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Buy a Home | 6 Posts
Home Improvement | 12 Posts
Homeowners | 3 Posts
Sell a House | 4 Posts
Tuscaloosa, AL | 22 Posts

Make Sure You Ask The Home Inspector These Questions

When you're buying a home, you want to get all the information you can from the inspector. Here are the questions you should ask.

Once you find a home you'd like to make an offer on from Tuscaloosa homes for sale, you're going to need the services of a home inspector. The home inspection is required for many reasons — chief among them so that your lender can determine if the house is worth the asking price. Many lenders won't OK a loan without a home inspection. What's more, a home inspection is to your advantage because it can reveal problems such as faulty wiring, mold, or other potentially hazardous situations.

But if you've never dealt with a home inspector, you may wonder what you should ask. Here are a few questions our real estate agents recommend you ask your home inspector.

  1. How much will a home inspection cost?
    It depends on the size of the house, the market, and sometimes on the inspector. An established home inspector with a good reputation may cost more than someone who is starting out. On average, home inspections run $300-600.

  2. How long have you, the inspector, been doing this?
    This question can be very important when you're trying to assess if the inspector knows what he or she is doing. If someone is just starting out, they may not know how to perform more thorough inspections for more complicated homes, such as older historic houses — and that could impact whether or not you get a loan.

  3. May I, the buyer, accompany you, the inspector, as you make the rounds?
    There's no good reason why the inspector wouldn't want you around, and they should be happy for the opportunity to explain things. It's easier to understand an explanation from the inspector's mouth rather than reading a report.

  4. When is an issue a big deal?
    You'll be surprised to learn that most houses have similar issues in regard to the foundation, roof needing repair, water heater needing replacement, electrical systems, or HVAC being brought up to code. While any of these might seem like deal breakers to you, it's best to ask the inspector how big the issue is. Yes, they might be big issues — but in that case, you get a repair or walk away from the deal.

  5. Let the inspector know if you have any questions before the inspection begins so he can clarify issues.
    You may have noticed things that worry you, such as the house's age, a water spot, a foundation problem. Do ask questions about it — what's the source, what will it take to get it fixed, and the like. Inspectors can help you understand problems. Ask the right questions, and a good inspector can explain how you can take care of your house — which can be of paramount importance to a first-time homeowner. Further, if you buy the house and are not asking the seller to fix certain things, do not blow off these problems and forget to fix them after you move in.

  6. Should you call in additional experts for specific problems?
    A home inspector will only be able to give you a general outline of problems with the house. He may recommend that you consult an additional expert to look at whatever the inspector has flagged, such as a problem with plumbing, the electric system, roof, or HVAC.

  7. Ask questions after the inspection.
    Hopefully, you were with the inspector during the inspection and asked questions as the procedure went along. However, after you see the detailed report that the inspector issues within a couple of days, you should definitely ask questions about anything that you don't understand.

We can explain lots more about the home inspection process. Contact us today.


Here's Why Some Home Sales Fall Through

On rare occasions, a home sale you thought was final falls through. Here's why it happens and what you can do about it.

If you've got your sights set on a house listed among Tuscaloosa homes for sale, the good news is that most home sales go through without a problem. In fact, Trulia announced in 2016 that fewer than 4 percent of home sales hit a snag. However, first-time buyers often run into some rocky situations because of inexperience.

But regardless of whether you've bought a home before or you're a first-time buyer, getting a handle on why sales fall through can help you avoid the pitfalls.

Our real estate agents have compiled a list of reasons why home sales commonly don't through.

  1. The seller has a change of mind.
    Sellers can change their minds for many reasons, but purchase contracts generally don't leave much room to back out -- not that you're going to want to spend time and money in court trying to enforce a sale. Most likely, your best option is to move on. Here's hoping you got something from the seller to cover expenses.

  2. Buyer has a change of mind.
    You, as buyer, may change your mind after you've signed a home purchase contract. If you've got some contingencies in the contract, you may be able to back out. For instance, one contingency might be that you don't get financing; another could be the inspection report may not be satisfactory. Yet another contingency might be regarding the buyer's home not selling, a contingency, by the way, that sellers don't like, although it's rather common. These contingencies sometimes allow the seller to receive backup offers, so the buyer may have to release the contingency if a better offer for the home in question shows up.

  3. Home inspection turns up problems.
    Most homes — even new ones — have some room for improvement. But if those improvements turn out to be serious, you can likely back out of a home purchase by invoking a contingency in the home purchase contract. You might also renegotiate the price.

  4. Sometimes, an appraisal comes up short.
    If your lending institution's appraiser declares the property you want to buy to be worth less than the asking price, what to do? A seller may agree to the lower valuation, but if the home is really worth what the seller is asking, they probably won't budge. You might appeal the appraisal with your lender, but you'll likely have to pay for a second appraisal. Or, you may switch lenders. You'll still have to pay for that second appraisal. But, if the home is really overpriced, the financing contingency in the purchase contract is likely your way out. Thinking about an FHA loan? These require an appraisal contingency so that you can get out of the contract.

  5. The buyer isn't approved for a loan.
    You should contact a lender to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage, so you will know how much you can afford to pay for a house. While you'll get a letter from the lender that they are willing to loan the money, it's not a guarantee of a loan. Your situation could change from loss of a job, more debt, or a change in credit score, and that could result in the loan being refused.

  6. The title isn't clear.
    Lenders want to be sure a home's title is clear of liens or judgments and that no one else has a right to the property. They may refuse the loan if there are other claims to the property or if back taxes are owed.

Enlisting the services of a qualified, knowledgeable real estate agent can help you avoid pitfalls in a home sale, whether buying or selling. Contact us today.


The Differences Between Buying An Old vs New House

Choosing between an old or new home can be a tough decision. Here's how to decide.

Old vs. new house: which should you buy? Fact is, each one has some positives and negatives. If you haven't made up your mind which you prefer to buy from Tuscaloosa homes for sale, then allow us to be of assistance. Our real estate agents can help you make the best choice for your situation.

With fewer homes available just now, and prices up, some home buyers will be looking at older homes as a more affordable choice. Yes, they're likely to need updating, but that can be done over time with the savings you get from purchasing an older home.

Here are some tips worth studying as you weigh buying a new home or an older one. Happy house hunting!

Pros of a New Home

  1. Bigger, better layout
    Older homes were, in general, constructed to be smaller, with smaller rooms and fewer bathrooms. Today's homes have bigger rooms, more storage and closet space, more bathrooms, plus a family room that likely connects with the kitchen.

  2. Fewer or no renovations
    A new home likely needs little in the way of renovations or reconstructions unless it's just some feature you can't live without in an otherwise satisfactory home. With an old home, you may be buying it "as is" and will need to make some updates and renovations.

  3. New appliances
    The appliances — HVAC, fridge, washer and dryer, water heater, and dishwasher — are all new and should work well starting out. Be sure your new home warranty covers costs if they break down during the first few years of operation.

  4. Just the right amenities
    If you're shopping for a new home, then you're going to want to find one with the amenities you desire — be it a swimming pool, a gym, a pet cleanup area, outdoor cooking or entertaining space, large kitchen island, spacious cabinets, and more. Older homes often don't have these features or else no place to locate them.

Pros of an Old Home

  1. Vintage charm
    Well, not every older home can be considered "vintage," but you know what we mean. Older homes have character that is often missing in new home construction, where there may be a cookie-cutter effect going on to save money. Older homes are often unique in a neighborhood, having been constructed individually rather than as part of a development. They also may be built of quality materials that are missing in the marketplace today. Further, houses may be on bigger lots, farther apart, than the houses in many new developments with near zero lotline construction.

  2. Closer to the hub of town
    New home construction often takes place on the edge or out of town to save money on land costs when developing a housing community, so that you can reckon on driving farther to get to work or perhaps to take the kids to school or to events.

  3. Throwing shade
    Ever notice that bald, scraped look of new home construction? You'll be waiting decades for that single tree out front to develop shade. Older homes often have a generous growth of tree canopy (that is, shade), shrubbery, and even established gardens.

  4. Older homes with "good bones": ripe for renovation
    You may pay far less for an older home that was well built of quality materials — described as having"good bones" — than you would for a new home, but you can use the savings to renovate and update the house with all the amenities you might find only in a new home.

New or old, your dream home is out there waiting for you, and we can help you find it. Contact us today.


Make Sure You Do This Before Making An Offer On A House

Before sealing the deal on your dream home, you want to check these tasks off your to-do list.

You've been shopping Tuscaloosa homes for sale and likely found one or two exciting prospects. The temptation will be strong to slap your down payment on the table and sign on the dotted line, but we say: Not so fast! Of course, our real estate agents are in business to sell homes, but we want to be sure our clients find just the right home. There are some things you need to do before you make an offer.

Myriad factors are at play that can affect the negotiation outcome, so consider these tips before you offer to buy a home.

  1. Pre-owned homes have a history. Find out what it is.
    Every home that's been lived in has a history, and before you buy, you need to track it down. Your real estate agent can help; agents know how to access records for information you need, such as the pricing history. Were reductions made? Was the property under contract and then came back on the market? Your real estate agent can contact the listing agent and perhaps find the reason for selling. Myriad reasons can prompt a sale, including job loss, down- or upsizing, elective move from the area, divorce, death, or family situation change.

  2. Go fishing for past ownership information.
    Confirm who owns the property, also noting when was the last purchase, and if there's a mortgage or additional loans taken out on the property. This information is available from tax, property appraiser, and court records. How much the seller owes on the property can affect the flexibility of the seller.

  3. Check out past permits.
    The idea is to see if claims made to bolster the selling price — new roof, major plumbing, or electrical upgrade — are backed up by a permit with the county or city. Be on the lookout for claims regarding a cooled/heated addition when there are no permits. Could be the seller is basing an asking price on square footage that would not be counted by an appraiser because there is no permit for the addition.

  4. Research additional factors regarding the house and neighborhood.
    In addition to information about the home's history and how many days it's been on the market, you should check out these things: the home's neighborhood, schools, property taxes, an estimate of utilities, and comparable sales. It's also wise to take a walk through the neighborhood, talk to the people who live there, and ask how they like it. If you find someone who's forthcoming, ask for the positives and negatives. Also, ask if there are frequent power outages.

  5. Research the inventory of homes in the area.
    Are there many homes for sale in the area? If so, it could be a buyer's market — that is, a place where the seller might be more willing to negotiate.

  6. Get your financials in order.
    While you may not need to go as high as 20 percent for a down payment, you'll need a substantial sum to get your cash together, whether that involves consolidating savings from various accounts or selling investments. You will also need money for closing costs.

  7. Get pre-qualified for a mortgage.
    Unless you have enough money to buy a home outright, you'll need a mortgage. Get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. This will signal that you're making a legitimate offer.

  8. Research how much, beyond your mortgage, it will cost you to live in a house.
    Find out approximately how much you will have to pay in taxes, home owner association fees, home insurance, and upkeep.

Do you have other questions about buying or selling a Tuscaloosa home? Contact us today.


5 Holiday Decorating Tips to Try

Holiday Decorations

If it feels like your holiday decorations never match the images you envision, it's time to try a few new tricks this holiday season. A few simple adjustments will help you maximize your decor's aesthetics so that your home looks its best. Our real estate agents know a well-decorated home will appeal to prospective buyers. Here are some decorating tips to try this season.

  1. Decorate Your Tree in the Correct Order
    When you're decorating your tree, you want to put the decorations on in a certain order, so your tree looks its best. Start by stringing your lights; many people find that it's easier to string lights using a vertical pattern. Begin at the base of your tree and string the lights up to the top of the tree, making sure that you position some of the lights into the interior of the tree so that it has more depth. Continue until all your lights are in place. Next, add any garland or materials that you plan to use in place of garland (such as beads or ribbon). You can hang them horizontally or vertically. Watch your spacing when hanging horizontally; make sure that there's an equal distance between each layer. If you opt to hang your garland or ribbon vertically, consider cutting them into pieces instead of using one long strand. This makes it easier to place them and tuck them into the tree branches. Last, hang your ornaments and add any additional tree accessories, like bows, tinsel, or flower sprigs. 
  1. Don't Forget the Bottom of Your Tree
    Don't let an unattractive tree base detract from your beautiful Christmas tree. Instead, see that you cover it with a piece that complements the rest of your holiday decor. This will also help your home look its best when compared to other Tuscaloosa homes for sale. A tree skirt is a traditional alternative, but it isn't your only option. You can also use a gorgeous table cloth or sheet to cover the base. 
  1. Deck Your Staircase
    Don't let your staircase go to waste; it's the perfect space to add a little holiday cheer. Drape evergreen garland across the banister for a classic look. If you prefer a bolder look, add lights or bows. Or add decorative pieces to the stairs themselves. The stairs are a fantastic spot to house some of your poinsettias or some of your less fragile holiday decor. 
  1. Take Advantage of Your Front Porch
    The front porch is the first space you see and sets the tone for your entire home. A wreath is a must-have, but you can also integrate other items, like a festive doormat, a potted mini Christmas tree, and faux snow. Or, if you have a bench, add some cozy throw pillows to make the space more inviting. 
  1. Add Timers and Smart Plugs to Your Decorations
    Once you've decorated your home, you should be able to sit back and enjoy your hard work. Make it as effortless as possible to turn your tree, lights, and other electric items on by using smart plugs and timers. With a smart plug, you can program your holiday decor to automatically turn it on and off.

Looking for a home with more space to decorate during the holidays? Our team can help. Contact us today!


5 Ideas for Decorating Your Home Office

Decorating Home OfficeWhether you work from home occasionally or full-time, you've surely discovered the value of having a dedicated home office. Home offices are becoming so popular that many potential homebuyers may also be looking for dedicated office space in Tuscaloosa homes for sale. Regardless if you plan on selling your home soon or living in it for years to come, there are ways you can enhance your home office that will make you more productive, creative, and emotionally focused as you work. Here are five tips for decorating your home office that our REALTORS® love.

  1. Let Paint Influence Your Psychology
    Colors have a significant impact on our psychology. For example, green can make us feel calm, yellow can inspire creativity, and blue can stimulate productivity. If you choose to have a neutral-colored office space, inject a few colors via décor to give your mind the boost it needs while you're in the space.  

  2. Prioritize Organization Over Distraction
    While it can be effective to place posters or wall art around the room that inspires you, you must also not let it distract you. Stay organized, physically, and mentally, by limiting clutter. Use dedicated storage spaces for your supplies and fill your space with a minimum amount of décor. Keep in mind that although a bookshelf of your favorite works may inspire you, you won't be productive in your work if you take too many reading breaks.

  3. Let Light & Nature Enter the Space
    Adequate lighting is an obvious necessity in a home office, but did you know that natural lighting can also have a profound impact in this space? Natural light can increase productivity, energy, and creativity, as well as reduce eye strain. Face your desk towards the window to maximize these benefits. Other studies also suggest that incorporating greenery in your office, such as a potted plant, can boost your cognitive attention while removing harmful bacteria from the space.

  4. Refresh Your Workspace While Restricting Relaxation
    Unless you're using a guest bedroom or multipurpose room as your workspace, you'll want to make sure that your home office is just that. Unfortunately, it's easy for homeowners to create a comfortable space that becomes a little too comfortable. While you should invest in ergonomic furniture that removes unnecessary strain from your body, you should refrain from putting comfortable furniture like couches in this space. You should also refrain from placing a television or other form of entertainment in your office. Ideally, this space should be inviting enough to help you focus on the task at hand while lacking the creature comforts that make other rooms of your home perfect for lounging after work.

  5. Incorporate Office Equipment
    Any room with a table and a chair can function as a home office, but if you need a serious workspace, you're going to need more than a keyboard and waste bin. Purchase office supplies in a color that complement the room's aesthetic. You can also create décor designs that are attractive yet practical, such as selecting charming furniture pieces for storage or turning a closet into a convenient printing/copying station.

Are you looking for a Tuscaloosa house that has room for a home office? We can help! Contact us today to begin your search.  

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