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Potential Safety Issues, Possible Health Hazards, a Need For Pest Control – Reasons Not to Let Your Client Skip the Inspection Process

pest-controlHomebuyers will have a lot of tasks to take care of and checks to write before the deal can be finalized on their new property. No matter how prepared they may have felt entering into the buying process, it can be very overwhelming and stressful to shell out so much money. So when the time comes to schedule the inspection, it may cross their mind to just skip that part and it’s cost.

However, there are many important reasons for a real estate agent to step in and encourage their client not to go that route. Home inspections can reveal unappealing circumstances about a property (potential safety issues, possible health hazards or the need for pest control) that should be dealt with before the final contract is signed.

Real Estate Agent’s Role in the Inspection

As mentioned above, perhaps the most significant role a real estate agent plays in the inspection process is insisting that their client invests in one. Once they have agreed, an agent should provide an unbiased list of reputable licensed inspectors that can be trusted to be honest and straightforward about their findings.

After selecting one, a buyer should be able to leave it to their agent to coordinate the details of the inspection. Whether or not it’s necessary for the agent to be at the inspection is usually up to the individual client and their representative, but it can show real dedication and support by showing up and getting a feel for how the outcome could affect the deal. This should be done without actually interrupting the process or probing more than the client feels comfortable with.

Purpose of the Inspection

The overall purpose of the inspection is to help a buyer determine whether or not they should continue with the transaction. If an inspector finds a termite or rodent infestation requiring extensive pest control services, serious structural issues that are deemed unsafe, evidence of asbestos, mold, radon or carbon monoxide toxins, it gives the buyer a chance to change their mind before it’s too late and they get stuck with a property that’s falling apart.

However, if an inspection reveals that a buyer has nothing to worry about or there are just minor things to take care of, then it will offer peace of mind and a possible chance to negotiate a lower price. Homebuyers should also keep in mind that an official inspection report is often a requirement when seeking homeowner’s insurance.

Buying a home is the biggest purchase one will make in a lifetime, and a real estate agent should look to protect their client in every way possible. Home inspections give buyers a comprehensive report that clues them in to exactly what kind of situation they’re about to get themselves into, whether good or bad. An agent has a duty to help make sure a client doesn’t find themselves battling huge pest control bills, dangerous structural dilemmas or health problems later on down the road.

Carpet Cleaning and Other Simple Tasks to Complete Before Listing Your Home

carpet-cleaningThere are many things to get done when preparing to list a property. Putting in the effort to get it into tip-top shape often makes a big difference in how long it takes to sell or rent. Making sure that a home is move-in ready can go a long way in getting it off the market much more quickly. Minor improvements can make a place extra appealing to house hunters and doesn’t have to cost a great deal of money. To make your home stand out among other listings, it’s a good idea to get a professional carpet cleaning, repaint, declutter and complete a few other basic maintenance tasks in order to make a positive first impression on prospective buyers or renters.

Clean the Carpets

Stylish carpet adds to the interior design of a home and provides a means of insulation and cushioning for tired feet. Carpeting can easily become the focal point of any room and is sure to catch the eye of anyone coming to view a property. Though it’s inevitable for carpets to begin to display signs of wear and tear over time, a professional carpet cleaning can do wonders to restore its appearance and freshen up lingering odors from pets, cooking, smoking, etc. in time for you to show the house without the distraction of unappealing stains and soiled spots.

Paint

Touching up the inside, and outside if needed, with a fresh coat of paint can spruce up a home quite a bit. A paint job is cost-effective and serves to hide other imperfections like water stains or patched up nail holes. Neutral or light colors are generally most pleasing to people, can help rooms look more spacious and allow potential buyers or renters to envision how they would decorate the space according to their own taste.

Declutter

Decluttering is a must before a property is put on the market. The home should look inviting and lived in without showing off all the belongings of another family. People want to imagine their own furniture and personal decor set up in a house, but that can’t be done with clutter hanging around. Packing up items that aren’t necessary to everyday living, framed photos, knick-knacks, etc., and de-personalizing will offer them the best chance to imagine building their own future there.

Take Care of the Landscaping

The exterior of a property is the first thing someone will see when they drive by scouting out possibilities or arrive for a showing. To make sure they don’t keep on driving or make up their mind right away that it isn’t the home for them, special care should be put into landscaping the yard. Simply replacing flowers, plants and shrubs that are withering away with new, flourishing ones and reviving the lawn will make a property considerably more attractive.

Get an Inspection

It’s standard for a buyer to get an inspection done before finalizing a deal, but if a seller takes the initiative to have one done beforehand, it will give them the upper hand in knowing if there are any issues that need to be addressed. This will help to avoid encountering unpleasant surprises and prevent delays when it comes to closing.

As a general rule of thumb, the longer a home stays on the market, the less desirable it becomes and tends to sell or rent for a lower price. To keep this from happening to your property, invest in a little extra maintenance in the beginning, such as getting a proper carpet cleaning and fixing up the yard.

Consider a Steel Building for Your Next Home or Business Project

steel-buildingIf you have a free standing garage, chances are that it is made out of wood and has slowly gone down in structural soundness over the years. Or perhaps you need some extra storage space in the backyard for tools and garden supplies. Whatever your reasons are for expanding on your property, whether it’s for personal or business purposes, you’ll find that a steel building may be just the right answer for your needs.

Why Steel?

Although not commonly thought of as a “green” building material, steel is 100% recyclable, and highly energy efficient. By purchasing a steel building, you are doing your part to save trees and other related natural resources.

Steel has long been used as a building material. It is the backbone and heart of skyscrapers, large buildings, and commercial structures. Its durability and strength are unrivaled and as a result, steel is a preferred choice for structures small and large.

Steel doesn’t warp, buckle, or corrode and is virtually maintenance free. It resists common building material ailments such as mold, mildew, rot, and deterioration. Once a steel structure is erected, it will be there for many years.

In comparison to standard building materials such as wood or brick, assembling a steel building offers significant cost savings of 40% to 50% because steel is less expensive and takes less time to assemble the structures.

Many Options

Steel buildings of old were windowless boxes lacking character or design elements. But today’s steel structures have many options such as windows, doors, bay doors, and other amenities.

A steel building can easily match your present living or business environments with a little planning. They come in an assortment of different colors and sizes to meet any requirements.

Ease of Installation

When you are considering DIY projects, putting up a steel building for use as a garage or tool shed is relatively easy when you compare it to similar projects using wood and nails. When putting together a steel garage or steel tool shed, you don’t have to hire a bevy of carpenters or contractors. A small steel building can be done with just a few people.

And if DIY isn’t your cup of tea, you can hire a handyman or handywoman to take on the task of assembly, while you enjoy your weekend. And even with the cost of hiring someone to assemble the structure for you, you will still come out ahead.

Pick a Size, Any Size

Whether a steel building is geared for agricultural use, business use, or residential use, there is a size that can meet any need or specification. Larger steel structures are built with solid steel frame construction elements that make them extremely sturdy and resilient.

Because they are virtually care-free, in terms of upkeep duties, this means additional cost savings to the owners by eliminating the time spent for building maintenance and materials. A steel building can do what it was meant to do without the annoyance of constant care. For your next low-rise building needs, consider what a steel building can do for you.

Test Drive Electric Vehicles and Enjoy Free Lunch at SAR!!

April’s Main Meeting will be electric! We will have 12+ new electric vehicles on site available for test drives and a free BBQ lunch for attendees.

The April 1st Main Meeting will begin at 9:00am in the SAR Auditorium as always. It will kick off with a panel discussion on electric vehicles and how they could be an asset to your business. Panel speakers include: West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, Lisa Chiladakis with the California Air Resources Board, and Bill Boyce from SMUD.

After the panel discussion attendees gather in the SAR parking lot to test drive the available vehicles and enjoy a free BBQ lunch. Vehicles that will be available include: a Tesla Model S, Cadillac ELR, Fiat 500E, Rav4, Ford Fusion, Ford CMax, Chevy Volt, GM Spark, and a Prius.

SAR worked with some great partners to help organize this exciting Main Meeting including: Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, SacEV, Sacramento Clean Cities. As well as the following car dealerships: Clipper Creek, Kuni GM, Magnussen Auburn Toyota, Niello BMW, Niello Fiat, Nissan Future Automotive Group, Sullivan Chevrolet, Tesla Motors.

Questions about this meeting, please contact Caylyn Brown at cbrown@sacrealtor.org. Hope to see you there, bring an SAR friend!

Flood Insurance Update Bill Headed to President’s Desk

Relief for those families faced with large unexpected cost increases to their flood insurance is one step closer. Earlier today, the United States Senate voted 72-22 to approve the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (H.R. 3370). The Senate acted quickly to pass this bill as amended by the House to avoid the need for a conference committee to reconcile any differences. This bill further reins in and holds the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accountable for the Biggert-Waters implementation issues.

As passed, H.R. 3370 repeals FEMA’s authority to increase premium rates at the time of sale or new flood map, and refunds the excessive premiums to those who bought a property before FEMA warned them of the rate increase. This legislation allows flood policies to stay at their current rate when a property sells, meaning the policy will stay with a property not the owner.

This bill also sets a floor and ceiling for future rate increase giving needed predictability to policy holders. Generally speaking if a primary residence was built before 1975 rates will increase at least 5% but not more than 18% (Biggert-Waters allowed for higher individual property increase as long as an average flood zone did not exceed a 20% overall increase). Second homes and businesses built before 1975 will experience 25% rate increases until full risk is reached.

All structures built after 1975 will not experience rate increases of more than 18% (again, Biggert-Waters allowed for higher individual property increases as long as an average flood zone did not exceed 20% overall).

Finally, the bill adds a small assessment on flood policies until everyone is paying full cost for flood insurance. Primary residences will pay an additional $25 and businesses and second homes will pay $250 until all final rate increases are set. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law when it arrives at the White House.

The original Biggert-Waters bill passed in July of 2013 gave the National Flood Insurance Program a needed long term five year extension. This bill also attempted to make the National Flood Insurance Program more financially stable, but created unaffordable and unexpected increases in cost for flood insurance for many single family homeowners. H.R. 3370 will help to make NFIP more finically stable but give needed predictability to homeowners.

House of Representatives Passes Bipartisan Flood Insurance Affordability Bill

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, H.R. 3370 passed overwhelmingly this week in the U.S. House of Representatives. If signed into law this bill would provide relief from the drastic premium increases that went into effect October 1, 2013 to the National Flood Insurance Program, triggered by the Biggert-Waters reforms to NFIP. H.R. 3370 removes FEMA’s authority to increase premium rates to unjustified levels at the time of a property’s sale, which will stabilize local real estate markets and ensure that both property owners and prospective buyers are treated equally. NAR data shows that through January 2014, four months into the implementation of Biggert-Waters, about 40,000 home sales were estimated to be either delayed or canceled because of increases and confusion over flood insurance rates. We hope the Senate will take action soon and pass this important bill.

REALTORS® Oppose Tax Reform Plan

United States House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp released a tax reform draft that places limits on the mortgage interest deduction and capital gains, and eliminates the ability to deduct state and local property taxes. The mortgage interest deduction is an essential part of the American tax system, and helps families afford the dream of homeownership.

National Association of REALTORS® President Steve Brown gave the following statement: “NAR supports reforms that promote economic growth, but we strongly oppose severely altering the rules that govern ownership and investment in real estate. Real estate powers almost one-fifth of the U.S. economy, employs more than 17 million Americans, and contributes a quarter of all federal and state revenue and as much as 70 percent of local taxes.”

The current document put out by Representative Camp is a discussion draft, which could eventually turn into legislation. This draft proposes to limit the mortgage interest deduction to $500,000 in 2018 and eliminate the deduction for state and local property taxes. We will keep you up to date as this proposal moves forward.

Technology Tools Every Real Estate Company Should Be Using

real-estate-company-technologyEven those who have previously resisted learning how to stay up-to-date on all of society’s technological advances are now coming to terms with the fact that technology is quickly taking over most industries. However hesitant you are to try new things, there’s no denying that technology has improved the way business is conducted, and this can be said about real estate transactions, especially. Agents are finding new and improved ways to connect with buyers and sellers and spend more time getting results out in the field while still staying in contact with the office. Here are a few technology tools that every real estate company should utilize if they want to perform at the top of their game.

Mobile Electronic Devices

Computers are great, but they simply aren’t enough anymore and can tie an agent down to their desk for long periods of time. Smartphones, laptops and tablets are essential for communicating with clients and managing listings on the go. These mobile electronic devices allow agents to be more readily available and provide quick responses to any requests. It also eliminates the need for traveling around with mounds of paperwork since any of these gadgets can organize everything in one easily accessible spot.

Camera

A picture says a thousand words, and no one should know this better than a top-notch real estate company. Photos are generally the first thing to grab a buyer’s attention, and bad ones have the potential to turn people away before they even take the time to find out anything about a property. MLS listings should come complete with plenty of professional looking photos, and oftentimes, it’s up to the agent to make sure images are up to par. That’s why it’s a good idea to invest in a camera (cell phone cameras won’t cut it) that will capture the features of a home in the best way possible, which can lead to a faster sale.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage gives real estate agents the advantage of file sharing and the convenience of locating documents in a timely manner from any remote location. This avoids having to wait on fax machines or emails to obtain the information that’s needed. Cloud storage also provides a safe place for client details to be backed up and stored in the event that a real estate company gets hit with a security breach of some kind.

Digital Signature Mobile App

There are numerous mobile applications that real estate agents can benefit from, but one that offers digital signatures is a must-have. Imagine all the paperwork that has to be completed during a home buying or selling transaction, and then think about all the time that could be saved if clients had the ability to securely sign documents wherever they are without having to schedule more face-time. That’s exactly what digital signature apps do, and your clients are sure to love you for it.

QR Codes

Adorning your fliers, lawn signs and business cards with quick response codes enables potential buyers to be directly linked to a property of interest for further details. In using QR codes, agents are able to track visitors and reach out to them shortly thereafter, making it simple to follow up on hot leads. QR codes generate the most positive feedback when they lead to a website that is informative, engaging and mobile-friendly.

Any real estate company who is looking to be more efficient and rise above their competitors should consider implementing the use of these technology tools.

About the Author

Tiffany Olson is a full-time professional blogger and real estate enthusiast from Northern California. When she’s not blogging you will usually find her traveling, cooking or making art.

Short Sale Debt Forgiveness is Back!

The California Association of REALTORS® announced yesterday it received a letter from the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), obtained by Board of Equalization (BOE) member George Runner, clarifying that California families who lost their home in a short sale are not subject to state income tax liability on debt forgiveness “phantom income” they never received in a short sale.

Last month, in a letter to California Senator Barbara Boxer, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognized that the debt written off in a short sale does not constitute recourse debt under California law, and thus does not create so called “cancellation of debt” income to the underwater home seller for federal income tax purposes. Following the IRS’s clarification, C.A.R. sought a similar ruling by the California FTB. Now with the FTB’s clarification, underwater home sellers are also assured that they are not subject to state income tax liability, rescuing tens of thousands distressed home sellers from California tax liability for debt written off by lenders in short sales.

“We are pleased with the recent clarifications issued by the IRS and California Franchise Tax Board, which protect distressed homeowners from debt relief income tax associated with a short sale in California,” said C.A.R. President Kevin Brown. “We would like to thank Senator Boxer and BOE member Runner for their leadership in obtaining this guidance from the IRS and FTB. Distressed California homeowners can now avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy and can opt for a short sale instead, without incurring federal and state tax liability, even after the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 expires at the end of the year.”

This is wonderful news for California families still struggling with an underwater home. We still recommend all REALTORS® encourage their clients to speak with a tax professional who can advise them on their specific situation. This information in no way should be taken as either legal or tax advice.

Innovative Technologies That Shasta County Realtors Are Using to Connect With Clients

Advancements in technology are everywhere we look these days, affecting virtually every part of our lives, including home buying. Despite the ups and downs of the economy, it remains the American dream to one day own a home and know that your future is stable. So, the real estate market, in particular, is finding more and more ways to apply innovative technologies to the industry and stay successful while transforming the way realtors are doing business.

Different technologies are allowing real estate agents to become closer than ever to their home buying clients and helping them to better assist buyers in reaching their ultimate goal. Below are some of the ways Shasta County realtors are adopting the latest technology tools and trends in an effort to provide their clients with up-to-date information and quality service.

Mobile Apps

Smartphones and the growth of mobile applications are making it possible for consumers to get whatever they want on the go. Like many other businesses, Al Naticchioni and the rest of the team at RE/MAX of Redding understand the value in mobile apps and had one developed to offer existing and potential clients the most current details on residential and commercial properties in the Northstate. Available on Google play and in the iTunes App Store, the RE/MAX app presents features that allow users to easily and immediately access listings complete with photos, information on the neighborhood, school district, nearby entertainment and property specifics (i.e. number of bedrooms and bathrooms, amenities, parking, etc.).

Text Message Marketing and 24-Hour Property Information

A lot of house hunters still take it upon themselves to begin a search the old-fashioned way and drive around on their own seeking out “for sale” signs. However, realtors are finding that it isn’t always enough just to have their phone number printed on the sign anymore. Serious buyers often want all the details of a property right away, no matter what time it is, and having to wait to contact or hear back from an agent isn’t always accommodating. Nate Molter from Venture Properties has found a way to stay connected with Northern California buyers through a system that delivers information on a home promptly and then allows him to call them back and set up appointments or answer any questions they may have. Without ever having to leave the car or talk to an agent, those interested in a particular property may call an 800 number or text a code listed on the sign to instantly get all the details about a home for sale.

Live Chat

Good working relationships between a client and their realtor are essential for successful transactions. Redding’s Real Living agents make certain they engage customers from the first moment they land on their website by making use of a live chat feature. This ensures that no website visitor goes unnoticed or neglected and allows them to establish contact in the very beginning when agents are still being chosen. Real Living realtors are given the opportunity to introduce themselves so that all-important relationship can start to develop. Live chats can make a vital first impression of the company and gives agents the chance to respond to leads and questions right away.

There is no doubt that realtors who wish to improve their business will be required to continue to evolve along with technology in order to ensure that they are well-suited enough to meet the needs of their tech savvy clients.

About the Author

Tiffany Olson is a writer/blogger from Northern California who has a special passion for real estate and home related topics. She loves sharing information with the public in the hopes of being helpful and informative. In her down time she loves to make homemade products, travel, and cook.