Monday, January 18, 2010

Why You Should Hire "Sherlock Holmes" To Increase The Value of Your Home

No, you don't need the fictional detective inspector. However, you do need a home inspector!

Think of this as a "pre-emptive strike" to maintain or increase your home's value before you put it on the market. Here are the benefits an inspector provides you:

Benefit 1: The inspector can uncover any problems that need fixing, and you can correct them before any potential buyers enter your home. Such an inspection can prevent your sale from falling through!

Benefit 2: With an inspection, you can show prospective buyers receipts to prove the work has been done. Buyers love proof! In reality and in their eyes, it underpins the value of your home and the asking price.

Benefit 3: You may be able to factor the cost of the inspection into the asking price for your home!

Benefit 4: When you have a presale home inspection completed, you're able to estimate if the discount the prospective buyer is asking is reasonable. In other words, you can refuse unreasonably low offers if you know the value of your house, including the degree of its defects.

So, How Do I Find a Qualified Home Inspector?

I can recommend a certified home inspector who will do a great job for you. However, if you decide you want to do it on your own, make sure he or she is qualified!

Con artists sometimes pose as home inspectors, taking your money and giving you nothing but grief in return. Here's how to know if an inspector is the real deal:

    * Ask your friends for referrals. If they've had a good experience, go with that home inspector.

    * I’d recommend you interview a minimum of two or three inspectors before choosing one. Make sure they’re full-time professionals conducting several inspections a year.

    * If possible, select a home inspector who’s a member of The American Society of Home Inspectors ( or the National Association of Home Inspectors These association members follow a stated code of ethics. In addition, they’re prohibited from having a professional interest in the sale, repair or maintenance of a property they inspect. They’re also forbidden from using their inspection business as a way to find customers for a handyman service that they “happen” to own. You may want to go on the Internet and use ASHI’s “Find a Home Inspector” link to identify potential candidates in our locality. 

    * As part of the interview process ask for samples of comprehensive reports (about 20-50 pages in length). The samples should be painstakingly done and backed up with complete details, including photos and diagrams. If an "inspector" refuses to give you a report or provides only a sloppily written 2-to-5 page sample, run the other way!

What Does a Home Inspector Cost?

Frankly, the rates vary. On a national level, the rates fall in the range of $200 to $400.

As part of the interview process, I recommend you ask several inspectors for their rates so you can get an idea of the price range.

In the end, keep in mind that while the cost of an inspection may seem high, it can actually add several thousand dollars to the value of your home! So, don't think of it as a cost; think of it as an investment!

What Exactly Does a Home Inspector Evaluate?

In general, he or she will look at the following areas:

Energy Conservation/Safety Items
Electrical System Wiring, Service Panel, Devices, and Service Capacity
Exterior Walls, Siding, Trim
Floor, Wall, Ceiling, Roof Structures
Foundation, Footings, Crawl Space, Basements, Sub-flooring, Decks
Gutters, Downspouts
Heating & Cooling Systems
Insulation & Ventilation
Interior Floors, Walls, Ceilings
Moisture Intrusion/Mold
Overall Structural Integrity
Plumbing Systems, (fixtures, supply lines, drains, water heating devices, etc.)
Property Drainage/Landscaping
Roof, Roof Shingles, Chimneys, Attic
Walks and Drives
Windows, Doors, Cabinets, Counters, etc.

Should I Be Present During a Home Inspection?

You bet! A typical inspection takes three hours or more, so I recommend that you be present for at least the first 30 minutes to make sure the job is being done thoroughly.

At the end of the inspection, the home inspector should give you a point-by-point summary of what needs to be corrected in order to add value to your home!

Hope you enjoyed this information! If you have more questions, contact me at 402.598.3965 or email!

Monday, January 4, 2010

What Determines the Value of Your Home?

What Determines the Value of Your Home?

Basically, a home's worth is determined by its
market value. How is "market value" determined? Most often, it's figured by a comparison ("comp") with homes similar to yours in the surrounding area.

So, if the homes in your neighborhood average, say, $250,000, then it's likely that the value of your property will fall in the same range.

But market value is also determined by a number of factors including the following:

External Factors

There can be several external factors influencing the value of your home. One is "curb appeal", or the first impression your property makes upon prospective buyers. A home that's in excellent condition on the outside will make a great first impression; a home in poor repair instantly loses its appeal to buyers. Other factors can include lot size, popularity of an architectural style of property, water/sewage systems, paved roads, sidewalks, etc.

Internal Factors

The condition of a home's interior also has a huge influence on prospective buyers.

When you've demonstrated "pride of ownership" and kept up the maintenance (quality paint, trim, molding, etc.), a buyer's interest will immediately perk up for the simple reason that they know your care and concern will result in less cost and maintenance for them.

Other internal factors include construction quality, condition of appliances, size and number of rooms, heating/cooling type, energy efficiency, etc.

Supply and Demand

"Supply and demand" simply refers to the number of homes for sale versus the number of buyers.

When there are more homes than there are buyers, prices tend to be lower. When there are a lot of buyers chasing few homes, then prices tend to rise. In effect, supply and demand affects how quickly your home will sell


More than likely, you already know the old saying, "There are three main factors in real estate - location, location, location."

While that's not the whole story, desirability
is a big factor for home buyers. They may want to live in particular school district known for its education excellence…a great and safe neighborhood with rising property values…etc.

But I Know My Home Is More Valuable Than a Lot of Comparable Homes in My Neighborhood? Aren't Allowances Made for This?

Definitely! Sometimes, it can be difficult to find homes exactly comparable to your own. So, dollar adjustments are made for the differences between your home and comparable properties

Where Do I Find Sales Comparison Information?

The easiest source to access is your realtor. After all, it's his or business to know such information

But, there are also other sources you can tap into in order to get a complete picture of your home's value in comparison to others in your neighborhood. Here's an overview of them:

1. The Local Assessor's Office

It's very likely that your local assessor will be able to provide the sales history of a particular house, neighborhood, or style of architecture. Many assessors also provide lists of recent sales which you can browse and compare to the assessment roll.

Today, many municipalities provide local sales and assessment information online making it very easy to access. Check with your local government agency to find out if they provide this service.

2. Online Private Companies

You can search for these companies using the Google search engine and the keywords "comparable home sales" or "comparable sales." Some companies offer free information; others charge a nominal fee.

If you wish to get more specific, you can Google "real estate database" and type in the name of your particular state to get additional property information

3. Your Local Newspaper

It's likely that your local newspaper is a great source of specific real estate information. Look for quarterly sales reports in the real estate or business sections

The Key to Getting the Price You Want (or Close To It) for Your Home

The key to getting the best value is finding and matching the right buyer to your home. And that's the job of the realtor!

He or she should work hard to qualify those buyers upfront so the right people are viewing your property!

In other words, the realtor should weed out "lookers" and other unsuitable buyers as a first step in working with you.

See how I do that for you by sending me an email to