What to Expect During a Home Inspection

Aside

The first thing you need to know about home inspection: 

There’s the excitement — the inspection could be the longest time you’re in the house, after the showing.

Right behind that comes … anxiety. What if the inspector finds something wrong? So wrong you can’t buy the house?

Then there’s impatience. Seriously, is this whole home-buying process over yet?

Not yet. But you’re close. So take a deep breath. Because the most important thing to know about home inspection: It’s just too good for you, as a buyer, to skip. Here’s why.

A Home Inspector Is Your Protector

An inspector helps you make sure a house isn’t hiding anything before you commit for the long haul.

A home inspector identifies any reasonably discoverable problems with the house (a leaky roof, faulty plumbing, etc.). Hiring an inspector is you doing your due diligence. To find a good one (more on how to do that soon), it helps to have an understanding of what the typical home inspection entails.

An inspection is all about lists.  

Before an inspection, the home inspector may review the seller’s property disclosure statement. (Each state has its own requirements for what sellers must disclose on these forms; some have stronger requirements than others.) The statement lists any flaws the seller is aware of that could negatively affect the home’s value.

The disclosure comes in the form of an outline, covering such things as:

  • Mold
  • Pest infestation
  • Roof leaks
  • Foundation damage
  • Other problems, depending on what your state mandates.

During the inspection, an inspector has three tasks — to:

  1. Identify problems with the house that he or she can see
  2. Suggest fixes
  3. Prepare a written report, usually with photos, noting observed defects

This report is critical to you and your agent — it’s what you’ll use to request repairs from the seller. (We’ll get into how you’ll do that in a minute, too.)

The Inspector Won’t Check Everything

Generally, inspectors only examine houses for problems that can be seen with the naked eye. They won’t be tearing down walls or using magical X-ray vision, to find hidden faults.

Inspectors also won’t put themselves in danger. If a roof is too high or steep, for example, they won’t climb up to check for missing or damaged shingles. They’ll use binoculars or a drone to examine it instead.

They can’t predict the future, either. While an inspector can give you a rough idea of how many more years that roof will hold up, he or she can’t tell you exactly when it will need to be replaced.

Finally, home inspectors are often generalists. A basic inspection doesn’t routinely include a thorough evaluation of:

  • Swimming pools
  • Wells
  • Septic systems
  • Structural engineering work
  • The ground beneath a home
  • Fireplaces and chimneys

When it comes to wood-burning fireplaces, for instance, most inspectors will open and close dampers to make sure they’re working, check chimneys for obstructions like birds’ nests, and note if they believe there’s reason to pursue a more thorough safety inspection.

If you’re concerned about the safety of a fireplace, you can hire a certified chimney inspector for about $125 to $325 per chimney; find one through the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

It’s Your Job to Check the Inspector

Now you’re ready to connect with someone who’s a pro at doing all of the above. Here’s where — once again — your real estate agent has your back. He or she can recommend reputable home inspectors to you.

In addition to getting recommendations (friends and relatives are handy for those, too), you can look for professional inspectors at their trade association websites. The American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) Find a Home Inspector tool lets you search by address, metro area, or neighborhood. You can also search for inspectors by state at InterNACHI.

You’ll want to interview at least three inspectors before deciding whom to hire. During each chat, ask questions such as:

  • Are you licensed or certified? Inspector certifications vary, based on where you live. Not every state requires home inspectors to be licensed, and licenses can indicate different degrees of expertise. ASHI lists each state’s requirements here.
  • How long have you been in the business? Look for someone with at least five years of experience — it indicates more homes inspected.
  • How much do you charge? Home inspection costs range from $260 to $399. The costs vary according to your location and the size of your house.
  • What do you check, exactly? Know what you’re getting for your money.
  • What don’t you check, specifically? Some home inspectors are more thorough than others.
  • How soon after the inspection will I receive my report? Home inspection contingencies require you to complete the inspection within a certain period of time after the offer is accepted — normally five to seven days — so you’re on a set timetable. A good home inspector will provide you with the report within 24 hours after the inspection.
  • May I see a sample report? This will help you gauge how detailed the inspector is and how he or she explains problems.

Sometimes you can find online reviews of inspectors on sites like Angie’s List and Yelp, too, if past clients’ feedback is helpful in making your decision.

Show Up for Inspection (and Bring Your Agent)

It’s inspection day, you and your agent should be present. Even though you’ll receive a report summarizing the findings later on, being there gives you a chance to ask questions, and to learn the inner workings of the home.

Block out two to three hours for the inspection. The inspector will survey the property from top to bottom. This includes checking water pressure; leaks in the attic, plumbing, etc.; if door and window frames are straight (if not, it could be a sign of a structural issue); if electrical wiring is up to code; if smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working; if appliances work properly. Outside, he or she will look at things like siding, fencing, and drainage.

The inspector might also be able to check for termites, asbestos, lead paint, or radon. Because these tests involve more legwork and can require special certification, they come at an additional charge.

Get Ready to Negotiate

Once you receive the inspector’s report, review it with your agent.

Most home repairs, however, are negotiable. Be prepared to pick your battles: Minor issues, like a cracked switch plate or loose kitchen faucet, are easy and cheap to fix on your own. You don’t want to start nickel-and-diming the seller. 

If there are major issues with the house, your agent can submit a formal request for repairs that includes a copy of the inspection report. Repair requests should be as specific as possible. For instance: Instead of saying “repair broken windows,” a request should say “replace broken window glass in master bathroom.”

  • If the seller agrees to make all of your repair requests: He or she should provide you with invoices from a licensed contractor stating that the repairs were made. Then it’s full steam ahead toward the sale.
  • If the seller responds to your repair requests with a counteroffer: He or she will state which repairs (or credits at closing) he or she is willing to make. The ball is in your court to either agree, counter the seller’s counteroffer, or void the transaction.

At the end of the day, remember to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling about all of this. You need to be realistic about how much repair work you’d be taking on. At this point in the sale, there’s a lot of pressure from all parties to move into the close. But if you don’t feel comfortable, speak up.

The most important things to remember during the home inspection? Trust your inspector, trust your gut, and lean on your agent — they likely have a lot of experience to support your decision-making.

Search for homes like an agent 

By: HouseLogic

ACHIEVE MORNING PERSON STATUS

Aside

Morning Routine

Ever wish you could become one of those rare morning people? The ones that wake with a start, feeling refreshed and energized. The ones that get in that morning workout or wrap up some work before many of us even hit the snooze button for the first time. Here are five tips to help you achieve that early bird status!

  1. Create a morning schedule. Physically write down the things you’d like to complete in the morning and set a time for each. Then stick with it. Once you force yourself out of bed early one or two weeks consistently, you’ll find it gets easier and easier to do.
  2. Let the light in. Whether natural or artificial, light tells your brain its time to get up and get going. If your room lacks large windows where you can open the blinds up, consider investing in a timed lamp or alarm clock with a light.
  3. Prep and eat breakfast. Although there are many of us who chose the skip breakfast, it is key to perking up your energy in the morning. Try prepping protein-focused meals the night before or grab a yogurt or fruit and try to consume it right after you wake.
  4. Get your body moving. Whether it’s a short walk around your neighborhood or a rigorous 5:30 am spin class, getting your blood pumping will help wake up your body and has a ton of other benefits, like stress and anxiety reduction.
  5. Feed your mind. Stimulate your brain and do something you enjoy first thing in the morning. Try reading a favorite book, catching up on the news, doing daily meditation, or setting intentions.
Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
Get your FREE Booklet – 10 Things Every Homebuyer Needs to Know. Get started on the correct path to finding your Dream Home!

TIPS FOR STORING WINE AT HOME

Aside

Love Wine?

Learn some tips on storing wine!

If you are a big wine connoisseur or just saving a few bottles to crack open on special occasions, it’s important to understand how best to store them safely until you’re ready to partake. Follow the guidelines below!

 

Temperature

To ensure each wine bottle maintains the proper flavor and aroma, storing it at the correct temperature is essential. Regardless if it is red, white, or sparkling, storing your bottles at 53°F to 57°F is most ideal. Keeping your bottles in a room where the temperature is much warmer than that may cause the flavor to become flat. Keep your wine in the dark and away from direct UV rays as much as you can to protect the wine’s flavor.

Moisture

Controlling the humidity in the room is important if you plan to store bottles for more than a couple of years. The ideal humidity for storage is between 50 to 75 percent and anything below that could cause the corks to dry out, letting air seep into the bottle.

Positioning

Generally, it is advised to store wine bottles on their sides. This allows the wine to stay up against the cork which should aid in keeping it from drying out. However, if you don’t plan to store the wine for long or if the bottle has a screw top or plastic cork, this is not required for safe storage.

Timing

Not all wine is designed to have a long shelf life or be aged. Make sure you know what the winemaker’s intention was for that particular bottle. It is always better to open it a little early and enjoy it!

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
Get your FREE Booklet – 10 Things Every Homebuyer Needs to Know. Get started on the correct path to finding your Dream Home!

 

5 Painting Mistakes to Avoid

Aside

Painting Tips

5 Painting Mistakes to Avoid

DIY interior painting can be a money-saver if you know what you’re doing. While saving a few dollars is definitely worth trying out painting yourself, it is important to avoid mistakes often made in the process. Here is how to avoid them!

Mistake #1: Not Using The Correct Applicator

If you are willing to pay for premium paint, you should be willing to invest in a good applicator. Invest in good brushes or rollers up front to avoid hair on the wall or lumps of roller lint under the paint.

Mistake #2: Not Preparing Correctly

You always want to do repair work first so that your walls are smooth, clean, dry and free of loose debris before you begin painting. A repair will be much less obvious if it is done before a new coat of paint!

Mistake #3: Overextending Your Brush Dips

One of the most frequently made mistakes by DIYers is that they often continue applying a dip of paint until the brush or roller is dry. When you overextend each dip, the paint can dry in the brush bristles, and the fabric on rollers can mat down. You want to maintain a smooth line of paint. Once you can see the paint starting to break up, it’s time to re-dip.

Mistake #4: Not Taking A Break

It is ok to take a step back and review your work. Get a glass of water, have some lunch and take a break. When you allow yourself to get fatigued, your work can become sloppy.

Mistake #5: Allowing Paint To Dry Out

Touch-ups are not ideal if your paint has dried out. To extend the life of water-based paint, place a piece of clear plastic wrap directly on the surface of the paint, then reseal the container. For oil-based paint, add about a half-inch of water on the surface before resealing.

Bottomline, do some research or ask some questions at your local store before you get started.

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
Get your FREE Booklet – 10 Things Every Homebuyer Needs to Know. Get started on the correct path to finding your Dream Home!

 

Design Trends for 2021

Aside

 

2021 Design Trends

What are the design trends for 2021?

It is hard to believe that 2020 is almost over. Many of us are thinking “Thank Goodness!” With a new year approaching quickly, now is the time to start thinking about how you want to update your space in 2021. If you’re wondering how the design trends are looking for the new year, here is a great place to start!

Less Is More

Take the time to check each space in your home and ensure your decor is intentional. Make sure all of your belongings have a place and that they all serve a purpose.

Scandinavian and Japanese style

Both cultures celebrate minimalism while also encouraging functionality. With white shades dominating spaces in this style, you will also find natural woods and materials in large spaces that are open and bright.

Personalization

One of the most marked trends in interior design is focused on the personalization of your space. Take into account what you already love when creating spaces in your home without worrying about what others consider stylish or up-to-date. Let your creativity shine through your space.

A Touch of Color

Neutrals are great in most settings, but a pop of color allows you to add personality to your space. Yellow shades add warmth while blue shades give a sharpness and can be used to enhance certain elements of a room. If you want to introduce a little color, use colors inspired by nature.

It is also a great opportunity to clean out areas as you go. Donate, give away, sell or possibly refurbish. Have fun and enjoy your space!

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
Get your FREE Booklet – 10 Things Every Homebuyer Needs to Know. Get started on the correct path to finding your Dream Home!

 

Who Doesn’t Love An Organized Pantry?

Aside

With more people staying at home and avoiding crowds, a lot of homeowners are turning to home prepping to cut back on trips to the store and avoid shortages. Unfortunately, many people find themselves overwhelmed. Sometimes it is hard to know exactly what to stock up on. And once the pantry is fully stocked and prepped, maintaining it, and finding what you need among all the other things, can be difficult. Organization is a key part of successful prepping, so if you want to have an effective pantry, here are a few organizational tips to keep in mind.

What Should You Store?

First things first: What should you store in your pantry? Obviously, you want things that are shelf-stable and will last a while. Pick up or prepare staples like canned vegetables, canned fruits, crushed tomatoes and dry goods like pasta, rice, and beans. Add cooking supplies like cooking oil, flour, and cornmeal, plus sweeteners such as sugar and honey. Beyond that, round things out according to your family’s tastes. This is where you add your taco shells, your pasta sauces, cereals, popcorn, condiments and dressings, canned meats, and anything else that you know your family uses regularly. If you have pets, you can also set aside a section of your pantry for pet food as well.

Organizing for Easy Access

When you start organizing your pantry, do not just stick things wherever you can find a space for it. Take everything out, clean the area so that you are starting fresh, then put things back in a reasonable and organized way. Group similar items, like different types of canned vegetables, together so that everything is easy to find. Avoid just shoving a bunch of things together to make more room, since that will cause confusion and make some of your items a lot harder to find when you are looking for them.

Label Everything

Place labels on your shelves once you have everything organized so you will know what goes where in the pantry. That does not mean that you must micromanage and label each individual type of item, of course; create categories like “Jelly” and “Vegetables” to simply mark the general area where those items go. If you want to be really efficient with your labeling, take the time (or recruit family members to help) and place an easy-to-read sticker or label on the top or front of each item, and write the expiration date on it for reference.

Remember FIFO

Where a lot of people run into problems is rotating stocked items as new items are bought or made. Keep the FIFO principle in mind as you restock your pantry: First In, First Out. New items should always go to the back, allowing the older items in the front to be used first. As you take items out of the pantry, move up the items behind them so that they are closer to the front and you have room to place things behind them later.

Shelving and Storage Additions

If you need to add shelving or other storage types to your pantry area, try to do so in a way that makes stocking and access easier. Standalone shelves that you can walk behind or rollout shelves that you can pull toward you make it a lot easier to place new items at the back, while sliding shelves or rotating units make it easy to reach stored items that otherwise might be hard to get to.

Emergency Storage

In general, your pantry should be filled with items that you are going to use and that will be rotated out over time. You should check expiration dates at least once or twice a year and move items about to expire to your main pantry, or use them for activities such as camping trips, hiking excursions or other adventures.

Great Lakes Home Team is here to help you with your real estate questions or needs. We have helped so many families sell their home or find their dream home. Do you want to know how much is your home worth is worth, Click here?
Get your FREE Booklet – 10 Things Every Homebuyer Needs to Know. Get started on the correct path to finding your Dream Home!

 

 

Key Professionals in a Real Estate Transaction

Aside

When you are buying or selling a home there are a number of individuals you will come in contact with.  Here are some of them:

  1. REALTOR® – A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate agent and a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.  They also belong to their state and local Associations of REALTORS®.
  2. Listing Agent – A listing agent or broker forms a legal relationship with the homeowner to sell the property.  The listing agent’s responsibility and fiduciary duties are to the seller.
  3. Buyer’s Agent – A buyer’s agent or broker works with the buyer to locate a suitable property and negotiate a successful home purchase.  The buyer’s agent’s responsibility and fiduciary duties are to the buyer.
  4. Home Inspector – A home inspector can be hired by the seller before they put their home on the market or by the buyer when an offer has been accepted.  The inspector provides a comprehensive analysis of a home’s major systems and components.
  5. Loan Officer – A loan officer is a representative of a bank or financial institution.  They help customers identify their borrowing options and help them understand the terms of the loan.  A seller should also meet with a lender before putting their home on the market so they know the “big picture” of their financial situation.
  6. Appraiser – An appraiser works on behalf of the lender and provides a market analysis of the subject property. An appraiser’s finding is subjective and combined with market data of sold properties within the surrounding neighborhood.
  7. Insurance Agent – An insurance agent helps a home buyer determine the coverage needed and finds the right insurance policy for the home.
  8. Real Estate Attorney – In some states, real estate closings can only be conducted by an attorney.  They can give advice on all legal aspects of a real estate transaction. Such as drafting and reviewing contracts, help with how to take title and assist with the closing process.
  9. Escrow/Closing Officer – An escrow or closing officer is a non-biased third party who works with all participants to facilitate a successful closing of a real estate transaction. At the closing, the closing officer will collect the purchase money funds from the buyer and settlement costs from each party.  The will prepare and record all necessary documents to transfer ownership of the property.
  10. Title Company – The title company will search the title and provide title insurance policies to produce clear property titles and enable the efficient transfer of real estate.

Get my free ebook…7 Home Seller Tips before You Sell.  Do you live in Northeastern Ohio/Cleveland area and want to know what your home is worth?  Find out Today.  Looking to find a home in the Greater Cleveland area, get the most up-to-date listing…Search Like an Agent.  Get my free-ebook…10 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Home.  Was your home listed and it expired?  Get your free expired report on what went wrong and how to fix it!

I am here to help! Guiding You Every Step of the Way!

Improve Your Credit Score

Aside

creditscore10 Tips to Improve Your Credit Score 

There are no quick fixes for improving your credit score but over time you can raise it by consistently managing your finances.

  1. Pay your bills on time – This is the best way to improve your score.  It is never to late, find a system (calendar, App) to keep you on track. If you are going to be late, don’t avoid your creditors keep in contact with them.
  2. Keep credit card balances low – High outstanding debt can pull down your score. Don’t max out your credit cards all the time.
  3. Check your credit report for accuracy – It is possible there may be inaccurate information on your credit report that can be easily cleared up.  It this is the case, then you should contact the three credit reporting agencies to get it corrected (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax)
  4. Pay off debt rather than moving it around – Consolidating your credit card debt onto one care or spreading it over multiple cards will not improve your score in the long run.  The most effective way to improve your score is by simply paying down the amount you owe.
  5. Keep your credit cards – manage them responsibly – In general, having credit cards and installments loans that you pay on time will raise your score.  Someone who has no credit cards tends to have a lower score than someone who has managed credit cards responsibly.
  6. Don’t open multiple accounts too quickly – Opening too many accounts in too short of a time period can look risky because you are taking on a lot of possible debt.  Too many inquiries can hurt your credit score.
  7. Don’t open accounts you do not need – This approach could backfire and actually lower your score.
  8. Don’t close an account to remove it from your record – It is a myth that closing an account removes it from your credit report. In fact, closing accounts can sometimes hurt your score.
  9. Shop for a loan within a short period of time – FICO scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines based in part on the length of time over which recent requests for credit occur.  If you shop for too many loans over a long length of time this could hurt your score.
  10. Contact your creditors or see a legitimate credit counselor if you are having financial difficulties –  This won’t improve your score, but the sooner you start managing your finances well and making timely payments will improve your score overtime.

Get my free e-book 7 Home Seller Tips before You Sell.  Looking to find a home, get the most up to date listing…Search Like an Agent.  Do you live in Northeastern Ohio/Cleveland area and want to know what your home is worth?  Find out Today.

The secret to good gardening is . . . lasagna?


If you’re considering putting in a new garden and want to keep it as environmentally-friendly as possible, you might want to consider prepping the ground this year and plant next year.

Creating a great garden space can’t just happen overnight. Getting the soil ready for planting a garden takes some time, work, and organic matter to make some garden lasagna.

What is lasagna gardening?

Building your garden soil through a process similar to composting lies at the heart of lasagna gardening. Made popular two decades ago by a book written by Patricia Lanza called – what else? – “Lasagna Gardening.”

Rather than bringing in yards of soil, Lanza reasoned, you build the soil from the ground up by adding alternating layers of nitrogen-rich (green) and carbon-rich (brown) organic matter. The green layer can include grass clippings, kitchen compost, coffee grounds and herbivorous manure. The brown layer includes fallen leaves, straw, newspaper and even shredded cardboard. Each layer should be at least an inch thick.

Making garden lasagna

This is the perfect time of year to start your soil for a new garden. It will take about a year for your soil to be completely ready. The process is simple.

  1. Mark off your garden plot.
  2. Using a shovel, turn over the soil about a foot deep and break up the sod.
  3. Rake all your leftover leaves from the winter into the spot. Better yet, mulch them to create your first brown layer. Save a week’s worth of newspapers and add a bale of straw and you’ve got a pretty good first layer.
  4. Ask your neighbors to catch their first mow grass clippings to add to your first green layer. You may have to buy a couple of bags of manure to get enough to make a good layer.
  5. Don’t compress the layers. You want to make sure your lasagna is getting enough air and water to aid in the breakdown.
  6. PRO TIP: Don’t add more green than brown; your soil will turn acidic.
  7. You can make as few or as many layers as you want.
  8. When you get to the last layer, cover it in brown matter or soil.
  9. Water it down to start the process.
  10. Walk away – for a year – and let nature take its course.

It’s perfectly fine to plant in the decomposing mulch in the first year. By next year, the soil will be perfect.

Looking to buy or sell your home, visit my remax website…and remember I am only a phone call away. Jody Finucan, REALTOR  440 221-6383

Serving Lake County, Geauga County and Cuyahoga County and relocation services around the world.

The art of cleaning quickly


Have you ever been relaxing on the weekend or after work and thought, “I really need to clean this place up?” At that very moment, the phone rings and it’s your friend/Mom/sister who wants to pop by for a moment to return that thing they borrowed/have coffee/talk about what’s happening. And they just won’t take no for an answer.

The panic clean doesn’t have to be a frenzied battle. There are some steps you have to take to make your home look presentable quickly and efficiently.

Prioritize

You don’t need to give your entire home a deep cleaning in 10 minutes but you don’t need to. Focus on the rooms where you and your guest are likely to spend the most time: bathroom, kitchen and living room.

Prepare

If you are a professional procrastinator or cleaning avoidance master, you should gather what you’ll need into one caddy: cloths, magic erasers, spray glass cleaner, and all-purpose cleaner. Keep it at the ready for just such an occasion and stash it under the kitchen sink.

Plan

Use a systematic approach to guarantee that all areas of each room are cleaned without having to retrace your steps. Clean clockwise starting at the left of the door and go from top to bottom.

Proceed

Spray down toilet bowls, countertops, stovetop and sinks first to give it time to loosen surface stains.

Pick up

After you’ve sprayed everything down, take a couple of minutes to fill an empty laundry basket with all the random stuff lying in the living room and entryway. Keep a box handy for collecting mail and magazines separate. Dust the surfaces as you go.

Polish the bathroom

Focus on the toilet, sink and mirror. You’ve already sprayed the toilet and sink; wipe them down and then work on the mirror. Store bathroom products in a small basket under the sink, just while your guest is there.

Plates and bowls

Time to make the kitchen presentable. Wipe down the surfaces you’ve already sprayed, then put all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher if you haven’t had time to run a load. Don’t worry, you’re only using it for temporary storage.

Perfect

The details will make it look like you didn’t just spend 15 minutes frantically cleaning. Arrange magazines and fluff pillows and put them neatly on the couch and chairs to give your room a finished look.

Power vacuum

Running the vacuum will not only catch any dust that fell on the floor, it is the best way to give the most noticeable thing in your home – the carpet – a quick refresh.

All you need is some planning and preparation and 10-15 minutes to give the major rooms in your home a quick cleaning to make it look more presentable for your guest.

Have a question about real estate? Looking to buy a home?  Looking to sell your home?  I am here to help. Visit my RE/MAX website for more information.