, depending on demand.

“There’s a lot of buzz in the market that Hughes Landing has created,” Sutton said. “There’s a strong interest in it, and we’re very pleased at the pace that it’s going.”

Retail and residential

Development has always been planned for the tract of land—on the east side of Lake Woodlands between Grogan’s Mill Road and Lake Woodlands Drive—but the development company debated how much space should be allocated for residential and commercial development, Sutton said.

The development company finalized plans a little more than a year ago, Sutton said, and construction began on One Hughes Landing—the first office building—about 10 months ago. “You look at the [Hughes Landing] area and you see developments all around it,” Sutton said. “This is a place where the time has come.”

Although most of the early construction has focused on commercial development, other areas could break ground in 2013. Sutton said construction should break ground by the fourth quarter of this year for a 40,000–50,000-square-foot specialty grocer and a parking garage as the Development Company finalizes leasing for the space.

Paul Layne, executive vice president of master-planned communities for the Howard Hughes Company, said the development company is discussing a lease with Whole Foods. If constructed, it would be the first Whole Foods in The Woodlands.

Hughes Landing will also house what the development company is calling Restaurant Row, an area that will feature at least six restaurants. Escalante, a Mexican restaurant, has already signed a lease, while Eddie V’s, a seafood restaurant, and Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar are close to signing, Layne said. He said the development company is also seeking an Italian restaurant, and as many as 40 restaurants are vying for those few spots in Hughes Landing.

“It’s tremendously popular right now for high-end retail, and restaurants, particularly, are really interested right now,” said Gil Staley, CEO of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership.

Staley said the EDP was recently contacted by one major restaurant group from Orlando seeking data on Hughes Landing and The Woodlands, indicating how far the demand reaches.

Construction on Restaurant Row could begin once all restaurants are signed, Sutton said.

The first phase of residential development could begin this month, Sutton said. That includes an eight-story multi-family building with 391 luxury units and 20,000 square feet of retail on the first floor. Discussions are also underway for possible entertainment attractions, including a live music venue, a bowling alley and venues similar to Main Event or Dave & Buster’s.

“You develop a place with energy, and it becomes a place where people want to be,” Sutton said. “And that is why we’re being real careful in selecting our retail. We want to make sure there’s energy.”

Layne said discussions are also ongoing with two possible properties for the development’s hotel: Element by Starwood and Embassy Suites.

Office space

The first of as many as 11 possible office buildings within Hughes Landing, One Hughes Landing is complete and will begin housing tenants this month. Construction began on Two Hughes Landing in June, which should be nearly identical in size to One Hughes Landing, Sutton said.

The third office building could begin construction in spring 2014 once Two Hughes Landing nears completion. Future office buildings should follow suit, breaking ground shortly after the previous building’s completion date.

“The interest picks up considerably once construction picks up and the tenant can see there’s actually a building there,” Sutton said.

The third office facility could be as tall as 12 stories, while the fourth could be 14 or higher as the buildings get farther from the water, Sutton said. The development company has even considered an office building on the water.

Sutton said 87 percent of the leases for One Hughes Landing have been signed, although 95 percent of the leases will soon be finalized for the 197,000-square-foot, 8-story building. Tenants include Layne Christiansen, PetroQuest Energy and Post Oak Bank.

Frank LaRosa, senior vice president and chief administrative officer for Layne Christensen, said his company should add more than 100 jobs when it moves from Kansas City. LaRosa said the housing market and increased property taxes in The Woodlands, compared to his company’s previous location, are not ideal, but the area offers a good labor base for new employees and strong amenities.

“We determined it was in the best interest of the company to reconsolidate and bring our leadership team together in a new location,” he said. “We selected The Woodlands first and foremost because it’s close to our energy services market, which is a growing business for us, and because of the amenities in Houston.”

Although Sutton said no tenants have signed leases yet for Two Hughes Landing, he and Staley believe the demand is strong.

“[One Hughes Landing] filling up so quickly is a good indicator of how strong it is right now for office demand,” Staley said. “Two is taking off as well and three should be right behind.”

Transportation concerns

With 66 acres being developed less than a mile from Town Center, Sutton said Hughes Landing will increase traffic in the area. However, he said the development company has planned for infrastructure in that area, and much of the infrastructure in place is underused.

Sutton said such improvements could include expanding roads from four lanes to six lanes at certain intersections for left and right turns. The development company has also planned for overpasses at Grogan’s Mill Road and Research Forest Drive and at Grogan’s Mill and Lake Woodlands Drive.

Sutton said The Woodlands Township could also expand the trolley service to Hughes Landing.

“We are very hopeful that the trolley will come out to Hughes Landing and come back to the Town Center and those areas,” Sutton said

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Your homes curb appeal is a buyer’s first impression.  75% of home buyers drive by the homes that they are interested in after first viewing it online.

Even if you’re not considering putting your home on the market, it never hurts to enhance and improve your property.   Make your home the talk of the neighborhood and your property value with these simple tips.

The Lawn & Landscapingcurbappeal

  • Mow your lawn twice a week, pull weeds and rake up your leaves
  • Trim hedges and shrubs, as well as tree limbs that are near your roof
  • Sweep your walkways
  • Plant a variety of colorful flowers & plants that flourish in all the seasons
  • Weed and mulch your flower beds

The Homes Exterior

  • Front door,porchClean your windows, gutters, and pressure wash your siding and decks
  • Freshen up the exterior of your home with a coat of paint
  • Update your front door.  Try new hardware, or a new paint color
  • Install new accents like house numbers, doorbell buttons, or mail slots
  • Check and replace your roof if necessary
  • Add an awning or covered patio to enjoy the outdoors year round

Landscaping doesn’t have to be expensive; only well-thought-out, interesting, and cohesive.  Plan a week or a couple of weekends to get your curb appeal up to par so that you can make the best first impression on future buyers.

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