Flip or Flop? Is That Gorgeous Makeover All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Is That Flip a Flop? How To Find Out Before You Buy

 

It seems like the perfect combo of fantastic location and newly renovated home. But is it really? The concept of renovating a tired home for profit (flipping) is a business model that is often naturally averse to the future buyer’s interests. The lower the costs, the higher the profit. And, the lower the costs, the lower the sale price—which means more buyer demand.

This isn’t always the case. Some flips are done very well with a higher aesthetic and higher matching sale price. Unfortunately, this is often the exception to the norm. A very good local inspector shared that he’s done thousands of inspections of flipped homes and maybe a few dozen of them were well done.

The allure of a flip is clear—a move-in ready home in an established neighborhood where you can literally unpack and live without needing to address the typical laundry list of to-dos that often comes part and parcel with an older home. It’s when those gleaming new veneer surfaces give way to subpar work beneath that the problems arise.

So, how do you protect yourself if you happen to fall in love with a flipped home? This list below is a great place to start.

 

Must Do’s When Considering the Purchase of a Flip…

  • Verify the seller (flipper) is a licensed contractor as required by state law (RCW 18.27) (you can research them using the state’s L&I Contractor Database and Corporation Search tools)
  • Verify all necessary permits with filed and finalized with the city (you can look up who to contact using this handy link to Building & Permit Resources)
  • Google the contractor to see if anyone has shared reviews, good or bad
  • Ask for references and a list of other flips completed by this contractor and then drive by and call to find out how the product has stood up over time
  • Visit the city or county who has jurisdiction over building permits and ask questions about your potential home and about the contractor who did the work (you’ll often find out more info directly than you can otherwise)
  • Hire the best inspector you can find and alert them that the home is a flip before they begin their inspection so they can look more closely for indications of shortcuts and subpar work that might be covered with gorgeous veneer
  • Talk to neighbors about the project to find out what they know about issues with the original home or work that was completed (bonus: you get to meet the neighbors!)

It’s most time and cost-effective to go through this list in order when possible. The bottom line is that a little more research now can save you countless hours, headaches and expenses down the road. Quality, professional flippers will welcome your questions and the opportunity to differentiate themselves from less reputable contractors.

In addition to this specific research, don’t forget to evaluate all the typical aspects of your potential new home and neighborhood. We’ve compiled links to research tools from schools and geological hazards to market reports and census data.

While you’re there, you can also look up neighborhood info, including crime reporting, local government resources, parks and recreation, and school boundaries.

Of course, nothing tops having an experienced broker to guide you through the process. They’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of homes and can help you identify the solid finds from the duds with gorgeous looking veneer.

Choosing the right broker can save you thousands on your home purchase. Whether through local market knowledge and pricing analysis allowing you to make a smarter offer, recommendations and resources to thoroughly conduct your due diligence and avoid costly mistakes, or savvy contract negotiation to help you get the terms you need, having a Windermere broker on your side is one advantage you can’t afford to sacrifice.

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island.

Posted on November 9, 2019 at 10:50 am
Julie Barrows | Category: Buyer Tips | Tagged , , , , , ,

Planning for the Life Expectancy of Your Home

Planning Ahead: The Life Expectancy of Your Home's Components

 

Nothing in life lasts forever – and the same can be said for your home. From the roof to the furnace, every component of your home has a lifespan, so it’s a good idea to know approximately how many years of service you can expect from them. This information can help when buying or selling your home, budgeting for improvements, and deciding between repairing or replacing when problems arise.

 

According to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) study, the average life expectancy of some home components has decreased over the past few decades.  (This might explain why you’re on your third washing machine while Grandma still has the same indestructible model you remember from childhood.) But the good news is the lifespan of many other items has actually increased in recent years.

 

Here’s a look at the average life spans of some common home components (courtesy of NAHB).

 

APPLIANCES. Of all home components, appliances have the widest variation in life spans. These are averages for all brands and models and may represent the point which replacing is more cost-effective than repairing. Among major appliances, gas ranges have the longest life expectancy, at about 15 years. Electric ranges, standard-size refrigerators, and clothes dryers last about 13 years, while garbage disposals grind away for about 10 years. Dishwashers, microwave ovens, and mini-refrigerators can all be expected to last about nine years. For furnaces, expect a lifespan of about 15 years for electric, 18 for gas, and 20 for oil-burning models. Central air-conditioning systems generally beat the heat for 10 to 15 years.

 

KITCHEN & BATH. Countertops of wood, tile, and natural stone will last a lifetime, while cultured marble will last about 20 years. The lifespan of laminate countertops depends greatly on the use and can be 20 years or longer. Kitchen faucets generally last about 15 years.  An enamel-coated steel sink will last five to 10 years; stainless will last at least 30 years; and slate, granite, soapstone, and copper should endure 100 years or longer. Toilets, on average, can serve at least 50 years (parts such as the wax ring, flush assembly, and seat will likely need replacing), and bathroom faucets tend to last about 20 years.

 

FLOORING. Natural flooring materials provide longevity as well as beauty: Wood, marble, slate, and granite should all last 100 years or longer, and tile, 74 to 100 years. Laminate products will survive 15 to 25 years, linoleum about 25 years, and vinyl should endure for about 50 years. Carpet will last eight to 10 years on average, depending on use and maintenance.

 

SIDING, ROOFING, WINDOWS & DECKS. Brick siding normally lasts 100 years or longer, aluminum siding about 80 years, and stucco about 25 years. The lifespan of wood siding varies dramatically – anywhere from 10 to 100 years – depending on the climate and level of maintenance. For roofs, slate or tile will last about 50 years, wood shingles can endure 25 to 30 years, the metal will last about 25 years, and asphalts got you covered for about 20 years. Unclad wood windows will last 30 years or longer, aluminum will last 15 to 20 years, and vinyl windows should keep their seals for 15 to 20 years. Cedar decks average 15-25 years if properly cleaned and treated, while high quality composite decks should easily last 30 years with minimal maintenance.

 

Of course, none of these averages matter if you have a roof that was improperly installed or a dishwasher that was a lemon right off the assembly line. In these cases, early replacement may be the best choice. Conversely, many household components will last longer than you need them to, as we often replace fully functional items for cosmetic reasons, out of a desire for more modern features, or as a part of a quest to be more energy efficient.

 

Are extended warranties warranted?

Extended warranties, also known as service contracts or service agreements, are sold for all types of household items, from appliances to electronics. They cover service calls and repairs for a specified time beyond the manufacturer’s standard warranty. Essentially, warranty providers (manufacturers, retailers, and outside companies) are betting that a product will be problem-free in the first years of operation, while the consumer who purchases a warranty is betting against reliability.

 

Warranty providers make a lot of money on extended warranties, and Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, advises against purchasing them.  You will have to consider whether the cost is worth it to you; for some, it brings a much-needed peace of mind when making such a large purchase. Also, consider if it the cost outweighs the value of the item; in some cases, it may be less expensive to just replace a broken appliance than pay for insurance or a warranty.

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island. Adapted from an article originally posted on Windermere.com.

Posted on August 30, 2019 at 2:59 pm
Jennifer Craven | Category: Buyer Tips, Homeowner Tips and Happenings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Spot Big Issues Before You Pay for a Home Inspection

How to Spot Big Issues Before You Pay for a Home Inspection

 

Before you plop down $500-$800 for a home inspection, it really helps to identify obvious issues up front and determine if A) you are willing to buy the home despite them or B) the seller appears reasonable about addressing them. If neither of the above are yes, but you might want to keep looking rather than investing hard-earned dollars in an inspection that, at minimum, will bring up items that you can clearly see, and more likely, will unveil even more issues.

Taking a bit of time to do a quick personal inspection of the property you are ogling can help you make smarter decisions about when or whether to write that offer. This list includes bigger ticket items we often see come up in an inspection.

 

  • Evidence of moisture or water damage in and around showers or tubs and under sinks
  • Missing or cracked grout/caulk around the tub or shower (a major cause of rot in walls and the sub-floor)
  • Cracked, peeling or weathered exterior paint and caulking
  • Evidence of moisture or water damage around the exterior, especially at windows and doors
  • Heavy moss, sagging or a roof that looks near the end of its life span
  • Signs of improper drainage around the perimeter of home, driveway and yard
  • Unexplained mildew smell in the basement
  • Uneven floors or the appearance of leaning or sagging
  • Obvious remodeling completed with no permits on file (this is easy to lookup online), especially when involving opening or movement of walls, plumbing or electrical
  • Rotted or damaged deck/porch boards, stairs, railings, or supporting joists/structure
  • An aging heating/AC system (more than 15-18 years old and/or no recent maintenance stickers)
  • An aging hot water tank (more than 9-10 years old)
  • Aging appliances (more than 10-15 years old)
  • An electrical panel that appears modified by someone other than an electrician (obvious changes that don’t look proper, open breaker sections or loose wires)
  • Railings (inside or out) that are missing or not up to code (ie. your smaller toddler could fit through them)
  • Cracked or damaged foundations or retaining walls
  • Evidence of unstable soil/earth movement (slides, cracks or gaps, leaning supports/structure or trees)
  • Evidence of rodents (odor, droppings, chew marks or damage around exterior/vents)
  • Properties with a high likelihood for costly sewer line issues include those with very large trees near the most likely sewer line path and those more than forty years with no prior evidence of sewer line re-lining/replacement
  • Signs of home maintenance neglect such as broken or missing hardware or components, improperly functioning doors/locks

 

Not all these issues will turn out to be major expenditures, but they often can be. Better to note them early and decide if it makes sense to proceed with a more thorough professional inspection or walk away and save those dollars for a more likely candidate.

Here are a few great online resources to add to your knowledge base:

https://www.homeinspector.org/HomeInspectionNews/the-quick-home-inspection-checklist-what-to-look-for-when-buying-a-home.5-1-2017.1724/Details/Story

https://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/clean-and-organize/common-problems-found-during-home-inspections

https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/tips-for-getting-the-most-out-of-a-home-inspection/

https://www.zillow.com/sellers-guide/bad-home-inspection-for-sellers/

https://wini.com/articles/home-inspection-checklist-a-complete-guide-to-the-home-inspection-process/

https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/home-facts-this-is-how-long-these-parts-of-your-home-should-last/

 

Of course, nothing tops having an experienced broker to guide you through the process. They’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of homes and can help you identify the solid finds from the duds with gorgeous looking veneer.

Choosing the right broker can save you thousands on your home purchase. Whether through local market knowledge and pricing analysis allowing you to make a smarter offer, recommendations and resources to thoroughly conduct your due diligence and avoid costly mistakes, or savvy contract negotiation to help you get the terms you need, having a Windermere broker on your side is one advantage you can’t afford to sacrifice.


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island.

Posted on August 13, 2019 at 9:08 am
Julie Barrows | Category: Buyer Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Protect Your Investment: 5 Fall Maintenance To-Do’s

Protect Your Home | Fall To-Do Checklist

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While he was talking about fire safety, we think it applies equally well to home maintenance.  One weekend of prevention this fall can save you many headaches (and a lot of money) down the road.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Gutters top to bottom: Water in the wrong spots can do a lot of damage. Start by ensuring that gutters and downspouts are doing their job. (You may want to hire a professional, especially if you have a two-story house with a steep roof.) If your home is surrounded by deciduous trees you may need to clean out your gutters a few times a year, especially in the fall. Check to make sure your gutters are flush with the roof and attached securely, repairing any areas that sag or where the water collects and overflows. Clean out the gutters and downspouts, checking that outlet strainers are in good shape, and are firmly in place. Finally, check that your downspouts direct water away from your house, not straight along the foundation.

Check for leaks: The best opportunity to catch leaks is the first heavy rain after a long dry spell. Check the underside of the roof, looking for moisture on joints or insulation. Mark any spots that you find and then hire a roofing specialist to repair these leaks. If you wait until spots show up on your ceiling, insulation and sheet rock will have also been damaged and you could have a mold problem too. You can find tips on how to solve roof & gutter issues in this great article from http://FamilyHandyman.com.

Don’t forget the basement and the caulking around windows & doors. Check your foundation for cracks, erosion and gaps in window and door weathering.  Make sure to properly seal any leaks while the weather is nice. This will ensure materials dry properly.

Pest Prevention: Rodents are determined and opportunistic, and they can do tremendous amounts of property damage (and endanger your family’s health). As temperatures cool, take measures to prevent roof rats and other critters from moving in. Branches that touch your house and overhang your roof are convenient on-ramps for invaders, so trim back branches so they’re at least four feet from the house. If you do hear scuttling overhead or discover rodent droppings in your attic, crawl space or basement, take immediate action. The website http://www.thisoldhouse.com has several helpful articles on the topic.

Maintain your heating and cooling systems: Preventative maintenance is especially crucial for your home’s heating and air-conditioning systems. Fall is a smart time to have your systems checked and tuned up if necessary. Don’t wait for extreme temperatures to arrive, when service companies are slammed with emergency calls. Between tune-ups, keeps your system performing optimally by cleaning and/or replacing air filters as needed.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, a professional inspection and cleaning will help prevent potentially lethal chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, it’s a good idea to keep a supply of dry firewood or sawdust-composite logs so you have a backup heat source in an emergency. Gas fireplaces should be serviced about every 2 years to lengthen their lifespans.

Insulate & seal: Insulating your home is a cost-efficient investment, whether you’re trying to keep the interior warm in the winter or cool in the summer. Aside from more major improvements like energy-efficient windows and insulation, there are some quick fixes that do-it-yourselfers can tackle. If an exterior door doesn’t have a snug seal when closed, replace the weather stripping; self-adhesive foam stripping is much simpler to install than traditional vinyl stripping. If there is a gap under the door (which can happen over time as a house settles), you may need to realign the door and replace the vinyl door bottom and/or door sweep. Air also sneaks inside through electrical outlets and light switches on exterior walls. Dye-cut foam outlet seals placed behind the wall plates are a quick and inexpensive solution.
 

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

windermeremercerisland.com | (206) 232-0446 | mercerisland@windermere.com
2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040.

© Copyright 2018, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island.

Posted on August 31, 2018 at 1:26 pm
Jennifer Craven | Category: Homeowner Tips and Happenings | Tagged , , ,