Water is Your Worst Enemy

How To Check a House For Water Problems

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Earlier this summer, I was with my client on a home inspection. The home was a Baltimore rowhouse on Federal Hill, built in 1900. After discovering that three of the four walls of the house were wet and there was mold in the crawlspace under the kitchen, my client voided the contract. 

The sellers said they were not aware of water issues in the basement and offered a home warranty to the buyer.

However, no home warranty could fix this problem. The moisture in the basement walls had been there long enough to buckle the drywall. The linoleum flooring was peeling up in the corners. And where there was wall-to-wall carpeting, it felt damp to the touch.

We used the walk away option in the home inspection addendum and the home inspector did not charge my clients.

I hope the sellers used the information in the home inspection report to address the serious water issues but we will never know for sure. I did notice the house was back on the market just a few days after we voided our contract. This is one of the main reasons why we, almost always advise our clients to use a home inspection addendum in their offer. In rare occasions, when there is competition for a good condition condominium, we will recommend waiving the home inspection contingency but we still recommend having one for informational purposes.

We will never know if they corrected the water intrusion problem because we walked away from the deal. 

On a home inspection this week, the inspector used a moisture meter on the back wall of the house. The meter turned yellow indicating that some moisture was present. We walked outside to check the grading against the back wall and sure enough, it wasn't done properly. With this property, my client decided to stay in the deal. He plans to properly grade the yard and caulk around the windows to keep moisture out of the home. 

What should you look for while touring houses?

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  • Look at the soil around the base of the house. 

  • You want to see grading that moves water away, not toward the exterior walls.

  • Are there low areas next to the exterior walls like in the picture above? If so, the area needs to be filled with dirt and graded so it slopes away from the house.

  • Are the downspouts directing water away from the home? 

  • If there is a patio or concrete walkway next to an exterior wall, is the seam properly caulked? Anywhere there is a crack or open area between concrete and an exterior wall, there is an opportunity for water intrusion. 

  • Look at the roof. Are the shingles curled? If so, the roof may be old and near the end of its useful life. 

  • Is there a sump pump in the basement? This is good since the pump works to move water from under the house to the outside. 

  • Check under the stairs in the basement. Look for any original or older wood to see if water has wicked up from the floor. 

  • How does the house smell? Moisture has a distinct smell so pay close attention to what your nose is telling you! 

  • Look up! Check the ceilings in every room to see if there are water stains or recent patching.

Beware of flipped properties!

The bad flips always update the kitchen and bathrooms and ignore the HVAC, roof, water heater and electrical panel.

In other words, some flippers focus on what catches a buyers eye. They’ll install granite countertops in the kitchen, subway tile in the bathroom and leave the old HVAC, roof and water heater. In many older homes, flippers will leave the old 100 amp electrical system and opt to save money not installing a heavy up for the house. A heavy up increases the amperage coming into the house at the service panel or electrical box. This means the electrical system in the house can handle the needs of current homeowners today.

I Don't Like Real Estate Agents

In the movie,  Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaire children's Aunt Josephine has an irrational fear of Realtors. But is it so irrational?

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I met a young lady today who started our conversation with, "Don't take this the wrong way but I don't like real estate agents!" And then she tells me why and I completely get it.

 

People get burned by bad real estate agents and it's very hard for them to come back from that experience. After all, 

a home buyer is making the biggest financial purchase of their life. They need to know they can trust and count on their Realtor to be advocating on their behalf every step of the way!

To be clear, this young lady had not done her homework.

She saw a house she liked and called the listing agent who had a sign in the front yard. She asked the listing agent for a tour and while they toured the house, she told the listing agent how much she loved the house. 

 She said, "The listing agent wasn't answering my questions about the condition of the house. I felt like I couldn't trust her!" What she didn't know is the listing agent is representing the seller and has a fiduciary duty to his client. These fiduciary duties include; loyalty, confidentiality, disclosure, obedience, accounting and reasonable care and diligence. 

Buying a home for the first time?

Here are a few things to consider before going to an Open House or calling a real estate agent.

Buying your second or third home? The rules have changed. Know your rights as a home buyer. 

  • You have the right to full and uncompromised representation - Research your options as a home buyer. There are buyer agents and exclusive buyer agents. Buyer agents work with Brokerages that list properties for sale.Exclusive Buyer Agents work with Brokerages that only represent home buyers. Their Brokerage does not list homes for sale. You will never sign a dual agency agreement with an Exclusive Buyer Agent. 
  •  Interview your real estate agent - Check their reviews and see how quickly they respond to emails, texts, and phone calls. You want a responsive agent who will go see a property as soon as it comes on the market. 
  • Do not call a listing agent - If you want to have full representation, don't contact the listing agent. This person, as I've mentioned earlier, has signed an agreement with the seller to represent their best interest. You need someone to be on your side 100%.
  • Don't disclose your interest in a property at the Open House - The agent at the Open House works for the Brokerage representing the seller. While this person will answer your questions about the property, remember that they work for the seller. You want to work with a real estate agent who will advocate on your behalf. Someone who will negotiate the sales price, negotiate the repairs and credits found in the home inspection and be looking out for you during the entire home buying process. 
  • Learn the commute & the neighborhoods that work for you - In Washington DC and Baltimore, the commute times can be brutal. Consider your drive times and talk to your spouse about what makes the most sense for both of you. Drive the neighborhoods of interest and check out what the communities have to offer. 

Buying a home is challenging but it can be fun. Do your homework and interview agents to be sure you have an advocate on your side!

How Important is a Survey When Buying a Home?

When buying a single family home, you don't want any surprises. 

Many of our new home buyers have asked us if they really need to pay the extra money to get a property survey.

After all, the backyard is already fenced, isn’t that enough?
— Home buyer in Washington D.C.
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Buying a home is the most expensive purchase most of us make in a lifetime.

And you are not just buying the house, you are buying the parcel of land that the house sits on. So the short answer to the question above is, "Yes! You should seriously consider paying for a survey when you are buying a home."

A land survey is a map showing the legal boundaries of a property. The surveyor measures the property and identifies buildings on a property.

In some cases, like when we had our property surveyed in Maryland, the surveyor drove flagged metal stakes into the ground to identify the boundaries. Sometimes surveyors put concrete markers into the ground when the house is built. We found one of these when our surveyor came out to determine the line between our neighbors' property and our property line. 

 

A house location drawing is not a boundary survey. 

A house location drawing is fairly accurate and indicates where the house sits on the property. 

It does not, show the property lines. To have a true understanding of your property size, we recommend paying for the boundary survey. Depending on the lot size and location, a boundary survey can cost between $500 to over $1000. 

  • You will save yourself a lot of trouble if you get a boundary survey. In our case, we paid for a survey and erected a privacy fence. Our neighbor, who was an original buyer from 1961 complained that we had built the fence on his land. However, he was mistaken. He had long thought our side yard was his yard. The fence set the record straight and we were glad to regain the use of our land. 

  • Keep a copy of your boundary survey. If you want to build a shed or plant trees or bushes near your property line, you may need to provide the survey to your County or other local officials. 

Your settlement attorney or title company should answer all your questions about boundary surveys. Remember, you are not just buying the house, you are buying the property. You will want to know what land is yours. Someday, if you decide to sell your house, a buyer will want answers to these questions. If there are any issues with easements or encroachments, you will have a problem. 

 

Happy House Hunting! 

Exclusive buyer agents with Buyer's Edge

HomesBuyHendersons.com

Mortgage Rates Have Dropped to the Lowest Rate in 10 months

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Graph from Urban Turf

Is buying a home a good idea for you, right now?

With mortgage rates at the lowest rate in 10 months, it may be time for you to stop renting and consider buying your own home. As Exclusive Buyer Agents with Buyer's Edge, we specialize in the home buying process. With us, you never sign a  dual agency agreement. We advocate for you from the home search to the settlement! Since we are an Exclusive Buyer Brokerage, we do not have listings to sell. We have access to every home for sale, listed by a real estate brokerage and also homes for sale by owner. 


Freddie Mac reported 3.78% as the average for a 30-year mortage

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We help home buyers in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. Since the market is competitive for condos and single family homes in the District, we suggest meeting with us to develop a clear home tour strategy. This frequently means not waiting to see homes until the weekend. Marshall and I have had success for our buyers by being the first ones into a home when it comes on the market. Being pre-approved, by a local lender, is part of the winning strategy.  For home buyers in Northern Virginia and the Maryland suburbs, the housing market is a little less competitive. Generally, the closer you are to Washington D.C., the more competition for condos and single family homes. 

Search for a home using the search engine at Buyer's Edge. 

Fall is an excellent time to find a home in the Washington & Baltimore area. If you have questions or would like to meet with us to talk about your specific needs, email me at Victoria@buyersagent.com or call 301-922-1677.  We look forward to meeting you!