Why Get A Home Inspection?

Home inspections protect both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction. If you don’t think so, skip it and watch the sparks fly when something goes wrong.

Home Inspection Foundation

New Build Inspection

Why would you need to have an inspection on a new construction home? After all, the quality craftsmanship should be enough to guarantee an issue free lifestyle.

Wrong!

Just because you are buying something that is considered “new” doesn’t mean that it wasn’t built by hand, by people making a whole lot less than what the house sells for. Even if you have the best craftsmen involved in the construction of a new home, things can be missed. People can have a bad day. The materials could simply be sub-par. Whatever the reason, getting a home inspection can save you a bunch of grief.

My wife and I purchased a new construction home. Everything looked great when we purchased it. That new home smell was there and as we slowly unpacked out stuff, it became more and more ours.

About six months after moving in, I noticed some water near the driveway. I didn’t think much of it because the sprinklers had been running. The next day, I still saw water on the sidewalk and driveway. I also noticed that the grass between the sidewalk and the road was soggy.

I called the builder to have them come out and check it out since the house was under warranty. Sure enough, someone forgot the glue on the pipe connecting to the water meter at the curb.

Thankfully, that was a minor inconvenience.

My neighbor was talking to us one day and mentioned how the upstairs in their house was very hot. They had called the builder out to check it out and found that the switching mechanism for the air conditioner had not been hooked up correctly. As a matter of fact, a new device needed to be installed to make sure it worked long term. I called the A/C guy to check out unit out also and sure enough, we needed the same thing.

I’m not saying that a home inspection will catch everything. After all, we had a home inspection on the new construction home and there were still things missed. However, spending a few hundred dollars on an investment of hundreds of thousands seems to make a whole lot of sense.

What About Resale Homes?

Again, I default back to the idea that for a few hundred dollars, the inspection will help protect your investment of many thousands of dollars.

So many things go wrong with a house. How well did the previous owners care for the foundation, the plumbing, and the main systems in your house? Without an inspection, you are relying on word of mouth that everything is ok.

How would you feel if you purchased a home and found out years later that there had been a fire in one of the bedrooms and instead of replacing the studs, they coated them with a sealer and covered up the damage with drywall?

Don’t think it can happen? I encourage you to look up the horror stories that home inspectors share and see what it looks like.

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, email me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be. I’ll send you a free buyer’s guide.

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I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

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Why I Started Journaling

Everyone goes through stuff in their lives. It’s not uncommon for people to get married, get divorced, have children, not have children, get jobs, and lose jobs.

What is less common are the stories that go along with those things we all go through.

Journaling

Write It Down!

It’s amazing how alone you can feel when you are going through something. Leading up to my divorce, I began keeping a journal. I had never kept a journal before in my life but I needed some mechanism to get the thoughts out of my head.

When my marriage began to have issues, the “couple friends” we had dropped away. After the divorce was final, “our friends” were no longer “my friends.” I felt quite alone through the whole ordeal.

So what was the point of the journal? I never established a set format for it. I simply wrote what was on my mind any given day. Sometimes I wrote just a few words. Other days, I could write four pages. After the first year, I decided that it would be better if I wrote the journal in a Word Document instead of by hand.

Did you know that habits can be formed in about 66 days? I saw that in a video somewhere on YouTube. Honestly, I don’t know how long it took to create a habit of writing in my journal. All I know is that once I had started, in a short period of time, I was writing in my journal every day. On the occasions I missed writing in the journal, it actually felt bad and I would end up writing a whole page on why I missed my journal entry.

Electronic Journal

What Was The Benefit?

The benefit was huge but I didn’t even realize it until years later. I remember several years later looking back in my journal for a piece of information. As I searched for the information, I began reading some of the things I had written. I was amazed to see the thought processes I had been working with at that time.

The benefit for me was that I was able to see the changes in my life over time. I kept a daily journal for over ten years. Looking back over that time, I can see incredible growth in so many areas of my life

Sure, it’s not something you can see overnight. Time takes time. But, if you pursue the idea of documenting your life, you might be surprised what you can find out about yourself in the long run.

 

The Option Period

In my last post, I promised to write about the option period in a contract.

Well, here it is.

The Option Period - Options

What is the Option Period?

The option period is written in the Texas One-to-Four Contract for residential real estate transactions. It is a negotiable period, typically about a week long that allows the buyer to back out of the contract for any reason. The cost to the buyer is typically about $100 for every $100,000 price of the home. It is negotiable for the price and the number of days. A Realtor® can help determine the best course of action for the market. The cost can be rolled into the cost of the house at closing if it actually gets to closing. However, it is non-refundable and goes to the seller. If the buyer decides to walk away from the contract, the seller gets the money.

What do you mean they can walk away from the contract for any reason?

Exactly that. It gives the buyers an unlimited ability to walk away. Most of the time, the option period is so that the buyer can get inspections of the property done so they can be comfortable with the house. If for whatever reason, a seller decides to not inform the buyer that there are foundation issues or if the seller does not know there are foundation issues, the buyer could find that information out during an inspection and decide not to purchase. Of course, there are those who might have buyer’s remorse and decide they want out of the contract because they no longer like the color of the paint on the wall but that is quite rare compared to other reasons.

What is the benefit to the Seller?

The benefit to the seller is that they are offering a goodwill gesture to the buyer in the hope that the sale will take place. They are also indicating confidence that the house is ready to go. Depending on the market, the seller has the option to shorten or lengthen the period of time to get the inspections done. While the house is under contract, no one else can be shown the property.

The Option Period - Choices

Much of the benefit of the option period is for the buyer.

The market itself drives what happens with the option period. Recently in North Texas, the market was extremely hot. Houses were on the market for sometimes less than one day before a contract was signed. Sometimes, that made it difficult to find a home inspector and schedule the inspection. The number of days might need to be increased so the buyer could do their due diligence. Other times, the contract might be submitted on a Thursday evening. If it was accepted, the buyer might not get an inspection setup before Monday or Tuesday.

Keep in mind the purpose of the option period. It is to give the buyer the opportunity to review the property and make sure it meets their needs.

The market has improved some since the summer so it is possible that option periods could be shorter now. Again, a Realtor® can help negotiate those terms for you.

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I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS

Plano, TX

Two Different Approvals. Buyer and Property

Two Different Approvals

Did you know that there are actually two different approval processes in place when purchasing a home?

The first is the buyer approval. The second is the property approval.

Let’s talk about it and see why it matters.

Buyer Approval

Buyer Approval

In order to get to closing, a buyer must be approved, especially if they are taking out a loan to purchase the home. Many things can be by-passed if you are using cash but a vast majority of people get a loan to purchase a house.

The buyer approval comes in the form of credit checks, credit scores, IRS documents, Tax returns, proof of employment, and things like bank account balances. I’ve posted before about the three types of pre-approvals. There is the pre-qualification letter, the pre-approval notice, and the pre-underwritten status.

Each of these has a different meaning and a different level of comfort for the seller considering your offer. We highly recommend getting pre-underwritten so that all we are waiting on is the property.

Don’t Screw Up!

Getting approved is a great start to your home search but too many times, people get careless. Once you are approved, it is vitally important not to do certain things.

Don’t do any of the following:

  • Buy a new car
  • Buy new appliances
  • Open or close credit accounts (you can still pay it off or down)
  • Don’t open or close bank accounts
  • Co-signing a loan for someone else

You get the idea. Here’s the thing. If you were to do one of the above while you were trying to get to closing, you could run into issues.

By changing your credit status, there is the possibility that you will no longer be qualified to get the loan. Maybe your debt-to-income ratio changes and now you don’t qualify.

The thing to keep in mind is that there is an additional credit check of everything about three days before closing.

Don’t mess the whole process up by buying that refrigerator for the new house before you are actually in the house. It really doesn’t take that long to get a refrigerator delivered to your house after closing.

Think it doesn’t happen? Actually, it happens more often than you think.

Property Approval

Property Approval

You have found the house you want and you have been pre-underwritten for the purchase. However, you are not done yet. The property still needs to be approved. After all, the lender wants to protect their investment since they are on the hook for the loan amount until it is paid.

Here is where the inspections come in. As you go through the purchase process, it’s highly recommended that you have a legitimate home inspection done on the property.

Wouldn’t it be terrible if you purchased a home and found out later that it needed foundation work? A home inspection will reasonably find major issues with the house. Electrical, Plumbing, and Structural issues will be brought up so that repairs can take place prior to closing on the home. Even those who are paying cash should have a home inspection. The relatively low cost of having an inspection far outweighs the cost of repairs later. It also helps protect your investment in your home. This is why you got an option period to begin with. Don’t know what an option period is? No worries. I’ll cover that in my next post.

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

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I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS

Plano, TX

Buyer’s Lease Back Vs. Seller’s Lease Back

Home Sale Process

Seller's Lease Back Contract

Many things can happen while in the process of buying or selling a house. This can be especially true if you need to sell a house in order to purchase a home. This is what is referred to as a contingency. The purchase of your new home is contingent on the sale of your existing home.

In order to help with this process, there are two types of leases that are possible. The first is the Seller’s Temporary Residential Lease and the second is the Buyer’s Temporary Residential Lease. These are addendums that can be added to the contract for the purchase of a home.

Seller’s Temporary Residential Lease

The Seller’s Temporary Residential Lease is ideal for the person who is selling their home but their next residence isn’t quite ready. There are pros and cons to this arrangement.

The Pros
This type of lease allows you to stay in your home after closing. At this point, you become a tenant for the new homeowners. You can specify up to 90 days to stay and you get to enjoy peaceful residence while you are there.

The Cons
As a tenant, you are responsible for obtaining renter’s insurance. The new homeowners would have their own insurance, however, the contents are your responsibility. You could be required to provide a security deposit and most likely pay an amount that would cover the mortgage payment for the new owners.

There is also a provision in the addendum that allows the new homeowners to specify a dollar amount, per day, if you over-stay your lease period. For example, you might pay $2000 for rent to stay in the home each month for two months. At the end of two months, you might be required to pay $500 or more per day. This is to discourage the idea of staying in the home longer than agreed.

Buyer’s Temporary Residential Lease

Seller's Lease Back Agreement

The Buyer’s Temporary Residential Lease is ideal for the person purchasing the home who needs to vacate their previous residence prior to closing.

The Pros
This lease allows a person to reside in the home they are planning on purchasing before they actually get to closing. It also offers the buyer to get a feel for the house before closing.

The Cons
It’s possible that if the person planning on purchasing the home may find things they do not like while they are renting before closing. If that happens, it’s possible they may find a way to get out of the contract to purchase. Since it is a lease, if, for whatever reason, they do not pay, then the owner must go through regular channels to evict them from the property. They can’t simply change the locks while the tenants are gone.

With this lease, people who plan on purchasing the home are living in it before closing. That opens the door to the tenant deciding they are unhappy with the house after two weeks and backing out of the contract. This can put the seller back at square one since their home has now been off the market since there is a contract.

For insight into how dangerous this type of lease can be, check out a recent story in the DFW area.

Work Arounds

One simple way to work around a situation like this if you are uncomfortable having someone living in the house either before or after closing is to change the closing date to match the need.

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

Patrick O’Connor – CHSM, GRI, Realtor
Ebby Halliday, REALTORS
Plano, TX

Renter’s Insurance. What’s if for?

Congratulations! You have just completed your journey as a renter and have a lease in hand for a property right where you want to be.

Everything is great but people have been asking if you have renter’s insurance. You’re thinking – why do I need to get insurance? I don’t own the property. If something happens, it’s the owner’s responsibility.

Are You Covered?

Renters Insurance - House Fire

Well? Yes and no.

It’s true that the owner will be covering things that happen to the property but have you thought about what happens to all of your stuff inside if something happens? Without renter’s insurance, you could not only be out on the street but all your stuff could be lost. Here’s an example.

You’ve rented an apartment near downtown. It’s within walking distance of all the great restaurants, shops, and shows. One evening, you go out to a movie and dinner. You get back to your place only to find fire trucks all around and huge billows of smoke coming from your building. Sure enough, a fire started on the ground floor and worked its way up the building.

When everything has settled, it’s a total loss. Everyone in the building is scrambling to find new places to live. You talk to the owner’s who are upset because their building is gone but they are confident that they will be able to rebuild and even better apartment building.

Why Insurance Is Important

Renters Insurance - House Fire

You, on the other hand, are starting with nothing.

You see, the owner’s insurance covers the structure and all the fixtures like lights, appliances, and the water heater. BUT – it doesn’t cover any of your stuff. That’s your responsibility. Since you didn’t go out and get your own policy to protect your stuff in the event things happen, all your possessions went up in smoke.

That would be a harsh reality for anyone. It’s one that can be avoided easily simply by having an insurance policy for your stuff. Even when you own a house, there are actually two parts to the insurance policy. The first part covers the structure. The second part covers the contents.

In order to get the most out of your insurance, it’s also best to have all your possessions documented. This includes photos, serial numbers, makes, and models. Without that information, you are likely to have issues with the amount the insurance company will settle with you. With no insurance, you typically get nothing. If you have some insurance, you will at least get something. With documentation, you will get the maximum from your claim.

Keep your documentation in a different location such as at your work location or in a safety deposit box.

For more information, talk to an insurance agent. If you need an insurance agent, email me and I’d be happy to give you a few options.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

My One-Page Business Plan

One-Page Business Plan

Any good business will have a plan describing what they want to happen. I’ve written several business plans based on templates and other things I had read about them in the past. It’s all great information with forecasting, executive summaries and the like.

One of the problems I found with those methods was that it was difficult (for me) to use as a living document because of the length and amount of detail. Even when I began my career in real estate, the business plan format I was given to start with was about nine pages long.

A New Method For Me

I’m sure that if you search the Internet, you can find many examples of a one-page business plan. I wanted a business plan that I might actually use. As a sole proprietor, do I really need a nine section business plan or would I be better off having something that could get me started?

I can always come back later and create a larger plan as things progress.

After watching videos and looking at options, I came up with my own one-page document that I can use as my business plan. Email me if you want a copy of it.

Make it one page

What’s The Purpose?

The purpose of a business plan is to give yourself goals and direction for your business. It’s to remind yourself of your plan and how to work that plan. It’s to keep you from going down rabbit holes trying to do more with the business than you are ready for.

I don’t know about you but for me, it seemed impossible to keep up with if I had a business plan that had charts and graphs about what my business should look like.

So here it is in a nutshell.

The Plan Described

Step 1: What is your primary goal? This is the overarching plan for your business. It could be a monetary goal, a specific demographic you want to target, or anything else you want to use to define your business. For example, a goal might be to (in the case of real estate) receive $100,000 in net commissions by January 2019. It seems like a valid goal to set. Another example might be to have 12 clients buying or selling houses by January 2019. That sounds reasonable too.

It gives a big enough focus so that you can measure your progress.

Step 2: Three areas of focus

In this step, pick three focus areas. If you try to focus on five or eight, you can begin to get overwhelmed or worse – lost. These are three areas that you can focus on to help grow your business.

Here are a few examples of what three areas can look like:

  1. Social Media, Direct Mail, Lead Generation
  2. Direct Mail, Lead Generation, Relationships
  3. Lead Generation, Relationships, Networking

Step 3: Activities

In step 3, list five activities for each focus section you can do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to grow your business. This could be anything as long as it helps propel your business forward.

I’ll use the example of direct mail.

  1. Send postcards to my farming area monthly on the 10th of each month
  2. Send handwritten notes to ten people each week to grow my network
  3. Send seasonal cards to my clients to keep in touch
  4. Send birthday cards to all the contacts I have that information for
  5. Send Christmas gifts to my past clients

No matter what you do, it should help you move your business in the direction of achieving your primary goal. If, after several months, you find that something you are doing isn’t making a difference, stop that task but replace it with something else to try. If an entire category isn’t working, consider making a pivot and trying something new.

Next Steps

Now that you have your plan written out, print it. Tape it to your bathroom mirror so that you see it every day. By having something visual that you can refer to each and every day, the chances of you following the plan increases dramatically.

I have my plan taped to my bathroom mirror,at my office desk, and on my computer as the wallpaper so that I can see it several places. Seeing something like this helps me to keep on track with my primary goal.

What are you doing to help your business grow? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX