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Archive for March, 2010

This article is not only for those homeowners who have their homes on the market. These 5 areas should also be on a regular maintenance list of every homeowner. The regular checkups will save you thousands of dollars over the years, and will make the selling process (when you are ready to sell) painless.

The transaction has made it through most of the bumps, but a potential hurtle still lurks: the home has to make it past a home inspector. Most buyers request an inspection of the home to determine its condition. At times, the issues that are uncovered may force costly repairs upon a seller (if those checkups were not done on the regular basis) or in some extreme cases of neglect, can cause a deal to fall through.  Here are 5 most common issues that come up during home inspections and what homeowners can do to prevent the contract from falling through:

1. Improper electrical wiring.

The most serious problems often arise from faulty electrical wiring done by homeowners or unqualified contractors. These issues can be an insufficient electrical service to the house, inadequate overload protection, lack of GFCI protected outlets in kitchens and baths in close proximity to the water source. To avoid problems: insure that you, as a homeowner, obtain proper required permits for any electrical work, and that this work is done by a qualified electrician. If the work was done significant time ago, hire an electrician to walk through the home and make sure that all wiring is up to the current code.

2. Roof Deterioration

Old or damaged shingles can lead to leaks. If routine checks are not performed, and the roof has to be replaced, you may be facing costly repairs. An average replacement cost on a mid-level roof is $19,000, according to Remodeling Magazine‘s 2009-10 Cost vs. Value Report. However, with routine maintenance, easy and inexpensive repairs to damaged tiles and shingles can prevent the costly fixes later on.

3. Plumbing problems

From dripping faucets, rocking toilets and tanks (loose bolts), mismatched piping materials, and faulty fixtures to improperly installed hot water heaters, there can be many issues to raise a red flag. Fixing and maintaining plumbing fixtures is an ongoing process that will prevent such difficult issues as mold, mildew and structural damages, that can lead to thousands of dollars in repairs.

4. Improper surface grading or drainage

Condition of a basement in a home is a very sensitive issue that all buyers are careful about.  Water marks on the basement walls, water in the basement are some of the major concerns. Moisture in the basement can lead to structural problems and health problems. Many times, these issues will cost a sale. Keeping gutters and downspouts in good alignment, cleaned and repaired, will help ensure proper drainage. Take a look at your gutters and downspouts when it rains. It will help determine the problems and the necessary repairs.

5. Poor overall upkeep

Cracked, peeling paint, broken fixtures, cracked caulking around doors and windows can signal overall neglect. These items, when noted by buyers can suggest to them that other major home components are NOT taken care of either: roof, heating and cooling systems, siding, appliances. By these first impressions, many buyers may decide to move on to the next home without considering placing an offer.

As you can see, making plans in fall and spring to do the inspection and to maintain important parts of your home can help you save money and make your home safer and more pleasant for you, and more “saleable” and desirable to buyers, if and when you may decide to sell it in the future, therefore making it less troublesome for you.

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It looks like we are getting close to spring time, finally… This is the time to start thinking about your spring home maintenance. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Outside:

Remove storm windows.
Install window screens.
Recheck caulking and windows.
Inspect porches, steps, and patio for cracks in concrete.
Inspect walls and painted surfaces for cracks, peeling paint and rot.
Clean out the gutters.
Check flashing around chimney, dormers and vents.
Inspect the roof.
Air out the basement.

Inside:

Shut off humidifier, clean and drain.
Inspect air conditioner system. Call for repair if necessary.

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$$$$ 2009 Tax Savings $$$$


What’s deductible for homeowners?

1.  Mortgage interest
2.  Points (paid at closing, if you purchased or refinanced this year)
3.  Mortgage insurance premiums (your PMI)
4.  Property taxes
5.  Energy efficiency credits (see IRS form 5695 for qualifying projects)
6.  Home Buyer Tax Credit (between $6,500 and $8,000, see IRS form 5405 to claim your credit if you qualify)

For more specific information, please check with your accountant.

More on energy efficiency credits from IRS, check here.
More on home buyer tax credit from IRS, check here.

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Your home is the only long-term investment you and your family enjoy every day. So why wait to move up and into the home of your dreams???

Many Americans have more equity in their homes than they have assets in retirement plans, stocks, mutual funds, and savings combined… and for good reason.

With historically low interest rates (5% conventional, 5.25% FHA) and lower, more reasonable prices, there is no better time than right now to buy the investment where you will love living.

Curious and want more information?? Let me know!

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How is our real estate market doing?

Existing home sales slowed down in February. This is mainly due to the lack of urgency with the extension and expansion of the first-time buyer tax credit in November. Buyers know they have until April 30th to have a solid contract on a home. I do not recommend waiting. We are now less than 2 months away from the deadline, and there are many things that need to get done before closing and many things that can go wrong: home inspection results, negotiation of repairs, mortgage commitment issues, title research issues, just to name the major ones.

Feb. 2009 VS Feb. 2010 Sales

Bucks Co: saw 11% less homes that went on the market vs. last February. However, 13% more homes were sold this Feb. Av. days on the market went up from 96 to 102 days.

Montgomery Co: saw 6.8% less homes on the market this Feb vs. last year. 3% less homes were sold this Feb. Av. days on the market went down from 99 to 96 days.

Philadelphia: saw 16% less homes that went on the market vs. last Feb.  4.3% less homes were sold this Feb. Av. days on the market went up from 72 to 80 days.

Mercer Co, NJ: saw 1.5% more homes on the market vs. last Feb. 16% less homes were sold this Feb. Av. days on the market went down from 125 to 91 days.

Burlington Co, NJ: saw 3.7% less homes on the market vs. last Feb. 9.7% less homes were sold this Feb. Av. days on the market went down from 122 to 96 days.
Would it be helpful to you to be kept up on what’s going on in your neighborhood? Sales affect your equity. What sold, for how much?
Let me know.

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