What You Need To Know About Home Inspections

What You Need To Know About Home Inspections

You just made an offer on a home and you are probably wondering what the next step is. As soon as the offer is made, you should consider scheduling a home inspection.

Although not required by law, a home inspection is still a good idea that many mortgage lenders require. A home inspection will help you learn about your new home and identify potential issues, particularly in older homes.

When going through the home inspection process, here are just a few tips to keep in mind.

Schedule your Inspection as soon as possible
It is your responsibility as the buyer to schedule and pay for the inspection. You should schedule it as soon as your offer has been accepted so that you and the current owner have adequate time to address any repairs you may request, or to cancel the contract if the inspector discovers a deal-breaker. Your Realtor will help you select a home inspector.

What a Home Inspection will show
In short, a home inspection will tell you the current condition of a house, such as the systems that may need to be repaired or replaced. Most home inspections will not address cosmetic issues that do not affect the working condition of the home. You should keep in mind that no home is perfect but the inspection report should help determine if it is the perfect home for you.

Be there on Inspection Day
It is important for you to be at the home for the inspection. That is your opportunity to ask questions and learn about your new home.

Inspections for New Construction Homes
The process for a newly-constructed home is slightly different than for an existing one. You and your builder should have been meeting together throughout the construction process, but before closing, you and your builder will walk-through your new home and conduct a final inspection. During the walk-through, make a list of everything that needs attention, ensure you and your builder agree on a timetable to address your list and most importantly, be thorough to avoid any possible disagreements.

Start Preparing Now to Buy a Spring Home

Start Preparing Now to Buy a Spring Home

If you’re looking to buy a new home this spring, it’s not too early to start laying down the groundwork, which takes time. For example, you will need to get your finances in shape, begin applying for a mortgage, settle on a budget and decide where you want to live.

Price range and down payment
Most banks and online real estate sites have affordability and mortgage calculators that can help you settle on a budget.

To determine your down payment, assess what you have in hand, including the equity in your current home, if you have one. Also, include what you can realistically save between now and spring. Don’t forget that there will be closing costs.

Once you have a budget, research where you would like to live. You should consider schools, commute, housing density, amenities and determine which factors are most important to you.

Additionally, you should check online real estate listings, go to open houses and most importantly, visit your preferred neighborhoods at different times of day to assess various factors like traffic.

Credit score
Check your credit report now, and if you need to dispute anything, do that early in the process. Your credit report is available to you for free from each of the three major credit reporting agencies through annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Listed below are some ways to maintain and improve your score:

  • Pay your bills on time
  • Pay down credit card
  • Avoid applying for new credit cards or closing old ones

Check mortgage rates at various lenders. However, it is important to remember that the ultra-low rate you found online line might come with many headaches when it’s time to close, as you may have to deal with a lender by phone who is 1,000 miles away.

About a month before you plan on buying, choose your lender and get a pre-approval letter from them. With that in hand, you will be able to show a seller that you are a qualified buyer.

Home Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Home Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Family gatherings and festive celebrations are hallmarks of the holiday season, but home safety concerns are also very characteristic of this time of year. Holiday lights and decorations brighten our homes as the days get darker, but they can also pose fire hazards.

Since travel, holiday events and shopping take us away from home more than normal, here is a quick safety checklist to help keep your home and family safe during the holidays.

Home Security

  • If you have a lot of packages delivered while you away, consider installing a doorbell security camera.
  • Inside your home, keep your gifts in a safe place that is not easily visible from the outside, so it is not an easy target for burglars.
  • If you plan to spend the holidays away, ask a friend or neighbor to watch your home and request the post office to hold your mail.
  • When you are away from home overnight, consider putting your lights on timers set to your normal living pattern.

Lights and Other Decorations

  • Inspect the wiring on all holiday lights. If they are worn or frayed, throw them away to avoid any potential fire hazards.
  • Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord, don’t run electrical cords under rugs and turn decorative lights off before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Candles are a top cause of fires during the holidays. Place candles and other open flames away from decorations, never leave burning candles unattended and always supervise children and pets around candles. Better yet, use battery-operated candles instead.

Christmas Trees

  • Place trees a safe distance from radiators, vents, fireplaces and any other heat source that may dry the tree. It is also important to inspect and water your tree daily.
  • Do not block doors or hallways with your larger decorations.

Keep a fire extinguisher near your tree and make sure your family has a fire emergency escape plan.

Get Your Fireplace Ready to Safely Enjoy this Holiday Season

Get Your Fireplace Ready to Safely Enjoy this Holiday Season

There is nothing better than cozying up to a glowing fireplace on a winter evening. However, whether you have a wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace, it works safest and best with proper maintenance and care. Before lighting a fire, consider the following:

Gas Fireplaces
A gas fireplace requires far less maintenance than a wood-burning one. Even so, it is better to have your gas fireplace inspected and adjusted by a professional every year. An inspector will check to ensure that all the parts are intact, the ignition is working well, ventilation pathways are clear and the heat output is correct. Whether it is a vented or ventless fireplace, it should never produce a gas odor. If it does, turn off the gas and have it inspected by a professional.

Wood-Burning Fireplaces
Hiring a professional chimney sweep at least once every five years (and more often if you use it frequently) is the best way to ensure your chimney is safe to use. Since flammable by-products from your wood-burning fireplace build up inside the chimney, it is important to have those cleaned to prevent a fire. A chimney sweep will also inspect your chimney to be sure that it is in good condition.

Wood Fires
When the time comes to make the first fire of the season, clean the firebox of any ashes and dust, check that your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order, and lastly, make sure that the screen fits and is in good condition to contain sparks and embers. Fires should always be built on a grate to protect the fireplace floor. Further, air flow under the grate also helps produce an efficient fire.

Seasoned hardwood is the best fuel for a wood fireplace. Green hardwood and pine logs have more sap than seasoned hardwood and therefore tend to build up creosote in the chimney more quickly.

After you have finished enjoying the warmth of your fireplace, it is important to put it out as you should never leave a fire unattended.

Shop Local this Holiday Season

Shop Local this Holiday Season

Now that you have helped your budget during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, help your friends and neighbors who own our local small businesses by shopping locally.

It can be a refreshing change of pace to stroll into a locally-owned shop or restaurant and enjoy their personal, distinct flavor.

Now is a great time to try out some local small businesses for your holiday shopping needs. Afterwards, stop in for coffee at a local coffee shop or lunch at a locally-owned restaurant, and in the process, you will help create jobs, boost the economy and sustain our community.

Small businesses are not just for consumer goods and eating out. Many Approved Professional Builders, Remodelers, Specialty Contractors and professional service providers are local companies that play an important role in paying jobs, taxes and supporting our economy. Did you know that five percent of our nation’s economy is rooted in Home Building?

So when you are looking for someone to remodel your kitchen, refurbish your deck or build your dream home, take a look at the businesses based in our community to see what they have to offer.

According to the federal Small Businesses Administration, in 2015, small businesses nationwide created 1.9 million net new jobs and represented 99.9 percent of firms with paid employees. Our small businesses are invested in our community. They all have a deep interest in making sure the places we live are safe, clean, attractive and vibrant.

Nothing makes a bigger local economic impact than Home Building. Based on a study conducted for the Home Builders Association of Greenville, Home Building in 2014 created 7,795 jobs, $523 million in wages and business income and $53.5 million in federal, state and local taxes and fees. When small businesses like Approved Professional Builders succeed, we all succeed.