Common Problems Uncovered In Home Inspections

“It’s also important to note that all houses, even brand new ones, will have issues show up…”

Even a house that seems perfect may not be so when it comes to a home inspection, which is meant to discover potential problems with the home’s systems, appliances, and structure.

“Depending on the age, location, and type of house, the potential for problems will vary,” according to

an article by the Ferris Property Group. “It’s also important to note that all houses — even brand new ones — will have issues show up on the inspection. Certain issues may be a deal breaker, like a collapsing foundation, but many other issues can and should be repaired after negotiation with the seller.”

Here are some of the most common problems inspectors say they uncover:

  • Defective plumbing: Leaky faucets or problems with the efficiency of pipes can greatly affect the cost of a home’s utilities.
  • Water damage: This can be caused by any number of issues, such as erosion of external grading material that has caused a slow leak into a basement. Water leaks also can lead to damage in a foundation or mold growth.
  • Faulty roofing materials: Variable temperatures can cause cracks in some roofing materials, while other materials may be prone to rots or leaks.
  • Cracked foundation: Foundation problems can surface from any number of issues, such as water damage, termites, rotting, or structural inadequacy.
  • Over-worked electricity system: This also can represent a big safety issue. Inspectors say when they find an overcrowded wiring system it’s typically due to previous owners making adjustments to the electrical wiring.
    References: RealtorMag, Ferris Property Group

Donald Horne, Team Success Listing
Associate Broker-Coldwell Banker Shooltz Realty
Oxford Office   248-969-8065
Lapeer Office   810-338-0628
donaldhorne.realtor@gmail.com
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What Is Causing The Most Delays In Closing?

Financing, home inspection, and appraisal issues

Watch out for financing, home inspection, and appraisal issues. These are the three most commonly cited culprits for delays or even terminations at closing lately, according to the REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey.

These issues comprised more than a quarter of all the delays in contracts from the February through closing problems causing the most delays April. Sixty-six percent of contracts were settled on time during that period, while 28 percent of contracts faced a delay. Six percent of contracts were terminated.

REALTORS® identified the following most common problems that delayed contracts (but these contracts did eventually make it to settlement):

  • Issues related to obtaining financing: 38%
  • Appraisal issues: 22%
  • Home inspection/environmental issues: 12%
  • Titling/deed issues: 11%
  • Contingencies stated in the contract: 10%
  • Issues in buy/sell distressed property: 5%
  • No problems encountered: 5%

Among the contracts reported terminated, the following were the most commonly cited reasons by REALTORS®:

  • Home inspection/environmental issues: 28%
  • Issues related to obtaining financing: 21%
  • Appraisal issues: 12%
  • Contingencies stated in the contract: 12%
  • No problems encountered: 5%
  • Titling/deed issues: 4%
    References: RealtorMag, NAR

Donald Horne, Team Success Listing
Associate Broker-Coldwell Banker Shooltz Realty
Oxford Office   248-969-8065
Lapeer Office   810-338-0628
donaldhorne.realtor@gmail.com
Team Success Listing’s
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Problems Home Sellers Try to Hide, Lake Orion MI

How to spot the top problems home sellers try to hide, Lake Orion MI.

Whether you’re a seasoned house hunter or a first-time buyer, the process of purchasing a home has plenty of pitfalls. And while you may assume that sellers are being upfront, it’s not uncommon for them to gloss over some of their home’s shortcomings.

“All homeowners sign a disclosure document about their property so buyers know what they’re getting into; however, it can be very tempting for some to tell white lies or conveniently forget facts,” says Wendy Flynn, owner of Wendy Flynn Realty in College Station, TX. “In fact, a very large number of real estate lawsuits stem from owners misrepresenting their property.”

So, just to be on the safe side, here are some common cover-ups and how you can crack them.

Water damage

Water stains aren’t just ugly; they’re also signs of leaks, and a breeding ground for mold. And they’re fairly easy for homeowners to hide with strategic decoration or staging, according to Frank Baldassarre, owner of Ace Home Inspections on Staten Island, NY.

“Many sellers try to conceal water intrusion in the basement, for example, with a pile of cardboard boxes or suitcases,” he says. You could always ask the homeowner to move the furniture a few inches and shine a pocket flashlight around. If the home has obvious red flags (an odd odor or visible wall cracks), it’s not unreasonable to request removing a large picture frame to take a peek at what’s behind it.

Another popular tactic for concealing water damage: a coat of fresh paint.

“Always ask the homeowner when they last painted,” says Baldassarre. “If it was a year ago, they’re probably not trying to hide water stains.”

A contaminated backyard

If you’re looking at an older home—specifically, if it was built before 1975—odds are it used to run on oil. Back then, homeowners typically had large oil tanks installed in the basement or underground in the backyard to conserve space and maintain the home’s aesthetic.

“The problem is that oil can contaminate soil, and because it’s incredibly costly to remove, some people try to hide evidence of the tank,” says Baldassarre. “Recently, I arrived to a home inspection early and caught the homeowner sawing off the top of the fill pipe.”

So while walking through a home’s backyard, look for a small fill pipe sticking up from the ground (sometimes covered by patches of grass), a dead giveaway that an oil tank is on the premises. Or double-check by asking the seller if the home was heated with oil in the past.

A shaky foundation

If the paint job in a home looks a little uneven around the door frames or windows, take a closer to look to see if it’s concealing any jagged cracks in the wall, advises Flynn. Those zigzags can signify foundation problems, a costly and potentially dangerous situation for potential buyers.

A weak foundation can prevent cabinets and doors from closing, cause supporting beams to snap from stress, or even result in a poor home appraisal, which can affect your loan and the home’s resale value.

Another clue that the house has a weak foundation: “if you feel as though you’re suddenly walking up or down—even slightly—as you move through the home,” says Flynn.

Problem neighbors

Barking dogs, rocker teens, and blaring horns are all factors that can turn off potential buyers. That’s why some owners try to downplay these situations with well-timed open houses and neighborly negotiations.

“Homeowners have an obligation to disclose what are called ‘neighborhood nuisances,’ but if they don’t, buyers have to rely on their word,” says Carrie Benuska, a Realtor® at John Aaroe Group in Pasadena, CA. “I know people who have asked their neighbors to keep noisy dogs inside during showings or only open their homes during strategic times of the day.”

Even well-intentioned owners may not be candid if they’ve become accustomed to their environment. One workaround, suggests Benuska, is for buyers to take a stroll around the neighborhood at different times of the day to get a more authentic feel for the area. And don’t hesitate to make small talk with the locals, who can offer a more objective view of their surroundings.

Weird temperature changes

Anyone who’s lived in a home with a freezing bathroom or unusually warm bedroom knows that a temperature imbalance can result in avoiding a room altogether. That’s why tapping into your senses is key when viewing your potential new home.

“If you walk into a room and there’s a subtle shift in the atmosphere—maybe the air feels dry or damp—ask the owner what the room feels like throughout the seasons,” says Benuska. “The culprit is usually poor insulation, sometimes as a result of the owner adding a second room or floor to the home.” Oftentimes, an owner isn’t trying to outright conceal extension work. However, if the construction was done without a permit—“more common than you’d imagine,” says Benuska—you aren’t required to pay for the extra square footage.
References: Realtor.com, Elise Sole

Donald Horne, Team Success Listing
Associate Broker-Coldwell Banker Shooltz Realty
Oxford Office   248-969-8065
Lapeer Office   810-338-0628
donaldhorne.realtor@gmail.com
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First Time Home Buyers, Tip #2, Finding A Home.

This series, Finding A Home, is about looking at open houses, how to make an offer, concessions and appraisals. Tips from real estate brokers and mortgage lenders.

1)  What to look for at an open house

2)  How to make an offer on a house

3)  Buyer and seller concessions

4)  The role of a home inspector

5)  Home appraisal vs home inspection

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Home Appraisal vs Home Inspection

Home appraisals and home inspections are sometimes confused. While they are both an important part of the home buying process, they ultimately serve two different purposes.

Key Takeaways
• Appraisals estimate the value of the home, taking into consideration factors like comparable sales of homes in the area
• A home inspection looks at the condition of the home in detail, including major mechanicals and the overall structure
• Lenders use the appraised value of the home to help determine what loan amount to offer

Donald Horne, Team Success Listing
Associate Broker-Coldwell Banker Shooltz Realty
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The Role Of A Home Inspector

Before you close on a home, a home inspector will conduct a review of the property to ensure safety, let you know what needs to be repaired or what will need to be replaced in the near future, and more.

A home inspector is hired by the buyer, and examines the house thoroughly for non-functioning systems, damages and repairs that may be needed. A thorough inspection covers various items, and typically takes a few hours depending on the size of your home.

What do home inspectors look for? Here are the most common things a home inspector will check during the home inspection process:

• Foundation and structure
• General construction overall
• Plumbing
• Electrical
• Heating and cooling
• Roof
• Windows and doors
• Kitchen and bathroom
• Appliances — Be sure to turn on utilities in a vacant home.
• Interior walls and ceiling
• Air conditioning
• Basement
• Ventilation and drainage
• Gutters and leaders
• Garages and carports
• Patios and decks
• Walks and driveways
• Lawn sprinklers
• Pools and spas
• Termites and wood destroying organisms

During the home inspection process, keep in mind that every house is going to have issues. Once you know about repairs and potential problems, it is then up to you to decide what is a deal breaker.

It’s important to have a home inspector for a few reasons:
• Knowledge — Know what you’re buying.
• Peace of mind — Know you’re making a sound buying decision.
• Fewer surprises — Limits the number of problems you may find after moving in. If an issue is uncovered, there is still time to negotiate with seller to have them pay for repairs.
• Education — Learn the basics of your new home, such as main systems.

Donald Horne, Team Success Listing
Associate Broker-Coldwell Banker Shooltz Realty
Search All Properties
Oxford Office   248-969-8065
Lapeer Office   810-338-0628
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Home Buying Costs You Need to Know About in Lapeer

Story from Craig Donofrio, 10 Home Buying Costs You Need to Know About, talks about first time buyers and their fees …

If you’re a first-time home buyer, you might get a little queasy when the last line of your good-faith estimate comes in at several thousand dollars. And after the color returns to your face, you might also be a little more than perplexed by some of those fees.

home buying costsKnowing what you’re paying for—like these 10 common costs—can ease that check-writing pain.

1. Earnest money

To prove you’re “earnest” in your purchase commitment, expect to plunk down 1% to 2% of the total purchase price as an earnest money deposit. This amount can change depending on market factors. If demand in your area is high, a seller could expect a larger deposit. If the market is cold, a seller could be happy with less than 1%.

Other governing factors like state limitations and rules can cap how much earnest money a seller can ask for.

2. Escrow account

An escrow account is basically a way for your mortgage company to make sure you have enough money to cover related taxes and mortgage insurance. The amount you need to pay varies by location, lender, and loan type. It could cover costs for a few months to a year.

Escrow accounts are common for loans with less than a 20% down payment and mandatory for FHA loans, but it’s not required for VA loans.

3. Origination

The origination fee is a hefty one. It’s the price you pay the loan officer or broker for completing the loan, and it includes underwriting, originating, and processing costs.

The origination fee is a small percentage of the total loan. A typical origination fee is about 1%, but it can vary. Use your good-faith estimate to shop around.

4. Inspection

You want to be assured your new home is structurally sound and free of surprises such as leaks or pests living in the walls. Those assurances come with a price.

  • Home inspection: This is critical for home buyers. A good inspector will be able to notify you of structural problems, flooding issues, and other potentially serious problems. Expect to pay $300 to $500 for a home inspection, although cost varies by location.
  • Radon inspection: An EPA-recommended step, this inspection will determine whether your prospective home has elevated levels of the cancer-causing agent radon. A professional radon inspection can cost several hundred dollars.
  • Pest inspections: Roaches are one thing. Termites are a whole different story. Expect to pay up to $150 for a termite inspection.

5. Attorney

Some states, such as Georgia, require an attorney to be present at closing. In some other areas, this is optional. If you use a lawyer, expect to cover the costs, which vary by area and lawyer.

It’s typical for mortgage companies to have a lawyer on their end, although they should cover the bill.

6. Credit check

Just because you can get your credit report for free doesn’t mean your lender can (and it will actually pull all three). You have to reimburse the lender, usually around $30.

7. Extra insurance

If you live in a hazard-prone area, you might need to purchase extra insurance, like for flood.

8. Appraisal

Your lender won’t loan you money for a home without knowing what its fair market value is. An appraisal will cost $200 to $400, depending on location and property size.

9. Title company

You pay this to the title company to make sure the property’s title is free and clear. Your lender will recommend a title company, but you can also shop around for one.

10. Survey

It’s not required in all instances, but your lender may require a professional surveyor to determine exactly where your property lines are drawn. Prices vary widely, but expect to pay at least $100.

Remember: You have bargaining power. Shop around to get a feel for what rates and fees apply in your area. If you aren’t sure what a lender is charging, ask for an explanation—the charge might not be set in stone. If you’re unhappy with a charge, negotiate.
references: craig donofrio, realtor.com

Donald Horne, Team Success Listing
Associate Broker for Coldwell Banker Shooltz Realty
Oxford Office  248-969-8065
Lapeer Office  810-338-0628
donaldhorne.realtor@gmail.com

What is a Home Inspection?

What is a Home Inspection in Michigan? This is a part of our “What Is” series that discusses home inspections … Did you know, supposedly, the first known home inspection company, Home Equity Loss Protection Services, was originally founded by Christopher P. Nolan and Loyola Professor, Mark Goodfriend. Mr. Nolan was initially inspired by Coldwell Banker Realtor, Carole Kellby, a top producer from Wheaton, IL.

A home inspection is a examination of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home. Home inspections are usually conducted by a home inspector. The inspector prepares and delivers to the client a written report of findings. The client then uses the knowledge gained to make informed decisions about their pending real estate purchase. The home inspector describes the condition of the home at the time of inspection but does not guarantee future condition, efficiency, or life expectancy of systems or components.

A home inspector is sometimes confused with a real estate appraiser. A home inspector determines the condition of a structure, an appraiser determines the value of a property.

Donald Horne, Team Success Listing
Associate Broker for Coldwell Banker Shooltz Realty
Oxford Office  248-969-8065
Lapeer Office  810-338-0628
donaldhorne.realtor@gmail.com

Live in Metamora Michigan? Here’s Your Must-Do Checklist For Fall

7 Fall Maintenance Moves That Will Save You Thousands, current article from Angela Colley on this being the perfect time for home maintenance.

donald horne, realtor

With the dog days of summer behind us, fall is the perfect time for home maintenance.

A few weekends of work before the weather really turns will help you get ready for winter and avoid any nasty surprises—and big repair bills—the cold might bring.

Here’s your must-do checklist for fall.

1. Gutter Maintenance

Clogged gutters can allow overflowing water to damage walls, spark a rodent infestation and erode your landscaping. Worse, the water can leak through your foundation, causing a flood in your basement.

A minor flood could cost $500 to $1,500 to repair, if you catch the problem quickly. If you don’t, there could be mold, damage to the sheet rock and ruined installation to repair as well, pushing the cost up to $10,000 or more.

To prevent a problem before it starts, clean and repair your gutters early in the fall. Once cleaned and repaired, consider adding a layer of waterproof mesh over your gutters to keep leaves out.

2. Protect Screen Doors

Winter’s harsh weather can rip holes in screen doors or cause the metal to rust. Replacing a damaged screen door in the spring will cost you from $150 for a lightweight model to $225 for a heavy-duty model.

To keep your screen doors intact, remove the door, clean the screen and store it in a dry place until spring.

donald horne, realtor3. Shingles

Scaling your roof to check for loose or broken shingles may not seem like the ideal Saturday, but if left unattended, small problems in your roofing can lead to major leaks during the winter as rain, hail, sleet and snow pound your home.

Professional repairs on a 10-by-10-foot roof cost an average of $630. Save yourself money and make the small repairs now.

4. Winterize Your Pipes

Burst pipes are a costly problem. A non-urgent call to a plumber can cost up to $250, while an emergency pipe repair can cost up to $600. Repairing the damage from the resulting flood could costs thousands more.

In cold climates, you need to winterize your pipes to protect your home. Outdoors, shut the water off to any spigots and drain any remaining water by briefly turning on the spigot. Indoors, locate any exposed pipes that may get cold in the winter. Wrap the pipes in foam or vinyl insulation to prevent freezing.

5. Mind the Gap

Gaps in your window or door frames let in cold air, causing your heater to work overtime all winter long, but these have an easy fix.

Start by running your hand over windows and doors. If you feel a draft, apply weather stripping around the frame to create a tighter feel. Sealing up those leaks can reduce your utilities bills by up to 10%.

6. Call the Chimney Sweep

Your fireplace should be inspected and cleaned once a year, even if you don’t use it much. While a professional may charge up to $350, it is worth the cost.

The most minor potential problem is that the lining of the chimney could crack, costing $2,000 to $4,500 to repair. At worst, the chimney could force carbon monoxide into your home or cause a fire.

7. Test Your Heater

Before the cold sets in, fire up your heater.

After your home starts to warm up, walk from room to room. If you notice cold spots, loud screeching sounds or strange smells, you may have a heating problem.

If the furnace stops working, repairs could cost $325 to $475. And if you wait until the busy season, technicians may raise their prices.

Donald Horne, Team Success listing
Associate Broker for Coldwell Banker Shooltz Realty
Co-Host for “Finding New Neighbors” Cable TV

donaldhorne.realtor@gmail.com     810-338-0628

Four Things to Check When You Buy in Oxford Michigan in The Fall

The latest issue of Housing Trends has this story, 4 Things to Check When You Buy a House in Fall, from Craig Donofrio talking about what to look for in the fall to avoid potential …

Buying a house in the offseason can be a great idea, as homes are a bit cheaper, sellers may be more inclined to sell and there’s less competition from droves of buyers.

That’s not the only advantage for those looking to buy a house in the fall: if you know what to look for, you can actually use the fall season as a litmus test to help you spot potential problems and pluses on your prospective home.

1. Leaves, Leaves Everywhere

Shopping for a home during the autumn is an easy way to see how impressive your home will look for years to come. Those turning leaves can make a day at home that much more relaxing.

Of course, leaves can also bring a number of issues.

If the property is full of trees, expect the yard to need heavy cleanup. Leaf cleanup can be difficult and time-consuming labor, so decide whether or not you want to pay for it or do it yourself.

This should be done more than once a season, as too many leaves will clog gutters and drainage systems.

If the yard has been cleaned, look for piles of leaves by the edge of the property to get an idea of what cleanup is really like when you buy a house.

donald horne, realtor2. Fireplaces

Nothing’s cozier than a night next to a crackling fire when the cold creeps in.

To ensure the cold isn’t creeping down the chimney, check the fireplace. Open and close the damper, checking for drafts each time. A little draft is fine, but a large draft means you may need a new damper.

Also check for any strange smells, like decaying leaves.

While a home inspector will check the general appearance and functionality of the fireplace—like if the damper opens—he will not check inside the chimney.

Ask the seller for evidence of the last time the chimney has been cleaned: if it has been for more than a year, it will need a professional cleaning job.

3. Insulation and Heating

Fall is windy. That’s good, because it will be easier to check for bad insulation.

When touring the home, pass your hand over windows, electrical outlets, doors and baseboards to check for leaks. Make note of any rattling windows, which can indicate a loose seal.

Notice if any room feels colder than others. If so, this can indicate bad insulation or a problem with the heating system in that section. A freezing room during the cold months will likely mean a sweltering one during the hot months.

Ask if you can turn the heater on and off: when doing so, listen—does it sound like a monster banging around in the basement? That’s something that can wake you (or the kids) up at night.

If there are any weird smells, the duct systems may need cleaning—or the furnace may need a second look.

4. Watching the Rain

Take a walk around the property when it’s raining and check for spouts of water shooting out where they shouldn’t be.

This means a gutter problem, which could lead to flooding if water pools on the ground. Make note of where the water is gushing and check the basement’s interior for signs of leaks.

Check the yard’s drainage system. If the home is on slanted ground or a hill base, water should rush by it—not into it. Take note of any ground gutter system and the potential for them to be clogged by leaves during the autumn season.

The more potential for flooding there is, the cleaner you need to keep your yard during the rainy months.

The Telltale Signs for Next Summer

Don’t forget problems that creep up in winter will likely happen again in the summer.

By checking for leaks, drafts and other issues now, you’ll be saving yourself potential repair costs—and high utility bills—in the hottest months of the year, too.

Donald Horne, Team Success Listing
Associate Broker for Coldwell Banker Shooltz Realty
donaldhorne.realtor@gmail.com   810-338-0628

donald horne, realtor