How To Handle Common Homeowner Challenges

How To Handle Common Homeowner ChallengesIt takes hard work to achieve the American Dream of homeownership. Everyday people work to save for a down payment and build a good credit score. When you turn the key to your first home or dream home, the sweat equity feels well worth it.

But the hard work of buying a home continues long after hanging family photos and hooking up a big-screen TV. There are challenges that property owners are unprepared to handle. These are three of the more common ones you may want to be ready to manage.

Leaking Pipes

Plumbing does not last forever and at some point, it will begin to leak. For people who have wells on their property, copper pipes can wear thin faster. That’s because the pH of well water can tend to be on the more acidic side and corrode pipes quicker.

Many homeowners are ill prepared to deal with pipes that spring a leak. If a leak goes unchecked, the water can cause other damage or hazardous mold growth behind walls and under floorboards. While one solution is often having a plumber make an expensive emergency call, there are other simple solutions.

Take a piece of an old bicycle tire tube and fasten it tight over the leak using a pair of hosepipe screw clamps. These clamps wrap around the pipe and can be closed over the rubber and leak using a screwdriver. If you do not have these items handy, it may be in your best interest to spend less the $5 and get them sooner rather than later.

Moisture In The Bathroom

The single most destructive force to any home is not rodents or termite infestations. Water can do more damage than the average homeowner might imagine. A poorly ventilated bathroom can create one of the most hazardous problems.

When moisture seeps behind walls or under the floor, it can spur on dangerous mold growth. These health hazards often go undetected and sick family members may not know the root cause is hidden behind the walls.

Overly moist bathroom walls from hot showers are a telltale sign that you need improved ventilation. Start immediately by opening a window when showering and enlist the help of a professional to properly vent the bathroom. The difference could be thousands of dollars in ripping out walls and rebuilding, not to mention your health.

Power Outages

There are two types of power outages that homeowners would be wise to prepare for — short ones and long ones. If your power is interrupted for a few hours or half of a day, keep the refrigerator shut and enjoy the time without television noise. A few inexpensive battery-operated lanterns or candles will provide enough light.

But if you are hit by a long-term outage, there are things you can do ahead of time to be prepared. Many homeowners in areas that suffer annual severe weather incidents purchase generators. Small ones can be set outside and run electricity to important items. Even a modest generator can help a homeowner through a week-long outage.

If you don’t have a backup generator, the time is now to prepare. They will fly off the shelves when the lights go out.

The joy of homeownership is coupled with ongoing challenges. Planning ahead can save time, money and help keep your dream home in tip-top shape.

Whether you are interested in buying a new home or refinancing your current property, your trusted home mortgage professional is available to help you find the most current and beneficial financing options.

Complete These Repairs Before You List Your Home

Complete These Repairs Before You List Your HomeThere are several things to do when you prepare to list your home for sale. One of the projects you’ll need to do is complete certain repairs. Your home should be in the best possible condition before your real estate agent shows it to potential buyers.

While your home doesn’t need to be perfect, here is a list of repairs you should strive to get done before you open your home to showings.

Front Steps And Deck Issues

The front entrance and back deck should be in good shape for curb appeal and safety. Replace or repair wooden steps that pose a danger or feel unstable. Hammer down any nails on the deck that have popped up over the years. Reinforce loose railings and hand rails. Refinish decking that has dried, cracked or peeling paint.

Sticking Or Noisy Hinges And Sliders

Buyers will likely be opening doors, drawers, windows and cupboards. Don’t let them be disappointed. Go through your home and identify doors, windows and drawers that don’t open and close smoothly. Lubricate hinges, drawer sliders or window sashes as necessary. Tighten loose screws on door hinges to ensure the door swings easily.

Cracked Or Broken Window Panes

Windows in disrepair often signal that the home hasn’t been well-maintained. Replace or repair cracked or broken windows or window glass that’s clouded over from loss of insulation.

Stained Carpets

Buyers’ eyes may instantly be drawn to visible stains on your carpet. Have carpets professionally cleaned with added stain removal services. Camouflage any stains that won’t come out with an area rug or a piece of furniture. Alternatively, consider replacing carpets that are in extremely poor condition.

Broken Tiles And Peeling Flooring

Flooring in poor condition often ruins the look of the room and is a safety hazard. Replace chipped or cracked floor tiles. Repair any corners where the flooring has begun to peel up.

Electrical Issues

Go through your home and make sure all the sockets, outlets and wall switches are in proper working order. Have a certified electrical technician do the work; otherwise the work may not be approved on home inspection report.

First impressions are extremely important when it comes to selling your home. Don’t assume that buyers will be able to look past needed repairs. Instead, take care of these issues before your agent shows your home.

Your trusted real estate agent is available to help you prioritize the home repairs that really matter to buyers. Your trusted home mortgage professional is ready to assist you with your financing for your next home. Be sure to get pre-approved before you start your new home search.

4 House “Flaws” You Can Safely Disregard

4 House Flaws You Can Safely DisregardWhen you walk through a house with your real estate agent, you’re seeing if you and your family would be happy living there. But you’re also probably looking for signs of trouble that might spell big expenses later on. Be careful, though. It’s important to see the “bones” of the house rather than focusing on minor issues.

Here are four flaws you can safely disregard.

1. Stained Carpet

Stained carpet is more an indication of the owner’s poor cleaning habits than of any real problems with the house. It’s so easy to replace carpeting that it’s not worth even paying attention to when you’re viewing a house for sale. In fact, once you pull up that carpeting, you could discover beautiful hardwood flooring!

2. Funky Paint Colors

They say that there’s no accounting for bad taste. If you’ve seen enough houses with your real estate agent, you’re bound to encounter some less than traditional paint colors. However, paint can easily be painted over. You can safely ignore the flamingo pink bathroom walls or the putrid brown bedroom color.

3. Lack Of Curb Appeal

Every homebuyer wants to pull up to a house for sale and think, “How charming!” Unfortunately, a lack of curb appeal gives a sour first impression. However, don’t let that deter you from see the house for its true value. The inside might be magnificent. You can always add your own curb appeal later with pretty landscaping, shutters or window boxes.

4. Outdated Kitchen

If the kitchen is a little dated but the rest of the house meets your expectations, it’s okay to overlook this “flaw.” It’s fairly easy to update a kitchen with new or refinished cabinets, new appliances and a fresh coat of paint. Yes, it will cost a bit, but the outdated kitchen might be reflected in a lower selling price. Ask your real estate agent for their recommendation in this regard.

Sometimes it’s challenging to find the right house in the right location. When you do find one that checks all the boxes, don’t let any of these minor “flaws” deter you from making an offer. The little things won’t keep you from enjoying your new home, and you’ll be glad you focused on the things that really matter!

Your trusted home mortgage professional is available to help you secure your financing for your new home. Be sure to make an appointment to get your pre-approval so you can be ready to make an offer as soon as you find the home of your dreams.

Why a Buyer Needs An Independent Inspection at Closing

Why a Buyer Needs An Independent Inspection at ClosingMany sellers hire inspectors and appraisers to value their home prior to placing it on the market. It’s important for buyers to hire their own inspector to get an independent opinion. If a buyer orders an inspection before the sale goes through, the seller may have to resolve any issues that arise. If you forego the inspection, you inherit any problems that come with the house.

Importance Of Inspections

Homes aren’t always well cared for and it’s relatively easy for an unethical owner to paint over a water stain rather than fix a leaky faucet. Clunky furnaces and loud A/C units are symptoms of equipment the owner hasn’t maintained, but it isn’t the only issue that can arise. From hidden mold to lead pipes, there are hundreds of things that could be wrong that a layman wouldn’t notice in a walk-through.

Buyers should include a clause in the written offer that makes the sale conditional on an inspection. This gives you the freedom to walk away if the report comes back negative. Alternately, you can lower the offer price or ask the seller to pay for repairs.

Inspection Process

There’s no uniform process for conducting an inspection. Generally, it includes a report of the heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical system, flooring, ceilings, roofing, drainage, foundation and basement, where applicable.

Most states don’t offer a licensing process for inspectors. This means that you might not get a comprehensive opinion on other issues, including termites, lead, rodents, asbestos or methane gas. You can ask for the inspector’s opinion, then hire someone who specializes in the areas of concern.

For example, if the inspector suspects a rodent issue, you can ask a pest control company to inspect the property and provide an estimate to resolve any issue.

What’s Not Covered

The inspector is looking for serious issues, so don’t expect every scratch and ding to appear on the report. If you’d like a greater deal of control over the process, you may be to request to walk through the property during the inspection. However, most sellers are reluctant to allow this for a variety of reasons and it may increase your inspection fee.

Ordering an independent inspection gives buyers important insight into defects in the home they are about to purchase. Foregoing an inspection to save a few hundred dollars could end up costing you a lot more if issues come up after you move in.

Your trusted mortgage professional works with inspectors and appraisers on a regular basis. When the time comes to schedule an inspection, be sure to ask for a referral.

Home Buying: Repair Requests After A Home Inspection

Home Buying Repair Requests After A Home InspectionThe perfect home has been found, the one in the right neighborhood with the right amount of bedrooms and bathrooms. The home inspection is complete, but a few issues have been found. At this point, a home buyer has decisions to make.

What Repair Requests Can Be Made After a Home Inspection?

Structural defects found during a home inspection are the responsibility of the seller and must be fixed. In addition, Realtor.com states that the following must also be repaired by the seller:

  • Water penetration such as mold or wet basement/crawlspace
  • Any code and safety violations like unstable decking or missing handrails

Cosmetic issues like bold paint choices or peeling paint, nail holes, and other normal wear-and-tear are the responsibility of the buyer, not seller.

Additional Repairs To Request 

Home buyers do have the option of requesting repairs they believe are the seller’s responsibility. These often go beyond obvious structural issues like a sinking foundation or mold in the basement.

Additional repairs that home buyers may request include but are not limited to:

  • Replacing pipes with leaks
  • Replacing galvanized pipes due to lead contaminant, low water pressure, and leaks
  • Upgrading electrical wiring in a home built before 1960
  • Fixing cracked window(s)
  • Installing new HVAC and/or water heater

Sellers may be willing to replace old sewer lines known as “tar paper” pipes. These “tar paper” pipes are called Orangeburg sewer pipes and often found in older homes. On average, this older type of sewer pipe has a 50-year life span. However, as it ages, it can begin to disintegrate with tree roots penetrating the material. A home buyer can hire a plumbing professional who specializes in sewer pipes to inspect the system as part of the overall home inspection.

There may be additional issues that the seller is not required to fix, but that leave the buyer unhappy. When this happens, it can be possible for the buyer to request a repair credit be added to the final contract. Typically, this works best when the repair or issue has a potential cost of more than $500.

Qualified Home Inspection

Repair requests made by the home buyer, whether major or minor, usually are more credible when done in conjunction with a qualified home inspection. Not every state requires home inspectors to have specific certifications or even licensing, so it’s essential to work with real estate agent to select a qualified professional. A qualified and independent home inspector is the buyer’s responsibility. This inspector should have established credentials and belong to trade association, versus a friend or family member that “knows houses”.

Home buying can be an overwhelming experience, but knowing which repairs to request the seller to fix after the home inspection, is one less item to worry about. Timely and open communication with your trusted mortgage professional throughout the process can help to ensure a smooth and successful home buying experience.

6 Ceiling Solutions To Update Your Colorado Springs Home

Ceiling Update OptionsIf you’re absolutely sick of looking at the popcorn ceiling of your 1980’s home – it’s time for a change.

However, behind the facade of a ceiling is a mess of plumbing, wiring, joists and structural beams, so you have to be careful and creative when updating your home.

Whether you’re dealing with an older home, a tricky duct system or an unfinished basement, below are several ceiling solutions to brighten up the space above your head.

Bring Back Wood Paneling

The 70’s are making a comeback. If you have a flat or slanted ceiling, wood paneling is easy to affix and can create a cozy cabin-like feel. This works well in living rooms, bedrooms and basements where you want generate a warm, comfortable atmosphere.

Create An Industrial Vibe

If you like the look of a modern home, then this might be the most cost-effective solution for you. If there’s an existing ceiling, remove it and then buy a paint sprayer and coat everything except the duct work in one dark color. Many converted lofts and urban spaces use this technique.

Drop It Like It’s Hot

These aren’t your parent’s drop ceilings. Today’s drop ceilings come in pressed metal, compressed wood panels and other attractive designs. They’re affordable, simple to install and allow easy access to the plumbing and electrical systems.

Go Back To The Basics With Drywall

Whether you’re looking to get rid of a popcorn surface, fixing water damage or finishing your basement, it might be prudent to minimize the cost and work involved by using drywall. You can purchase drywall for as little as 50 cents per square foot and it’s easy to paint once installed.

Utilize Soffits

Duct work and plumbing that cut through the middle of a room can be an eyesore and hard to work around. Utilize soffits to create ceilings of different heights, called tray ceilings, or use them to blend uneven surfaces into corners along a wall. They’ll help hide obstructions and make it easier to cover with drywall and paint.

Don’t let an unattractive ceiling get you down. Use one of the solutions above for an eye-catching ceiling that will keep you looking up and improve the value of your home at the same time.

For additional advice on updating your home for top-dollar, just give your trusted Colorado Springs real estate professional a call!

5 Important Questions To Ask Before You Invest In Solar Power For Your Home

Investing In Solar Energy For Your HomeIf you’ve been considering taking your home in a green direction, April is the perfect month to make an environmentally friendly update.

Installing a solar energy system may be a very smart way to help the environment.

Plus, solar panels turn sunlight into energy that can save you money!

The federal government and many states are now providing tax incentives and rebates for installing solar panels in 2013 which make this an excellent opportunity to go green this spring.

However, there are many installers that might not have the necessary experience, so be sure to ask the questions below when searching for your solar energy system.

How many solar panel systems have they installed?

You want to make sure to find a reputable company that has significant solar experience and has successfully completed at least 50 installations.

Ask for references before you sign anything.

What is the output in kWh per year?

Many times, solar panel brands will claim to be more efficient than others.

You’ll want to weigh the annual output against the price to determine what system is going to be the most cost effective for your Woodland Park home.

It is important to note that you should do an energy audit to see how you are using the power in your home before sizing the solar power replacement system.

You may be able to install a significantly smaller, and less costly, system if you learn how you can cut your power consumption prior to installing your new solar panels.

How long is the warranty on the panels?

Most high quality solar panel systems have a warranty of at least 25 years.

Top-of-the-line panels usually guarantee an output of no less than 90 percent after ten years and no less than 80 percent after 25 years.

Be wary of any company whose panels don’t come with a warranty.

Do they include a warranty on labor?

Many states require a warranty on labor in order to receive your rebate.

Reputable installers should have no problem including at least a 10-year warranty.

What is the final price?

Don’t get separate pricing for the parts, labor and rebates.  Get a comprehensive price, so you can directly compare the total cost and kWh per year among providers.

Also, pay attention to the difference between purchasing your solar power system versus the leasing options available.

Leasing has become popular due to the low — or possibly no– up-front cost, but most experts agree that purchasing the system leads to a quicker payoff and return on your investment.

Taking into consideration warranties and servicing fees, the outcome should be that you choose whoever can give you the most output at the best price.

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Four Ways To Ensure Your Colorado Springs House Sells Quickly And For Top Dollar

4 Ways To Ensure Your House Sells For Top DollarSelling a house in the current market can be tricky, but there are certain mistakes an owner can make that will cause a Colorado Springs home to sit still without a decent offer and cause the listing to go stale.

In order to prevent that from happening, make sure you are not making one of the following mistakes when putting your property on the market.

Overpricing

While your home may hold sentimental value, many times that value does not translate into dollars.

Be realistic about your asking price and know the details about your current market.

Look at the list price of similar houses on the market to get a rough idea of what you should ask for your property.

Make special note of the actual closing sales price as well as the time on market and listing to sales price ratio.

A licensed real estate agent can provide these details as well as give you their expert opinion based on experience and comparable properties.

Neglecting Repairs

Glaring problems with a property will cause the buyer to think the home was not properly maintained.

While it may cost some money, repairing things like holes in the walls, broken light fixtures or missing tiles can change a buyer’s entire attitude about a property.

Ask for help if you aren’t comfortable doing these things yourself.

A real estate professional will have a whole list of qualified referrals who they trust to help you get things fixed up.

Ignoring Curb Appeal

Overgrown and unweeded yards can cause potential buyers to drive right by.

Also, having junk in the front of your house or peeling paint can deter someone from considering the property.

Step across the street and take an honest look at your house – and then make necessary adjustments.

Fixing these items may be as easy as one weekend day of clean up and a little elbow grease.

And even though it’s not expensive to fix these issues, it can make thousands of dollars difference in the sale of your home.

Creating Or Allowing Foul Odors

Odorous foods, pet dander and the smell of smoke can be extremely distasteful to buyers.

Even if you are used to the smell, others entering your house will not be.

Make sure you air out the house, smoke only outdoors, and put away the litter boxes before an open house or showing.

Also, ask someone who isn’t at your home often to come in and give it a smell test.

Brutal honesty here might hurt a little bit, but it’s a lot better than allowing this problem to prevent a quicker sale of your home.

Without even realizing they’re sabotaging a potential sale, homeowners can make several mistakes when first trying to sell their home.

To find out what you can do to make your property really stand out to potential buyers, please call a licensed real estate professional.

3 Ways Clean Floors Can Help Sell Your Colorado Springs Home Faster

Flooring Tips To Help You Sell Your HomeHave you ever walked into a home for sale and looked down to see stained carpet or scratched and worn flooring?

If so, you would probably agree that it doesn’t leave a positive first impression.

Imagine if you were a buyer looking at the same floor.

The right type of flooring and whether it is well taken care of can make a big difference to buyers.

If your floor is questionably clean, here are a few fixes to help remedy the issue to help your home sell quickly.

Does your home have hardwood floors?

You’re in luck. Buyers love hardwood floors and some will pay extra to get them.

If your hardwood floors are covered by carpet, painted over or showing anything but the natural wood grain, it’s time for an overhaul.

With the ability to rent large sanders and other tools, you can either refinish the hardwood floor yourself or hire a professional.

Remember, however, that hardwood floors in have a tendency to show off scratches, dents and uneven surfaces.

If you don’t think you can do an adequate job, hire a professional.

Does your home have carpeting?

If you don’t have hardwood floors, take a look at your carpeting.

If it’s stained, outdated or ragged, it might be time to pull it up and replace it.

There are many new techniques with carpet cleaning and spot repair, so check with a local carpet cleaning professional to assess your carpet before making expensive decisions.

When laying the new carpet, use high-quality carpet padding to make it comfortable to stand on.

Many buyers will kneel down and touch the floor, so make sure the carpet feels soft to the touch.

Does your home have tile floors?

Although tiles are beautiful, they typically show every ounce of old grime, dirt, chips and cracks.

Go through your home and replace any that are chipped, cracked or show significant signs of wear and tear.

Make sure the grout is clean and new looking, and use specialized tile cleaners or a steam cleaner to get rid of any stains.

Beautiful floors can go a long way toward selling Colorado Springs homes.

Take an honest look at yours. It might just help get your home sold more quickly and at a higher price.

As always, seeking the advice of a licensed real estate professional would be an excellent next step to plan your home selling preparations.

 

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5 Simple Indoor Do-It-Yourself Projects for Your Woodland Park Home

Painted Kitchen Cabinets - Indoor DIY ProjectsWith spring right around the corner, you might be thinking about sprucing up your Woodland Park home. However, it may not yet be time to work in the garden or on other outside endeavors.

If cabin fever has been setting in, this is a great time for indoor improvements to brighten your living space and get you warmed up to work outside when the seasons change. Whether it’s over-stuffed closets or cluttered garages, everyone has a problem area or two on their property that has not been touched in a while.

Below are a 5 simple ideas to get you started. Maybe you can even get the kids to lend a hand!

Organize That Closet

Clear out the things you don’t need and make it easier to find the things you do. You can build a closet system in just a couple hours for ranging from $100 – $500 to put everything at your fingertips.

Create An Indoor Garden

Check out these fun indoor gardening ideas, using recycled materials from around your home. Get the kids involved and spend an afternoon creating a work of art – and memories!

Paint An Accent Wall

Or, you could choose to do an entire room! The room you spend the most time in should probably be your starting point. Choose a color that will set the mood you want to foster, such as an energizing red or soothing blue.

Add Shelves Or A Bookcase To A Room

If your house has papers and books stacked up on counters or in cabinets, you may need some additional shelving. Built-in bookcases or shelves can help a cluttered area feel more spacious.

Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

A bright coat of paint can do wonders for your kitchen and is an inexpensive option that may increase the value of your home. Obviously this is more than a one-afternoon project, but it is definitely a low-cost way to give your kitchen a new, fresh look.

Whatever your vision, now is a fantastic time to tackle an indoor project which can keep the whole family busy and ward off the winter doldrums at the same time.

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