Money Saving Home Repairs You Can Learn To DIY

Money Saving Home Repairs You Can Learn To DIY

Home repairs can get costly, especially with the national average cost of hiring a plumber coming in at $299 and the cost of hiring an electrician at $322. While these might not seem like outrageously high numbers, they can add up over the year when you factor in how many home repairs you typically need. However, there are solutions to these financial woes, and they lie in learning how to simply fix things yourself. Sometimes, the path to financial freedom includes learning how to take cost-effective detours in the form of DIYing what you can.

Easy Plumbing Repairs

When your toilet is clogged, it can be easy to want to call a plumber and pay the fee in order to avoid having to deal with it yourself. However, there are many easy fixes to plumbing problems. To repair a leaking toilet, for example, simply loosen the bolts located at the base, remove the toilet from the base and clean up any debris around the drain hole. To DIY a clogged toilet, you’ll need to put a cup of baking soda into the bowl and let it sink to the bottom. If it needs a little extra help, you can boil water and throw that into the mix. Add two cups of vinegar slowly and watch it unclog whatever is causing the buildup.

Replacing Kitchen Appliances 

It’s actually not that hard to replace various kitchen fixtures such as a faucet or parts of a refrigerator. You’ll want to begin by identifying the route of the problem. In most cases visible rust, leaking water, or reduced water pressure are signs of a problem and will lead you to the root cause. Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll want to remove the faucet or similar appliance and simply follow the instructions included in your new one. Nerd Wallet released reports stating that 31% of homeowners don’t have money set aside for these types of repairs, so by DIYing them yourself you can not only help save on unnecessary spending but also put that money back into your savings.

Remodel Areas of Your Home

44% of Americans who are homeowners said their first unexpected home repair or remodel occurred within the first year of ownership. This is why it’s a great idea to really learn how to DIY these tasks in order to save money while increasing your investment in the house as an asset. While some tasks are better left to professionals, remodels such as installing hardwood floors, resurfacing cabinets and updating the interior paint can all easily be done without any experience.

Taking on Electric Repairs

While it might seem like a daunting task, repairing something electrical can be as simple as knowing where to connect the wires. To replace a light switch, for example, requires you to simply choose the fixture you want. Then, once you’ve got it, you’ll want to turn off the power to your home, remove the existing light switch and pull it out away from the wires, disconnect the panel and then replace it with the new one. Now, take the money you’ve saved and add it to your savings account or some sort of financial fund. Use this money to invest in high-quality repairs and renovations down the road that can increase your home’s value.

The Joy of Saving and Learning 

If you’re constantly calling someone else to fix everything, you’ll not only drain your resources fast, but you’ll miss out on the opportunity to learn how to gain practical skills and feel a sense of accomplishment. Learning how to DIY home repairs is a great way to gain skills without tapping into your savings, and that’s a smart financial move you can apply to any area of your life.

The TLC Your Garage Deserves

The TLC Your Garage Deserves

The first part of your home you step foot in is most likely the one you give the least attention to. This first impression of your home can not only have a strong psychological effect on your personal mood and perspective, but it can also equate to more tangible damage, in the form of diminishing financial value. That is why 82% of 500 realtors surveyed stated that a disorganized and messy garage has a considerably negative impact on potential home buyers (Braun Research survey). Here, we examine a few of the most common long-term effects of a neglected garage and how we can begin to quickly address them while transforming your garage into a portion of your home you want to show off.

 

Cracks in flooring

One of the most common issues that arise in a garage are cracks in the flooring. We’ve almost accepted them as inevitable, but the truth is they don’t have to be. Cracks in the floor are most commonly caused by things like shrinkage, settlement and exposure to cold and frost. They also have real effects and are subject to regulation, as demonstrated in industry standards manuals everywhere. The real issue with cracks is the extra damage caused by water seeping into them followed by freezing occurring in the winter time, which can cause expansion and excess pressure against the garage slab. This can lead to excess cracking and heaving. Try to eliminate exacerbating these cracks by utilizing a garage floor mat in your garage.

 

Staying organized

The clutter overflows, spring time comes around, and we finally decide to spend a day solely devoted to cleaning out the garage. The only problem is, this is a band aid on a larger issue, as next spring we will be doing the same thing. Sound familiar? One way to help with this is installing garage organizers. Purchasing some storage shelves and cabinets go a surprisingly long way in keeping your garage clean and clutter free. Just having the ability to put items away in a specific place instead of stacking them on top of each other leads to a more habitual upkeep of your garage, ensuring it stays organized.

 

Outdated or broken garage door openers

As with all technology in the last two decades, developments have been consistent and continuous. A unique issue has risen with garage doors, as they aren’t as easily replaceable as an iPhone or a pair of headphones. They also aren’t anywhere near the top of our list – until they are. Having an updated and fully functional garage door system is a necessity in this market, and goes a long way as far as presentation. They are after all, one of the most frequently used doors in the home.

 

You’ll find it surprising how tending to just these three simple aspects of your garage can be completely transformative. Potential buyers will see your house as much more valuable, and you’ll also feel significantly better as you return home every day. You may even be able to make it to the door without having to avoid stepping on any old toys or furniture

3 Quick Tips of Rehabbing

3 Quick Tips of Rehabbing

FUNDING

Ideally, you want to have some capital or credit set aside to flip houses.  However, you can also use other people’s money to flip houses and use only a fraction of your own money.

Getting a hard money loan is easier than getting a loan from a bank. There is less paperwork involved and your credit history is not as big of a factor. Most hard money lenders do not check your credit. This is only a brief overview of how hard money lending works.  Every hard money lender has his or her own terms, conditions, and policies. Each state has its own unique laws, rules, and regulations.

FIND A PROPERTY

New investors often get discouraged due to a lack of inventory in their area.  MLS listings are the easiest way to find properties for sale but do not always offer the best deals. While every market is different, you can almost always find good properties to flip. Here are some places to look for cheap real estate:

Bank Owned/REO Properties – Major U.S. banks are motivated to sell their foreclosed properties. Why are banks so motivated to sell these properties?  Banks have “carrying costs” each month a house is in its inventory.  Carrying costs include property tax, insurance, and maintenance, such as landscaping and/or snowplowing services.  There is also the added risk that squatters will vandalize a property. This causes thousands of dollars in damage that the banks are forced to pay for. All of these factors create an opportunity for you to purchase bank-owned properties at a deep discount.
HUD/VA Properties – HUD and VA Homes are also referred to as government foreclosures.  A HUD property is a house with an FHA-backed mortgage that went into foreclosure. A VA property is a house with a VA-backed mortgage that went into foreclosure. You can often pick up cheap HUD and VA properties.

Off-Market Distressed Properties – These are homeowners who need to sell quickly. If you move quickly, you can get houses for 30% – 50% on the dollar.
WHAT REPAIRS TO DO AND NOT DO

Some people get carried away and do too many renovations. They find themselves trying to sell a property that is over rehabbed for the neighborhood. You don’t want to flip the most expensive house on the block. Do renovations that bring a house up to standards on par with other houses in the neighborhood.

Kitchen and Bathrooms: Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. Remodel them from top to bottom. If you are not sure what materials to use, look at homes that have sold for top dollar per square foot in your area and copy them.

Flooring: In most flips, use laminate hardwood flooring in the major living areas and carpet in the bedrooms. Laminate hardwood flooring is difficult to tell apart from real hard wood. It is not only much more durable, but also scratch resistant.

Paint: Paint every room in the home. If the walls have a lot of minor flaws in them, use flat paint. Otherwise, use eggshell. And always use earth tones. Anyone can decorate around neutral colors.

Landscaping: Donald Trump himself stated that you get a $10,000 return for every $1,000 you spend on landscaping. It is amazing what rocks, trees, and shrubs can do to increase the perceived value of a property. A good rule of thumb is to budget 1% to 2% of the final expected sale price of your home for landscaping.

Roof: If the home needs a new roof, replace it.

HVAC: Make sure the home has a working heating and cooling system. In some areas, air conditioning is now mandatory.

Garage: Other than paint, do not spend much money here.

Back patio: This is an often overlooked but a very important area. A simple $1,500 deck with two chairs and a small table can make a big difference.

Make sure your general contractor has addressed each of these items in his quote.  If you make these simple improvements, you will be able to sell your property for top dollar and maximize your profits.

How to Hire a Contractor

How to Hire a Contractor

Home renovations can be time-consuming, expensive and stressful! Finding the right contractor can ensure that your home renovation doesn’t take over your life and your wallet. But how do you know a contractor is the “right” one for you? Learn more about how to find, then hire the right contractor for your home renovation.

Finding Contractors

Ranging from Real Estate Clubs to Lowe’s and Home Depot to Angie’s List of ads in the local paper, there should be plenty of places to find contractors. So, how do you pick the right one for your project? Step one is to ask for personal recommendations. If someone is willing to vouch for their contractor, that is something you should take into account. If you aren’t able to get any personal recommendations, the Internet is your next best bet. Use YELP, Google+ and sites like Angie’s List to read reviews of contractors. While it is also a good idea to look at their websites because they showcase their best work there, you need to know about ALL their past work as well.

Once you’ve gathered a list of contractors, make sure to run a quick search with the Better Business Bureau. Even with personal recommendations, you want to ensure that there are no pending litigations or major complaints filed. Once you find your list of contractors, it’s time to start the hiring process.

Hiring the Right Contractor

Once you have a list of at least three contractors, it’s time to hire the right one! Before you interview each contractor make sure you can clearly communicate your expectations. Questions you should ask each contractor are:

  • What vetting process do you use for your employees or any subcontractors who will work on this project?
  • Will you be handling all the necessary permits?
  • Can you supply a detailed list of services and expected completion dates?
  • What deposit is required and what is the estimated cost?

Once you have these questions answered by all three of your contractors, compare them. It shouldn’t always be about price. If the lowest priced contractor has no vetting process for their employees, you probably won’t be happy with their quality of work. Find a contractor that offers a balance of value and quality. This will help ensure that the work is done to your specifications. Hiring a contractor is the first (and most important) step of any home renovation. A good contractor should be your partner throughout your entire renovation. They should ensure all work is done to code and finishes are in the best quality, all while sticking to your budget. Don’t forget to take into account what contractor you felt most comfortable with. Not only are they going to be in your home every day, you need to be comfortable discussing tense subjects and financial matters with them. A good contractor can make or break a renovation, so take the time to find and hire the right one for your project.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­[1] https://www.upwork.com/blog/2017/11/want-job-filled-faster-5-tips-hire-right-talent

[1] http://smallbusiness.chron.com/manage-subcontractor-67687.html

Return on Investment: Finished Basement

Return on Investment: Finished Basement

Basements are a forgotten source of extra square footage in many homes. A finished basement can provide a little privacy or create space to spread out in an open concept home. When done well, a finished basement can be a great amenity for any family home. Though additional space can improve the day-to-day lives of homeowners, for investors, do they actually add value to a home? Let’s learn more about the return on investment you can expect when adding a finished basement to your property’s floorplan.

Cost vs. Value Report

The 2016 remodeling magazine “Cost vs. Value” reported that the average basement remodel cost approximately $60,000. The expected return on investment was found to be 70.3%, one of the highest ROIs in the survey.

To achieve this impressive ROI, follow these best practices:

#1 Check for signs of moisture or foundation cracks before you invest in finishing your basement. Addressing these issues before you modify the space will ensure best results.

#2 Understand local building codes before you finalize your layout. If you are adding bedrooms, be sure they have the proper egress.

#3 Keep your layout simple. The more walls, the more structure you have to add. Many basements have posts that support the entire structure of the home. Do your best to work around these. Incorporating the existing structure into the design can cut many unnecessary costs.

#4 Calculate your ceiling heights. For the basement to feel like part of the rest of the home, the ceilings will need to be at least 7.5 feet high. The ideal height is 8 feet, and in some new construction areas, basement ceiling heights are closer to 10 feet.

#5 Invest in good lighting, especially if windows are scarce. No one wants to spend time in a dark space, and if you don’t have a daylight basement, there can be a shortage of natural light.

If done properly, a finished basement can add value to any home. Whether you are adding a basement to your home or to an investment property, if you do it right, you can expect that 70% return on investment.

Estimating Remodel/Rehab Costs

Estimating Remodel/Rehab Costs

In general, when investors are looking at properties to fix and flip, they look at the remodel under three categories: light, medium and heavy.

Here is a general breakdown on the categories with the dollar amounts you can assign to them, keeping in mind that these are not the only way to calculate these rehabs.

  • Light – This involves mostly flooring and paint, with a few light and plumbing fixtures included. This can be in the range of $10-$15 per square foot. The range can vary depending on the extent of the flooring and paint to be done, along with the type of materials you choose. In the case of a fix and flip, you should take into consideration materials that could help you reach a maximum profit when the rehab is done and the property is sold. Suggested Time Line: Considering the formula of 1 day for every $1,000 of estimated repairs, this should take less than 3 weeks.
  • Medium – This includes all that is included in the “light,” along with a kitchen and bath remodel. This can range from $20-$25 per square foot, depending on the amount of remodel that is needed. The property’s use after rehab will help you decide the extent of the actual rehab needed. If damage to the kitchen and bath is so bad that an entire tear out and rebuild must be done, you will probably be looking at the upper-end of the scale ($25 per square foot and maybe up into the $26-$28 range). Suggested Time Line: Again, considering the formula of 1 day for every $1,000 of estimated repairs, this could take up to 5 weeks.
  • Heavy – This is the all-in rehab where you look at everything from the “light” and “medium” levels to throwing in major items, such as foundation repair, roof replacement, replacement of appliances such as AC/Furnace, and door and window replacement. This level of rehab typically involves big-ticket items that require the longest amount of time to finish the remodel. The range for this is around $30-$40 per square foot. Suggested Time Line: With the before mentioned formula of 1 day for every $1,000 of estimated repairs, this should be less than 8 weeks.

Remember that these estimated costs are based on retail purchases of the materials, like what you would buy at Lowes or Home Depot. A licensed contractor is able to acquire their materials at wholesale price, which could bring a rehab 10-15% below estimates that are done using retail pricing.

Understanding Home Inspections

Understanding Home Inspections

A home inspection is an important aspect to consider when buying a home. This process enables the buyer to identify the overall condition of the targeted property. This operation will save the buyer a lot of money in the long run. The result of any home inspection can greatly influence the final decision of the buyer. As a buyer, you need to be very sure about the subject of your investment in order to avoid future trouble.

A home inspection is usually done by a professional home inspector. The expected output of the inspection must be detailed enough to identify system conditions, deterioration, and other aspects of the home that will help the inspector come up with a good recommendation.

One of the common and important aspects to consider during the inspection is the structural state. This is very vital because nobody wants to have a home with a weak foundation. That is just one common example of things to check during an inspection. There are many other features you need to consider if you want your investment to be worth it. These include landscape condition, potential pests that will surely provide some inconvenience, the state of the septic system, and many other details that can potentially cause stress in the future.

A home inspection would be futile without a good inspector. You need to check if the one you hired is experienced enough to offer you a quality outcome. The inspector must be certified and preferably a member of a professional association. Because you are seeking assurance on the overall condition of the home that will shelter you and your family for a long time, it is essential that you are dealing with the right people.

The report after the home inspection can vary in form. It could be a narrative, a checklist, or any rating system your inspector prefers to give you a clear view of the overall state of the property. During the inspection it is also be helpful if you have certain knowledge about what to ask and what to check. You should not fully depend on the inspector. It would be a big help if the buyer is present during the inspection, giving feedback and asking for advice, because it could help the inspector come up with a comprehensive report for the buyer.

Inexpensive Repairs for Home Sellers

Inexpensive Repairs for Home Sellers

Before selling a home on the traditional real estate market, many real estate agents recommend home sellers complete repairs. “According to the Real Estate Staging Association, homes that have minor repairs completed before going on the market sell 90% faster.”[1]   Home repairs can quickly become expensive home renovations, if you aren’t careful. Inexpensive home repairs will make ready any home for the sale on the traditional real estate market.

Curb Appeal

You only get one chance to make a first impression! There are so many great inexpensive repairs homeowners can complete to increase curb appeal:

  • Trim back bushes and trees
  • Spread fresh mulch in your flowerbeds
  • Repair any loose stones in your walkway

In addition to yard work, some paint can spruce up your entry and even add perceived value. “In a recent survey conducted by the Real Estate Staging Association, 79% of home staging professionals said that a colorful or statement front door can increase the perceived value of the home.”[2]

A Fresh Coat of Paint

A fresh coat of paint is a great inexpensive way to instantly clean up a home. If you’ve ever watched an episode of House Hunters, you know how prospective buyers can fixate on paint colors. New paint is a great way to make a space neutral and ready for any buyer.

Paint can also update your kitchen. Did you know, some kitchen cabinets can be painted? This task is best left to the professionals but is significantly less expensive than a whole new kitchen.

Weekend Walk Through

If you are handy, this repair can be free! Take a weekend to walk through your home with only basic tools. Check for anything from loose door knobs to broken screens to leaky faucets. While these repairs may seem minor, they all add up. Most buyers don’t want to purchase a project, so complete as many tasks as you can!

Listing a home on the traditional real estate market can be a long (and sometimes costly) process. For this reason many home sellers choose to sell directly to a real estate investor. When selling to an investor there are no repairs to complete; they purchase homes in as-is condition.

 

 

[1] http://www.realestatestagingassociation.com/

[2] http://www.realestatestagingassociation.com/

Seven Ways to Get More When Selling

Seven Ways to Get More When Selling

Nobody likes taking a hit when they go to sell something, especially when it is one of the largest investments of their life. Purchasing real estate is a huge investment and selling it can be an even bigger one. In this article, we will go over seven ways to get more for your home. Hopefully some of these tips will help and you will be able to put them to good use.

 

  1. List for less than market value. This will make your home look highly desirable in a tight market and create some urgency with your buyers. Buyers will act faster because they don’t want to lose out on a deal and this should increase your odds of multiple offers.

 

  1. Brighten up the place. Clean out the windows, open the blinds and turn on the lights. Open concept is what many new home owners are currently looking for, and you can help create some of that simply by making the home look more open and spacious with some light.

 

  1. On that same note, clean out the closets. You can make a home look like it has more storage by removing at least 50% of everything in your closets. This will definitely help sell your home.

 

  1. First impressions are key, so paint the front door. While you are painting your front door, go ahead and install a nice, sturdy doorknob and lock. The fresh coat of paint and new lock will help make the place feel newer and less used. Everyone wants to feel safe at home and putting in that new, sturdy lock can help create that sense of security your buyer is looking for.

 

  1. Clean. Clean. Clean! Dust from the ceiling fans all the way to the floorboards. Don’t forget to pull the weeds and grass growing between the cracks in the driveway as well.

 

  1. Make everything neutral. Yes, the pink nursery looks great for you and your home; however, you are trying to sell it. Since it will no longer be your home, you need to help the buyer feel like it could be theirs. What if they only have boys? Pink might distract from all the other amazing features your home has to offer. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral color can help make a huge difference when it comes to the atmosphere the home brings.

 

  1. Put away the photos. Again, little Suzie is adorable; however, you need the buyers to feel at home and not like they are invading someone else’s home.

 

Now get out there and get the SOLD price you are looking for!

What Paint to Paint

What Paint to Paint

You’ve started a project that requires paint, and you now find yourself heading to Home Depot. You think to yourself, “Its just paint. How hard can it be?” Once you arrive, you navigate your way over to the paint department and go to the wall of colors. Now what? I am sure a million and one questions are running through your head and they all start with, what type, color and finish do I need?

 

Well my friend, you are in the right place. In this short but sweet article, you will learn everything you need to know about paint so that you never look like a Moaning Lisa by the wall of colors ever again.

 

First, let’s discuss water vs. oil-based paints. How do you know the difference? You can determine this by taking a wet washcloth and rubbing it against the paint. If the surface transfers to the wet cloth or the surface becomes lighter or softens once rubbed, then it is water-based paint. Water-based paint is a latex paint usually used on walls and ceilings. Water-based paint will stick to oil-based paints but will not stick to high-gloss finishes. On the other hand oil-based paint is great for molding cabinets and furniture. Oil-based paint has a smooth finish and is often used as a protective coat.

 

Now that we have determined if we need water or oil-based paint, we need to determine what color/ colors are needed for our project. Right now monochromatic colors (shades or tints of one color) are really popular. You can get this look by adding a touch of grey into the paint to create a tone. The cooler colors are in right now. What I mean by that is grey and whites. Warmer colors would be your beiges and browns.

 

We are almost ready to get our paint mixed and head out of the store. We have our paint type and color, now all we need to do is determine the finish, which can also be referred to as the gloss or sheen.

 

– Matte/flat: smooth finish, hides surface imperfections, hard to clean, suffers damage easily, and best for low traffic.

-Eggshell: Velvety, easy to clean, still pretty flat look, and better for hardwearing areas.

-Satin: Silky, pearl-like finish, stain resistant, resists moisture and mildew, and best for high-traffic kitchens & bathrooms.

-Semi-Gloss: Sleek, radiant, high resistance to moisture, and best for cabinets, doors or windows.

-High Gloss: Very durable, easy to clean and best for trim and molding.

 

Congratulations you are now able to navigate the paint aisle like a pro. Get out there and start your next project using these tips.

Top 3 HVAC Safety Concerns

Top 3 HVAC Safety Concerns

The acronym HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and it’s the broadly used term to describe equipment used to keep homes at a comfortable temperature.  In most residential homes, most HVAC systems are forced-air heating and cooling systems that include heat pumps, air conditioners and furnaces.

Your HVAC system is a major part of your home.  It is a complex system with many parts and can often present safety concerns.  Although safety issues involving your HVAC system aren’t common, it’s important to know about them so you can prevent problems and know what to do if they ever arise.

Indoor Air Quality

When your home is sealed up tight during the summer and winter, your indoor air quality becomes especially important.  Without fresh air circulating throughout, you have to pay attention to the quality of the air coming from your HVAC system.  Have your indoor air quality tested, especially if anyone in your home experiences increased asthma attacks, headaches, allergies, or flu-like symptoms.  These could be signs of poor indoor air quality.  Determine ways to improve the indoor air quality in your home by dusting and sweeping regularly and having your HVAC system serviced and air filters changed regularly. (1)

Electrical Shock

If you’re handy, you may be tempted to fix HVAC issues on your own.  Watching a YouTube video doesn’t qualify you to work on even what may seem to be simple systems.  Unless you truly know what you’re doing, don’t attempt to fix and HVAC issue on your own.  Tinkering could void the warranty, cause even bigger problems, and could put you at rick for dangers like an electrical shock.  Unless you’re trained, leave HVAC fixes to the experts. (1)

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that should be a big concern for everyone.  Although carbon monoxide poisoning is rare, it is fatal in some cases.  An aging furnace may leak carbon monoxide without you even realizing it.  Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, fatigue, nausea, and loss of consciousness.  Make sure your family knows the warning signs and has a carbon monoxide detector to keep them alerted and safe. (1)

If your HVAC system breaks down, it’s not a good idea to attempt to fix it yourself.  If you experience problems with your HVAC or have indoor air quality concerns, contact a qualified HVAC repairman and speak with an experienced professional today.

  1. Custom Air, Inc. – 2016

6 Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs Repairs

6 Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs Repairs

It’s actually not difficult to tell if your air conditioning system is in need of repairs, but sometimes inexperienced homeowners might wonder whether the air conditioner is really not working or it is all in their head.  Other homeowners might feel that though their air conditioning system is showing signs that it needs repairs, it is better to look after the problem before it gets worse or before their air conditioning system stops working completely.

Some of the signs are fairly obvious, while others are more subtle.  Knowing the warning signs will help you search for professional service before the problems gets out of control. (1)

  1. No Cool Air

At some point, you may find that your air conditioning system simply isn’t doing its job.  Even at full blast, the air coming from your vents just isn’t as cold as it used to be, or isn’t cold at all.  This could be a sign that your system is in need of serious repair.  For instance, lack of cool air could mean that your systems compressor has failed.  It could also mean that your systems Freon levels are too low.  When that time comes, you might have to replace the unit. (1)

  1. Poor Air Flow

If you are noticing weak or little air flow through your AC vents, the unit’s compressor may be failing.  In case your areas or rooms in your home are getting cold air while others are not, then the trouble might be with your duck work and it’s a sign that your AC system needs urgent repair. (1)

Over time, debris can get stuck in your air conditioning vents.  Not only this obstructs airflow, but it also presents a health risk to you and your family.  Having your air conditioners ducts cleaned is a great way to restore airflow and ensure that your AC system is working well when you need it most. (1)

  1. Thermostat Problems

At times the trouble is not with the air conditioning unit, but with the thermostat itself.  One way to tell if your thermostat has a problem is if one part of your house is very cold while another part remains at the same temperature. (1)

  1. Moisture Where It Shouldn’t Be

(1)

Moisture or leakage around or near your system can be an indication of problems.  When you see leaks from your air conditioning system, it can mainly be because of two reasons. (1)

In the most serious cases, the leak could be refrigerant.  Refrigerant leaks can cause serious health risks to you and your family and need to be repaired at once.  You must call an air conditioning repair expert right away. (1)

Water pools adjacent to your air conditioner might show that the drain tube, which disposes of the air conditioner condensation, is either blocked or broken.  This is not as serious of an issue, but should be tackled quickly to avoid less important problems like mold growth. (1)

  1. Strange Sounds

Squealing, grating, grinding sounds from your air conditioner might be a sign that you need a replacement unit.  These noises imply that something is wrong inside the unit.  Failure to service the unit could result in a pricey breakdown. (1)

A squealing noise means that the belt has slipped out of place.  It may also indicate that a metal component in your air conditioner requires more lubrication.  A grinding sound may mean that your motor’s bearings are broken. (1)

  1. Strange Odors

Pungent or foul smells from your air conditioning vents normally mean that your conditioner’s wire insulation has burned out.  Musty smells generally indicates that there is mold inside your unit or ductwork, which must be taken care of without delay. (1)

In order to keep away from these issues, it is important to maintain your air conditioning system regularly.  It is a costly appliance and must be cared for to add to its lifespan and lessen the need for pricey repairs. (1)

Even if your unit doesn’t need replacement, getting it repaired or serviced can boost up its efficiency and save you money.

Most repairs on air conditioners are quite simple, but homeowners frequently avoid calling a technician as they fear a large bill.  In case your AC unit is new, you may find that the repair is covered under a manufacturer’s warranty.  Even if it is not under warranty, it is good to fix a small problem quickly than to delay and let it grow into a larger problem. (1)

  1. Homewarrantyreviews.com 2016

7 Warning Signs That Your Roof Needs Replacement

7 Warning Signs That Your Roof Needs Replacement

How often do you look at your roof?  If you’re like me, you run in and out of the house, shuttle the kids back and forth, and glance up at the roofline only occasionally as you back out of the driveway.

But inspecting your roof regularly and making little fixes as needed can prevent some costly repairs down the road and keep those raindrops from falling on your head.  There’s another benefit, too: Keeping your roof in good condition will also be a big plus if you decide to sell your home.

A solid roof above your head is pretty crucial if you’ve become accustomed to having a warm, cozy, and leak-free home.  Here’s how to notice and deal with potential issues before they become big ones. (1)

1. Understanding the age of your roof.

An asphalt shingle roof should last between 20 and 30 years, says Claude McGavic, executive director of The National Association of Home Inspectors.  “If you have a 40 year old roof, there could be a problem, even if it looks good from the ground.” (1)

2. The shingles are curling.

Shingles can curl in two ways: There’s cupping, which happens when the edges of the shingles turn upward; and there’s clawing, which is when the edges stay flat and the middle starts to come up.  Both are signs of weathering and indicate that potential problems are relatively close and repair is eminent.  (1)

3. Entire shingles are missing.

From a functional standpoint, there should be no problem with just replacing a few shingles here and there.  What you do need to be prepared for is the fact that it’s just about impossible to get a new shingle to match the color of an old one, says Graham. (1)

Granule colors have changed pretty significantly over the years.  Plus, the colors change slightly with weathering.

You can keep patching until a bigger issue presents itself, but if a roof starts to look like a checkerboard, people often opt to replace the whole thing. (1)

4. The shingles are cracked.

Cracked shingles are typically a result of wind damage.  If just a few shingles are cracked, you can certainly replace them.  If the cracking isn’t isolated to one particular area and it’s random throughout the roof, that’s a sign you should start thinking about a new roof, says Graham. (1)

5. You’re finding granules in the gutter.

If you just got a new asphalt shingle roof and you see a bunch of granules in the rain gutters, there’s nothing to worry about: Those are just loose, extra ones.  But if it’s been 10-15 years, that’s a sign of a bigger problem.  Granules help keep the sun off the asphalt, says McGavic.  Once the granules fall off and the shingles start to bake, the quality will deteriorate in a hurry. (1)

If you have a new roof and you just started to notice the granules in the gutter, the shingles are probably halfway through their lifespan, McGavic estimates. (1)

6. The shingles are covered with moss or algae.

Okay, this is actually no reason to panic. It’s just a cosmetic issue, say McGavic.  People may choose to replace the roof just because they don’t like the aesthetic (a lot of new shingles are algae-resistant).  Whatever you do, don’t take matters into your own hands by power washing or scraping away at the green stuff.  That’s a good way to chip off all the granules, which again, essentially renders your shingles useless. (1)

7. You can see sunlight from your attic.

You don’t need me to tell you that this isn’t a good sign….because it’s not.  If light can shine through the roof of your home, so can rain, cold air, and snow.  Check for light and also look for water stains.  If you find any, watch them over a few rainfalls and if they change shape or size, that means you’ve got an active leak, says McGavic. (1)

Watch for the warning signs to be sure to give yourself plenty of time to add the project to your TO DO list.  For help with a roofing project, you should consult a roofing specialist in your area. 

Ask your roofing contractors for referrals of jobs they have recently completed to help you make the best decision when hiring a contractor.

                                                                                                                                      (1) Beth Kaufman- Good Housekeeping

3 WAYS TO SELL YOUR FIX AND FLIP QUICKLY

3 Ways To Sell Your Fix and Flip Quickly

The worst thing an investor can encounter when trying to sell their investment property is to have it sit stagnate on the market. I would always suggest trying to have the property sold before you even finish with the renovations and start marketing your property before you even start renovations. The following are my top three ways to sell your fixer-upper quickly:

  1. Market the Property from Day 1: This means the minute you get the keys, advertise the property. Before the renovations even start, post the property everywhere. Online ads have become a new way for buyers to search out properties. Advertise it as a “build to suit” or “custom design your new home,” as these are attention-getting headlines. Let the buyers chose their style, color, layout, etc. I would advise that if you attract buyers using this method, have the contract written up and extend for the time period it will take to complete the upgrades. Also have them put down at least 3% of the purchase price as non-refundable earnest money, this way they will be committed to the deal.
  2. Market the Property to the Neighborhood: This is a simple technique I’ve found that helps sell a property quickly. Make some flyers about the property, and then on a weekend, walk the neighborhood (for your safety, don’t walk alone, take a friend with you). Knock on every door and let the neighbors know you are an investor and you are fixing up the ugly house and you want their help to sell it. Tell them that if they refer a buyer to your deal, then you will give them a $250.00 finder’s fee (the fee can be whatever you want). The majority of homes sold are by neighbors telling their family and friends about a house in their neighborhood.
  3. Run the Numbers Correctly: One of the biggest reasons homes don’t sell is because they are overpriced. Make sure you run accurate after repair values, and set a tight rehab budget. Get good comparables from your real estate agents. Be sure to not over improve a home, as this will not always get you more value and it will be difficult to sell at a higher price.

The methods I mentioned in this article have helped many investors sell their properties quickly. These tips can be applied to any area. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to marketing your property for sale. Get creative and have some fun with it.

20 Steps on Rehabbing a Property

20 Steps on Rehabbing a Property

Author: Sherry Carlson

If you are new to flipping homes or just thinking about getting started and don’t know where to start, here are 20 steps to walk you through the process.

  1. Make sure you have insurance on the home and you turn on all the utilities.
  1. Thoroughly inspect the property identify all areas that need work. Should include the heating and air conditioner, plumbing, electrical system, roof, attic, any visible insulation, walls, ceiling, floors, windows, doors foundation and the basement. If you are not a contractor you can hire a home inspector. The cost of an inspection varies by the size and geographical location of the property.
  1. Take multiple pictures of home before, during and after construction.
  1. If there is a home for sale in your neighborhood make an appointment to view it. This is your competition and you want to make your home one step above that home.
  1. Create a rehab checklist that will include interior and exterior items.
  1. Create and stick to a budget. The budget should be itemized for each individual repair and if a repair exceeds your budget, you will need to make some changes to your checklist.
  1. Have a meeting with your contractor or line up your sub-contractors and meet with them in order to get bids. Remember to get 3 bids on all work.
  1. Award the bids to the contractor or to the sub-contractors. Get everything in writing including a start and finish date. When paying contractor or sub-contractors make sure you get a lien waiver. (A document from a contractor, subcontractor, supplier or other party holding a mechanic’s lien stating that they have been paid in full and waiving future lien rights to the disputed property.)
  1. Get all necessary permits. Could include installing new electrical wiring increasing the square footage of the property, installing a fence over 6 feet tall and anything that involves a public sewer line. Contractor can help you with the permits.
  1. Order all new material that will go into the home. Cabinets, countertop, carpet, tile, paint etc. Contractor can do this for you.
  1. Create a schedule and time for each sub-contractor to start and finish their job. Contractor can do this for you.
  1. Begin with demolition and trash removal. Remove any trash from the inside and outside of the property. Remove any items that are damaged or that you will be replacing. (i.e. flooring, cabinets, appliances, light fixtures, toilets, water heater etc.)
  1. Get home ready for the painter. On the outside if roof needs repair.  Get that done to stop the roof from leaking into the home. Remove wallpaper patch walls.  Get new hard surface floors put in. New baseboards installed and new doors delivered.  So painter can paint.
  1. Have the interior of the home painted.
  1. While the painter is painting the home have a crew move to the outside to do repairs.  Examples; fix fences, decks, etc.  Get the exterior of the home ready to be painted.
  1. Have painter move to the outside and get the outside painted.
  1. When painter is finished with the inside put the home back together. Example install cabinets countertops hang doors appliances carpet goes in last.
  2. Clean house.
  3. Stage the home for selling. (Home staging is the act of preparing a private residence for the sale in the real estate marketplace. The goal of staging is to make a home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers, thereby selling a property more swiftly and for more money.  Staging techniques focus on improving a property’s appeal by transforming it into a welcoming, attractive product that anyone might want.) I like to stage the front room and kitchen and put towels and accessories in the bath room.
  1. Put house on the market for sale.

What is a Home Inspection Report?

What is a Home Inspection Report?

A home inspection report is a useful tool in the real estate market for both buyers and sellers. A home inspection is an examination of the conditions in a house. These conditions are those that affect the property values and include such items as structure and mechanicals. “The home inspection takes the uncertainty and emotional barriers out of buying a home.” (Gonzalez)

A home inspection is not an appraisal. An appraisal is a method of determining property value and takes into consideration items such as square footage and property value. The home inspection will take these factors into consideration but also accounts for the inside prospective of the home.

The home inspection report is unique to residential properties and is used to determine and diagnose the property characteristics.

We will explore the expectations of a buyer or seller when entering into a home inspection. During the home inspection, the condition and structure of the home will be documented by an inspector after taking a simple visual assessment of the property.

After the exterior is visually inspected, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are examined and their performance recorded. The inspector will not disassemble the equipment but turn it off and on to see if it is in working condition. The inspection will report any observed material defects.

Plumbing is an important component of a home and the inspector will visually examine the operation of the plumbing system. The water flow is expected to be free of any obstruction so clear, clean flow of water should occur. The inspector is making sure that sewage and waste return is separate from the fresh water supply. Additionally, the inspector will visually check the water heater.

The electrical system is also visually inspected and lights and outlets randomly checked. The notation of the type of electrical box as to whether the service is fuse or switch triggered will be documented in your inspection. In conjunction with the electrical and heating review some inspectors will offer a thermal imaging inspection using an infrared camera to give the information on heat loss and any electrical problems that are not visible to the causal observance.

Choosing a home inspector can be a difficult process in some areas because of the large amount of inspectors available and their different levels of education and competency. When considering a home inspector, there are several approved education institutions, and although not national, they can be found on the individual state sites such as nachi.org or npiweb.com. These national home inspection schools add credibility to the training given to the inspector. These sites will also give a list of the inspectors in your area by zip code.

The average fee for this service is between $350 and $500 and varies according to location, size and type of inspection needed. The home inspector will ask several questions before quoting a price so it is best to call and discuss prices with a few inspectors in your home area. It is prudent when buying or selling a home to get a home inspection. This will save money on expenses later on after the purchase and in some cases help to firmly set the selling price.

Tortoise or hare? Why buy and hold makes for a winning strategy.

buy and hold real estateTortoise or Hare? Why Buying and Holding Real Estate Makes for a Winning Strategy.

Buying and holding Real Estate is a long-term approach to real estate investment. Instead of flipping for a quick lump sum, you’ll hold on to your investment and use the rental market to earn a regular income.

Buy and Holding Real Estate – why should I be interested?

There are heaps of benefits for investors who choose to hold onto their property portfolio. Flipping houses can be lucrative but risky. If you’re unlucky enough to hit a dip in the market you could be left with the dilemma of either selling for reduced profit or paying off a high-interest loan until the market improves.

Buy and hold also involves fewer transactions – and the cost is spread over a longer period of time. It’s also good news on the taxation front. Not only can the tax paid on long-term capital gains be lower but might only be due if you sell the property.

How should I go about it?

Properties that need maintenance, reconfiguring or repairs create value from the get-go– your work has just increased its asking price. Your investment needs to start paying, so get the property ready for the rental market as soon as possible.

The highest rent you can achieve isn’t always the best strategy – go for a low but regular turnover, so you’re not constantly on the lookout for new tenants.

So why should you go with buying and holding real estate? Hanging on to your investment makes the most of long-term market stability and gives a good rate of return. Flipping might sound exciting but playing the long game can give you a solid financial income – without losing sleep.