Central Texas Real Estate and Community News

July 20, 2021

How to Prepare Your Home for Drought

If you live in an area where the risk for drought is high, you’ll want to start preparing your home – and yourself – for a drought. To help you get started, we’ve gathered information to help you assess your water needs and come up with a plan for conserving your water supply. Keep reading to learn how you can take the proper precautions and prepare your home for drought. 

What is a drought?

A drought occurs when there is a lack of precipitation—such as snow, sleet, or rain—resulting in a water shortage for a long period of time. While droughts occur naturally, human activity, such as water use and management, can also cause a drought.

Where do droughts occur? 

Actual drought conditions vary from region to region, and the determination of a drought is based on an area’s specific weather patterns. For example, six rainless days on the tropical island of Bali could be considered a drought for that area. Whereas in Navajo County, AZ,  51% of the year is spent in a drought. 

Steps to prepare your home for drought 

If you live in a drought-prone area, it’s important that you implement some of the following measures to ensure that you and your community are prepared if a drought hits.

1. Check and repair any water leaks in your home 

Leaky pipes can waste thousands of gallons of water a year, and not only will this waste precious water you may need when a drought hits, it also will cause your water bill to increase. To avoid both of these problems, check all faucets and toilets in your kitchen and bathrooms to make sure no water is leaking. You can also read your water meter, wait thirty minutes without using any water, and check back to see if there’s a difference. If there is a discrepancy, you likely have a leak somewhere and may need to call a professional to investigate. 

2. Install water-efficient appliances 

Older appliances often use more water than is needed. By upgrading certain appliances in your home, you can see a decrease in water use and therefore, a lower water bill. Water-efficient versions of your appliances like low-flow showerheads,  low-volume toilets, and high-efficiency dishwashers or washing machines will make all the difference when it comes to conserving water and preparing for a drought. 

3. Get into the habit of not wasting water 

The simplest thing you can do to not wastewater is to be conscious of your actions.  When doing things like washing dishes, brushing your teeth,  and shaving, remember to turn the faucet off when you are not directly using the water. Additionally, you can reuse water that normally would have been wasted. One way to do this is to place a bucket in the shower to collect the water while you wait for it to heat up,  and then use that water to water your plants or clean the exterior areas of your home. 

4. Try harvesting rainwater

Rainfall brings thousands of gallons of water to your property each year, especially if you live in a rainy climate like Seattle, WA, or Vancouver, BC. Take advantage of this free water by harvesting some of it in a rainwater barrel. You can use this rainwater for drought conditions by using it to water your lawn and vegetation. It will also help you reduce your water bill. Place the barrel of your choice under a downspout gutter to efficiently collect rainwater for later use.

5. Plant native drought-tolerant plants in your garden 

Try planting native, drought-tolerant vegetation. These plants are adapted to the climate so you won’t need to water them as frequently as other plants or flowers. When planting these native plants make sure to use plenty of mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch helps keep the weeds away which ultimately can take water away from your plants.

6. Implement smart irrigation to prepare your home for drought

A great way to monitor the watering of your lawn and plants is to implement smart irrigation. You can do this one of two ways: you can drip-irrigate with a hose that has small holes and move it around the yard, or if you have a sprinkler system, install a smart controller that monitors moisture in the soil and turns on sprinklers as needed. This will allow you to conserve water more efficiently if a drought occurs. 

Climate change droughts are becoming more and more common so it’s vital to be prepared, especially if you live in an area prone to drought.  If drought does occur be sure to observe your state and local restrictions on water use so that you are up to date on any new rules or regulations.  

 

Source:  https://www.redfin.com/blog/how-to-prepare-your-home-for-drought/

July 20, 2021

Plummeting Lumber Prices Little Help to Builders

The price of framing lumber has plunged about 50% over the last seven weeks, offering up a hopeful sign that skyrocketing building costs would ease. However, builders say that the prices they pay have only declined by a fraction of that percentage.

The disconnect in pricing has always existed in the lumber supply chain. It can still be a “long lag time” before the full price reductions come to builders, the National Association of Home Builders reports.

“As the price declines began grabbing headlines, the price of lumber packages quoted to builders held at record highs,” NAHB economist David Logan writes on the association’s blog, Eye on Housing. “This dynamic is primarily due to dealers’ inventory carrying costs and potentially large differences between the price at which inventory is bought and sold.”

The lumber supply chain consists of the following stages: from forest to sawmill to wholesaler to retailer to end user. The association offers up an explanatory reason prices are staying elevated at its Eye on Housing blog. Wholesalers and retailers have incentive to run through their existing inventory and recover what they paid for it—one of many factors that is currently keeping prices elevated for builders.

So, when will lower prices reach the builders and ultimately new-home buyers? The answer is unclear, but builders say more price drops in lumber may be needed. “Prices must fall for long enough to materially lower a supplier’s average costs after a run-up,” the association blog notes. “Depending on the rate and consistency of price decreases and whether prices have stabilized at the lower level, it may take a few weeks to a couple of months for builders to see price relief on the order initially reported in the futures or cash markets.”

Meanwhile, new-home building prices for home buyers continue to rise. In May, the median price of a newly built home was 18% higher than a year ago, at $374,400.

Source:  https://magazine.realtor/daily-news/2021/07/08/plummeting-lumber-prices-little-help-to-builders

July 20, 2021

Towels, Toilets, and More: Here’s How Often Things in Your Bathroom Should Be Replaced

When our bathrooms are out of order, it’s as if our lives are out of order. Whether you have one bathroom or five, uninterrupted function and cleanliness are crucial. That’s why it’s important to know exactly when the elements in your bathroom can conk out and need to be replaced.

“Homeowners should be thinking about replacing and performing the proper upkeep with things in the bathroom because it’s the second most used room in the house, next to the kitchen,” says Mark Dawson, chief operating officer at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. “It’s also the room to have the second most number of leaks or drain clogs, right behind the laundry room. The last thing you want is to not have access to the toilet or shower.”

To keep your loo in clean and working order, follow these tips for bathroom maintenance.

Toothbrush holder

Toothbrushes are meant to clean our teeth, but they can also harbor germs if kept in a grimy toothbrush holder.

“Your toothbrush holder should be rinsed and dried daily to prevent stagnant moisture that can cause mildew and bacteria,” says Vera Peterson, president of Molly Maid.

Peterson recommends storing toothbrushes as far from the toilet as possible and ditching the traditional cuplike toothbrush holder, which pools water and causes slime. Opt for a suction cup holder that attaches to your mirror or tile walls.

“Also, remember to replace your toothbrush every few months,” says Peterson. (But you knew that already, right?)

Bath toys

Parents, your child’s favorite rubber ducky could be a haven for bacteria.

“Many bath toys hold water within them,” says Lauren Bowen, director of franchise operations at Two Maids & a Mop. “They lack air circulation and remain in the moisture-filled, damp bathroom, and this serves as a breeding ground for all types of mold and mildew.”

The longer the mold remains on the toy, the more likely it will spread throughout the bath—and onto your child.

“Because of this, bath toys should be cleaned out after every use and replaced every two to three months, depending on use,” says Bowen.

Wet towels

“Did you know that it only takes 20 minutes for a wet towel on the floor to begin harboring mildew and bacteria?” says Peterson. Yikes! That’s why you should always hang up your towels to dry after use. They should also be reused only once or twice before laundering.

If you start to notice a musty odor—despite your body and hand towels being freshly laundered—it’s probably time to replace them. Experts say towels should be replaced every two to five years depending on the material and quality.

Shower curtain liners

“Shower curtain liners should be replaced every six months, as the lack of ventilation and accumulation of humidity will cause mold and mildew,” says Bowen.

To prolong the life of your shower curtain liner, mix one part vinegar to four parts water in a spray bottle and spray the solution on the liner.

“The vinegar will help break down mold and soap scum that has gathered on the liner,” says Bowen. Then, rinse the liner with warm water from top to bottom, and let it air-dry.

For a more thorough cleaning, hand-wash the liner in the tub biweekly. Mix a quarter cup baking soda and a splash of laundry detergent in the tub, hand-wash the shower curtain liner, and then let it air-dry.

Shower heads

If you notice a change in water pressure, leaks, or (worst-case scenario) mold coming out of your shower head, it might be time to replace it.

“Shower heads can leak, clog, or come with other issues. Before replacing, a simple repair may do the trick, so call a professional for their recommendation,” says Kevin Busch, vice president of operations of Mr. Handyman.

You also might need to replace shower head filters, which function to remove harmful chemicals from the water you use in the shower.

“If you have one at home, you can expect to replace the filter every six to 12 months. Big retailers like Home Depot and Amazon carry shower water filters,” says Dawson.

To replace, remove the shower head from the attachment in the shower wall, unscrew the top of the shower head to reveal the filter inside, and replace it with a new one.

Bathtub

If you see leaks, cracks, or excessive black mold that cannot be easily remediated, a bathtub replacement might be in your immediate future.

“Bathtub liners are a quick, short-term, and affordable solution,” says Amy Moneypenny, a senior product marketing manager at Leaf Home. “If the problems you’re having with your bathtub are purely cosmetic, a liner is a convenient solution that can temporarily improve the look of your entire space.”

But if a bathtub replacement is needed, a bathroom remodeling expert can give homeowners “an extensive inspection to ensure that the subflooring, plumbing, support beams, and other areas around the tub are in good condition,” says Moneypenny.

The average price to install a new tub is $2,500 but can range anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, according to HomeServe.

Toilet

Toilets typically have a life span of 10 to 15 years but can be replaced sooner if necessary.

“Replacing old toilets can be the exact refresh the bathroom needs. Toilets often need a new wax ring, tank flapper, or flush valve,” says Busch.

The most likely source for leaks in plumbing is a faulty flapper, says Aaron Mulder, co-owner and operations manager for Mr. Rooter Plumbing of San Antonio.

“The good news is the repair is simple and inexpensive for a homeowner to do themselves. You should expect to have to replace your flapper every two to three years, as exposure to water usually contributes to their degrading condition. With the new part, the toilet will flush more efficiently, conserving water and saving you money on your future water bills,” says Mulder.

Source:  https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/how-often-you-should-replace-bathroom-things/

July 20, 2021

Salt + Waves Salon to open salon, coffeeshop concept in Hutto

Salt + Waves Salon has a location in Leander and specializes in hair services for women and men of all ages. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)

Salt + Waves Salon has a location in Leander and specializes in hair services for women and men of all ages. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)

Construction on a second Salt + Waves Salon location at 2098 Murfield Bend in Hutto is expected to start in July. The salon will feature a separate coffeeshop and taproom entity called Dwell House Coffee + Tap. Owner David Bednarek said he and his wife always knew they were going to expand their business. Because the property is situated where a drive-thru can easily be added, Bednarek said they decided to include his idea of beer and coffee to the new location. While the building will have a drive-thru, tables, benches and tables will be inside for people to hang out, he said. A door will separate the coffeeshop and taproom from the salon.

Bednarek said the area is a prime spot for reaching residents in Hutto, Pflugerville and Round Rock. Construction is estimated to be complete in November.

"We're super pumped, super excited to be out there in that area," he said.

Salt + Waves Salon has a location in Leander and specializes in hair services for women and men of all ages. For more information, visit Salt + Waves website.

July 20, 2021

Report: Home sales in the Round Rock-Pflugerville-Hutto area continue to rise

In the Round Rock-Pflugerville-Hutto market 690 homes sold in June representing a 7.3 % increase year over year. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)In the Round Rock-Pflugerville-Hutto market 690 homes sold in June representing a 7.3 % increase year over year. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

A newly released report from the Austin Board of Realtors shows home sales in the Round Rock-Pflugerville-Hutto area are still on the rise during what has amounted to one of the hottest local real estate markets in history.

The Midyear Central Texas Housing Report from ABoR states 4,369 homes sold across the five-county Austin Metropolitan Statistical area, representing an 8.6% increase over last June.

Another figure of note, sales dollar volume for the Greater Austin MSA jumped 55.7% from last June to $2.62 billion.

Those percentages are relatively similar in the Round Rock-Pflugerville-Hutto market, where 690 homes sold in June represented a 7.3% increase year over year, and the area's sales dollar volume jumped a whopping 62.4% over last year to more than $344 million.

“In June, and in the first six months of the year, we saw a confirmation that Austin’s housing market is one of the strongest in the nation,” 2020 ABoR President Susan Horton said. “Our market has established its own new normal, as median prices climb while inventory remains low. With the unprecedented growth our region continues to experience, we can expect these trends to continue.”

ABoR's report states Dr. Jessica Lautz, vice president for demographics and behavioral insights for the National Association of Realtors, said buyers have shifted priorities since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those buying trends have added fuel to the housing market boom across the Austin-Round Rock MSA, the report states.

"Reliable broadband access, at least one home office and flexible working and living spaces are top priorities," Lautz said. "Remote work, along with incredibly low interest rates, has allowed buyers to purchase homes in suburban areas that provides more square feet, outdoor space, and increased buying power than in urban core areas.”

Source:  https://communityimpact.com/austin/round-rock/2021/07/15/report-home-sales-in-the-round-rock-pflugerville-hutto-area-continue-to-rise/

July 7, 2021

What You Need to Know About Septic Inspections When Selling Your Home?

If you are planning on selling your home, you might be wondering if you need a septic inspection. Fortunately, this is not uncharted territory. In fact, more than 1 in 5 homes in the United States rely on a septic system to dispose of their wastewater, and in New England states like New Hampshire and Maine, over half of all homes are served by a septic system. Houses with septic systems are bought and sold every day. So, read on to find out what you can do to prepare your home, and septic system, for sale.

What is a Septic System? 

A septic system is a type of wastewater treatment and disposal system that is often used in areas where public sewage systems are not available. Typically, these are areas that are rural or on the outskirts of suburban and urban areas. 

There are many different types of septic systems, depending on factors such as what part of the country you live in, your soil type, how close the house is to specific bodies of water, the slope of your property, and how big your lot is just to name a few. 

Typically septic systems consist of a watertight tank where raw wastewater from your home (think toilets, showers, and sinks) begins its journey to disposal. These large tanks are buried underground and can be accessed by covers which are called risers. 

How waste is processed through a septic system?

Wastewater from the house enters the tank through a pipe called an inlet. Heavier solids, also known as sludge, sink and accumulate on the bottom of the tank and need to be pumped out regularly by a septic professional. Lighter materials, like grease, float and are expelled out of the tank for further treatment and dispersal. 

Once the liquid waste, which is called effluent, is discharged from the tank, it enters lateral lines in the drain field. These lines are plastic pipes that have holes in them. As liquid waste is pushed through the lines, the liquid filters through a layer of gravel that the pipes are set in, and continues to be dispersed and filtered through the various layers of soil. Lateral lines are set underground and ideally on a downward slope. This measure is taken to prevent wastewater runoff. 

Lateral lines are also ideally sited on a slope to prevent water from ponding over the area where the lines are located during the rainy season. If water were to collect in the drainfield, the lines could become flooded themselves, causing water to back up into the tank and overfill it. If this were to happen, it could lead to wastewater flooding up into the drains inside your home.

How often should you get a septic inspection?

Taking care of your septic system isn’t complicated or difficult. The best way to ensure your system is in peak operating condition is to have it inspected at least every three to four years by a septic professional, and yes, you should have your septic system inspected when you decide it’s time to sell. 

By having your septic system inspected frequently, you will be knowledgeable of any problems the system may have, or better yet, catch and correct any issues before they become a problem.

What do septic inspectors look for? 

There are several things a septic system inspector will be looking for when conducting an inspection. Some important information the septic professional will need to know is the age of the system and the date the tank was last pumped. This will give them an indication of how full the tank may be. Remember, septic systems should be pumped about every two years.  

They will also inquire as to how many people are living in the home. The number of individuals in a family can grow or shrink over time and the septic tank needs to be the correct size for the number of people it is servicing. The bigger the household, the bigger the tank needs to be to adequately process the wastewater. 

The inspector will also determine how much sludge is in the tank. Sludge should not account for more than 33% of the tank’s total volume, and if it does, the tank will need to be pumped. 

They will check the lids that sit at ground level (risers) to make certain they are securely in place and that they have no cracks. If cracks are present, water could leak into the tank and could contribute to the tank overfilling. The person doing the inspection will also make sure the tank is watertight. It is very important that groundwater isn’t getting into the tank and that wastewater isn’t leaking out. 

The inspector will also check the drainfield too. They will make sure there isn’t anything like trees, streams, or wells located close to the drainfield. Tree roots and other landscaping seeking out a water source can damage lateral lines, thereby compromising the septic system. 

It is important that you keep records of all inspections that are completed on your septic system and keep track of each date you have the tank pumped.

5 signs of septic tank problems and when you’ll need a septic inspection 

Here are some common signs that your septic tank isn’t functioning properly:

  1. There is wastewater backing up into your home through your sinks and toilets.
  2. You hear gurgling sounds coming from the plumbing in the house or you observe tubs and sinks draining slower than usual.
  3. There are damp areas or water standing near the tank or in the drainfield.
  4. In dry weather, you have bright green grass growing over the top of the tank or drainfield.
  5. You smell a sewage odor around the area of the septic tank or out in the drainfield. 

A septic system that has failed is dangerous to the health of humans and animals alike. Owners need to be aware of the signs of potential septic system failure and respond quickly by contacting a septic system professional to perform an inspection to determine the nature and severity of the problem.

5 reasons why a septic system might not work properly

Once your septic system has been designed and installed properly and is in the correct location, it’s up to you to maintain the system. Some reasons why a system might not function properly could be due to:

  1. Putting items other than toilet tissue and human waste down the drain. Make sure to dispose of everything other than toilet tissue and waste in the trash.
  2. Allowing vehicle traffic (or livestock) on top of the tank and lines. Know where your system is located, including the drainfield, and keep traffic and livestock from damaging the components and/or compacting the soil surrounding the system.
  3. Pouring chemicals down the drain to open a clog. Instead, always try a snake or hot water. If that doesn’t work, contact a septic system professional.
  4. Pouring cooking grease or oils down the drain. Instead, allow them to cool and harden, and then throw them in the trash.
  5. Making frequent use of the garbage disposal. Instead, compost what you can and throw the remaining kitchen waste in the garbage.

How much do septic inspections cost?

The cost to have a septic inspection is determined by the size of the tank and how extensive the inspection is. Typically, a basic inspection ranges from $350 to $650 depending on where you live. Keep in mind that to inspect the tank, it must first be pumped, which is typically included in the price above. 

How long does a septic tank inspection take?

A septic tank inspection can take anywhere from a little under one hour up to three hours depending on how elaborate your system is, and whether any problems are found. This includes the pre-pumping inspection, pumping, and the inspection that is completed once the tank has been pumped.   

How to prepare for the septic inspection 

To prepare for a septic inspection, gather all paperwork relating to previous inspections and times when the system has been pumped. Having all the paperwork readily available for the inspector can serve as a checklist to ensure that they don’t inadvertently miss evaluating portions of your system.   

Do not, however, have the tank pumped in preparation for your inspection. The inspector can gain vital information from assessing the system before cleaning out the tank.   

If the septic system requires repairs, who pays for it, the buyer or the seller?

Buyers and sellers often want to know who is responsible for paying for septic system repairs during a real estate transaction. This is a great question. The short answer is that repairs to the septic system typically fall to the seller, but like other repair items found during the home inspection phase of a sale, repairs to the septic system are negotiable between the seller and the buyer.

As the seller, you can choose to complete all repairs yourself, or you can do nothing. You also have the choice to negotiate the repair cost with the buyer or give the buyer a credit at closing equal to the amount necessary to complete the repairs, depending on the housing market and how much power you’ll have when it comes time to negotiate.   

A great way to cut back on surprises when selling your home is to have a septic system precertification done prior to ever listing the property for sale.By having this done before listing your home, you will be aware of the current condition of the septic system and any repairs that may be needed. With this information, you can complete the repairs, and thereby position your septic system, and house, in the best saleable position possible.   

How long do septic systems last?

Although the average lifespan of a septic system is between 20 to 30 years, the number of years of service you get from a system depends on how well your septic system is maintained.

Some systems won’t last 20 years due to any number of potentially life-shortening factors. Such as allowing cars or trucks to drive on top of the septic system, planting trees or landscaping too close to the system so that their roots cause clogs, not pumping the tank or having the system inspected regularly, and overflooding the system by having more people consistently use the system than what the system was built to handle.   

Is it hard to sell a house with a septic system?

Concerned about selling your house with a septic system? Don’t be. Remember, homes with septic systems make up about 20 percent of all homes in the United States right now. So, unless your system is at the end of its lifespan, or has never been maintained and is failing, you should have no concerns about selling your house. 

Can I sell my house with a failed septic system?

Check with your real estate agent because, in certain parts of the country, it is illegal to sell your home if the septic system isn’t functioning properly. In that case, you will want to determine what is wrong with the system and pay to have a professional correct it before a sale.

If you live in a state that does allow houses with failed systems to be sold, you will probably have to discount the selling price to reflect the issues with the system and have repair or replacement bids in hand to show prospective buyers. This will allow buyers to know exactly what is wrong with the system and what it will take to get it functioning effectively.

If a buyer is obtaining financing to purchase your house, it is likely their mortgage company will want proof any repairs needed on the system have been completed and that the septic system is up and running prior to closing on the home.

When in doubt, consult a septic inspector to help you understand your system’s overall health

You can locate a septic tank professional near you to get a better understanding of your system’s overall health. And remember, regular maintenance and inspections will go a long way toward your system being in top shape when it comes time to sell your home.

 

Source:  https://www.redfin.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-septic-inspections/

July 7, 2021

How Long Does an Appraisal Take and What to Expect?

Congratulations! You’ve gotten preapproved for a home mortgage, found your dream home, negotiated an agreeable sales price, successfully maneuvered through the home inspection process, and finally, you have a fully executed sales contract in hand for your new house. 

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may not realize all the steps that go into buying a new home. Some of them, like the home inspection and obtaining the real estate appraisal, can be stressful. So, what should you expect with this next step in the appraisal process? And how long does an appraisal take?

Let’s go over some appraisal basics to help you understand what is involved in one of the last steps in your home buying journey.   

What is an appraisal, and why do I need one?

An appraisal is an objective estimate of a home’s value. It is provided by a licensed professional real estate appraiser.

You need an appraisal for several reasons. First, an appraisal is needed primarily for your mortgage lender. By providing an estimate of the fair market value of your home, the appraisal assures the lender they are not lending more money for a piece of property than it’s actually worth. Also, the appraisal helps protect you, it assures that you’re not paying more for the home than you should.

How long does an appraisal take?

The home appraiser, on average, will visit a property for 1-3 hours, however, you most likely will not get back the final appraisal report for one to two weeks. The amount of time it takes for the appraiser to complete the appraisal process varies depending on the size and complexity of the house. For example, a 10,000 square foot property with a detached carriage house, horse barn, and lots of land in Dallas, TX will take longer to appraise than a three-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,900 square foot house in Seattle, WA

Remember, once the appraiser has done the physical inspection of the property, he or she then needs to begin the work of locating comparable properties and eventually writing up the final report. From the initial inspection of the property to obtaining a final report can take a week to two for a typical property, depending on how busy the appraisers are and what the housing market is doing in your area at the time.

Who orders the appraisal and when?

Your mortgage company or lender orders the appraisal once all the inspections are complete and inspection repair negotiations have been finalized (if there are any). The home appraisal cost is usually between $300 to $400 or more, depending upon the size and complexity of the property, and the appraisal is paid for by the buyer. 

What happens during an appraisal?

During an appraisal, the appraiser visits the home where they thoroughly inspect the property, inside and out. Unlike the home inspector who tests all of the systems within the home and recommends any needed repairs, the appraiser is interested in determining the market value of the property as it compares to similar homes in the area.

The appraiser does this by gathering information needed to complete a Uniform Residential Appraisal Report. This form is quite detailed and requires the appraiser to measure each room and the lot the house sits on. They also take pictures of every room in the home and the exterior, including the yard.

They have to note, among other things, how old the house is, where it is located, how big it is, and what the structure is made of. They also determine whether the layout of the house is optimally functional, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the overall condition of the interior, roof, and siding.

Once the appraiser has compiled all the necessary information from your property, he will obtain information on nearby homes. It is important that these houses are comparable to your property. He will use all of this information to determine a fair market value of the property, complete the Appraisal Report and forward the report to your lender so you can move forward in the closing process.

And in case you’re wondering, the buyer is typically not in attendance on the day of the appraisal. The seller can be present during the appraisal, but often their agent steps in and takes their place. This way, the agent is available to answer any questions that may come up while the appraiser is conducting the inspection of the property.

3 possible outcomes of a home appraisal

When the appraisal comes in, the fair market value assessed by the appraiser could go one of three ways. 

1. The appraisal comes in lower than the agreed-upon purchase price

You have several options if the appraised value comes in lower than the agreed-upon sale price.  

  • You can request an appraisal review. An appraisal review is when another licensed appraiser prepares an independent report using the same elements found in a standard appraisal. The purpose is for the reviewer to comment on the accuracy and completeness of the initial appraisal.  
  • You could also offer to make up the difference by bringing any additional amount needed to closing. For example, if the agreed-upon purchase price is $225,000 but the appraised value comes in at $215,000, you would pay an additional $10,000 in closing costs to make up the difference. Some closing costs are tax-deductible.
  • Another option would be to ask the seller to lower the purchase price by whatever amount fits your financial situation best. This includes having the seller drop the purchase price to match the appraised value, in other words, the seller would take $10,000 off the agreed purchase price. 
  • You could try negotiating with the seller. You may choose to increase the amount of cash you bring to closing by $5,000 and ask that the seller drop the purchase price by $5,000. This would make up for the $10,000 difference between the purchase price and the appraised value.
  • A final option would be for you to walk away. If you and the seller are unable to agree on a way to settle the issue concerning the low appraised value, and you signed an appraisal contingency, you have the option to withdraw your offer without being penalized.  

2. The appraisal comes in higher than the agreed-upon purchase price

If the appraised value of the property is higher than the purchase price, that’s great news. You’ve just bought a home with some equity already built in. An example of this would be if the agreed-upon purchase price is $225,000 but the appraised value is $230,000. In that scenario, you would have $5,000 worth of equity before you even make your first payment. And luckily for you as the homebuyer, the seller can’t demand more money, and the sale of the home will move forward.  

3. The appraisal matches the agreed-upon purchase price exactly?

Appraised values often match the amount of the agreed-upon purchase price. If that is the case in your buying situation, then everything is fine and no additional negotiations are needed.

Getting an appraisal will be a requirement if you are obtaining a loan to purchase your dream home. And although it can sometimes be a rocky part of buying a home, remember, once you successfully maneuver past the appraisal process, you can move on to working with a title company to finish out the closing process and finally enjoy your new home.

Source:  https://www.redfin.com/blog/how-long-does-an-appraisal-take/

July 7, 2021

How Does Inflation Affect Real Estate?

How Does Inflation Affect Real Estate?

We’re hearing a lot in the news about inflation right now.

The inflation rates have been going up at record-breaking paces. Some of that is to be expected during a period of economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are concerns being echoed by some financial analysts.

Inflation refers to the decline of purchasing power of a currency over time, to put it somewhat technically. Basically, what inflation means is that you have less purchasing power with the same amount of money.

So, how does this affect real estate?

Home Construction Costs

Right now, one of the most obvious and direct effects we see of inflation on the real estate market is in the rising cost of the items used to build a home.

For example, for the past year, lumber prices have been rising. Those prices have added a significant percentage to the cost of new homes. That’s just one example of an item that’s used to build new homes. There are bricks, drywall, concrete and more that go into it. When the required items are more expensive for homebuilders because of inflation, those costs do ultimately get passed onto the buyer.

The fast rises in home prices have actually played a role in inflation being pushed to a 13-year high. Housing costs this year went up by 0.4% between just April and May. The rising home prices accounted for more than ¼ of the overall inflation increase in May.

Home Prices

As was mentioned above, if a home builder is paying more, then the buyer is going to be taking on the consequences of that inflation.

That’s not the only factor that means inflation is going to cause home prices to rise, though.

If the Central Bank increases the money supply in the economy, which is a big cause of inflation, then home prices go up as well.

Less Financing

Sometimes when there’s inflation, then debt is affected. Specifically, if inflation goes up, it’s more expensive to borrow money. With rising interest rates, then people might not borrow money at all. Then, when there are fewer home purchases being financed with a mortgage, economic growth may be affected.

Rent Price Inflation

The price of rent tends to go up with inflation and higher home prices.

Unfortunately, it’s not like rent is a discretionary expense you can cut out if you have to.

More than nine million renters are considered extremely low-income right now and are burdened by their housing costs. That means they spend more than 1/3 of their income on expenses related to shelter. Many of these low-income houses spend more than 50% on housing.

There may be more renters during times of high inflation, despite the increase in rental prices. This is because it can be harder to get a mortgage in high inflationary periods. An expensive mortgage also means less buying power, so it’s more likely that someone might continue to rent.

Existing Homeowners

What about housing inflation's effects on current homeowners?

Well, if you already have a fixed mortgage on your home, your cost of living with regard to your home isn’t going to change much. Your taxes and insurance might a bit, but still, not a huge impact.

You don’t see the change unless you’re moving.  

There’s a note of distinction to be made here, though. Inflation is not appreciation, which some homebuyers may confuse.

Appreciation refers to the increase of your property value over time. The value’s not increasing in relation to the currency. It’s increasing because of demand. Your home can appreciate more or less than the rate of inflation at any given time.

Overall, what this means is that, yes, real estate is affected by inflation in both direct and indirect ways.

Source:  https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/buyersadvice/item/1042519-how-does-inflation-affect-real-estate?rtmpage=

July 7, 2021

Selling a Home? You May Need to Make These Plumbing Repairs First

Selling a Home? You May Need to Make These Plumbing Repairs First

Inspections are par for the course when selling a home, but when the inspector comes back and says something is wrong with the plumbing, sellers either panic or shrug it off and assume that it’s the buyer’s problem.

Most buyers won’t commit to buying a home until after it’s been thoroughly vetted by an inspector, and if there are problems, the inspector will certainly find them.

Making repairs after an inspection can be a hassle and will certainly eat into your profits, but what repairs are you required to make?

Check the Contract

The first step is to check your contract to make sure that you haven’t locked yourself into making repairs that you don’t want to make.

As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want to sign a contract until you fully understand its obligations, especially when it comes to repairs.

And here’s the good news: you don’t have to fix everything that the home inspector say could be improved. The report is not a to-do list.

Repairs typically fall into one of three categories: ones that are required, ones that are optional, and ones that are up for debate.

Required Repairs after a Home Inspection

Some repairs will be required before lenders will release funds to make the purchase. Typically, these repairs are related to structural defects, safety issues and building code violations.

Safety issues may include mold or mildew that is discovered during the inspection process. Water main leaks and damaged plumbing systems that go unrepaired can lead to mold growth.

“Broken water mains can cause leaks to go undetected and result in high water bills, mold, mildew, and rot, which is why routine plumbing maintenance is recommended for all of our clients on a yearly basis,” says Bob Oates Plumbing.

If a home inspection reveals such problems, you will likely be responsible for repairing them.

Many sellers choose to give the buyer a repair credit, which allows them to make the repairs themselves. The benefit to going this route is that you don’t have to oversee the repairs.

Repairs that are Not Required

Damage due to normal wear and tear or cosmetic issues doesn’t have to be repaired by the seller.

Some contracts will expressly state that the buyer cannot request cosmetic repairs and can only ask for the required repairs listed above. But state laws will also affect the seller’s liability for any issue uncovered during an inspection.

Make sure that you understand your local ordinances to know which repairs will be your responsibility.

Negotiable Home Repairs

Somewhere in between the required repairs and optional ones are repairs that are negotiable. How they’re handled is really dependent on the market.

If it’s a seller’s market, the seller has more leeway to call the shots. If it’s a hot seller’s market, the contract may state that the buyer will purchase the home “as is” or may only request an information only inspection. Such language in the contract would absolve the seller of any need to pay for repairs.

In a normal market, a seller would not be able to enlist such hard and fast rules.

It’s up to the seller to determine how to negotiate these repairs. Some offer a home warranty, while others may choose to offer something of value to the buyer.

Source:  https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/sellersadvice/item/1021690-selling-a-home-you-may-need-to-make-these-plumbing-repairs-first?rtmpage=

July 7, 2021

The 5 Hottest Decor Trends of Summer 2021, Revealed

After(Colin Price Photography/Houzz)

Summer is in full swing, and we’ll admit—we’re soaking up every last drop of seasonal bliss by lounging in the sun on some epically fun pool floats, a jumbo tube of SPF 50, and a cooler of Truly hard seltzers within reaching distance.

But what if your summer speed is less lazy and more motivated? If the warm temperatures and long days have inspired you to get busy around the house instead of lazing by the pool, then we’re all for that, too. And we’re here to help, by providing inspiration with the decor trends that designers are absolutely swooning over this season.

Here are the five hottest summer decor trends to try in—and outside—your home this season, plus all the details to snag the look.

1. Japandi design

Japandi is one of the newest design trends to sweep the market, and we’re big fans of this classic artsy take on minimalist Scandinavian designs.

“This style combines the beauty and aesthetics of two very different cultures as they come together to form a minimalist, muted, and striking look,” says designer Alexis Peters, of Real Estate Bees. “The idea here is to combine neutral wood tables, light fixtures, and chairs, and accent them with muted pottery pieces and dried tall leaves in vases or baskets. The look is on point because it’s simple and minimal, which promotes good vibes and tranquility.”

Bring some Japandi into your home this season by pairing a few of these hand-pinched modern vases from Etsy with this Selah solid-wood pedestal end table.

2. Bold blue statements

Blue seems to be just about everywhere this season—and not just in light, neutral shades. This summer we’re seeing bold blue statements in just about every room of the house, from bedroom walls to kitchen or bathroom cabinetry.

“As the accent wall is slowly moving its way out, the style is really morphing into deeper and darker colors on all the walls, like bold blues—and we’re even seeing them on the ceiling,” says Peters. “Matching the walls to the ceiling actually promotes height in a room, and darker blues mixed with earth tones and warm colors that make one truly feel at home.”

Go all in with a can of New York State of Mind by Benjamin Moore.

3. Striped bedroom walls

Something about stripes just screams “summer”—think: nautical shades of blue, or even grays or greens. And this season, designers are loving stripes in the bedroom.

“For striped bedroom walls, start by choosing a few favorite colors,” says designer Aqsa Tabassam, of Garden Guidepost. “Stripes in your favorite colors on your bedroom walls will make your summer feel even brighter.”

Shop the incredible selection of peel-and-stick wallpaper at Wayfair to find stripes of every color.

4. ‘Rustic vogue’ decor

Another style we can’t get enough of this season is something designers are calling “rustic vogue,” which combines the new and old into something all of its own.

“When it comes to rustic vogue, your living space is what you make of it,” says Tabassam. “So bring in some vintage-casual dining furniture, and place it off to the side of your formal kitchen table.”

Another example: An antique garden bench on your front porch, right next to a brand-new tea cart. By combining the new and the old, you’ll get something that’s both rustic and chic, without that terrible trying-too-hard matched look.

Shop your local antiques stores or get one of these rustic Laurence bar carts to shake things up and achieve your ideal rustic-vogue balance.

5. ‘Understated luxury’

Much like the rustic vogue trend, designers are swooning this summer for something they’ve dubbed “understated luxury.” This basically means you don’t need to go all out, but you should feel free to pamper yourself a little—all in the name of home decor.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a drawer organizer, velvet throw pillows, or a Montblanc pen lying gently on a notebook. The key this summer is to treat yourself with something beautiful in life that gives you—and your home—that extra pep in your step,” says Peters.

Update your throw pillows with these luxe pillow covers, or shop this Heather Taylor Home hammock for a backyard perch that’s steeped in luxury.

Source:  https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/summer-2021-hottest-decor-trends/