Residential Property Disclosures

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Residential Property Disclosures

When selling your home, you’re obligated, by law, to disclose certain information about your property. Most states require that all sellers complete a written property disclosure form. Ohio is one of those states. Majority of the forms have a required set of questions that must be answered.

THE BASICS

Most states require sellers to complete this form when listing for sale. Nearly all of the questions are a basic yes/no/unknown response. The questions will address material facts, major defects, special disclosures, and federal disclosures. All forms vary by state and require different information.

MATERIAL FACTS

These include the age of the property, it’s condition, known problems, and defects. These are all of the information that would influence a buyer’s decision to purchase your home. These disclosures require you to address known defects, things that are reasonably apparent, to ensure you don’t knowingly hide a major defect.

MAJOR DEFECTS

All major defects MUST be disclosed. For instance, fire or flood damage. If your home’s electrical system isn’t up to code, and you’re aware of this, it must be shared with potential buyers. Repairs you have completed, as well as improvements and upgrades, should be noted as well.

Since all states have varying federal and special disclosure laws, it’s imperative that you reach out to a local real estate agent to get assistance with the sale of your home. Great Lakes Home Team with Keller Williams Greater Cleveland Northeast is here to help you through the entire process. Jody Finucan and Danielle Dooley are only a phone call away!

 

Ten Reasons to List Your Home During the Holidays

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As with every decision in life, there are pros and cons and choosing when to sell a home is no different. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration before deciding when to sell a home. Many homeowners believe selling a home during the fall or winter months is not a good idea and that the spring is the only time a house should be sold. This is the furthest from the truth. Certainly most real estate markets across the United States experience a “spring market rush” every year. There is no doubt that the “spring market” is a great time to be selling and buying real estate, however, the fall and winter seasons may be the best fit for you for many reasons.

Less Competition – Most people wait until spring and summer to list their home, which means during the winter you will have far less competition than any other time of the year.

Serious Buyers Are Out There – Homes are sold and bought 365 days a year. Many homeowners believe that buyers aren’t out there during the fall and winter months. This simply is not the case. Serious buyers are always out there! Some buyers may stop their home search because it is the fall or winter, but serious buyers will continue to look at homes, no matter what time of year it is.

Mortgage Rates Are Low – If you’ve read about real estate in the past year, it’s likely you’ve read that the mortgage rates are low.  You also probably read that there is an expectation that the rates will increase very soon. Since mortgage rates are so low right now, buyers are able to afford more expensive homes. If mortgage rates increase over the fall and winter months while you’re waiting for the spring market, it could cost you thousands of dollars as it could eliminate many buyers from the real estate marketplace! Less demand for your home will mean less money. Bottom line: take advantage of selling your home while the rates are this low.

Quicker Transactions – Right now, there are fewer real estate transactions than there will be in the spring. The fewer number of transactions means the mortgage lenders have fewer loans to process and home inspectors have fewer inspections to do. All of these factors should lead to a quicker transaction and closing for all the parties involved. A quicker transaction is going to be less stress for you.

Homes May Show Better During the Holiday – Buyers love homes that can tell a story.   The holidays are a great time to show homes because the home is usually dressed up for the holiday season. Simple “seasonal” staging such as adjusting the color of the decor or having an aroma in the air that is relative to the time of year can go a long way with some potential buyers and possibly be the difference between a home selling or not.

January is the Biggest Transfer Month – Did you know that more corporate moves happen during January than any other time of the year? This may be a great reason to list your home during the holiday season.

More Time to Get Top Dollar – By starting to market your home early you may be able to secure a higher price.

Tax Benefits – By selling now you can have a closing before or after the new year for tax purposes.

More Time – Buyers may be looking at homes more during the holidays because of vacation time.

Showings – Yes, there may be fewer buyers during the winter months, but great prospects!

By considering all of the reasons above, you will be able to determine whether now is a good time to sell or if you should wait until the spring.

Replacing the driveway: asphalt vs concrete

Whether you’re building a new home or have made the decision to replace your existing driveway, you’re going to face a decision as a homeowner: asphalt or concrete?

Although they are similar, the key differences will tell you whether you should choose asphalt or concrete. Here are the key points to consider what material your new driveway should be.

Price

Asphalt tends to be cheaper, but because it’s made of oil, when the price of oil is high, the cost of your asphalt driveway will be more. That being said, asphalt is more cost-effective than concrete, which means it could be a better choice if your driveway is very long.

Weathering

Asphalt is more desirable in areas where it gets cold because it’s less susceptible to cracking. Concrete offers advantages in warmer climates because it doesn’t get soft like asphalt does.

Longevity

Concrete driveways can last as long as 50 years when proper maintenance is performed. Asphalt, on the other hand, will typically last about 30 years.

Staining

Concrete and asphalt are both prone to staining; however, any discoloration is much less noticeable on the asphalt because it’s dark. The downside is that the oils in an asphalt driveway can be released and stick to the soles of your shoes, which can damage the carpet in your car or the rugs and furniture inside your home.

Aesthetics

Concrete comes in several decorative options. It can be stamped and can come in different colors. Asphalt comes in black.

Installation

Asphalt has the advantage over concrete. Asphalt driveways take about two days to install and you are able to drive on them the day after installation is complete. Installation of concrete driveways can take up to four days to install and you’ll have to wait 5-7 days after the installation is complete to drive on them.

A new driveway is not only functional, it increases the curb appeal of your home. When you make the decision to replace the driveway, make sure to check with the city codes administrator to determine what permits and licenses are necessary. Do your research before choosing a contractor and get several estimates before hiring one

Reasons to List Your Home During the Holidays

Less Competition – Most people will wait until spring and summer to list their home, which means during the winter you will have far less competition than any other time of the year.  Less competition could be more money.

Fewer Showings – Yes, there may be fewer showings, but those buyers that are looking are usually very serious about making a purchase.

The Market –  Today’s interest rates are still very good.  This gives buyers more spending power.  And you as well.

More Time to Get Top Dollar – By marketing your home now you may be able to secure a higher price due to limited homes on the market.  We are seeing more multiple offers than we have in years.

Tax Benefits – By selling now you can have a closing before or after the new year for tax purposes.

Loan Commitment  – During the winter months you and the buyers may be able to obtain a loan commitment quicker.

More Time – Buyers may be looking at homes more during the holidays because of their vacation time.

Bottom line, it is all about supply and demand.  There isn’t a bad time to sell. Home sales take place every day twelve months of a year.  We don’t have a crystal ball to know what inventory levels will be in 3 months, 6 months etc.  We do know that typically many sellers will wait until spring to list their home and with that will increase competition.

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Love Your Home

Homeowners who are ready to move sometimes think that they need to make some quick improvements to either add value to the home or increase the likelihood that it will sell quickly.

Although it may add perceived value to the current homeowner, prospective buyers are not likely to be impressed with the new renovations and sure aren’t going to pay for your sweat equity and monetary investment. Click here for more information.

Here are some projects that you think add value to your home, but don’t.

Adding a pool

Swimming pools are expensive to build and maintain, will add to your insurance premiums and can be a deterrent to families with young children. Sometimes, the buyer will write in a contingency that the pool be filled in or dismantled.

Overbuilding for the neighborhood

Some improvements and additions will not add value if it causes the home to stand out as “too good for the neighborhood.” If the average home in the area is $150,000, potential buyers aren’t likely to pay $225,000 for yours if you’ve added a major addition. The house will seem overpriced even if it is more desirable than the surrounding homes.

Speaking of a new addition

If you need an addition to improve your life in the home, then go ahead with the project. If you’re only doing it to increase the value at the time of the sale, you’ll never recoup the investment. Buyers are unlikely to increase their offer to cover the amount that you paid for the major renovation.

High-end upgrades

Remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms will add to the value of your home and the expense and effort of doing so are worth the investment. However, many prosepective home sellers make the mistake of overdoing it by installing new stainless steel appliances, imported ceramic tiles, or state-of-the-art electronics in the media room.

New carpeting

Removing the carpet and restoring wood floors to like new condition is usually a more profitable investment than putting in wall-to-wall carpeting. It may clash with the new owners’ tastes and furniture. It’s expensive and you’re unlikely to recover your investment.

Green improvements

While making your home more environmentally friendly is a good thing, prospective buyers will not care that you’ve made the improvements unless they find eco-friendly homes as important as you do. You’re better off sinking any investments on green renovations into your new home.

Invisible improvements

Invisible improvements are usually costly and usually expected to be up to snuff by any new owner. (Think plumbing, HVAC.) A buyer is unlikely to pay extra just because you did this type of project.

Upscale landscaping

A lush, green lawn with nice landscaping is one thing; shaped bushes and ornate trellises are another. It’s best to keep it simple with native plants, adding a little color so the new homeowners can see how good the yard can be by adding plants and bushes that fit their tastes.

Driveway expansion

A common mistake made by homeowners is tearing up the front lawn to make room for another automobile. Not only is it expensive, it actually detracts from your home’s aesthetic.

If you’re considering a renovation and plan to stay for several years to enjoy it, that’s one thing. Making home improvements to increase the likelihood that it will increase the value of your home is another. You’re unlikely to recoup your investment and could actually hurt your home’s value to a prospective buyer.

Which Tree is for You? Top Choices for Christmas Trees

Do you have your favorite type of tree to use for a Christmas tree or do you just buy the first tree you see on the lot? It can be a difficult decision if you are looking for the perfectly shaped, fullest, most beautiful tree but it can be lots of fun for the family too.  Make a day of it and enjoy some winter fun in Northeast Ohio!      

 1. Fraser Fir

The Fraser Fir may be the perfect holiday tree. Its attractive 1″ needles are silvery-green and soft to the touch. Because there is space between the branches, the Fraser is easier to decorate than some trees. The firm branches hold heavier ornaments. The trees grow to almost perfect shapes, and as long as the cut tree is kept properly watered, the Frasier Fir has excellent needle retention.

 2. Noble Fir

The Noble Fir is deep green in color and has unusually lovely branch shape. Its branches are sturdy yet the needles are not too sharp to decorate easily. Like the Fraser Fir, the Noble’s branches have good spacing between branches so it’s easy to hang ornaments on them.

 3. Colorado Blue Spruce

A Colorado Blue Spruce has a nice pyramidal shape with strong limbs that can hold heavy ornaments. The Blue Spruce is known for its lovely blue foliage which can also appear silvery.

 4. Grand Fir

The Grand Fir has a glossy dark green color with needles that are 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. This tree is soft to the touch and may not be able to hold heavier ornaments. It’s a pretty tree that grows as high as 300 feet and it’s becoming more popular for homes.

 5. Balsam Fir

The Balsam Fir is a beautiful dark-green color with airy, flexible branches that may not be able to hold heavy ornaments. It has an attractive form, it holds its needles well, and gives off a pleasant fragrance for your home.

 6. White Fir (or Concolor Fir)

The National Christmas Tree Association notes that “Needles are usually 1/2 to 1 1/2 inch long, pointed or notched at the tip, bluish-green when young turning dull green with age…. As a Christmas tree, white fir has good foliage color, a pleasing natural shape and aroma, and good needle retention.”

 7. Eastern White Pine

Branches from the White Pine are often used in garlands, wreaths, and centerpieces due to their long, feathery, soft needles. Though it is a beautiful tree, branches can be a bit too flexible to support heavier decorations. Its lush fullness also makes it difficult to squeeze in ornaments. The White Pine needles last a long time when properly watered.

 8. Douglas Fir

A Douglas Fir is beautiful Christmas tree with soft shiny green needles. It may be difficult to decorate if the branches have been sheared into a perfect conical shape, leaving too little space between branches to hang decorations.

 9. Scotch Pine

You’ll want to wear gloves when decorating a Scotch Pine, since its needles can be sharp as pins! Also, due to heavy shearing, there may be little space between branches for ornaments. It resists drying and if permitted to become dry does not drop its needles.”

 10. Norway Spruce

The Norway Spruce is a beautiful tree but does not hold its needles well, and should be purchased just just a week or so before December 25th. The National Christmas Tree Association notes that the “overall color of Norway spruce is fair to excellent, but needle retention is considered poor unless the trees are cut fresh and kept properly watered.”

 Click here to find where you can find a comprehensive guide to more than 40 tree farms in Northeast Ohio including, Lake County, Geauga County, Cuyahoga County and more.  You may want to call ahead of time to check on hours of operation and directions.  

 Have a real estate need or question?  I am only a email or phone call away.