Good info to know about home inspectors BEFORE you buy a house!

Home inspections are very important elements of a home sale. Be sure to know for your state what the laws are regarding licensing, etc. Here in WA State, as of a few years ago (finally), home inspectors are required to take courses, have 40 hours of mentoring (training) and pass a test to receive a license. They are NO LONGER required to have a pest inspection license, the only thing that used to be needed prior to 2010. Make sure your inspector has both so they can provide the best inspection possible of your new home. Also, look to inspectors that have liability insurance, and who provide a well laid out, easy to read report that embeds digital photos of the problems found.

Here is an article from the REALTOR(R) website that lays out all the good things you should know:

Know Your Home Inspector

From understanding licensing to hiring specialized experts, prepare your clients for the home inspection process. These six tips can help.

In the typical home purchase, the buyer receives only one expert review of the residence prior to purchase — the home inspector report. While economical and useful, these reports have limits that must be acknowledged. Too often, the significance of this report is overstated, leaving the buyer and seller exposed to unreasonable expectations, which can lead to unhappy clients, disagreements, and even lawsuits. There are several important considerations that you can help your clients understand about their home inspector.

1. Some home inspectors are not licensed

Some states, such as California, have no licensing or state certification for home inspectors. Others, such as Arizona, certify but do not license home inspectors. Many states, including New York, New Jersey, Mississippi, Washington, and others, require home inspectors to be licensed. A license or credential is not a guarantee of competence, but an indication the inspector has completed a minimum level of education.

There are a number of credentialing organizations, including California Real Estate Inspection Association, American Society of Home Inspectors, and the National Association of Home Inspectors. These organizations each have their own qualifications, exams, and code of ethics. Your client should look for an inspector certification by one of these major organizations. Do not accept so-called “company certifications,” which are simply in-house programs and not subject to any industry oversight.

2. Insurance is important

Unfortunately, an inspector can occasionally miss important items that could point toward a significant repair issue. In the event this occurs, your client will be disappointed if the inspector is unable to pay for the repair of the neglected item. Your client should hire an inspector with current liability insurance.

3. Be prepared to recommend a specialized expert

An inspector will sometimes report on a significant item that requires particular expertise. For example, if a question is raised regarding soil stability, your client may need advice from a soil engineer. If a floor seems too bouncy or there are cracks in walls, a structural engineer may be needed. An architect or general contractor might be needed to determine how an unpermitted addition might be legitimized with the building department.

The home inspector is the first but not necessarily the last word on things. Recommend your client bring in further expertise if the report indicates a problem.

4. Home inspectors do not eliminate all risk

The home inspection is only visual. The inspector cannot see inside walls to confirm that the framing is solid or that the plumbing or wiring was properly installed. Exterior finishes typically cover a home’s most important elements, so inspectors look for clues. However, the absence of cracks does not mean a wall is strong, and the absence of stains on the ceiling does not guarantee the roof is watertight.

The typical home inspection contract alerts your client to these limitations. Be sure your client reads and understands this. This is critical to help remind them that the inspector will not tear open walls, expose the waterproofing of windows, or remove any part of the home. The risk of potential hidden problems remains, even after the best visual assessment of the property.

Your clients believe that your visual inspection (“AVID”) and the home inspection protects them from any problems with the home — but it does not. Help them understand, so their expectations are reasonable.

5. Pick the best, not the cheapest

Your client is hiring expertise and presumably wants the best. Home inspection prices vary and it can be tempting to hire the cheapest. There may be a reason a company’s price is low. Are they new? Do they take far less time on the inspection? Do they have a poor reputation and need a catchy low price to get business? Home inspections are a minuscule cost relative to the total price of a home. Encourage your client to not worry about the price and hire the best available.

6. Let your client analyze the report

Real estate agents are not construction experts. Your expertise is in finding properties for buyers and finding buyers for sellers. You may want to consider offering an opinion or suggestion about the content of an inspection report. That advice should come from a construction expert. Your client should talk to a contractor or other expert about the report if there are questions.

Home inspections are a valuable tool for the home buyer and should be a routine part of the homebuying process. Manage your client’s expectations to enhance a successful relationship. The risk in buying something built by someone else can be reduced, but not completely eliminated. With a qualified and competent home inspector, your client is doing what can reasonably be done.

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Help needed for Eastern Washington folks displaced by wildfires

From the Rental Housing Association:
Rental Options Urgently Needed for Residents Displaced by Washington Wildfires
Due to recent wildfires, Washington State residents are in significant need for short-term rental housing options in Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas and Kittitas counties.
Residents of fire-impacted counties are facing a shortfall of available rental properties. If you are a property owner or landlord, please consider listing your rental property for free atHousingSearchNW.org.
HousingSearchNW.org is Washington’s free, online property-search service that links people with available housing in our communities.
Please click the following link to learn about Benefits of this Service.
Or call the toll-free, bilingual call center available Monday-Friday, 6am-5pm at 1-877-428-8844.
Your assistance is greatly appreciated!
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August 2014 Team Reba Real Estate Newsletter

Here is a link to my “August Real Estate Update“:

This Newsletter is full of interesting and useful information that I think you will enjoy whether you are a buyer, seller, or homeowner.

This month’s issue includes topics such as:

“Five Great Reasons to Buy a Home Right Now”;
“Fact or Fiction: A Tax On Real Estate Sales”;
“Understanding Your Credit Scores”;
“Three Negotiating Mistakes Sellers Make”;
“How to Sell Your Home Without Dropping Your Price”;

Plus a roundup of July real estate activity as well as much more advice and information.

I hope you enjoy this monthly newsletter. If you have any comments, please e-mail them to me. Or, if you would like to see a certain topic covered in future months, let me know that too!

Sincerely,
Team Reba

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Looking for the magic bullet to help you pack or unpack from a move?

I recently was introduced to this really wonderful and dynamic company, Seamless Moves. Here is a short video that tells, and shows, you what they do to help their clients have more productive lives even during a move.

Not only can they help with the moving process and all of the packing and unpacking, but they can also assist with the de-cluttering process before going on market to sell your home.  This is a great thing to do to spread out the moving stress and to help you get top dollar for your home.

Many thanks to our friend, Stacey Schmitten, at Ace Relocation for the introduction!

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Why Zillow’s purchase of Trulia is horrible for consumers

The following are some of my own personal opinions along with some anecdotal data about #realestate, #zillow #trulia and #consumers, specific to #homebuyer and #homeseller consumers.

Big news was confirmed today that Zillow is purchasing Trulia. The two brands will remain separate (for now) but reporting and revenues are about to be combined. Here is an article written by Paul Hagen of Inman News, which follows and reports on the real estate industry with its coverage of the buyout.

There are interesting points about revenues derived from each brand, including Realtor.com (run by Move), which oddly enough, actually is a site that is run for the benefit of Realtor(c) members.  If you are part of a MLS that has technology run by realtor.com or if you are a member in your area (the Northwest MLS is not run by realtor.com but is independent)  then your listings show on the realtor.com site.

I’ve been in large industry seminars that Zillow has put on where Spencer Rascoff (CEO) emphatically states, ” We (Zillow) are NOT a real estate company!  We are a media company!”  They happen to focus on real estate information.  Here is where I have lost respect for Zillow… they tell the rest of the world that they ARE a real estate company and not that they’re a lead site – first and foremost, selling to an industry that actually doesn’t really need them.  At this stage, the general consumer has already been duped so it’s a big uphill battle to change it, especially when stock options and huge dollars (for them) are at stake.

This past weekend, I volunteered as a speaker for a Washington State Housing Finance Commission seminar that is geared for first time home buyers and those needing assistance in purchasing a home.  When I asked all of the attendees where they were currently getting their information about homes they might be interested in, here were the top 3 sources given: Zillow, Trulia and Realty Trac.

NONE of these sites is an actual licensed real estate brokerage. They can put anything they want on their site (agents are bound by laws regarding factual data), their sites don’t have to be current with correct listing status or property information (our MLS does and so do others around the nation) and I could probably go on for a long time about comparisons.

Unique visitor traffic to most popular real estate networks, June 2014

Network June mobile and desktop unique visitors % of total unique visitors to real estate sites in June
Zillow 53.8 million 56.1%
Trulia 31.6 million 33.0%
realtor.com 23.8 million 24.8%

Source: comScore Note: Traffic to firms’ network of sites included.

I find this information quite interesting… and compelling for real estate agents and the public.  While the Realtor(c) organization if finally doing a slightly better job of promoting our industry and our membership, we’re having little effect on the runaway growth of these media companies that feed on the scarce resources of those in our industry.  It’s the individual agent who pays their fees, not the big franchises, in general.  Not all franchises buy into having their data feeds put into their portals and a lot of 3rd party vendors who collect data (but don’t verify) are adding junk into their site on a daily basis.

Zillow used to be a decent site and now it’s junk – but it’s junk that is as shiny as a big Hope Diamond now that the stock valuations are through the roof.  I’ll get off my big soap box now and leave you with this parting thought. There’s a reason Zillow grew faster than Redfin (both Seattle based companies) and that’s because Redfin ACTUALLY helps people buy and sell real estate – and they came into the industry with the tech developer mindset of being high and mighty about how things “ought to be” only to find out that real estate is actually highly regulated and there are multitudes of governing bodies over our data and how we treat the public once engaged, and even in how we present data online to anonymous consumers.  Redfin finally figured out that they need a strong technology suite WITH strong real estate sales and customer support.  It’s a lot more hands on than people think when they look at it from the outside.

With that said, good luck to anyone out there who is considering jumping in and I hope you’ll do a little homework on where you’re going to be getting your information online.

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Team Reba joins board of Renton Chamber of Commerce

I am humbled and honored to announce that Reba Haas of Team Reba at RE/MAX Metro Realty Inc has been voted into a 3-year role as Board Member of the Renton Chamber of Commerce. As an involved community member and part of the RCC already, Reba is expanding her role in supporting the Renton community by serving on the board.

With prior involvement in the Business Development Committee and Education Committee, this appointment will help deepen ties to the local area and help provide a voice for our clients on the issues that are important to them.

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Upcoming Team Reba home buying classes in Seattle for summer 2014

We’re deep into summertime around here and the real estate locally is buzzing like crazy with activity. This is the time of year a lot of people are relocating or moving within an area to take advantage of the weather and kids being out of school.

As always, Team Reba is focused on helping educate the public about the home buying and lending processes and we’ve recently booked 3 new class dates for the Washington State Housing Finance Commission sponsored course.

July 26th – 10am to 3pm Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (West Seattle)

August 16th – 10am to 3pm RE/MAX Metro Realty office (Eastlake neighborhood of downtown Seattle)

September 20th – 10am to 3pm Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (West Seattle)

Please feel free to forward this class information to anyone you know who is interested in purchasing in the coming year or who may not have purchased for some time. There will be multiple speakers presenting on a number of topics. See below!

Home Buyer Steps Workshop:
Home Buyer Steps is a Workshop approved by Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC). The Home Buyer Steps Workshop is 5 hours and designed to provide participants with a Step by Step guide to the Home Buying process. Once completed you will receive a certificate of eligibility to apply for down payment assistance or a Mortgage Credit Certificate if your income qualifies you. This class is perfect for ALL first time home buyers and those who haven’t purchased in many years.

Together, we will help you understand and have working knowledge of:

1) Your Credit Score and its impact on your financial life.
2) Creating and working on a Budget
3) The Home Inspection Process
4) How to Find Realtor’s and Loan Officer’s with your best interests at heart.
5) How to protect yourself from Predatory lending and Poor Realtors
6) Reading a Good Faith Estimate, Truth In Lending, and other essential documents.
7) Understanding what Escrow and Title are with industry speakers on the topic, along with available home warranty programs.
8) Going over all your different loan options.
9) In Depth on the Mortgage Credit Certificate, Home Advantage, and House Key Programs.

Our Workshops are done free of charge by local industry experts who volunteer to help you take the next step. We are happy to help you along the way and will answer all your questions. Upon completing the workshop you will feel more confident as a consumer and empowered in your path to home ownership.

Sign up at Classes@TeamReba.com with which date you’re interested in attending to assure all participants have take home materials available!

Find Out More at http://wshfc.org/

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Buying an owner occupied duplex or triplex? Some things you may want to consider….

The following is a prior exchange between me and a family member of a client of mine.  After discovering it in my email inbox again recently, it seemed to me that it would be useful to share with more than just my counterpart in the exchange. The discussion is around his potential purchase of property in CA and he’s only bouncing ideas off of me since I am not licensed in CA, but up in WA State.  He’s aware that licensing for different areas means there are several items I cannot speak on with regard to their contracts, laws, etc.  But, this exchange (start from the bottom up) was a good example of what we discuss here with client when they’re considering buying owner occupied rental property.  It’s a bit long, but worth the read.  Enjoy!

I’m glad you found it useful. If your area has a landlord/tenant type organization similar to the Rental Housing Assoc. up here, they often teach these types of classes. I found this already on the City of Oakland website: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/hcd/s/LandlordResources/index.htm

 

Definitely have been enjoying the sun but need to be out enjoying it more – had a much too long band rehearsal yesterday (1130-6) that took up more sun time than I wanted. :)  But, it’s gorgeous again today…

 

My blog also frequently has information about rental property and other tips for landlords that can be of help understanding issues, but it’s geared toward WA only. If you can find something similar for your area, it may be a good resource. Here is a sample of an article I’ve written:  http://www.teamreba.com/blog/2008/05/13/20-questions-for-hiring-a-rental-property-management-firm/

 

 

Take care and good luck with this one!  Let me know if you have any other questions.

 

Cheers,

Reba Haas

Team Reba of RE/MAX Metro Realty

—–Original Message—–

From: Peter

Sent: Monday, May 06, 2013 9:13 AM

To: Rebecca Haas

Subject: Re: Oakland Houses

 

Wow! Thank you so much for the detailed response, Reba. I’m thinking of looking for a class or two on the ins and outs of being a landlord, but this outline is terrific help to get me started.

 

Hope you’ve been doing well and are enjoying all the recent Northwest sun!

 

All the best,

Peter

Hi Peter,

Taking on a duplex has, like anything, pros and cons. Depending on the difference of price and what you can get for rent then it can often be a nice offset to you paying the full mortgage and/or provide some additional income while allowing other write offs on your taxes (as long as your income qualifies).

Here are some considerations and I’ll split them out in two scenarios:

If it’s currently rented (1 or both sides):
• The contract should stipulate that you get to review any outstanding leases and the terms therein and agree to those terms because you’ll be taking them over.
• If you need a tenant to move out to allow occupancy for you, then you should decide which unit you intend to reside in and put a requirement in the contract with the seller for them to give that tenant notice. Otherwise you wait till you close then YOU have to give them notice and then wait another 30 or so days for them to vacate.
• If one of the units is already leased, then be asking your mortgage broker about the difference (if any) in down payment required from you and any other qualifying standards. Typically rentals only have about 75% of the actual rent applied to help offset the debt to income ratios.

If it’s not rented out at all:
• The lender will look to you for 100% of the qualifying of the payment. If you can easily and comfortably do this, then that’s good and having a renter will help you offset your costs.
• If you’ve never been a landlord before, you’ll need to get familiar with the laws for your State and local city to find out if there are any special considerations you’ll need to have when renting.
• Being a landlord requires that you be responsible for following Fair Housing laws and much more, so don’t just grab any lease off the internet and do proper interviews with prospective tenants. Usually you have to get a membership or find someone who can do the credit/background checks needed for vetting out a tenant. I use here in WA the Rental Housing Association of Puget Sound (www.rha-ps.com) and I’m sure there is something similar in your area. Landlord/Tenant rights can be a big deal, and they’re tough on landlords in Seattle, so be sure you’re comfortable with being a landlord.

Other considerations:
• Are the utilities split on the units so that a tenant would have to pay their own? If not, then be sure to set up rents that allow a comfortable margin for increased utility costs. The current owner should be able to provide those as part of the financial due diligence of your contract.
• Be aware that in many municipalities that you must hold trust funds of a tenant’s deposit outside of your personal banking accounts. I have a separate account entirely for my rental properties.

I’m a fan of people using rental property to increase their net worth and offset their income – I do it myself and have 6 units currently being rented. Some are easier to handle than others as my duplex has very easy tenants who pay all their utilities, pay rent on time, and they’ve been there for years. My 4-plex is a higher turnover property so it takes more money, even though rents are lower, but I keep an apartment there so even if it breaks even, it’s cheaper than me spending money on hotels when I see my family and I get tax write offs.

Be aware that if things go wrong in the other unit, you’re the one in many cases paying for the repairs. But, if the damage is a direct result of the tenant you may be able to have them cover the costs. I also recommend renter’s insurance as a requirement of tenants at certain properties.

Cheers,
Reba Haas
Team Reba of RE/MAX Metro Realty

—–Original Message—–
From: Peter
Sent: Sunday, May 05, 2013 3:36 PM
To: Rebecca Haas
Subject: Oakland Houses

Well it has been a bit of a crazy ride down here in the bay, Reba, but I’m once again thinking about making an offer on a house down here. I’m a little concerned though only because the property I’m currently looking at is a duplex with some income potential, and I really have very little idea about how I should think about this new sort of scenario (the loan would be for around $150,000 more than my previous cap).

I’ve talked with my broker of course, but it would also be nice to hear your educated and unbiased opinion. If you might have just five or ten minutes to chat this week (or maybe this is something we could just chat about thru email?), I would greatly appreciate your time.

Thanks so much,
Peter

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Skyway Duplex – short commute to downtown Seattle

One of our Team Reba clients has put her rental property on the market, it’s ready for either owner occupied or continuation as a full rental. This could be a perfect owner occupied investment in one unit (one tenant is month to month on lease) or can continue as is, with excellent property management already in place. Location is great for downtown Seattle commuters, or perhaps Renton, Burien or the Kent Valley. Close to SeaTac as well for anyone who needs to do frequent trips to the airport.



RE/MAX METRO REALTY
Rebecca Haas

Office: 425.970.3697

Cell: 206.910.3429

Office Fax: 206.576.0673

Website or Mobile:
http://www.rebeccahaas.remaxagent.com/NWM631822

E-mail: reba@teamreba.com

 


5160 S Augusta St
Seattle, WA 98178
MLS#: 631822
Price: $215,000
Bedrooms:   4
Bathrooms:   2
Community:   Skyway
Well maintained duplex is fully rented & ready for new owner. Not a short sale, this property has excellent professional management which collects rents & utility surcharges. With Seattles 3% vacancy rate this is a well-priced option near downtown for a long-term strong investment opportunity. Closed sale comes with First Americans 1-year home warranty on property for buyer. Sited on SF9600 zoning.
General Features

County
King
Community
Skyway
Style
2 Story
Year Built
1948
View
Territorial
Lot Square Footage
7,300
Approximate House SqFt
1,400
Bedrooms
4
Bathrooms
2
Parking Type
Off Street

Building Features

Roof Type
Composition
Foundation Description
Poured Concrete
Floors
Vinyl
Wall to Wall Carpet

Exterior Features
Metal/Vinyl

Property Features

Site Features
Cable TV
Fenced-Fully
Gas Available
RV Parking

Lot Details
Corner Lot
Paved Street

Utilities and Taxes

Sewer
Sewer Connected

Schools

School District
Seattle


rebeccahaas.remaxagent.com/NWM631822

The information being provided is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All information must be verified by the purchaser.

Listing information courtesy of: RE/MAX METRO REALTY, INC.


This property search is part of the RE/MAX Pacific Northwest website. Listing information is courtesy of the WA-NWMLS and RE/MAX Pacific Northwest. Property information is based on available data that may include MLS information, county records, and other sources. Listings marked with this symbol: provided by Northwest Multiple Listing Service, 2014. All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Properties subject to prior sale or rental Information has not been verified by agent and should be verified by buyer.
NWMLS DCMA Notice


© 2001 – 2014 Reliance Network and RE/MAX Pacific Northwest. All rights reserved. US Reg. Copyright TX-5-910-991, TX-5-910-992, TX-5-910-993, and TX-5-910-994. Each RE/MAX Office is Independently Owned and Operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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