Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner
Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner

Advice for Buying a Flipped House

Many home buyers wrongly assume that a newly renovated home is, well, just that: new. They perceive it as move-in ready and free from hassles. A newly renovated flipped house — one that the seller purchased less than one year earlier — typically pulls in top dollar, because the buyer assumes it is perfect, turnkey and ready to go.

Although house-flipping shows on television often make the process seem easy and feature beautiful homes with happy stories, they don’t follow through to see how the home withstands daily use, weather patterns and typical wear and tear. Some contractors or property flippers want to move on to the next job as soon as the last one nears completion. Others may uncover unforeseen expenses that send them over budget. As a result, their work may be rushed or subpar.

If you’re buying a flipped house, the following tips will help ensure you don’t get any unpleasant surprises after closing.

Pay attention to details

As tempting as it can be, try not to get caught up in the excitement of new appliances, marble baths and other fancy bells and whistles. By looking closely at the details, you can learn a lot about the quality of work done on the property. Be on the lookout for telltale signs of rushed worked such as:

    Light switch plates that aren’t flush with the wall or are at an angle.
    Light fixtures that aren’t flushly mounted to ceilings or walls.
    Ceiling fans that are wobbly.
    Crown molding that isn’t completely matched at the corner.
    Poorly fitted trim or gaps in trim.
    Gaps between cabinets or countertops and the wall.
    Cracks in grout or sloppy caulking.
    Doors or cabinets that don’t close tightly.

Cosmetic mistakes could be an indicator of larger issues that can’t be seen with the naked eye. If the flipper was sloppy on the small details, pay extra attention to other areas such as the electric panel, the water heater’s gas line, and plumbing connectors.

Get an inspection

Because many buyers assume a newly renovated house is in like-new condition, they think it’s okay to skip the inspection. Terrible idea.

An inspector can check the contractor’s work, and may find issues buyers would miss. For example, were renovations done to code? Did the contractor cut corners or do the bare minimum in places because of a tight time frame?

Sure, the town/city likely would have had to sign off on the renovations, but city officials are only looking at health and safety issues. The home inspector can check the house from top to bottom. It’s worth paying for an inspection to ensure the home is perfect.

Double your due diligence

When buying a flipped home, it’s more important than ever to review the disclosures. Did the contractor take out permits for the work? If so, were all the permits signed off on?

If you aren’t given copies of all the work approvals or finalized permits, ask for them. If you don’t get them, look them up online or go to the local building department. Any permits taken out or applied for (and officially signed off on) are public record.

Never close on a home without making sure all permits were cleared. Otherwise, as the new homeowner, you could be on the hook for illegal or bad work.

Learn all you can about the flipper

Is the owner the contractor, and is he experienced? Does he have a good reputation in your community? Ask your agent about the background of the person who flipped the house.

Good investors have been at it for a long time, and their reputations precede them. A flipper with a solid reputation should have nothing to hide, and should be open and free with disclosures and provide you with documentation and warranties. Good home flippers want happy customers, too. They don’t want calls from buyers or attorneys a year later with liability issues or complaints about their work.

In the past 18 months, there has been a marked increase in the number of homes bought simply to be renovated and put back on the market. While the improvements may be done well, there’s also a chance the contractor or flipper cut corners or rushed through the project, simply to move on to the next one — leaving the new homeowner with a nightmare on their hands.

Flipped homes should always be double- or triple-checked for potential issues. Inferior work could end up costing you money and giving you headaches in the long run, or could affect the longevity and value of the home.

— Source: Zillow Blog

Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner
Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner

Too Picky When Home Buying

If you are shopping for a home, it’s nice to think you won’t settle for anything less than perfection. But that’s kind of like holding out for the “perfect” life partner—romantic, but unrealistic.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, you’ll never find a house that meets all your needs forever. And if you’re too detail-focused, you could pass up one that suits you now or only needs reasonable modification. I’m not telling you to give up on all your desires, but here are 4 signs you’re being too picky when home buying, and may end up with no home at all.

Sign No. 1: You know exactly what you want—to a fault

It makes sense to house hunt with a few basic criteria in mind (open kitchen, quiet street). But if your wish list is airtight and hermetically sealed (for example, you pass up a home just because your furniture doesn’t fit in the bedroom), a great place could slip away from you.

People often think they know what kind of house they want before they start looking, but they usually don’t. Your checklist should evolve as you visit more homes with your priorities rising and falling. The less ironclad your wish list, the better. Flexibility is your friend.

Sign No. 2: You’re searching for your ‘forever home’—even if it’s your first

They’re called “starter homes” for a reason: Odds are you won’t stay there forever. Starter homes may be too small, or too far from your office, or even a tiny bit too unattractive, but if it’s within your price range and satisfies some basics on your checklist, maybe you shouldn’t pass over it so fast.

Yet that’s exactly what many home buyers are doing these days: According to Bank of America’s Homebuyer Insights Report, 75% of first-time home buyers say they plan to forgo buying a starter home and instead are saving for homes that they’ll love for a lifetime, with 35% wanting to retire in the first home they purchase. That’s all nice, but you could end up waiting a whole long time before you can afford that. Why not build equity in a first home for five years before upgrading instead?

So whether you’re scouting school zone districts or making space for grandchildren before you have your first child, don’t let fantasies of forever impair your judgment for the home you pick here and now. Don’t make the mistake of expecting that your house needs—indeed, your life plan—won’t change.

Sign No. 3: You think home improvement reality shows are actually realistic

On TV shows such as “House Crashers” and “Property Brothers,” fixer-uppers are transformed into eye-popping showpieces in a matter of days. In reality, such renovations are extremely costly, complex, often nightmarish, and always time-consuming. Details are glossed over onscreen, raising people’s real-life expectations.

Massive renovation plans to a home that aren’t reasonable for the property or the neighborhood are a sign that you should be looking elsewhere.

Sign No. 4: Your real estate agent’s getting exasperated

Good Realtors genuinely want you to buy a home you will adore, so you should defer to their industry expertise whenever possible.

You should take the time to make your own discoveries and decisions, but if a home isn’t a fit, just cross it off the list right away and don’t try to convince yourself it will work.

If you are finding an insurmountable problem with every home your agent shows you—nitpicking even homes you like, ask yourself if you are truly ready to buy.

When you are ready for your first or next home, Sunset Vista Realty is ready to help. Check out our Buyer Services.

— Source: Realtor.com

Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner
Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner

Homeowner Expenses Renters Don’t Have

For many, buying a home represents a rite of passage in life. Most of us strive for it, and most American households do own their homes. However, today more people are choosing renting over buying, and the home ownership rate in the United States has actually fallen to the lowest in more than 19 years.

Owning a home is costlier than you might imagine — one reason that many hold off on the homeowner path. So before you meet with a real estate agent, consider these five homeowner expenses that renters don’t usually pay. They could make you question whether you’re really ready for homeownership.

Property taxes

The Median California property tax is $2839.00, with exact property tax rates varying by location and county. Do an Internet search for the property tax rate for your city or county. Multiple the rate times the potential cost of a home and divide by 12 to get an estimated monthly property tax expense.

Homeowners insurance

In very broad terms, expect to pay about $35 per month for every $100,000 of home value, though it depends on your city and state and even the area where you expect to buy. Talking to your renters insurance provider about homeowners insurance is a good place to start.

Maintenance repairs

The remodeled home of your dreams might pass your home inspection with flying colors, but that doesn’t mean those renovations will last forever. Conventional water heaters last about a decade, with a new one costing you between $500 to $1,500 on average. Air conditioning units don’t typically last much longer than 15 years, and an asphalt shingle roof won’t serve you too well after 20 years.

And don’t forget about those small repairs that you won’t be calling a landlord about anymore. Did your fridge water filter light come on? Notice a tear in your window screen? Can’t get your toilet to stop running? What about those burned out light bulbs in your hallway? You get the idea.

Owning a home means you (should have) planned beyond the down payment for typical ongoing and annual maintenance expenses, too. A good rule of thumb is to plan on spending at least 1 of a home’s value annually on maintenance and repairs. Of course, this amount increases as your home ages.

HOA fees

Sure, that monthly mortgage payment seems affordable, but don’t forget to take into account homeowners’ association (HOA) fees for perks like your fitness center, neighborhood landscaping, community pool, and other common areas. While renters’ garage, gym, and pool access are usually covered in their rent, when you own your home you’re paying for these amenities beyond your mortgage payment.

Utilities

When you’re renting, it’s common for your apartment or landlord to cover some costs. When you own your home, you’re in charge of covering it all—water, electric, gas, Internet, and cable.

The cost of your utilities when living in an apartment is quite different than what you’ll pay if you own your home. Many factors play a role when estimating how much you’ll pay for utilities — like the size of your home and the climate you live in.

— Source: Zillow Blog

Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner
Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner

Sellers’ Housing Market

Demand for real estate is growing strong in many parts of the country, and entry-level buyers find little inventory but lots of competition, leading to a frustrating sellers’ housing market.

For sellers, this means quicker and easier sales, if they price appropriately. For buyers, this means fighting it out with others for their dream home. Here are tips for both sellers and buyers in competitive markets.

Seller: Prepare, inspect, disclose and plan ahead

Although sellers hold the cards and can call the shots in periods of high demand, the market is less forgiving if you make a mistake. Losing a buyer and going “back on market” can mean that you will never see the great deal you had with the first buyer.

The trick is not to lose the first buyer. If you know you have issues, get in front of them. It’s better for you be up front about an issue rather than have your buyer discover it on their own, because once you have a deal, the buyer takes control. If the roof is old, you have a room that’s not permitted, or you have a small plumbing issue, it’s better for you to tell the buyer in advance, so they can factor that into their offer. It is even better to deal with small issues, or even to have inspections done, before selling, so that the negatives don’t cloud the positives. Buyers are more forgiving of defects if they are competing with other buyers, but discovery of issues after a deal is reached could kill the sale.

Buyer: Be ready to move

Successful buyers in a sellers’ market are aggressive, motivated and quick to act. You must compete with these folks if you are serious about becoming a homeowner in a competitive sellers’ housing market.

Before you even start looking, you must have your financing lined up. In a competitive market, sellers will not take their home off the market without proof that you have the ability to pay. If you intend to finance the purchase with a loan, you need at a minimum a loan pre-qualification letter—better yet, a pre-approval letter. If paying cash, you need a bank/brokerage statement showing you have the funds to purchase.

The second a desirable new listing alert hits your phone or email, make a point to see it. If a home goes on the market Tuesday, you can’t expect it will still be available that weekend. The competitive market and a strong desire for homeownership will propel a serious buyer to get into a house and make an offer within days of it listing. There is nothing more disappointing than to hear that a great home is no longer available.

Seller: Have a strategy for dealing with offers

It might seem obvious to take the offer you get two days after going on the market, but are you moving too fast? Will there be others if you wait? There’s no universal approach because each town, county and a market are different. In some, it will make more sense to wait a week to 10 days, have more showings and review any and all offers at once. In others, you might want to act on the offers as they come.

If you take the wrong approach, you might miss out on a better offer to come, or lose the excitement and momentum of a motivated buyer. You and your agent should discuss strategy before listing, and your agent should keep you up to date on what is happening with your listing over time. The real estate market changes from month to month, and you may need to make changes in your game plan, in consultation with your agent.

Buyer: Expect to miss out a few times

Buyers may they need to miss out on a few houses to truly appreciate the right house when it comes along. The buying process takes buyers in many directions, and the market is always changing with new listings and sales. Go with it…don’t get too attached to that one house, be ready to compromise on your requirements. You might not offer enough or not act fast enough on one or two homes early on. The more homes you see, the more comfortable you will be with the market and how it works.

Learn from each missed opportunity. Knowing that you lost out once before will motivate you to make the best offer the next time. You don’t know what you don’t know, so be willing to chalk up a loss or two to experience. Plus when you look back, you may realize that a home you thought was perfect wouldn’t have been so great after all.

Seller: Know the competition — and compete

A smart seller will consider what else is currently on the market along with recently completed sales. Once they are ready to go, they will analyze with their agent the “comps” again. The strategic seller will price their home to get the eyeballs and showing activity.

Chances are you can’t compete with the similar home down the block with the killer kitchen. But price your home with that fact in consideration, and a buyer may see value along with room for improvement in your kitchen.

The well-priced homes that show well will grab the immediate attention of the buyers, and sell faster and for more money.

Be prepared, whether buying or selling

Real estate is expensive, and the process can be stressful. In active markets, both sellers and buyers need to be on their game if they want to successfully buy and sell.

Sellers have the advantage because they can plan in advance of going on the market. They have the luxury of being proactive, and they should use that to their advantage.

Buyers need to be reactive and, as such, they need to be prepared to move quickly. When all is said and done, life goes back to normal. But prepare for a little disorder in the meantime.

— Inspiration: Zillow Blog

Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner
Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner

Curb Appeal Curb Appeal

Curb appeal, curb appeal, curb appeal. I cannot emphasize it enough. If you want buyers to be interested in your home for sale, then curb appeal is the first impression that will hook them into looking deeper. The exterior appearance of your home is not only important for buyers driving by, it is likely to be the primary photo of your home in online marketing.

There are four key factors in attracting buyers for your home. First is price, to have your property even appear in a search. Second is curb appeal, to make them want to look further. Third is features—does it meet their needs. Fourth is staging, so that a buyer can imagine themselves living there.

Here are some ideas for improving your home’s curb appeal.

Tidy the yard

You’ll want to trim bushes, sweep, and mow your lawn. Consider removing or replacing shrubbery or ground covers that have overtaken the yard or hide the house.

Clean it up

Sometimes the most obvious way to enhance curb appeal is simply dedicating a weekend to deep cleaning the exterior of your home. Turn the nozzle on your garden hose to the strongest setting and clean off your driveway, sidewalk, windows, and fence.

If dirt and grime is really caked on your home’s exterior, you can rent a power washer — but steer clear of any area with caulking, like windows and doors, as you can strip some of the sealing. And as tempting as it may be to power wash your roof, you may want to hold off; when done wrong, the roof can be damaged.

Spraying off your windows with a garden hose isn’t enough to make them spic and span, however. For maximum sparkle, clean your windows outside and inside.

Consider the Approach

If the walkway is broken, cracked, too narrow, or overgrown, repair or replace it. Mulch, packed decomposed granite, or pea gravel in defined borders are inexpensive alternatives to concrete.

Paint accent areas

Paint is a quick and easy curb appeal-booster. Instead of painting the entire exterior of your home, focus your attention on the trim, doors, and shutters. Before slapping on that paint, consider exterior color scheme trends and colors complementary to your home’s exterior, and avoid bold colors that may be off-putting to a buyer.

Update your light fixtures

Replacing your exterior light fixtures is another curb appeal idea. Just make sure your new light fixtures have the same mounting system and are complementary to the house’s design. And if you want to save on lighting, a fresh finish can do wonders; try cleaning them up and spray-painting them.

De-Clutter

Just as you would aim to simplify the interior of your home when your house is on the market, the exterior of your home should allow prospective buyers to envision their style in the space. Put tools and toys away. Limit personal decor. Patio furniture and decor, if its appearance is attractive, should be used to give a potential buyer the possibilities of using the outdoor space, but it should be minimal. Outdoor pillows and cushions are an easy way to give color and life to furniture.

The garage

Don’t forget the garage door. Clean or paint it, and make sure it is in good repair, or replace it. A report by the National Association of Realtors revealed that a new garage door is one of the exterior features most appealing to potential buyers and recoups a whopping 87% of its cost upon resale.

Other Quick Changes

  • Replace the house numbers with new shiny metal ones.
  • Upgrade your mailbox. Install a new mailbox, or spray paint your existing mailbox.
  • Plant a tree. Make sure you know how large the tree will grow first.
  • Add flowers in pots, which are a quick way to add some life and color.
  • Hide eyesores. Place a small lattice fence or shrubbery around your air conditioner to avoid an appliance eyesore, and hide your trash bins. You can also hide your garden hose in a pot, or store it away.

Sellers only have one chance to make a good impression. Their home needs to look good from the curb, and to get buyers there in person, it needs to look great on the Internet.

When it’s time to sell your home, Sunset Vista Realty is ready to advise and help. Check out our Seller Services.

— Inspiration: Zillow Blog, Los Angeles Times

Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner
Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner

Put Your Tax Refund into Your Home

Are you getting a tax refund this year? The average refund is about $3,000 — enough to reinvest in your home, which can pay off in the future. Whether you’re expecting a few hundred dollars back or a few thousand, put some of it to work with these suggestions.

Pay down debts

With home prices continuing to creep upward and interest rates still remarkably low, you may have taken out a home equity loan to fund a remodeling project or two. Why not apply your tax refund toward this loan or pay down other debts (especially high interest debt like credit cards)? Paying down debt will lower your eventual interest cost. Just be sure your loan doesn’t impose early payment penalties.

Freshen up

Want to add a backsplash, paint a room, add new landscaping, replace your bathroom vanity, or replace faucets? Go for it! Chances are, your refund will cover these types of small projects — and more. And you’re getting a two-for-one: you’re both improving your living experience, and adding value at the same time.

Boost your energy efficiency

No matter how big or small your refund check is, there are all sorts of things you can do, at varying price points, to make your home more energy efficient and save on energy costs — from buying energy-efficient appliances to adding extra layers of insulation. Storm doors are just a few hundred dollars, and can be a great investment if you have an older front door. Purchasing a low-flow showerhead or installing a programmable thermostat are other affordable options.

Buy flood insurance

The federal government offers coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program at an average cost of about $700 per year. That’s a small price to pay for a problem that can be big. After all, anywhere it rains, it can flood, and your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover it. (It typically only covers damage that comes from the top down — such as rain and wind damage, but not rising water and flooding.) Stop taking chances, and buy yourself peace of mind; sometimes good money management means addressing the painful “what if” questions. Premiums vary depending on your property’s flood risk. To get an estimate in your area, visit FloodSmart.gov.

— Source: Zillow Blog

Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner
Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner

Home Pricing

Unlike the cost of a gallon of milk or a flat-screen television, a home’s price can be hard to pin down. It’s complicated because each home is unique, and has its own story to tell. When it comes to home pricing, the only thing to do is to look at the recent sales and active listings of similar homes in your area. Combine this research with the inside market knowledge of a local real estate agent, and you can confidently price your home to sell. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when determining how much to ask for your house.

Make sure to look at recent comps

Markets change fast, so it’s best to find comparable sales within the past three months. If you go back too far, you will see homes where a deal might have been made many months before it closed. In rural areas or other places with low home turnover, you may have to go back 6 months.

Real estate markets can turn on a dime, so a deal put together more than six months ago isn’t applicable. Closed and pending sales are your best indicator of the current market’s conditions for two reasons. First, a buyer is not going to be willing to pay much more than other buyers have been paying. And secondly, a buyer’s lender will not loan on a home for more than its appraised value, which is determined from Comparable Sales.

A real estate agent in your area is the best resource to find comparable sales because they have access to the local multiple listing service, and an experienced agent can explain how the features of your own home compare in value to others that have sold.

Understand that fixtures and finishes matter

Let’s face it, buyers prefer a tastefully renovated home with neutral finishes and fixtures over an unrenovated home, one stuck in the ’80s, or one with outlandish decorations. When looking at comparable houses online, you must be objective. If your home isn’t updated, it’s not going to sell for as much. The good news is that the amount of money it would cost to upgrade your house is probably a lot less than the difference in value once updated. Be open to making some small changes before listing.

No two homes are alike

The 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath home with two-car parking on a quarter acre down the street just closed for $500,000. That means your home — also a 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath house with two-car parking on a quarter acre — is also worth $500,000, right?

Not so fast. What you don’t realize is that the other home’s three bedrooms are not all on the top floor, and that the home lacks an en-suite master bathroom, its kitchen is closed off from the living areas, and the layout is choppy.

Buyers pay more for better floor plans and flow. Your home, with an open concept kitchen/living area and three bedrooms all near each other, is much more valuable.

Small nuances in the market will affect price

Understand that each comparable home requires some serious research before calling it a “comp.” A house down the block may seem like it’s the same location as yours, but it could be in a different school or tax district, which will affect its value.

A smaller home may have sold for 20 percent more than yours, but maybe it was on a double lot that could be split, which makes it more valuable to a builder or developer.

If you see a nearby home with a price that seems off the mark, there must be a reason. Dig deeper to uncover what it is, and realize that the home may not, in fact, be a comparable one.

Go see homes for sale

Rarely does anyone decide to sell overnight. Once you realize a sale is in your future, get out and see what’s in your market. Check out open houses nearby to see the interiors for yourself.

Homes you see in January will likely be pending or closed by the time you list in April. Or they may still be on the market, which is an indication of poor pricing.

Check out the different floor plans, finishes and fixtures of nearby homes for sale, and consider whether each is more or less valuable than yours.

The best seller is the informed one.

Use your agent as a resource

The earlier you bring a local real estate agent into the fold, the better. Top agents tour properties regularly, and know their market inside and out. They know what is selling and what is not, can explain the differences, and can offer tips to help make your home more valuable. A good agent has the inside knowledge on pending homes sales and their finger on the pulse of the market every day.

One of the worst mistakes a seller can make is to work with a real estate agent who is not local to the home they are selling. Using an out-of-area agent who doesn’t understand the idiosyncrasies of your home’s real estate market puts you at a huge disadvantage, regardless of the window into the market the agent may have from afar.

When it’s time to sell your home, Sunset Vista Realty is ready to advise and help. Check out our Seller Services.

— Source: Zillow Blog

Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner
Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner

Easements

Consider this hypothetical: A man named Mark decides to purchase a parcel of land in a remote, mountainous area. He looks forward to enjoying it as a getaway retreat. But there’s a problem. It turns out he can’t access the property without going through his neighbor Sandy’s land, and no easements are in place to allow that access.

Welcome to the wonderful world of easements. In this example, if Sandy refuses to let Mark pass through, legal intervention may eventually be necessary to enforce his easement — Mark’s right to use someone else’s land in order to access his own.

A person who has an easement does not actually own the land. Rather, he or she possesses a right to do something on that land. The law recognizes an array of different easements, which allow usage on, under, over, or across a property, and can be permanent or limited in duration, and broad or narrow in scope. Easement negotiations can be complex, and legal input is generally recommended.

Most easements are granted to utility and municipal companies for the purpose of running power, cable, water, and sewer lines, but they are frequently used by individual landowners as well.

Common usage easements prevent a landowner from erecting anything on a portion of his or her land that would preclude the easement owner’s ability to access his or her own property, run utilities, or even enable livestock grazing. An easement can also prevent a landowner from installing a tall fence, tree, or structure that might interfere with a neighbor’s view or access to solar power.

One of the biggest problems that occurs with an easement is when a future owner of a property is unaware of the existence of an easement, and later learns that the use of his property is constrained. For example, someone buys a residential property that has some type of utility or sewer easement in the backyard. He then tries to build a pool, shed, or deck, but discovers that much of his backyard is not buildable due to the easement.

Ideally, an easement is created by an agreement between two or more parties. You ask your neighbor, and he or she grants permission. Or you offer to purchase the easement for an agreed-upon price. To complete the arrangement, an easement deed is recorded.

Prescriptive Easement

If no easement agreement is in place, one or more parties can create a prescriptive easement through repeated use of an easement over a period of time. For example, if Mark continuously drives over Sandy’s property for five years with her knowledge but without her permission, his consistent land use — even if considered adverse or hostile — could result in a claim that he possesses a prescriptive easement.

Easement by Necessity

An easement by necessity occurs when one party must use the other party’s property to access the first party’s property. If Mark has absolutely no other way of reaching his mountain retreat, and if he and Sandy simply cannot come to terms, he may be able to obtain a court order that gives him possession of an easement by necessity across Sandy’s property. He may even consider filing a lawsuit to protect his easement.

On the flip side, Sandy may determine that Mark is abusing his easement rights and causing damage to her property. In such a case, she would be in a position to file a lawsuit against Mark.

Proceed with Caution

Easements are anything but easy. While you and your neighbor may come to a verbal agreement, it’s important to keep in mind that easements are more than promises. They are part of a property’s legal records.

If a neighbor wants an easement from you, it’s best to proceed with caution. In some circumstances, an easement can lower the value of your home simply because it limits what you or a potential buyer may do with the property. On the other hand, an easement may be mutually beneficial; for example, Mark needs a road easement to access his property over Sandy’s property, and Mark and Sandy come to an agreement for routing the road so that Sandy will also be able to use it to access the back side of Sandy’s property.

As the owner of a constricted property, you may find that monetary compensation is appropriate. Do you want a single cash payment for the other owner’s usage, or do you want the easement owner to pay you over a period of time? Your attorney can help you determine an appropriate payment for the inconvenience.

Beyond the monetary arrangement, it’s important that both parties clearly specify the terms of usage. Sandy may finally agree to let Mark use her property to access his, but that doesn’t mean she wants to find Mark and his kids playing ball in her backyard.

If Mark needs to dig up Sandy’s property to install water or sewer lines to the new home he’s building, it’s in Sandy’s best interest to make sure the easement specifies that her property is returned to its original condition after any construction and that any breaks or problems with Mark’s new lines are his responsibility.

In an ideal world, Sandy would respect Mark’s need to utilize her property, and Mark would make every effort to cause minimal disruption. But, realistically, we live in a world full of disputes, which is why we have property access laws and lawyers to help us navigate them.

— Source: Zillow Blog

Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner
Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner

Why You Need a Home Warranty

When you are purchasing an existing home, you need to know about a home warranty.

After a home buyer has investigated the condition of an existing home and signed off on repairs before completing the home purchase, they may be in for a shock when the water heater breaks on a cold winter morning, or the dishwasher starts to leak all over the hardwood floors in the kitchen. But with home ownership comes the responsibility for problems that arise. And a fixture that passed inspection and worked fine when you moved in can fail unexpectedly, especially if not brand new. What do you do?

Many homeowners aren’t equipped to perform even small repairs. For some, a handy neighbor or family member nearby could help. Or you may know a plumber or an electrician. Inopportune or expensive repairs are upsetting, especially to the owner of a newly purchased home. But there is an alternative for a new homeowner: A home warranty.

What is a home warranty?

Much like insurance or the extended warranty you buy for your smartphone or flat screen television, a home warranty covers the costs of repairing or replacing almost any major system or appliance in your home. Most plans have a basic component that covers common home systems and appliances. Homeowners can also pay for optional components that provide additional coverage for specialized items. A basic plan typically costs about $400 for one year of coverage.

If you had a home warranty, you wouldn’t have to call around to get estimates for repairs when a problem occurs. You wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket to get the problem fixed or have equipment replaced, either. Instead, you would just call your home warranty provider or submit a form online. The warranty company would call the appropriate tradespeople with whom it has made arrangements, and send someone to fix the problem, if possible, or replace the malfunctioning appliance with a brand new one. Your home warranty premium will cover the costs — though you may be responsible for a deductible depending on the plan purchased.

Who should buy a home warranty?

Home warranties are particularly great for first-time home buyers who had been renters. They’re used to calling the landlord whenever there’s a problem, and a home warranty company takes over that role.

Home warranties can also be a good idea for buyers of existing homes (not newly constructed). If you had your home inspected prior to purchase, you’ll have an idea of the condition and life expectancy of many of your systems and appliances. An existing home can also have many fixtures of the same age that may start to break down in the same time frame. You will welcome the home warranty when something quits working out of the blue.

Not to mention that many homeowners are often busy with work and family, and might not have the time or energy to call around to find a plumber or an electrician to get quotes or bids.

Sometimes, it takes just one costly and unexpected system repair — and the drama associated with it — to realize the savings of a one-year home warranty. Home warranties can save home buyers a lot of time and money — particularly in the first year of ownership, when they may be short on both.

How to buy a home warranty?

A good real estate agent should discuss a home warranty with you when deciding on the terms of your offer to purchase a home. The cost can be a negotiating point with the Seller, with the Seller possibly paying for part or all of the cost of a home warranty. And your agent should have information about several home warranty companies servicing your area.

When you are ready for your first or next home, Sunset Vista Realty is ready to help. Check out our Buyer Services.

— Inspiration: Zillow Blog

Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner
Mike Capelle, Broker/Owner

Home Remodeling that Pays Off

While homeowners may dream of putting in a hot tub, building in an awesome entertainment center, or redesigning closets, a new report by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) finds that homeowners’ money would be better spent on other home remodeling projects if they are considering selling their home sooner than later.

For NAR’s 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, Realtors ranked home remodeling projects in terms of their appeal to buyers, as well as expected value at resale (without regard to project price). Results revealed that the interior project predicted to most appeal to buyers and enhance the value of a home is a kitchen upgrade or renovation. The next most popular and valuable project is bathroom renovation. The other interior project appealing to buyers and having a high sales value is flooring, either new or refinished.

The report also found that updates to a home’s systems and exterior can pay off. An HVAC replacement is highly recommended by Realtors for cinching a deal with a high payback. According to the report, home buyers love a new roof, which will reap 105% of cost at resale, followed by new energy-efficient windows (80% return on investment for a vinyl product).

But renovations aren’t just about resale; homeowners also improve their homes so they can enjoy these upgrades themselves. After remodeling, the NAR report found, 74 percent of owners had a greater desire to be in their home, and 64% have increased enjoyment of their home. 34 percent of owners reported the single most important result from remodeling was better functionality and livability; to a lesser degree, they reported that they remodeled for more durability and longer-lasting results, better aesthetics, and to add personality to the house.

You can find the full report on the NAR Website.

When it’s time to sell your home, Sunset Vista Realty is ready to advise and help. Check out our Seller Services.