Thursday, August 30, 2012

Do I really need a home inspection?

Get a Home Inspection in Minnesota
Find a MN Home Inspector!

A professional home inspection costs money, do you really need to pay for one?

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a home to purchase and everyone if hoping to find the perfect home.
Once you do choose a home, your REALTOR should go over the inspection contingency option in your contract. Simply stated, it’s a clause in the contract that your offer is contingent upon a home inspection, and you have a certain amount of time to get the home inspected. It allows you to have an unbiased professional look beneath the cosmetic items into the complex working components of a home. It also allows you to either renegotiate your offer based on the inspection, or at the very least know what lies ahead of you if you do decide to purchase the home. A seller’s disclosure statement is nice and most seller’s are honest, but don’t even realize that problems exist in their home.

So, YES, it is always best to get a home inspection!

Ask your realtor for a list of home inspectors in your area.  You could also pull some brochures from the realtors lobby, try the phone directory or the internet. Most inspectors these days have a website where you can read about the services they offer. Take the time and call a few from the list to form your own opinion. Some realtors will offer to hire an inspector for you on your behalf. (Be sure your realtor has your best interests in mind if you go this route.) This is your money and your lifetime investment you’re talking about.
You will more than likely not get the chance to meet your inspector before the inspection, so asking these important questions will help make your decision easier. When you call a home inspection company, here are a few important questions to ask:

1. Are you licensed by the state? If the answer is no, say thank you and politely hang up the phone. All home inspectors are required to be licensed in the State of Minnesota (which involves classes, field training and passing the licensing test), and to keep their license are required to attend 20 hours of continuing education every two years.

2. Are you affiliated with any organizations? Most good home inspectors are associated with a National organization like NACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors) NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors) or ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) and/or a local organization.
Each organization has is pro’s and con’s and like any organization, are suited to that inspectors specific needs. Most importantly however, these organizations have strict guidelines to a code of ethics and continuing education.

3. What is your experience and background? Most home inspectors started out with a construction-based background. This is very useful in home inspections. Attending a University with emphasis on construction, or attending a Home Inspection School is almost a necessity in this trade. If an inspector tells you he was in retail (for an example) this may be a time to look elsewhere, or ask a follow-up question as to why he went into the profession and what he has to offer that others inspectors don’t.

4. How long will your inspection take? A thorough home inspection should take between 2 1/2-4 hours or longer depending on the size, age and condition of the home. In some cases a smaller home (1000sft or less) can be inspected in 2 hours. If the inspector says he can do it in less time, think about how thorough the inspection is going to be.

5. What type of report do you use? Some inspectors use computer generated onsite reporting, some use a handwritten checklist, some do computer generated reporting and send you the report after they’ve had time to look it over twice before sending it out. Each has their pros and cons. Computer generated onsite reporting is nice and you get your report right away. The downside is the inspector doesn’t have time to look any items up that may be in question or be very descriptive in their report. A hand written checklist in my opinion is the most incomplete type of report. You do get your report right away, but it is usually something like: Kitchen countertop: poor. This doesn’t give you much of a description of the defect, like what exactly is wrong with it. The computer generated report is in my opinion the best style. You get a neat, professional looking report, the inspector has had time to be descriptive and to look up any items that he may have had questions on (no, we don’t know everything and if we say we do, take that as a sign). The downside is you don’t get your report for a day or so, but the report can get to you quickly if he/she emails it to you.
All inspectors should be able to provide you with photo’s of the problem areas in their reports. A picture is worth a thousand words. If they don’t include photos in their report (digital or otherwise) you may want to find an inspector that does.
Ask for a sample report. Most good inspectors will be happy to send you a copy.

6. How much do you charge and what's included? This is a very important question. The question you really should be asking yourself “how much are you willing to spend on the most important investment you’re ever going to make?” Think about this. Do you really want to price shop on something this important? Yes, you don’t want to pay too much, but you don’t want to scrimp either. You’re paying $100,000+ for your home and now is not the time to go with the lowest price. Inspectors have overhead costs like any company; Insurance, vehicle, gas, equipment training, professional organization dues, a home, etc.
An average inspection is between $250 and $450 or more depending on the size, age and condition of the home. Some inspectors base their fees from the listing price. Some inspectors offer add-on services like Radon testing.
Based on what is uncovered in the inspection, you will probably be able to save that much and maybe more. For example: A new water heater will cost you in the neighborhood of $800, and if the inspector finds that the one in the home is nearing the end of its useful life, the inspection just paid for itself and then some. Its money spent wisely.

Most good home inspectors encourage you to follow them on the inspection or go over it with you at the home when they are done, and I highly recommend it. It will give you a chance to see what he sees, and ask questions. Be sure to ask questions! The inspector will usually to be happy to answer them for you or if he doesn’t know the answer right then, he should offer to look it up and call you with the answer. This is also a time to find out where key components like shut-off valves or the breaker panel is located in case of an emergency, or get tips on routine maintenance items.
A home inspection is a visual, non-destructive examination of a home. It is not technically exhaustive. Inspectors cannot see defects behind a wall, ceiling or furniture.
He or she will just use their knowledge and experience in their visual examination. If a component doesn’t work by normal means of operation the inspector won’t try to get it operating by any other means. He/she will only open those panels that are normally used to service a piece of equipment. If a danger exists to the inspector, he/she will not inspect that piece of equipment. They will just defer to a professional more experienced in that type of application. They do not move furniture to inspect, so having the home ready for the inspector prior to the inspection will not only speed the process, but give you a more thorough inspection.

Having the home inspected is the best thing you can do to have a more informed decision on the purchase or sale of your home. After all, this is probably the biggest investment you will ever make!

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Would you like to learn about Home Warranties or Home Maintenance?  Or need Home Buying Tips?  I am here to help!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

MN Best Places to Live 2012 (CNN Money)

Can you guess which five metro area cities made Money's list of America's best small cities?

And the winners are...
#3 Eden Prarie
#14 Eagan
#19 Lakeville
#22 Maple Grove

Thinking about moving to one of these cities?  Call me today!


Friday, August 17, 2012

The entryway battle...

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression — and your entryway, be it a grand foyer or a humble alcove, is the first impression buyers will get of your home. It's also the first place you'll land when coming home after a day at work or a long weekend away, and a sort of waystation for all the random accumulated stuff of life. So get inspired to get organized, declutter and welcome people in!

Hooks, rugs and more.... First, ditch the "and more"! If you don't have a closet, well you'll need a few hooks. But these hooks aren't for your jacket (well at least not when expecting guests). And it's always nice to have a place to wipe your feet but keep your rug just for that... Again, the rug is not a place to store YOUR shoes when guests are expected.

Yes, that closet is called the coat closet but not for ALL your coats (and shoes and gloves and hats and...). Think seasonally. If its not in season, it's in storage (again this is the coat closet not the storage closet). Wouldn't it be nice to open the door and only see items appropriate for the weather? Buyers think so too! But maybe you are a collector of sorts and you have a winter coat for every possible event. If you are selling your house, now is the to "make do with two" and store the rest.

If your entry is grand, you have the space for a bit of tasteful decor. A table with a vase of flowers or sculpture; maybe a painting; or a bench to sit.

Do you have a great entryway?  Please share with us!

getting the best price for a home, Organizing your home, remodeling your house, sell my house, Staging

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Front Yard Landscaping Design Principals

Sometimes, too much information is overwhelming and it's time to go back to basics.
Follow the good garden and landscape basic design principles below and you’ll have a front yard garden and entry that will be fresh, comfortable and welcoming.

- Balance the design – use symmetry or asymmetry
- Keep the focus on the front door and welcoming guests
- Repeat color, shapes and textures
- Keep design elements simple
- Don't do more than you have time to maintain
- When in doubt, natural settings are classic – use boulders, native plants and bushes, small trees

Please note: Before making any major changes, it’s recommended that you check with your association, town or city zoning committee and building codes to make sure you’re not breaking any neighborhood rules or regulations.

basic landscaping ideas, curb appeal, front yard, landscaping, landscaping design, landscaping rules,