Moving on the Mind? 5 Telltale Signs That You're Ready

When it comes time to list your home on the market, the decision to sell shouldn’t be taken lightly. Rather than asking your Magic 8 Ball whether now’s the time to pack up your belongings and move into a new space, you’ll want to focus on a variety of factors to be sure your decision makes the most sense for you and your family.

Here are five telltale signs that will offer the best indication that you’re ready to get off the sidelines and make a move.

  1. You’re financially ready. Purchasing a home is an expensive proposition, which means buyers need to have their finances in order before they even begin looking at houses. “Many people take the plunge when interest rates are low and their credit score is in good standing,” says James Roche, CEO of, who notes that understanding the costs associated with purchasing a home is another important factor that needs to be taken into consideration.
  2. You have a game plan. According to Roche, having a game plan in place is one of the best ways to motivate yourself when it comes to actually going through with listing your home. Your game plan should cover the basics—where you want to live, what type of home you want to purchase, when you want to move—in addition to how much you can afford. “Having a general vision of what your next home will look like hinges on having an estimated listing price of how much you can actually afford,” says Roche.
  3. Your family situation is changing. Whether your family is growing or you’ve recently become an empty nester, shifting family dynamics can play a large part in your current home not meeting your everyday needs anymore. Take stock of the space you have—and whether it’s being put to good use—and decide what makes the most sense for your current situation.
  4. You’re ready for self-expression. “It may be time to hang that For Sale sign if you find that special house or rare parcel of land that you’ve always wanted,” says Roche.
  5. You actually want to sell. When it comes to selling your home, no one can make the decision for you. “The best time for you to sell is when you feel that it’s absolutely right.”

Have you ever wondered how people out there are able to accomplish these massive goals?

Well, wonder no more. I'm going to discuss how to set goals and reverse engineer your way to accomplishing them.

To start, you will need to set a clear and ‘trackable’ goal. And, by ‘trackable, I mean something that you can attach a number to. For example, instead of setting a goal of “losing weight'', declare rather that you want to lose 12 pounds.

Or, in terms of real estate investing, instead of stating that your goal is to build a rental portfolio, say rather that you want to buy 12 houses. With those numbers involved, the 12 pounds and 12 houses, that's what makes the goal trackable.

The next thing you want to do is put a timeframe to that specific goal. For example, I want to lose 12 pounds in 12 months, or I want to buy 12 houses in 12 months.

Those are the first two key things that you need for a goal. You need something that is trackable and it should come with a timeframe.

Next, let’s talk about KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. Key Performance Indicators come in two forms. There are lead indicators or lead measures and lag indicators or lag measures.

Lead and lag indicators or measures are means to measure your goals.

When you set a goal to lose 12 pounds of weight, lead indicators refer to you going to the gym and making healthy food choices, and any activity you take to reach your set goals.

On the other hand, lag indicators refer to the weight you have lost, in this case, 12 pounds or any result from the actions you have taken towards a set goal.

In terms of building a real estate portfolio, lead measures would be your lead generation strategies, the number of leads you’re getting and analyzing, appointments you are going into, and offers you’re making.

While, the lag measures would be the 12 houses you purchased or the number of contracts you converted from the leads, appointments, and offers.

In line with that, our next step in goal setting is to work backward and figure out what the lag measure targets should be.

I usually set things up on a quarterly basis. So, if I have the annual or yearly goal, I will break my annual goal down to quarterly lag measure goals.

For example, if over the next year I want to lose 12 pounds, then every quarter, I will set to lose three pounds, or one pound every month.

In terms of the rental portfolio, if I set out to buy 12 houses in a year, I would need to get three houses a quarter or one house a month.

Finally, you need to figure out what lead measures are important to obtain these goals, and then you need to keep track of them either daily or at the very minimum on a weekly basis.

For losing weight, I have three lead measures that I keep track of on a daily basis. I want to walk 10,000 steps, go to the gym, do a workout of at least 30 minutes, and then eat less than 2,500 calories every single day.

All I do is create a checklist and put a little checkmark, or an O. If it's a check it means I did it, if it's an O that means I didn't do it. I keep track of that every single day. So if I look back in three months, and I only lost one pound where my goal was losing three pounds, I can look at my chart and would probably see a lot of O’s instead of checks when reviewing my lead measures.

When it comes to building that rental portfolio, my lead measures are leads I’ve acquired and analyzed, appointments attended, and offers made. And the number of offers made is a big deal, which is what I really keep track of.

Basically, if I can make two offers a week, eight offers a month on average, I should be able to buy one house a month or at least get one house under contract. And, only a certain amount of contracts actually turn into buys.

Regardless of what your goal is, It’s necessary that we religiously keep track of these lead measures, whether it’s monthly, quarterly or weekly. You will also need to track your lag measures to determine if you are aligned with the lead measures you’ve set and been successful in accomplishing the goals.

Like in losing weight, I keep track of the measurement around my belly, and how much I weigh. And for the rental portfolio, for buying 12 houses, I keep track of how many contracts and how many purchase closings I get.

Being able to keep track of your lead measures and your lag measures enables you to diagnose issues when you're not able to meet your goals.

Finally, you are ready to set your goal. With this framework, you should be able to track them, diagnose any issues, and ultimately, accomplish them.


Finding Functionality for Every Room

You probably have a room in your house that doesn’t get used much or is just acting as storage for your “extra” stuff. Empty nesters are especially prone to having a bedroom that is no longer used and has become messy and unorganized over time.

Rooms like these are an opportunity when selling a house. Presenting a room in a creative way can appeal to buyers who visit your home. Anyone buying a home is going to expect bedrooms, dens and living rooms, so transforming a spare room into something unique is sure to be noticed. Here are some ideas for turning that bonus room into something special quickly and without a high cost.

Recreation Room
Buyers with kids are sure to appreciate a room that promotes family time. While playrooms filled with toys are common, a room where everyone can gather and interact is a great idea. Put board games in the room and set up a table with a puzzle on it. Also include books, magazines and coloring books, but not a TV. Invite house hunters to work on the puzzle; kids who are spending the day looking at houses will jump at the opportunity, and that might translate to a positive experience for the parents.

Hobby Room
Rooms designed specifically for men and women are a popular trend, but why not create a space for everyone? Make the room a productive area where anyone can practice a hobby. Set up a sewing or knitting area, create a spot for a musical instrument with a music stand or turn the room into an artists’ or writers’ studio.

Family Office
Instead of a stuffy office, create a fun home work space. Set up a desk or table where family members can bring their laptops. Have papers, pens, pencils and other supplies handy. For the younger members of the household, set up a station with crayons, paste and construction paper. Have a shelf with dictionaries, reference books and almanacs.

Guest Room
Sure, many homes have guest rooms, but make yours one to envy. With a simple paint job and a small investment in quality bedding, you can turn a room into a luxurious space that is sure to catch the eyes of buyers who have out-of-town friends and relatives that might need to spend the weekend.

High-End Closet
Turning rooms into closets can be a major project, but it also can be done efficiently. Affordable shelving can hold shoes, hats, scarves, gloves and practically any type of clothing in an accessible and organized way. Racks can hold shirts, pants, suits and dresses. The idea is to create an appealing and organized space for clothing and accessories.


Six Simple Ways to Increase Home Efficiency

More and more people are looking for ways to increase their home’s energy efficiency—both to conserve energy for the good of our environment and to lower energy costs. The good news, environmentalists tell us, is that there are many ways to accomplish both goals without spending a great deal of money.

From a panel of national energy experts, here are proven ways to do your part:

  1. Unplug appliances. Coffee makers and other kitchen appliances, and even your cellphone charger, draw energy even when not in use. Make it a habit to unplug them after use.
  2. Caulk and weather strip. Properly caulked windows and doors help keep outdoor air from seeping into your home, increasing the overall efficiency of your heating and air conditioning systems. Materials are inexpensive and replacement doesn’t take a lot of time, so check for drafts and replace as needed.
  3. Add insulation. Especially in older homes, adding insulation to the inside of your attic is well worth the minor investment in terms of efficiency and energy cost.
  4. Lower the water temp. A water heater set higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit wastes a lot of energy and creates a burn hazard for children. So while it might take a few extra minutes to get your kitchen faucet water really hot, it will be worth the savings to lower your thermostat.
  5. Replace incandescent lights. The average household spends 11 percent of its energy budget on lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert only about 10 percent of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. New lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50 – 75 percent.
  6. Maximize laundry and dish cleaning. Don’t run a load until the machine is full. Clean the dryer’s lint filter frequently and use lower temperature settings or lower cleaning settings when clothes or dishes are not heavily soiled.

Hope you found this information helpful! Contact me for more insights and info.


What Makes a Home Difficult to Insure

Home insurance may be one of the last things you’ll think about when buying a home, but in some situations, insuring your biggest asset isn’t so easy. And without insurance, you won’t be able to qualify for a home loan.

Here are five things that can make getting home insurance difficult, or at least more expensive:

  1. A lot of claims: A long list of insurance claims at an address by previous owners can increase insurance rates. For an insurer, too many claims can mean there’s an underlying maintenance problem that needs to be fixed, and it’s likely a big one. You can find out how many insurance claims were filed at the home in the last five years by buying a Home Seller’s Disclosure Report from the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange.
  2. Natural disasters: If the home is in an area where natural disasters strike, then you’ll probably need to buy extra insurance because the basic homeowner’s policy won’t cover it. That extra insurance may be expensive, though you might be able to mitigate it by taking certain precautions, such as installing storm shutters in a hurricane zone, for example.
  3. Old homes: Just like us, homes wear out with age. Old pipes and electrical systems can break, and an insurer may deny coverage until such things are updated. Or they may charge more for homes where some items may not be up to current building codes.
  4. Backyard fun: A pool or trampoline in the backyard can be listed by an insurance company as an “attractive nuisance” for neighborhood children to get into while you’re away. An injury or death in that situation would be horrible enough, and you could also be held liable in a lawsuit, meaning your insurer would likely have to pay up. Putting a fence and other precautions around them can help protect you, but insurers may still be wary and charge higher rates.
  5. Vacant homes: If you buy a foreclosed or vacant home, there’s a chance that pipes and other parts of the home can fall apart faster or be destroyed by vandals or evicted owners. This could lead to repairs being done before you can move in, possibly requiring extra insurance to cover vandalism, fire or other risks that can occur when a home remains empty.

If you’re faced with any of these issues, remember that you can probably still find an insurance company that will cover you if you can’t resolve them. The rates may be higher than normal, but at least you’ll be covered.


4 Steps to Win a Bidding War

From a buyer’s standpoint, getting into a bidding war for a house they want is never fun. They can offer more money than they ever planned to spend and still end up without the home of their dreams. A real estate agent should be able to tell you ahead of time if bidding wars are likely in your desired neighborhood. Here are four real estate tips to win a bidding war, if it comes to that:

  1. Make a high offer. Instead of making a low offer with the expectation that you’ll increase it if you have to, offer as much as you can afford immediately. Let the seller know this is your best offer, and that you can’t go any higher. This can help avoid any haggling back and forth, will save you time, and, hopefully, will get you the house. A variation of this method includes offering $20,000 or so above the asking price, showing upfront that you’re a serious buyer.
  1. Have a big down payment. Having a large amount of cash for a down payment of 20 percent or more can show you’re a serious buyer. Get a preapproval letter from your lender, have paperwork proving you have the money, and pay a higher earnest money deposit, if you can.
  1. Go conventional. Instead of getting an FHA or other government-backed loan that can have longer escrow periods, be approved for a conventional loan. This can require coming up with a bigger down payment and having a good or excellent credit score, but can lead to shorter waiting periods and show you’re a strong buyer.
  1. Add an escalation clause. An escalation clause allows your real estate agent to go above the highest offer, but only to a point. For example, on a home with a listing price of $350,000, you could make an offer of $400,000 with an escalation clause of $5,000 over the highest price, but only up to $450,000. If another buyer offers $425,000, your automatic clause would increase your offer to $430,000.

However you enter a bidding war, always remember that your exit strategy is pretty simple—there are always other homes on the market waiting for you to buy.


Money-Saving Tax Tips for Homeowners

New buyers can get overwhelmed by the additional expenses incurred during homeownership. Besides making monthly mortgage payments, homeowners may have to pay for gardening, pest control, pool maintenance, plumbing fixes, electrical work and more.

But the good news is that tax time offers homeowners a number of deductions and credits not available to renters. Check with a tax consultant to see if these deductions apply to you.

Private Mortgage Insurance
PMI is the premium you pay every month until your equity equals 20 percent of your home’s value. Luckily, these premiums can be deducted from your income.

Mortgage Interest
If you paid more than $600 dollars in mortgage interest during the tax year, every penny you paid is deductible—and that includes interest on a second mortgage.

Local Real Estate Taxes
Some taxpayers overlook the fact that homeowners can deduct local, state and even foreign real estate taxes on their federal returns. Lower-income homeowners may also get special property tax benefits from their state or municipality, so look into further breaks specific to your community.

Losses From Weather, Fire or Theft
While nobody wants a tree to fall on their house or burglars to make off with their flat screen, the IRS grants a break to any property or casualty loss that is more than 10 percent of your gross income and is not reimbursed by your insurance.

Moving Expenses
If you moved 50 miles or more for a new job during the tax year, you can deduct your moving expenses. (Note, that if you started the new job more than a year before purchasing the new home, the moving expenses are not tax deductible.)

Selling Costs
If you sold a home during the tax year, the commission paid to a real estate agent is tax deductible, as are any legal fees and closing costs. Just like home-improvement costs reduce your cost basis, so do your selling costs.


Top 7 Most Profitable Home Features

Improving your home before you sell it can seem like wasting money. After all, if you’re not going to live there much longer, why remodel or add features you won’t get to use much?

Because, as any real estate professional will tell you, the upgrades can help you recoup the cost and more in a higher selling price for your home. Without some updates, home sellers may realize their home is not worth as much as they thought.

Here are some of the features that increase the resale value of a home:

1. Laundry Room
Starting at $1,000, adding a laundry room to a home helps clean out other rooms where clothes may be stacked and can keep the living space tidier.

The basement is the easiest place to put a laundry room. Another option is to add a laundry closet that fits a washer and dryer and some shelves.

2. Energy Efficient Items
Energy Star-qualified windows and appliances can be good selling points for buyers looking to save on their utility bills.

A water-efficient washing machine can cost anywhere from $500 – $1,800, while a dishwasher that senses how dirty the dishes are so that less water is used costs about $225 – $1,600.

3. Ceiling Fan
For as little as $50, a ceiling fan can lower cooling costs when used with an air conditioner. After chilling a room, a ceiling fan can keep the room cool and allow the thermostat to be raised a few degrees.

4. Patio
For about $950, you can add a 120-square-foot concrete patio. This feature can be very appealing to buyers and can make a backyard look much more inviting. Add a table and some patio furniture, and buyers can envision themselves sitting outside with friends at a party.

5. Hardwood Floors
Since they are easy to maintain and have a clean look, hardwood floors are gaining ground in popularity. If refinished periodically, hardwood floors can last a lifetime, compared to about 10 years for carpet.

6. Garage Storage
Storage space always seems to be lacking in homes, especially for growing families. Add some storage to a garage to keep clutter out of a home’s living areas and you’ve essentially created a bonus space.

Storage in a garage can include cabinets, shelves, rows of boxes, and improved lighting and extra electrical outlets.

7. Exterior Lighting
Light fixtures are relatively inexpensive, and illuminating the outside of your home doesn’t have to be a Disneyland-at-night event. At the very least, put spotlights on walkways and the driveway so that nighttime visitors won’t stumble to your door in the dark.


5 Home Features to Make Aging in Place Easier

If you’re looking to buy a new home and hope to stay there for the rest of your life, look ahead to what you might want in it as you age. Thinking of and paying for features that make a house more accessible now can be a lot easier than having to make modifications later.

Here are five home features to look for in a “forever home” that can make age-related disabilities easier to deal with:

  1. Few steps. A no-step entry that can accommodate a wheelchair is preferable – and is the first thing to look for in a home that you may want to spend retirement in. The entryway should be wide and deep enough for a wheelchair to easily turn around, ideally 36 inches wide or more. It’s also a good idea to look for a home without stairs. A one-story home can help with knee or other health issues that make walking difficult. If your home has a second floor, you may one day need to install an elevator or chairlift.
  2. Accessible bedroom and bathroom. Most homes have one-floor living spaces, meaning that even if your home has a second story, you can convert a first-floor living or dining room into a bedroom. Look for a home that has a first-floor bedroom with an attached bathroom, preferably both of which are wheelchair accessible.
  3. Slip-proof bathroom. Falls in the bathroom are a major cause of injuries for the elderly. Make sure the bathroom, bath and shower have grab bars to help avoid accidents. These don’t have to be the huge grab bars you see in nursing homes, but rather, towel racks or other functional bars that are properly anchored.
  4. Kitchen you can still cook in. If you still plan on cooking later in life, look for a kitchen that’s easy to get around in, with areas that are easily reachable. Counters, storage areas, drawers and dishwashers should be at heights that you can get to comfortably without bending over.
  5. High tech. A home equipped with the latest technology can allow homeowners to do things from their couches that used to require getting up. With a smartphone or tablet, you can adjust the thermostat, close the blinds, turn off the lights and lock the doors if they’re all set up with the right technology.

Credit Union vs. Bank: Know the Difference

Interest rates remain low, though that’s no reason to stow your money under your mattress.

Hiding your money at home won’t earn you any interest, and that’s one of the benefits—no matter how small—that banks and credit unions can offer customers. But banks and credit unions have different benefits and drawbacks, and knowing how each works can make it easier to decide where to put your cash.

Here are some differences between credit unions and banks:

Profit vs. no profit: The first thing to note when comparing banks to credit unions is that banks are in business to make money and credit unions are not for profit. This can allow credit unions to offer better interest rates, which we’ll get to shortly.

Credit unions are cooperatively owned and run by volunteer board members, who decide interest rates and other factors. To join a credit union, you may have to be a member of an employee group, association or some other specific affiliation, and may have to live in a specific geographic area.

Interest Rates: Credit unions have slightly better interest rates than banks on CDs, money market accounts, regular savings accounts and interest checking accounts, according to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

Better Loans: Credit unions also have either the same or better rates on home loans, and their car loans can be half the rate of what a bank charges, according to the NCUA data.

Deposit Insurance: Both credit unions and banks have the same protection from the federal government through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., or FDIC. It insures up to $250,000 per account for checking, savings, money market and CD accounts.

Lower Fees: Credit unions generally charge less in fees than banks, according to the NCUA, though its website didn’t offer specific examples. When looking into banking fees, ask about minimum balance requirements to avoid a monthly fee, whether you’re limited to withdrawals from a savings account each month, what debit card fees it charges and if you’re reimbursed for fees at an ATM not affiliated with your account.

More Options at Banks: From a retirement plan to business loans and investing services, and everything in between, most banks will often offer more services than credit unions do. Banks also have more brick-and-mortar locations and ATMs that are spread around the country and are free to customers, making them a more convenient option.

Wherever you decide to put your money, check online with the FDIC to ensure that the bank or credit union you want to do business with is insured by the FDIC and is a legitimate financial institution.


When buying a home, consider a DIY home inspection before making an offer. This gives you peace of mind that everything is in good shape before such a big investment.

Depending on where you live, a professional inspection costs buyers, on average, $200 to $400. That can increase dramatically for large or older houses with complicated floor plans. That’s the kind of money you spend when you really want—and intend to buy—a home. Be sure to do your due diligence before calling in the pros.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t get a home inspection from a licensed professional. That level of inspection can wait until your contract has been accepted and you’re ready to commit to the home. Before you hire a professional home inspector, a DIY walkthrough can give you initial results—if you know what to look for. After doing your own inspection, follow up with an experienced pro. That way, you’ve covered all your bases.

What is a DIY home inspection, and why should I do one?

During a DIY home inspection, you take a good look at the interior and exterior of the property to make sure everything is in working order. A thorough inspection will cover everything from the windows, plumbing, outlets and water heater to the walls, roofing, and more. Everything on the property should be looked at.

Because of all the work involved, getting a home inspection is an important part of the home buying process. Doing a DIY home inspection is a great idea as an initial step. It gives you a hands-on appreciation for your potential new home while learning about everything it has to offer. Sometimes the beauty (or ugliness) of a home can make you overlook items you aren’t excited about repairing. It also helps you save money if you aren’t completely sold on a house or if you aren’t close to the end of the overall process.

Luckily, doing home inspections doesn’t require tons of training or special paperwork. All you really need is a notebook, pen, marble, and this checklist. If you’re feeling ambitious, take a tape measure. Although not every aspect of this list will apply to all homes, this is a rather inclusive inspection list that will be a good jumping off point in your due diligence.

General items to inspect

  • Windows: Check that they open and close easily and for any broken panes. Check thoughout the entire house as windows could be different ages and made from different material. For example, are they vinyl, wood, aluminum? Make sure you know the answer to this question for each window.
  • Doors: Check that they open and close completely. Do they stick? Lock? Scrape the floor at any point?
  • Floors: Check for any creaking and unevenness. Place a marble on the floor and see if it rolls to check for a slant. This test should be done in multiple areas of the home to make sure everything is level.
  • Walls: Check for any holes or cracks in the walls. It’s also important to check the insulation. Touching different areas of the walls can be a good way to check for cold spots. Cold spots are an indication that the home isn’t properly insulated.
  • Trim: Is there any damage or missing pieces? Animals, for example, can be brutal to wood trim, and matching old trim is almost impossible. If there is damage, it may make sense to replace the trim completely.
  • Lights: Turn on every light switch to make sure they work. Check with the power company about this step if need be.
  • Stairs: Walk up and down the stairs and touch every spindle on the railing. Do they seem sturdy or wobbly? Do the stairs creak and are any parts missing? Be aware that uneven stairs can be dangerous.
  • Outlets: Get a voltage tester at your local big box home improvement store for less than $20 and test every single outlet both inside and outside. Get a ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, to prevent electrocution when testing voltage.
  • Furnace: Look for any stickers on the furnace that indicate the installation date. If there is none, make sure to get this information as soon as possible and store it in a safe place.
  • Water heater: Check for water around the base of the water heater for damage or other signs of wear. The heater should also have stickers that indicate the installation date.

What to look for in the kitchen

  • Cabinets and drawers: Open and close every cabinet and drawer to make sure they move smoothly and that they don’t prevent access to anything.
  • Oven: Open the oven door slowly to make sure the springs work and the light, if it has one, turns on appropriately. Turn it on to make sure it still works and is in good condition.
  • Stove: The same thing applies to the stove. Turn on each burner to make sure it works. If gas, turn on and off one burner before turning the next one on to make sure they all turn on by themselves, rather than catching the flame from an adjacent burner. If they all work individually, turn them all on to make sure they all work at the same time. If electric, just turn them all on.
  • Fridge: Open the refrigerator and freezer doors to ensure they open easily. However, do NOT do this if the home is vacant and appears to have been vacant for some time. Who knows what could be in there after all that time— and it could be dangerous. If it’s been an extended period of time, it’s safer to replace the fridge.
  • Dishwasher: Open and inspect the dishwasher slowly to check the springs on the door. If it’s electronic, make sure the unit still turns on and functions as it’s meant to.
  • Faucet: Run the water to check the pressure and make sure the knobs completely turn off.
  • Garbage disposal: Make sure it runs, turning the water on beforehand.
  • Cabinet interiors: Take a look inside of each one to make sure they are spacious enough. And make sure there are enough drawers to fit your needs.
  • Microwave: Make sure it works. Turn it on and press some buttons.
  • Hood: Turn on the range hood fan and light to make sure they work. Peek underneath to check for filth—a commonly overlooked area for cleaning.
  • Countertops: Check here for chips and cracks regardless of what it’s made out of.
  • Tile: Check the floor for cracked or broken tiles.

Bathroom inspection must-dos

  • Plumbing and drainage: Flush the toilet and let the water run in the sink and tub. Inspect that the water in the sink and tub drain properly. Turn on the shower and make sure the water runs evenly with good pressure. This is also a great opportunity to check for pipe leaks and functioning knobs.
  • Flooring: Any broken tiles?
  • Toilet: Does it rock or is it solidly on the floor? Make sure it flushes properly and doesn’t run after the fact.
  • Tub: Check for cracks, chips, and any spaces between the tub and the walls or the floor.
  • Vanity: Check the overall condition and each storage space. If there’s a mirror, make sure it isn’t cracked, chipped, or broken.
  • Ventilation: Does the fan work? Is there a window and does it open and close easily?

Quick bedroom checks

  • Closets: If the closets have doors, make sure they open and close easily.
  • Flooring: Does the carpet have stains, wear spots, or other kinds of damage? With wood and tile, does it have any scratches, cracks, or broken places?

Living, dining, and family room scan

  • Doors: Any doors? Do they open and close easily?
  • Flooring: What is the state of the flooring?
  • Walls: Are there any holes or other damage in the walls?
  • Ceilings: Make sure they don’t have any cracks or holes. These would also be a big issue if there’s an attic that you plan to use.

Attic inspection

  • Access: It’s important to know how to get into the attic. Some have drop-down ladders or stairs with doors. However you get into it, make sure it’s safe and that each door opens easily.
  • Insulation: A lot of attics give easy access to the state of the home’s insulation. It may be the only place in a home where the insulation is exposed, which makes it the easiest place to inspect it and check that there is enough for your needs.
  • Ventilation: The attic may also be one of the only areas to see a home’s ventilation. Make sure it’s properly ventilated and that there are no areas for moisture to get trapped, which allows dreaded mold to grow.
  • Framing: The framing can also be exposed in an attic. Check to see if it’s cracked or chipped or has any loose spots.

Basement deep dive

  • Odor: Basements are typically underground so make sure there’s no strange odor. An overpowering or strange odor can be mold or mildew.
  • Walls: Do the walls have any cracks? Small, hairline cracks are not so concerning, but large cracks—especially horizontal cracks—can be an indicator of bigger foundation problems. Water stains may also indicate former flooding or leaky foundations.

Examine the exterior

  • SprinklersTurn on the sprinkler system to test the water pressure and that the system works the way it’s meant to.
  • Walkways: Uneven walkways can be dangerous. Make sure there are no serious cracks, holes, etc.
  • Lights: Flip them on and test them out to make sure they stay on consistently. If they are motion-sensor lights, test them out by walking by them.
  • Fence: Walk the fence to check for loose boards and the overall sturdiness.
  • Siding: Check for any decay and wood rot that may become a bigger problem as time goes on. Look at the mortar between the bricks, if applicable. Is it cracking? How badly?
  • Roof: Go to the south side of the house and look at the shingles. (It gets the most sun.) Curling or buckling can be an indication that the roof needs work.
  • Gutters: The gutters are considered part of the roof. It’s important to make sure they don’t have any rust or cracks and holes that would make them leak. The downspouts should also be a certain distance away from the house’s foundation, and the gutters should be a certain size to prevent runoff.
  • Garage door: Make sure the garage door(s) open and close easily. If there’s a remote, make sure it works properly.
  • Driveway: Check for significant cracks or holes and note the material the driveway is made of to be able to estimate repairs or replacement costs. Is it asphalt? Is it concrete? Is it brick?
  • Lawn: Look at the grass and check for dead patches.
  • Yard: Note the state of the yard, and make sure there aren’t any dead trees. How’s the size? What amount of shade/sun does it get (for those considering gardens or needing to plant grass). Is there any standing water?
  • Air conditioning: Is there an AC unit? If not, then does it have a line set to a furnace, and the AC has been stolen? Or is there simply no line to the furnace? Does the house have some or several window AC units? This is a good indication (but not a confirmation) there isn’t a setup for the outside unit. If it doesn’t have those lines/power supply, make sure you account for that in your figures. There is definitely an additional cost for the line set. Also, ensure you have the right refrigerant for the AC you have.
  • Chimney: Check to make sure the chimney is clean and that firewood can be burned safely.

Pro tip: Take photos

In your DIY home inspection, taking pictures is key to the overall process. These pictures document what you saw in your inspection. They can back you up if you see anything that looks suspect before making an offer. Photos can also prove the state of the property: This way, the owner can’t claim that you caused any damage. You’d have the photos as proof that the damage was already there.

However, it’s not enough to take pictures here and there. When you’re doing a home inspection, you have to take pictures of everything. Even if something doesn’t look perfectly fine, it’s important to document it so that you have protection against any future damage. When it comes to things like checking faucets and other sources of running water, take videos rather than still photos.


4 Ways to Win in a Seller's Market

Buying a home in a seller’s market can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.

A seller’s market occurs when there is a low inventory of homes for sale and a large number of buyers creating high demand. It can lead to competitive bidding and high prices.

A real estate agent can help you determine if you’re in a seller’s market so you can adapt your home-buying strategy. A market absorption rate calculator can help by calculating how many months it would take to sell all the remaining homes, or inventory, for sale in a given area. A low number means you’re in a seller’s market.

Here are four ways to be a successful buyer in a seller’s market:

Be Ready to Bid High
Whatever your budget is, be prepared to go in with an offer for the listing price. It can prevent other bidders from coming in and can help you avoid competing with multiple buyers.

If that tactic doesn’t work, be prepared to increase your offer to your best offer, but not your final offer. Add an escalation clause of 2-3 percent more than the highest bid, but only if you’re able to pay the most for the property.

Another tactic is to work a bidding war into your budget by only looking at houses listed for up to 90 percent of your maximum budget. This will give you extra money if a bidding war starts.

Don’t Counter
There are no counter offers in a seller’s market.

Put your best offer on the table early. Sellers could see a dozen offers at once, and they’re unlikely to counter with buyers if they have a lot of high offers to choose from.

Show Them the Money
Show a seller how serious you are by offering more cash than normal in earnest money — a deposit made to the seller to show a buyer’s good faith in a transaction. If a high earnest money deposit in your area is $20,000, then increase it by $10,000.

Offer Non-Price Factors
Some sellers will accept your price if you provide some non-price considerations that can speed up the transaction, also called contingencies.

These include waiving the financing contingency, limiting the home inspection to three to five days or eliminating the home inspection completely, giving sellers extra time to move out.

This information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. You should rely on this information only to decide whether or not to further investigate a particular property. BEFORE MAKING ANY OTHER DECISION, YOU SHOULD PERSONALLY INVESTIGATE THE FACTS (e.g. square footage and lot size) with the assistance of an appropriate professional. You may use this information only to identify properties you may be interested in investigating further. All uses except for personal, non-commercial use in accordance with the foregoing purpose are prohibited. Redistribution or copying of this information, any photographs or video tours is strictly prohibited. This information is derived from the Internet Data Exchange (IDX) service provided by San Diego Multiple Listing Service, Inc. Displayed property listings may be held by a brokerage firm other than the broker and/or agent responsible for this display. The information and any photographs and video tours and the compilation from which they are derived is protected by copyright. Compilation © 2024 San Diego Multiple Listing Service, Inc.