info@oneflatfee.ca 604-725-1000 Value of properties sold as of Jan 23, 2021: $707,245,050

Category: Real estate

3 Reasons Every Home Buyer Should Have a Home Inspection Done

As a potential home buyer, getting a home inspection done is the initial first step to purchasing a home. A home inspection report can actually help you decide whether buying is a sound decision.

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A home inspection report is designed to provide you with an overall picture of the condition of the home that you are planning to purchase. If you are skeptical about the benefits of a home inspection, you should be aware that home inspection can actually save you from thousands in unexpected repairs after the purchase.

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As a homebuyer, you want to have a clear picture of the home that you are purchasing. A home inspection is the first step to determining if the home is really worth the cost that you are willing to pay.

In many cases, buyers simply rely on the real estate agency to provide a referral to a home inspector. However, it is your job to find an experienced home inspector that can uncover problems that others might overlook. The experience of a qualified home inspector can save you thousands.

While you might think that the seller’s disclosures are enough, what do you do if you are planning to buy new construction or the seller has not disclosed any issues? Regardless of your situation, here are three reasons why you want to have your own home inspection done.

Uncovering Hidden Problems

If you discovered that there were problems with a home before you bought it, wouldn’t you want to be able to change your mind? A home inspection report can reveal problems with a home’s condition. This will allow you to determine if you can afford the costs of making repairs to the home before you close on the property.

In order to get the home to pass an inspection, some repairs will likely need to made upfront. With the home inspection report in hand, you can then obtain estimates from home contractors as to the costs of repairing the issues.

In addition, homes with defects may also have significantly higher maintenance costs over time. As all of these costs add up, a home inspection may prove that the home is not what you are looking for or is out of your budget.

Illegal Changes

A licensed contractor must perform certain types of work, including work done on the electrical or plumbing system. A home inspection can help to uncover work that has been improperly or illegally done. In many cases, a homebuyer may discover that an addition to the home was done illegally without acquiring the proper permits for the work.

As a result, the illegal changes to the home may require significant repairs in order to meet code requirements. Homes with illegal changes will not pass a home inspection and the buyer will be required to cover the cost of the repairs.

The effects of illegal changes to a home may also go beyond the costs of repairs. “If a house has illegal room additions that are un-permitted, it affects the insurance, taxes, usability and most of all the overall value. In essence, a buyer is purchasing something that legally does not exist,” says Chantay Bridges of Clear Choice Realty & Associates.

Insurance Coverage

Your home insurance carrier may also want the results of the home inspect in order to determine your eligibility for coverage. Certain types of insurance, such as flood insurance, will require that your home is up to standards so that it is not at a higher risk for water damage than other homes in your area. Your insurance carrier may decide not to issue coverage if it is found that the home does not pass an inspection or has significant defects.

The insurance companies are also wary of issuing policies for homes with certain types of defects. “Roofs which are worn, damaged or otherwise obviously near end of their useful lives or are likely to be leaking were the problem most frequently cited by insurance agents as a potential underwriting issue.” says Michael Thomas of Paragon Property Services Inc. “Many insurance companies will decline to write a policy on this property, or will require roof replacement, and some may require an interior inspection for water damage.”

Insurers may also demand that repairs be made before a policy is issued in the case of faulty electrical wiring or outdated electrical systems. For older homes, some insurance companies may even want to see a complete upgrade of all of the systems in the home before an insurance policy will be issued.

Let a Home Inspection Guide Your Decision

A home inspection is a crucial research tool that can tell you more about the condition of a home than any other method. In addition, it will allow you to determine if the real estate agent and seller’s defect disclosures match up to the current state of the home. A home inspection may also reveal problems with the home that the seller was not required to disclose by law.

By having a qualified home inspector review your home before you make a purchase decision, you can decide if you are willing to accept the home in its current condition. You may find that there are “deal-breaker” issues that may make you back away from the deal.

Alternatively, you may find that the home is actually a hidden-gem that is just in need of a few repairs. Regardless of the findings, as a savvy homebuyer, you should never go into a real estate transaction without the insight that a home inspection report can provide.

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3 Selling Musts That You Don’t Need a Realtor for Anymore

20 years ago, it was impossible to sell a house without a realtor. They knew the business, they knew the market, and most importantly they knew how to get the word out about your property. Selling a house was complicated, and it still is. But as technology has shifted it’s become easier and easier to do things that used to belong to realtor’s alone. If you’re aiming to sell a home, take a look at these essential steps that you don’t need to hire a full time real estate agent to achieve anymore.

1. Getting Your Home up Online

The very first thing that you should do is get your home up online. Official channels aren’t the only way to get offers on your property anymore. You should hit the real estate sites that are active for your area. With a simple run down, you can create a short, easy to read, and eye catching posting for your home.

Start by taking a couple great curb side photos. After that, make a bedroom and living room each look like they belong in a hotel and snap a picture of them as well. From there, get a photograph of an interesting feature of your house. A fireplace, a pool, or the nicely tiled bathroom wall will do. All that matters is that you have something to show the appeal of your home.

Write up the best about your house and don’t limit yourself to official real estate sites. Facebook and Craigslist are another great way to attract attention. Once you’ve done that, you’ve done 80% of what realtors do. Feel good about paying yourself the fat commission that most of them would earn for not doing anything more than what you’ve already done for yourself.


2. Setting up Viewings

Mobile phones and email conspire to make realtors obsolete. In the days where you actually had to be at your phone in order to receive a phone call, a realtor and their desk were a great asset to you. You couldn’t be taking calls while you were at work, or cooking dinner. Now, you can check your voicemail or email at your leisure.

Set up viewings that work around your schedule. As long as you’re willing to give up your days off to open houses and setting up viewing after viewing, you have what it takes to sell your house without bringing a realtor on board full time. You don’t have to rely on someone else to show your house. Just grin and bear it if they hate the décor you’ve worked on so long. Be personal, casual, and not over eager and you can be the competent tour guide that people will need to fully appreciate the potential that you house has to offer.


3. Accessing the Multi Listing Service Lists

It used to be that you had to pay a real estate agent a full commission just to get your house listed in the MSL (multi service listing) for your community. That time has passed. It might be hard to find a flat fee MSL agent in your area, but it’s well worth the effort. For one price you get your property out there for other agents and potential buyers to see. You get all of the benefit without having to pay a high, percentage-based commission. If you’re already taking it upon yourself to organizing viewings and to get your house on the list online, you don’t need the other services that a real estate agent is trying to sell you when you pay a percentage based commission.

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5 Great Advantages of Discount Realtors

Paying a high percentage price to get a realtor on your side for selling is a waste of your hard earned money. When you’re not working with a real estate agent who works on a percentage commission, you can take advantage of perks that are otherwise simply cut off. So when you think of all the hard work that goes into selling your home on your own, remember these advantages will be on your side as well.


1. Sell on Your Own Terms

The first thing that you have to remember when you’re considering the daunting prospect of selling a house on your own is that you get to set the price and, barring laws, you get to set the terms of your sale. This means that you can sell when the price is right, and you can make it clear that the home is going to be sold as is: other than what’s required by law, you don’t have to promise to sweeten the pot with remodeling or repainting.


2. More Money in Your Pocket

Obviously, a huge advantage of not having a real estate agent on board is the sheer amount of money that you’re going to save. When you’re paying a high percentage based real estate agent to sell your home, you’re seeing a large chunk of your price go down the drain. If you’re also using a real estate agent to buy your next home you could actually be paying a realtor at both ends of the process; keep the cash that you’re getting an apply it to your new place or even just spend it on what you want. You could take a pretty great vacation on what a realtor would make from the sale of your home.


3. Pick and Choose the Services You Need

When you seek out a flat fee MSL listing service, you not only get your property out in front of other realtors and onto the official sales lists you can also find a realtor willing to provide you with services a la cart. For a fixed price you can enjoy help in whatever areas you need it. For some people this means having a realtor make arrangements with an appraiser, and businesses that are useful when you’re fixing up your home to sell it. For others, this means having a realtor to run a contract by before you sing off. Either way, you don’t have to pay for anything that you’re not going to use.


4. No Hard Sell for You or a Potential Buyer

When you’re working with a realtor you can wind up with them trying to sell you on an offer instead of trying to get the potential buyer to raise their prices. When they need that sale they’re going to try to talk you into accepting whatever’s on the table—even if you could make more by holding out. When you’re selling it yourself you’re selling on your time table.


5. No Commission Padding

A commissioned person is going to spend a lot of time looking for ways to inflate their commission. This could mean that they use high pressure tactics to try to convince someone to pay more (and thus end up losing you the sale) or they keep coming up with more services that they could offer you even when you thought you’d reached an agreement. When you’re paying a flat fee for only those services that you know you want and need, you don’t have to worry about commission padding any more.

Taking your sale into your own hands and choosing a flat fee MSL over a percentage paid real estate agent lets you call the shots on one of the most important things you can do: sell a home.

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5 Steps to Selling by Owner

People turn to sales by owner because they want to sell on their own terms and pocket more of the profits of the sale. It’s not surprising that many real estate agents stress the difficulty of selling a house on your own. While it’s true that it takes a little work to get a property ready to sell, you can break it down into 5 steps that will guide you from start to finish.

1. Decide How Much Time You Have to Devote to Selling

Selling your home can be a time consuming process. You have to figure out how much time you’re willing to devote to it. Mobile phones and email have made it a much easier task, but you still have to set aside time to read and answer dozens of emails about your home. With an hour in the morning and a few hours at night you can be sure that you’re taking the steps you have to in order to sell your home painlessly


2. Select Some a La Carte Realtor Options

Once you have a selling plan, head to a realtor: but not any realtor. Flat fee MSL (multi service listing) agents are the way to go. There you can choose which options you want to pay for. Getting your home on the MSLs for your area are a must, but you can also choose from a variety of al la carte realtor plans that could help you sell your home quickly. If you don’t need a service, you don’t have to pay for it: it’s as easy as that.


3. Assemble Your Paperwork

What paperwork you need before you sell depends on your area, but no matter where you live it’s going to be a bundle. In BC you’re going to have inspection papers and the deed to be able to sell, but things like appraisers reports will be very helpful. You’re also going to have to have the documentation that you need to proceed with a sale. Make sure that you understand everything in the paperwork before you proceed to step 4.


4. Get the Word out Online

Most of a realtor’s job in years gone by can now be done at home, by you, with the click of a button. Set up accounts at a few sites and list your home for sale online. Real estate sites, social media, and more are all good options for getting the word out. Make sure to include your contact information, pictures of the house, and important details. Don’t forget to mention that hot tub on the roof or brand new appliances that you put in only last year.


5. Don’t Hesitate to Haggle

Part of a realtor’s job is to get the most cash for your property possible. You’re going to have to take that job over for yourself now. Remember that, even in a buyer’s market, you don’t have to sell for less than you want. You should have an agreed upon lowest price in mind, and set your sale price above that so that you have the means to haggle. If you have an interested buyer, see what you can get for your property. If you don’t have a natural salesman personality, enlist the help of your spouse or a family member who does.

After you reach an acceptable price, fill out that gathered paperwork and you’ve done it. You’ve sold your house without bringing a full realtor on board.

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How a Higher Selling Price Helps a Commissioned Agent More than the Seller

You want to get a great price for your home. A commissioned agent who’s earning a percentage of the selling price wants to make a lot of money, so they want a great price for your home as well. However, there are plenty of situations where a higher selling price is actually doing them more good than it’s doing you.

Real Estate Agents Make Bank off Your Sale

First of all, relative to the work that they put in a real estate agent makes an incredible amount of money. They’re snagging that steep percentage of your sale price for work that more and more people are doing on their own.

A higher selling price means that you get more money, but it also means that you have to give more of it up to them. What happens when they chase a higher commission through hard sell tactics and not through attracting wealthier buyers?


Driving up the Selling Price Sounds Good at First

A higher selling price sounds good, but the reality is that most people have a narrow window in which they can sell their house and be alright. If you’re moving, you don’t want to be stuck paying off two mortgages. For some people, securing a loan for another house isn’t even possible until they have the money coming in from the sale of their first house. There are all kinds of situations where a moderate increase in the selling price isn’t worth waiting longer to get the money. Having your house on the market an extra 3 months so you can earn an extra $5,000 isn’t going to settle well with many people.

However, a real estate agent doesn’t have to worry about how their choice is going to affect you. If they can keep low buyers away they could earn a lot more from the increased price. Now, most real estate agents aren’t going to go in looking to drive buyers away. However, an uncompromising bargaining position or too much of a hard sell tactic can be a huge turn off for a buyer. They could lose the sale through trying to force the higher price, forcing you to wait longer for someone who’s going to buy into it.


Great Money for Not Much Work

It’s mentioned above that more and more people take doing the work of a real estate agent on their own. If you have access to a flat fee MLS agent in your area you have access to the Multi Listing Service; how the word about new properties spreads amongst real estate buyers (and agents) in the know. It’s the best way to attract a large following for your house quickly, but it’s not the only way. There’s a lot more you should be doing.

Today, most people don’t need an agent to put together an online listing. You can have your house up on real estate websites and Facebook in an hour with a good list of features, the asking price, and some decent curb side pictures.

From there, it’s just time to schedule all the viewings and make sure that your house stays in tip top shape to impress. Again, unless you work outrageous hours where no one could meet you, you don’t need a real estate agent to show someone around your home.

With all the effort put into listing, showing, and selling, don’t you think that you should keep that big percentage payment for yourself?

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Maximize Your Home’s Curb Appeal With These Improvement Projects

Improving your home’s curb appeal is the number one way to pique a buyer’s interest in your home, and really get the price tag the property deserves. Curb appeal projects can range from the simple to the complex, and even the smallest improvements can have big results in a buyer’s eye. However, if you really want to maximize your home’s curb appeal, a total property makeover might be in order. These home improvement projects are great for a range of budgets and DIY know-how, and can give you the results you really need to sell your home fast.

Getting in at the Front Door

The front door: so humble, and yet so symbolic. Your front door will draw the eye of anyone looking at your home, and will say a lot about the house itself: dark and bronzed hardwoods with metal accents gives off a sense of elegance and sophistication, while a more simple door painted in timeless whites will have a more classic and welcoming aesthetic. First impressions are vital, so make sure that your door is a pleasing sight to see.

Front door and entryway improvements are some of the simplest and most rewarding curb appeal projects you can take up, and should be one of the first things on your list as far as improvements go. Repainting a door will only take an hour or so out of your afternoon, as will replacing it entirely with a new piece. Door-knockers, knobs, and bells should be in line with the style of the rest of your home – they’re subtle nods at the style you’re going for, so make them count. Accent the door and entryway with a seasonal floral wreaths and planters for color and charm. Extending the planters down your steps and into your walkway can bring the look together, and direct buyers’ eyes the way you want them.

Lawn and Garden Redesign Projects

When the phrase “curb appeal” comes up, what most people think of is a lush lawn and garden. Fields of gorgeous green grass and a lush garden are certainly appealing to buyers looking at your home, and a unique and well-designed estate will catch the eye (and fetch a nice price tag). So, when redesigning your lawn and garden for max curb appeal, think big: the most popular gardens on today’s real estate market merge beauty and functionality for a complete package.

Popular garden designs today go for a rustic look: cobblestone paths and aged wood are great materials to gravitate towards, with aged brass or copper fixtures. However, don’t count out stone tiles. Geometric designs and patterns are huge in today’s design market, and a tiled geometric centerpiece for your garden can really catch the eye.

Bring your garden around your whole property to bring your lawn project together with your home itself – you don’t want your painstakingly-prepared garden to stand out like a sore thumb in an otherwise blank and boring property. Your whole property is your canvas, so make sure you home is appealing right to the curb. Front yard improvement projects should tend toward the minimalist: you don’t want to take attention away from your home, but rather, accentuate its good traits. Frame your home with flowering or evergreen trees for lasting and low-maintenance results, or add some planters to your front lawn for color and interest.

A fence and terraced entryway adds charm and privacy, and allows you to extend your gardening canvas even further: climbing ivy will take to wooden fences well, and edging any fence with floral and green elements adds visual interest. With all of this improvement, don’t let your mailbox be left behind: a drab aluminum standing mailbox will stick out against an otherwise lush and well-designed yard. Bring your mailbox in line with the rest of your aesthetic, in material and color both, and bring it in on the garden party by planting some greens and florals around it. Be careful that these additions don’t block your mailman’s sight, though – a beautiful mailbox won’t get much use if your mailman has to rustle through a jungle to get to it.

Home Exterior Improvement

While garden and yard design gets most of the attention when it comes to curb appeal, don’t forget to dress up your home itself. A well-designed property might draw in buyers, but a home with bad siding and peeling paint will stand out like a rotten tooth in an otherwise beautiful smile. This is a prime time for you to completely revamp your home’s look and update it to be in line with the market’s current tastes, so make good use of the opportunity. Complex re-siding and re-roofing projects should generally be left to professional contractors to ensure that your home remains in code, but if you’ve got the DIY itch, they can be done with a bit of elbow grease, some research into your local housing laws, and a few YouTube tutorials.

You can make your home feel more connected with your property by bringing accents from your yard and garden to it. Climbing ivy is always an elegant touch, and window boxes are quick and easy-to-maintain ways to add a splash of color to your home’s exterior – add colorful shutters to really complete the classic look. Match your home’s aesthetic to your lawn and garden’s: a rustic home can have the same aged wood and brass accents as your garden, while a more contemporary home will benefit from more sleek and modern pieces. When you’ve got a complete look, it will bring your property’s whole package together, and will work with your interior design and staging to get buyers’ interest piqued, and their wallets opened.

Prepping your property for prospective buyers is just as important as prepping your rooms indoors, and great curb appeal can really set the stage for a solid sales pitch. These projects will get you real results on the real estate market, and will make your property sell faster – and for a bigger price tag overall. They’re a solid investment, and one that any home-selling hopeful should try.

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Understanding the Benefits of Energy Efficient Windows

It may be difficult to think of the windows in your home as valuable assets. Of course, standing in front of one of these outlets on a blazing summer day or frigid winter night can help you shift your point of view in quite a hurry. In order to give you the best defense against the elements – and potentially save you a few bucks along the way – let’s listen in as some of the most trusted online sources break down the benefits of energy efficient windows and how these offerings apply to your situation.

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Letting in drafts and heat can be a nuisance, but is it enough of a reason to change out your windows entirely? Learning more about energy efficient windows and how these assets can affect your home life and budget can help answer this question once and for all.

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When it comes to upgrading your home and improving the quality of life for you and your family, windows generally don’t rank very high in the overarching conversation, if they make an appearance at all. Unfortunately, this mentality overlooks one key detail – these fixtures serve as vital pieces of your home’s heating and cooling systems. If you’re still working with inefficient windows, chances are your home is far from optimized in terms of energy savings and expenditure.

Building a Quick Overview

Before delving into the particulars of why energy efficient windows can improve your home, it’s important to ensure that you have a basic understanding of the difference between these offerings and standard window units. To shed some light on these comparison, Karin Beuerlein of the National Association of Realtors’ House Logic blog breaks down energy efficient windows from a variety of angles.

For starters, the exterior of the window plays a major role in the efficiency rating of the installation. For some windows, several layers of glazing – from single to double and triple – can affect the degree of insulation this asset has against the exterior environment. In terms of the ability to repulse heat, a low emissivity (Low-E) metallic coating can further enhance the window’s ability to reflect and absorb outside weather and other external factors.

Once you get into the interior of the window, gas fills and spacers take center stage. A gas fill, as the name implies, is simply a layer of gas – usually argon or krypton – that’s sandwiched between glazing sheets as a means to improve insulation and reduce heat transfer. Different materials and designs comprise the spacer designation, but all variations still aim to handle the same goals found within the gas fill approach.

Of course, no overview of energy efficient windows would be complete without a look into the framing materials. From vinyl to fiberglass and aluminum, you have plenty of options on this front. Each have their strengths and weaknesses – which you’ll learn about shortly – thus requiring a deeper evaluation based upon your current home situation. The big takeaway here is that your region often dictates your framing options.

Gauging the Value of Energy Efficient Windows

So now that you’re an expert on how energy efficient windows work and what goes into these products, it’s time to look into why you should even bother with these upgrades in the first place. As Charles R. Hooper of Angie’s List explains, the most compelling reason offered up on this front comes in the form of saving money on your monthly energy bills and other energy-related expenses.

Essentially, by making the switch to this type of window, you’re trading an upfront installation cost for the ability to save a significantly larger amount of money over time. These savings can vary based on your specific climate and region, but the experts over at the Department of Energy note that in some cases, homeowners who take the plunge end up saving up to 31 percent on their energy bills per year. Needless to say, that’s far from an insignificant amount over the course of a useful window lifespan.

Benefits That Go Beyond Savings

Aside from the substantial savings generated by energy efficient windows, there’s also other key reasons to consider this alternative to standard offerings. In particular, the experts at the Department of Energy go on to explain that energy efficient windows improve the quality of life for you, your family, and any possessions that don’t hold up well to external concerns.

These selections reduce the impact of outside elements, such as overbearing summer heat and drafty gusts of wind during the winter months, thereby creating a more stable and controlled environment for anyone who calls this house a home. As far as the items in your house go, these windows act as a sort of “home sunscreen,” ensuring that sun damage and exposure to other exterior issues becomes a thing of the past.

Which Window Is Right for You?

If you’re ready to start talking about energy efficient options that fit your home, HGTV’s Alyson McNutt English suggests breaking down the discussion based on your regional needs, budget, and available components. While it would be nice to simply have one answer to this dilemma, varying environments and climates obfuscate the discussion a bit.

In terms of framing, English explains that options like aluminum work best in humid, rainy, and coastal climates, while wood and vinyl are better suited to handle the rigors of more arid locales. As you begin to weigh interior fill and spacing options, you’ll notice that the same propensity for regional concerns enter the picture. Specifically, gas fills simply don’t hold up well in higher altitudes, often leading to leaks and other transfer issues.

Once you’ve sorted out your climate considerations – or connected with an expert who can help you on this front – English finishes with one final piece of advice: Keep an eye out for your window ratings. The U-value of a window denotes this fixture’s ability to resist heat loss, while the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) measures how much heat radiation enters the home through this window.

As you can see, there’s plenty to consider once you enter the market for these windows. Depending on your personal needs and preferences, as well as the recommendations offered up by your trusted window professionals, how much stock you put into these ratings and components can vary drastically. However, at least now you can move forward with confidence as you put this information – and the rest of what you’ve learned about energy efficient windows and their benefits – to good use.

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Home Insurance or Home Warranties: Which One’s Better for You?

Buying a home is far from a simple affair – and that’s putting it lightly. However, is the debate surrounding home insurance and home warranties making this already complex point in your life even more confusing and frustrating? If this describes where you’re at currently with the home buying process, then take a moment to let some of the most respected voices from around the web help you figure out which choice best suits your needs.

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Warranties and insurance are supposed to offer up protection and coverage for homeowners facing major property issues and concerns. Unfortunately, making the wrong choice on this front could put you and your family in a position that’s far from ideal should you ever need to call upon these safeguards.

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At first glance, homeowners insurance and home warranty plans look like two sides of the same coin. While there’s definitely some merit to this statement, the truth of this matter is that each option covers some unique assets within your home. Without a clearly defined understanding of both selections guiding the way, sifting through these differences takes on an unnecessary – and often times unmanageable – level of difficulty.

Understanding Your Options

In an effort to get the conversation kicked off the right way, let’s dig into the basics of both home warranties and homeowners insurance. Starting with home warranties, Laura Bramble of the San Francisco Chronicle explains that these agreements cover major appliance and system repairs, as well as outright replacements in certain circumstances.

Usually, you’ll sign off on a home warranty before the closing of the home. From here, the specifics of the policy will dictate what’s covered, as well as what constitutes a “major appliance or system.” Heating and air systems, plumbing, electrical infrastructure, hot water heaters, dishwashers, stoves, and refrigerators are all prime candidates for a warranty arrangement.

On the other side of the discussion sits homeowners insurance. As Bramble goes on to explain, the key difference here comes in what’s covered and why it’s being covered in the first place. Essentially, while a home warranty covers repairs and breakdowns of major appliances, home insurance seeks to cover everything of value in the home from outside factors, including the structural portions of the home itself.

Wildfires, severe weather, theft, and vandalism all serve as the focus of homeowners insurance. Depending on your policy, even things like accidental slips and other medical considerations can fall under the umbrella of coverage for you and your home.

The Particulars of Homeowners Insurance

Obviously, the theme of coverage and protection remains constant across both homeowners insurance plans and home warranty agreements, but there are some key differences that are worth mentioning. For starters, the experts over at the American Home Shield blog explain that most of the time, you simply don’t have a choice when it comes to whether or not you carry homeowners insurance.

Lenders generally require that you own the rights to this type of policy before agreeing to a mortgage plan. From here, the policy undergoes a yearly renewal phase and helps guarantee that this investment on behalf of the bank or creditor – as well as your personal possessions – remains covered and protected.

As you look into your different homeowners insurance options, you’ll find that these plans break down into four major areas – the interior of your home, its exterior, personal property involved in a theft, and general liability that comes with accidents. Again, the policy can change based on your location, but the mandatory nature of the process and these major areas usually stay fairly consistent.

Fitting a Home Warranty into the Equation

Whereas home insurance is a requirement in most home purchasing agreements, picking up a warranty is entirely based upon your personal preferences. Unlike the “major event” nature of a homeowners insurance claim, connecting with your warranty provider is more about handling the negative effects of standard wear and tear.

Going a step further, the experts at the American Home Shield blog note that warranties can cover both new and preexisting appliances and vital systems. Once you’ve selected a plan that fits your needs, claims generally go through a licensed technician or expert who determines whether the breakdown or issue is covered by your plan.

In some cases, the seller of a home picks up the cost of a warranty as a way to entice buyers and sweeten the sale. While not exactly commonplace, it’s far from unheard of to negotiate this type of agreement into the details of the sales contract, if you so choose.

Is One Option Better Than the Other?

By now, you probably understand that there is no real answer to the question regarding which option is better – especially when you consider that you don’t really have a say in the matter when it comes to homeowners insurance. As the team over at Financial Web explains, the intricacies of your situation are what should guide you and your family toward or away from adding a warranty into the mixture.

For instance, if you’re stepping into a new home and you plan on keeping the appliances and other potentially covered assets for as long as possible, paying a monthly, quarterly, or even yearly warranty premium makes sense when compared to the cost of outright replacing these items. However, the very same policy might not hold as much appeal if you plan to eventually upgrade these systems and appliances anyways.

No matter what decision you come to on your own, it’s still a good idea to take a minute and sit down with your trusted real estate agent. Aside from offering up an industry-oriented and professional perspective, this expert can help guide you through negotiating home warranties into the buying price of a property, gauging the true value of these offerings in comparison to the assets in your prospective new home, and when it’s the right time to say, “no thank you” to warranties altogether.

Considering how confusing things can get when you start factoring in insurance, warranties, and all other manner of legal agreements in the equation, doesn’t it make sense to work with someone who understands the finer points of all the variables that go into securing your dream home?

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Is a Spec Home Right for Your Family?

Buying a home is a stressful, exciting, and rewarding experience all rolled in one – and that’s putting it lightly. However, more and more voices in the real estate industry suggest that the conventional route of buying a new home based on blueprints and models alone isn’t always the right choice. To delve a little deeper into this topic, let’s connect with some leading experts from around the web to see if a spec home really is the best option for you and your family.

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Building a dream home is far from a simple affair. Figuring out room layouts, landscaping additions, upgrades, custom options, and a slew of other choices can lead to plenty of headaches as you wade through the development and purchasing process. But what if there was another, simpler way of finding a new home that fits your needs?

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As an alternative to the standard homebuilding process, many contractors and development groups have begun to build speculative or inventory-based homes. Colloquially known as “spec homes,” these offerings seek to meet the demand of homebuyers who simply can’t wait for several months to see a brand new home rise up from an empty lot. While some might see this proposition as risky for all parties involved, the spec home market has plenty to offer for those who are both willing to explore non-conventional options and able to fit their needs to these selections.

Breaking down the “Spec Home” Concept

Before discussing the pros and cons of the spec home market, it’s definitely worth laying the groundwork for a firm definition of these homes. Otherwise, the more in-depth tangents and points of this discussion naturally lose quite a bit of their context and meaning.

According to H.M. Cauley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, spec homes are all about potential. Without having a buyer waiting in the wings – or showing any interest at all – many developers aim to get ahead of the real estate demand curve by building “ready to go” homes, complete with a variety of luxury features and additions. In many cases, the particular tweaks and custom improvements made to these homes – like being fully-furnished before a buyer enters the picture – are decided upon by gauging the local market’s needs and preferences.

What’s in it for Builders?

So why would a contractor want to build a home for no one in particular? As Cauley goes on to explain in his review of the subject, there’s no denying that this approach has plenty of uncertainty and risk built into the process. However, these organizations aren’t simply gambling away their money, manpower, and other resources on a whim or a guess. By offering high quality selections based upon the real estate landscape in markets across the country, spec home builders aim to take advantage of the overlap between buyer demand and the return generated by investing in these properties upfront.

Understanding the Benefits of Spec Homes

From the buyer’s perspective, there are also plenty of benefits available to you and your family by signing off on a spec home. To start, a spec home purchase eliminates many of the complex decisions that go into building a new home. Instead of fretting over whether or not a certain type of counter top works with the hardwood floors or which bathroom package best suits the master bedroom, you can simply shop around until you find a completely finished home that strikes your fancy.

It’s also important to discuss the value of timing in the spec home equation. Unlike a normal home purchase, which can take several months to a year to finish if you’re waiting on the contractor to develop your plot and build the house, spec homes are ready for a move-in as soon as you sign on the dotted line. For families that need a quick turnaround or can’t afford to wait for any other reason, this level of convenience can definitely impact the decision-making process.

Of course, there’s always the option to approach this purchase as an addition to your financial portfolio. In her look at the rise of spec homes as an investment instrument, The Wall Street Journal’s Candace Jackson notes that plenty of buyers take on spec homes as a way to turn a profit. Naturally, this perspective requires a keen sense for where you expect the market to head in the future, but it’s still worth filing away with the other benefits of the spec home system.

Honestly Evaluating the Other Side

Despite all of the excitement and potential held within spec homes, it’s also important to point out that this process isn’t right for everyone. As far as detractions or negative aspects go, the limited flexibility of this approach is a major turn-off for some buyers. At the end of the day, what you see is what you get, so any renovations or changes will generally occur after the purchase and outside of the standard expense associated with this acquisition.

Additionally, Bill Ness of 55 Places points out that if you’re part of the first wave of homeowners in a speculative development area, you could spend the next several years living in a perpetual construction zone until the builder completes the rest of the neighborhood. While this is a non-factor for some families, it can be a major deal breaker for others.

On the financial side of things, spec homes aren’t exempt from the risks associated with investments in general. Going in on a spec home isn’t as volatile as investing in a roll of lotto tickets or dumping your life savings into penny stocks, but it is still far from a risk-free proposition. If you’re considering this kind of purchase for fiscal reasons, it’s well worth your time to connect with a financial advisor and ensure that the timing and potential is right for this move into the world of real estate.

Making a Choice That Fits Your Family

At the end of the day, there is no one right answer regarding the purchase of a spec home. What your family needs and desires in a home is unique to your situation. This means that the only proper way to approach this opportunity is by weighing the benefits and the limitations in a manner that’s relevant to your housing requirements. Thankfully, with everything you’ve learned here guiding the way, there’s no reason to think that you and your family can’t make a smart and informed decision when it comes to figuring out if a spec home fits your future plans.

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Why It’s Hard to Sell Your Home on Your Own

As you prepare to sell your home, you might think that working with a Realtor only means additional fees and costs. However, you might be surprised to learn just how difficult it is to sell a home without professional assistance.

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Selling your home is likely to be one of the most expensive and time-consuming decisions that you’ll have to make in your life. Therefore, it is essential that you have a realistic picture of the sales process before you dive into it. Here are some reasons why it’s hard to sell your home on your own.

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If you are unsure as to whether you should work with a real estate agent in order to sell your home, you will likely have a better shot at getting the buyer offers that you are looking for if you use an agent. In addition, as a first-time seller, you likely do not have the experience and insight to obtain the best deal.

These are major reasons why working with an agent offers such advantage. However, are there actually any tangible downsides to selling your home on your own? That fact is that, opting not use an agent can have serious consequences.

Buyer Agents May Not Be Interested

Not working with a real estate agent can severely limit the amount of interest that buyers have in your home. You may find that even if you are receiving inquiries from buyers, they are making low ball offers. This is because that the perception among home buyers is that For Sale by Owner (FSBO) properties are at the bottom of the barrel.

There are only two reasons why I show an FSBO: There is no other inventory available or the price is ridiculously low,” says Bruce Ailion, a realtor with RE/MAX Greater Atlanta. “Every experienced broker has been burned by an FSBO transaction where the seller did not pay the full commission, or any commission at all, to the agent who brought the buyer,” he says. In addition, he says, “FSBO sellers are viewed as unrealistic, unreasonable and difficult sellers whom professional realtors have rejected.”

No Access to Real Estate Networks

Unless you have personal access to a network of brokers and buyers in your area, your reach as a seller is highly unlikely to exceed that of a qualified real estate agency. Most real estate agents have spent years developing partnerships. Many real estate agents have thousands of contacts that they can quickly call on to help spread the word quickly when a home is available for sale.

In addition, even if you decide to list your home for sale on popular real estate websites, you are missing out on the personal connections that a real estate agent can bring to your case that will help to sway a buyer in your direction. If you don’t have access to a network of professionals that can help sell your home, trying to sell on your own will likely result in failure or less than stellar results from the sale.

Selling Is Hard

Part of the selling process involves showing your home to prospective buyers. You also have to follow-up with these buyers once they leave in order to determine if they are interested in your property. If you have little to no experience in selling real estate, it will be very difficult for you to determine who actually is a prospective buyer from the time-wasters. Spending time on the wrong prospects can mean missed opportunities for offers.

In addition, how will you know if you priced your home correctly to begin with? “To sell FSBO, you will have to continually monitor the new listings, prices and sales of all homes in your neighborhood. If you need a quick sale, be prepared to drop your price.” says Lisa Abrams, an agent with Re/Max Realty Services in Bethesda. Most homeowners that opt to do FSBO owner end up having to lower prices in order to get interest from buyers.

If you don’t want to worry about having to actually sell your home, leave the job to a real estate agent. Selling a home is typically a full-time job in itself and you may or may not be successful. You also don’t want to have to devote all of your free time to trying to learn real estate when you likely have other obligations to take care of.

Legal Liabilities

Since selling a home is essentially a complex legal process, you don’t want to open yourself up to liabilities by trying to sell on your own. As a seller, it can be difficult to keep track of deadlines and ensure that you have completed the right paperwork. Local regulations can change from year to year and it is the job of a qualified real estate agent to stay on top of these updates.

Unless you are a lawyer, understanding complex legal documents is time-consuming. In addition, overlooking something that may seem minor to you could cause a major legal headache somewhere down the road that could delay the sale of your home.

Regardless of whether you decide to sell your home on your own or via a real estate agent, you must consider if the choice that you make will result in a successful sale. While using a real estate agent does not guarantee that you will get the best outcome, you can greatly improve your odds by doing thorough research before hiring a Realtor. You can also use your experience with a Realtor to get acquainted with the process of real estate and to find a reliable partner for future home sales and purchases.

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