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 , , , , , ,

Key Buyer Protections You May Need for Your Home Purchase

How Can You Protect Yourself When You Buy?

 

When purchasing a home, there are a number of protections—called contingency clauses—that you can write into your contract to allow you to back out of the sale for specific reasons.  For instance, if your inspection reveals major problems with the home that the seller can’t or won’t fix, your loan financing falls through, you find out the HOA rules or neighborhood weren’t what you were expecting, etc. The sheer quantity of available contingencies is dizzying. Our list includes 26 provisions alone on preprinted forms, not including any specific requests your broker might negotiate in.

Clearly, not all contingencies are used in a typical transaction and many make your offer less competitive. Still, we think it’s critical for you to understand the legal implications and trade-offs of each contingency so you can make the smartest decisions possible.

Financial

We’ll start with contingencies that relate to financing. Except in extremely competitive situations or non-financeable home sales (think dilapidated homes, major structural issues, or land-value sales), a financing contingency is relatively commonplace. It generally protects you in the event you can’t secure a loan (provided you follow the agreed upon protocol). It includes an appraisal contingency to protect you in the event the lender feels the homes is worth less than you agreed to pay for it.

If you have an existing home that needs to close before you can complete your home purchase, there are two standard contingencies available to you. The first, Buyer’s Sale of Property Contingency, is used when you have not yet secured a buyer for your current home. It sets time periods to both actively list your home for sale and to secure a buyer contract. It ties the closing of your new home to the closing of your current one, and because of this, sets very specific protocols for accepting an offer. It has a bump provision that allows the seller to accept a non-contingent offer if you don’t remove your contingency within a predetermined time frame.

The second contingency, Buyer Pending Sale of Property Contingency, is used when you have already secured a buyer for your home and are awaiting its closing. Because your home is already under contract it is far less controlling than the Sale of Property Contingency, but it protects you if your first sale falls through.

Less common financial contingencies include a standalone appraisal contingency available for cash transactions, a seller-financing attorney review, and a contingency related to homeowner’s insurance availability.

Home and Property Condition

In highly competitive situations a buyer may need to conduct their due diligence before making an offer. In most other scenarios, though, the buyer has countless opportunities to investigate a potential property and walk away or renegotiate if it doesn’t measure up to expectations.

The inspection contingency includes the ability to evaluate the structural, mechanical, and general condition of the structure(s), compliance with building and zoning codes, an environmental or hazardous materials inspection, a pest inspection, and a Geotech or soils and stability inspection. In addition, it includes the option to allow a sewer system inspection or a neighborhood review and permits an inspection to determine the presence or non-presence of oil storage tanks on the property.

Specific separate contingencies allow for evaluation and review of documentation related to wells and septic systems, assessment the presence of lead-based paint, or review of lease agreements for components like propane tanks, security systems, and satellite dishes, etc.

There is an option to make the sale contingent upon seller providing a home warranty or require cleaning and personal property removal prior to buyer taking possession.

Buyers wanting to determine if a home or property is suitable for their intended use (think building, remodeling, platting or development) would incorporate a feasibility contingency into their offer. Buyers of vacant land might include the Land and Acreage Development and Use addendum that incorporates both disclosures and contingencies.

Built into the standard local purchase and sale agreement is an Information Verification Period that gives the buyer 10 days (unless modified) to verify statements made by the seller of listing firm related to the property.

Title

In Washington State, the buyer most commonly receives a deed at the time they purchase a property. That deed is subject to financial liens and encumbrances, restrictions, and physical encroachments. A standard title review contingency allows the buyer the opportunity to review these items and object to any they cannot live with. A buyer has the option to complete a survey of the property boundaries and purchase extended title insurance if desired. Surveys are exceedingly expensive and most typically completed on valuable parcels of land such as waterfront and commercial property.

Community and Homeowners Association

Many communities have homeowner’s associations that govern rights and responsibilities within a community. A homeowners’ association review contingency requires the seller to deliver documents and meeting minutes to buyer that are then subject to buyer’s approval.

Condominiums and Common Interest Communities are also regulated by statute and have specific requirements for review and approval of budgets, documents and meeting minutes like traditional contingencies. Although governed by statute, it’s important for buyers to ensure they receive and review the resale certificate or public offering statement within the allotted time frame to avoid an automatic waiver.

Perhaps you are making an offer in a community or neighborhood you know nothing about and don’t have enough time to check it out. A neighborhood review contingency allows you to do things like research crime statistics, talk with neighbors, explore traffic patterns, and check the noise level (nothing like finding out about that incessantly barking dog after closing). This is something that ideally you do before writing your offer to make it as strong as possible, but it’s nice to know its available in a pinch.

Leases

When buying a property subject to an existing lease that will continue after closing, a lease review contingency will require the seller to deliver a copy of the lease along with books, records and other agreements and provide for your review and approval within a specified time frame.

Attorney Review

Finally, an attorney review contingency will allow you a defined time period with which to have your attorney review and approve specific provisions or the entire purchase contract.

 

No two homes, buyers, or sellers are the same. Every offer you write should be tailored to the specific situation. Nothing tops having an experienced broker to guide you through the process. This is what we do every day. Together, we’ll create the best strategy for you.

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 September 20, 2019 at 4:11 pm
Julie Barrows | Category: Buyer Tips | 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 , , , , , , , , , , ,