Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Real Estate Nightmare: Local Flooding!

In light of recent weather events in our area, many of us woke up this past weekend to an awful scenario- It seems nobody escaped the wrath of the rainfall, and I was no exception to the rule.  The last few days have been quite hectic, but in the essence of sharing and honestly, distraction, now is as good a time as any to address water issues in a home!  Some homes undoubtedly have a higher occurrence rate, but in some situations, such as this weekend- There is no way to predict or prepare for the heavy rainfalls and flash flooding.  Even the most waterproofed basement in existence, in the most elevated area, was a potential victim of the storm.  Unfortunately on top of the rainfall, city systems were unable to function properly and contributed to the problems with backups all over the area.

After sizing up the circumstances and damage at my own home, I had little time to do anything but kick into immediate high gear- my basement flooded and the water wasn’t going to clean itself up- However I needed to instantly turn my attention to all of my clients and homes on the market!  I began making the rounds, reaching out to all of my current clients selling homes, especially properties that currently are vacant.  Driving around town to check on homes- and take necessary corrective measures- made for an exhausting day. 

As an agent, especially if a client has already relocated at a distance- the homes on the market are essentially your responsibility.  Keeping them secured and also in situations like this, clean- is an important part of my job!  In addition, changing scheduled open houses and showings to coordinate with cleanup schedules needs completed.

When searching for a home, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for the red flags that accompany frequent water damage occurrences.  Basements will tend to have an odor if there has been water or mold present, and signs will typically appear on walls and flooring if it is occurring repeatedly, and not tended to.  Tile that comes up easily in a basement, or water marks on walls are signs of water damage that hasn’t  been properly handled.  This tells a potential buyer that the water can get in, and more importantly that it wasn’t properly cleaned up! 

Another tool comes in a surprising form- your insurance company!  When looking at homes, it is not a bad idea to call your insurance company and give them an address after you submit a bid on a home.  The insurance company can compile a quote, but they also can see past claims- All of them!  This includes any call to the insurance industry about the property- even if the caller decided to handle it themselves, and not file a claim- the call is still on record. 

For everyone affected by the recent water devastations in our area, hang in there- It is never a pleasant scenario, but unfortunately it can happen to any of us. Good luck in your cleanup efforts!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Deciding if Selling or Renting Out is your Best Option

When the time comes to relocate, or purchase a larger home, two options exist: Sell your current home, or rent it out.  There are many factors to consider before making a final decision, and this discussion is a common topic during my initial consultations!  Here are several factors to consider when trying to make the decision.
  1.  Location factors in in many ways- if you are in a location that doesn’t have a typically high resale value, it may not be a bad idea to rent- however you must pay attention to city code to ensure that any changes that come along with having someone rent, are not going to adversely effect your plans.  Locations with strong resale values are great candidates for resale, and listing your home for sale would be the ideal option.  It is also important to consider the proximity to your new home, as you will have to visit or arrange a third party to maintain any issues that may arise.
  2. Financing and loan options are effected in circumstances of rent and second mortgages- It may be difficult to obtain a second mortgage in order to purchase a new home, and your original mortgage may have stipulations regarding owner-occupancy versus tenant occupancy.  Timing also plays a factor as if you are looking to sell and haven’t owned the home long, you may be penalized by your mortgage company for doing so.  It is important to research all aspects when making the decision!  In addition, your homeowners insurance policies would need to change as well.
  3. Taxes and Fees definitely play a role in the decision to sell or rent your home-  Many don’t factor in condo or home association fees when considering a rent amount to charge, and taxes will need to be covered as well.  It is important to consider all of the financial numbers before making the final decision.  Keep in mind as well that certain utilities, such as water, remain the property owners’ responsibility.
  4. Amenities typically included in a rental can be appliances as well as furniture in many situations.  If your new home doesn’t have appliances, a second set may need to be purchased for either the home you will rent out, or your new home.
  5.  Maintenance is a key factor when deciding to sell or rent out your home- as mentioned, proximity plays a role as you will have to be available for maintenance issues that arise- as well as regular maintenance, such as landscaping, in many situations.  The costs for time and supplies would need to be factored in to your end decision as well.

This glimpse into all of the items that encompass the decision to rent your home should be evaluated and then consulted with a trusted REALTOR.  Once knowing that potential resale value of your home, your decision may be to sell! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fun (and not-so-fun) New Home Surprises

Whether a home is new or new to you- the changing seasons can be accompanied by many new and exciting sites and occurrences as well as some pesky ones!  Here are some common pros and cons to look for in your new home as time goes by.

Landscaping and Flowers: As you get settled and watch the landscaping change with the summer months it can be exciting to watch plants and flowers develop as time goes by.  Many are lucky and purchase homes with established landscaping, while many homes require some landscaping TLC.  If you have a home with landscaped areas it is a good idea to let a season go by before pulling and either pitching or moving plants.  Take photos and keep track of the growth and flowering to decide if it’s a keeper, needs relocated or just plain removed.  Keep an eye on deer and insect activity too to better help decide what type of plants to choose in the future!  Some areas with high deer populations have a difficult time keeping hostas or lilies in good shape as they tend to be an easy meal. 

Bugs and Pests:  Perhaps disclosures should have a section including a description of seasonal insect activity, but at this point it is pretty much trial and error for all of us!  Some homes are more apt to have ant issues, or pesky moles and mice that can terrorize your new abode.  Keep an eye out for any bee nests as well whether it be in near by trees, or in brick and stone facades.  If necessary give the pros a call and have the situation remediated, but it can also often be a DIY project too with all of the tools and resources that are available at stores and online. 

Air and Moisture:  In our area we can often run across issues with humidity or allergens in the air, and when purchasing a new home it is another item that simply has to be learned as time goes by.  If your new home tends to have high humidity it’s a good idea to circulate the air and even utilize a de-humidifier to avoid condensation and any potential issues with moisture and mold.  Many central AC units can solve the issue as well as they have built in de-humidifiers, and are also reducing the humidity from the outside by having windows closed.  For allergens and dust, ensure duct work and filters for heating and AC units are clean and properly functioning-  I’ve found a large difference between homes with wood floors versus those with carpet-  using area rugs can be a large help to catch some of the dust and dander instead of kicking it around and back into the air. 

Purchasing a new home is exciting, and although some issues may arise, remember to keep calm and work through them!  No home is completely perfect, patience and great advice from your favorite Northeast Ohio Agent can go a long way!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The 4th of July in Northeast Ohio!

Keeping up with tradition, I of course am all over the events and attractions for the fourth of July holiday weekend!  As of right now, the weather forecast isn’t looking so great, however that could definitely change over the next few days!  If it doesn’t there are plenty of other options to keep busy over the coming weekend.

From fireworks displays to parades and fairs- the weekend can be packed beginning to end with fun things in Northeast Ohio- 
Fairport Mardi Gras Festival kicks off on Wednesday with the parade at 7pm and fireworks will be on both the 5th and the 7th at dusk.  Kids Day, Senior Day, a 5K, and even raffle prizes all pack the Mardi Gras event schedule- Visit their Facebook page here!

Most cities are hosting their fireworks displays on the 4th around dusk- Check your city for exact information- Willoughby, Mentor and Wickliffe are each hosting at the same locations as years past!

On the 3rd Debonne Winery has tethered hot air balloon rides from 6-8pm- A great attraction even if you don’t plan to ride!  The balloons look beautiful and the wineries are always bustling with activity this time of year!

Rainy Day Alternatives
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, or if you have some spare time between outdoor activities- The 4th of July weekend is a great weekend to shop sales on everything ranging from project necessities to furniture, plants and appliances- and everything in between!  Stores will typically host huge sales to kick off Summer and get merchandise moving.  If you have had a big ticket item on your wishlist this weekend may be the weekend to shop around!  Area hotels will also often offer discounts for an overnight stay, or package specials-  This could be a great alternative in gloomy weather for a quick getaway!

General Reminders
Trash and mail are delayed on the National holidays, and you may need to reschedule any weekly visits from landscaping professionals!  Even if they are open on the holiday, if you are planning a party you may not want your pros there before or during your get together!  

Regardless of your plans, the Fourth of July weekend should prove to be a fun, relaxing and exciting weekend all across Northeast Ohio!