Completely remodeled home, what does that mean?

There's an expectation when you see the phrase "completely remodeled" in a home listed for sale.  

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Remodel, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary means to change the structure, shape or appearance of something. 

 

When the phrase "completely remodeled" is used in the description of a listing, many homebuyers expect the entire house to be updated. 

But in reality, a house advertised as "completely remodeled"  could have a number of big-ticket items that are either original or close to the end of their use. In fact, we find this to be true more often than not. So with that in mind... 

Here's what you need to look for when you see the phrase "completely remodeled" in the description of a home.

  • Electrical upgrades- The standard for household power used to be 60 amps. Today modern homes need as much as 200 amps to run all the electrical needs. High definition televisions, computers, air conditioners and home automation devices require lots of power to run. Have a home inspector check the entry cable coming into the house and the electrical panel. If the house has original or outdated wiring, consider upgrading for safety and function purposes. 

  • Roof - Depending on the size of a house and the style of shingles, a new roof can cost between $8000 and $40,000 dollars. The age of a roof is a very important consideration when buying a house. While you are touring the house with your buyer agent, check the roof to see if any shingles are curling. See if there are any cracked or missing shingles. Finally, look for bald spots or areas of the roof where the granules are gone. These are all signs of an older roof. If you move ahead with the purchase of the home, make sure your home inspector gives you an estimate on the age of the roof.

  • Outlets - This falls under the electrical upgrade category but it's important to pay close attention to the electrical outlets in a home. We still see the old-fashioned 2 prong outlets in houses in the Greater Washington DC area. These older outlets do not have the ground wires to protect people and electrical devices in case of a fault. Today's modern houses should have the 3 prong outlets for safety and function purposes. If you're like me and you don't know how to change out these outlets, hire an electrician. 

  • Water Heater & HVAC - Most water heaters have an 8 to 12-year lifespan. If the heater is an A&O Smith or another higher quality water heater, it may last longer. Take a picture of the HVAC label and google it to determine the age. If the unit has been well maintained, there will be a label from an HVAC company with service dates. Again, this can be done when you are touring a home. If you decide to purchase a house and schedule a home inspection, the inspector will determine the age and condition of the HVAC unit and water heater. 

  • Plumbing -  Plumbing problems can be very expensive. When you are touring a house that you like, turn on the faucets to check pressure. Look under sinks for signs of water issues. Look up at the ceiling to see if there are any stains. You can't always see a plumbing problem but it's a good idea to ask the seller if they have a record of plumbing maintenance. 

  • Foundation - Check the basement walls for large cracks or bulges. Look at the house exterior for signs of moisture or cracks. Examine the landscaping to see how well the yard is graded. Water should be moving away from the house, not toward the foundation. Again, this advice is for homebuyers as they tour a property of interest. Once you have a ratified contract and hire a home inspector, he/she should be able to offer excellent advice on the condition of a home. 

  • Completely Remodeled is a red flag phrase for buyer agents. The first thing we do is go into the basement to check the HVAC system. We look for signs of water intrusion. Outside, we walk the perimeter of the house looking for low spots near the foundation. Any place that is not sealed is a place where water can get into the home and compromise the basement and/or foundation. We are not home inspectors! We are simply advocates for home buyers. We always look for what’s wrong and what’s right with a property.

HomesBuyHendersons

Buyer's Edge

National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents

Top Five Communication Skills Buyer Agents Need

If You Are Buying A Home, Consider Working With An Advocate. Exclusive Buyer Agents naeba.org

VictoriaRayHenderson best buyer agent

Exclusive Buyer Agents-members of NAEBA are dedicated to serving home buyers. 100% of the time and in every real estate transaction.

1. More Listening, Less Talking-as experienced Realtors, we have important information to convey to our Buyer clients. We want to share the good and bad things we discover on a house tour. Since this is what we do and where we shine, it's easy to keep talking and talking. However, keep in mind, clients are processing information too. If we talk more than listen, they may feel oversaturated and begin to tune us out. If we want to make a point, we should, but follow up by asking for their opinion. 

2.  Have Clients Write a Wish List-this is extremely important! Buying a home is an emotional experience. Most of us dream about our "perfect" home. We imagine our families gathering around the fireplace or entertaining friends in spacious surroundings. The best way to make this happen is to write it down! It's so easy to get distracted on house tours. Maintain clarity and focus by checking your wish list again and again. 

3. Pay attention to the Relative/Friend Your Client Brings Along-we may not want to answer questions or listen to the opinion of our clients friend or relatives but remember, they do. That is why they invited them! I am not suggesting we agree with everything someone says but we should treat this person with respect. Be patient as they talk and make their points. If they are dead wrong, we can respectively give our opinion on the matter and let it go. There is no need to move the conversation in an awkward direction just to make our point. 

4. Ask lots of Questions-Do you think this home has curb appeal? Does the kitchen space serve your needs? Do you mind walking up and down 2 flights of stairs to do laundry? You get the idea. What our client thinks-matters. By identifying what they want, we save time and facilitate the home buying process.

5.  Follow Up that Evening or the next Day-After a long day of house hunting, write down the highlights and send your client an email. Let them know what you liked and ask them if they want to make changes to their home search. Try to do this while it is fresh in your mind. Again, this will save you valuable time and validate opinions and concerns your clients made during the home tour. 

These five points can be effectively used in personal relationships too!

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.

Hang Up Your Phone and Live Your Life

Hearing a baby in distress is upsetting.

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I was standing in line at the grocery store and I heard a baby's muffled cry. I did a quick scan of the area and didn't see the baby.

Then she cried again and I saw her. She was scrunched onto one side of the baby seat of the grocery cart. Her head was hanging over the side of the cart and her feet had slipped onto the seat. She was in trouble! The baby's mother was standing right in front of her but her back was turned and she was typing furiously into her cellphone. 

Just then, an older man tapped the mother on the shoulder and said, "Hey now, you're baby needs you!" The young mother turned around, picked up her daughter and looked around the store like she was seeing it for the first time. 

We really need to take a break from our phones!

According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Research, when parents are on their cell phones they have fewer conversations and interactions with their children. This seems obvious but cell phones are so appealing that it's hard to look away. A local daycare center in Bethesda Maryland has a sign posted at the front door where parents pick up and drop off their children. It reads,

Parents, please hang up your phone. Your child wants to talk to you. 

I believe that people don't want to ignore their children or family members or friends. It's just that cell phones give us access to everything we desire, instantly.

I was watching a morning news show this week and a singer was performing in front of a live audience. Most of the people in the crowd had their cell phones in their hands, recording the singer. Some of the people were actually watching the performance through their cell phones. It was really weird to see!

Would the performance be better when they watched it later? How about enjoying the moment and the live performance?

 I'm guilty of spending too much time on my cell phone and I'm working on balancing phone time and free time. In real estate, a cell phone is a tool of the trade. Here are a few ways I've been managing my cell phone/screen time.

I hope these suggestions work for you!

  • The phone goes off at 9 pm and on at 7 am - unless I am in the middle of a negotiation, I limit my phone time to these hours. Keep the phone on vibrate in the evening and morning. This way, a phone call, text or email is less disruptive. 
  • The phone is off during meals and any social time with friends and family - This makes socializing easy and there are no interruptions.
  • Hiking in the woods or walking in the city with friends and family? -turn off the phone and look around. Pick up a map and use it instead of the navigation on the cell phone.
  • Feel the need to check your phone? Ask yourself why? I will mindlessly check my phone for nothing specific. At that moment, I am looking for a distraction from the moment. I've started to question why. 

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

Dual Agency & Exclusive Buyer Agents

Exclusive Buyer Agents represent buyers 100% of the time

never sellers

Kiplinger magazine reports: Unlike traditional agents, EBA’s don’t work for listing brokers, so they avoid the risk of dual agency - when one broker represents both parties. EBAs are still paid by the seller, but they can promise to represent your interests exclusively throughout the transaction and help you negotiate the lowest price.
— https://goo.gl/R78ois

 

Exclusive Buyer Agents are fiduciaries of home buyers with no conflicts of interest and loyalty to the home buyer in every real estate transaction.

Buyer agency is a real estate business model dedicated to buyer representation. Buyer Brokerages never take listings and never work for sellers. 

Learn more about Exclusive Buyer Brokerages

National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents

Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate

in the Washington D.C. area

HomesBuyHendersons.com

Last November, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a listing agent who participated in a 2007 sale of a Los Angeles home owed fiduciary responsibilities to the buyer as well as the seller because both the buyer & seller were represented by the same brokerage. Realtor magazine says the case could have widespread implications for the real estate industry when it comes to dual agency. 
 

Buyers & Sellers need to understand real estate laws and regulations in their state before they enter into an agreement with a real estate professional. 

Is That Flipped House a Flop House?

The Market is Hot and Investors are Flipping Houses

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Flipped houses can be great IF the flippers hired licensed contractors to do the structural, electrical, plumbing and the major changes in a home. If you're checking out a flipped property, ask to see the permits for work completed. If the workers didn't pull the proper permits, consider turning around and walking away. 

Steve Carpenter-Israel, Broker & Owner of Buyer's Edge was quoted in a  CNBC interview about a flipped house that was a flop. Steve said, " It's literally putting lipstick on a pig. "They're just doing cosmetic stuff and actually covering up problems, and that's scary because it's very difficult to figure it out."

Steve Carpenter-Israel, Marshall Henderson & Stephen Mercer are members of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (naeba.org)

Last month, NAEBA warned about the dangers of buying a flipped house.

At a recent home inspection of a flipped property in Baltimore, our inspector turned on all the water to check the pressure. I followed him into the living room as he continued with his inspection. As he turned an infrared camera to the ceiling, he yelled,  "Oh (expletive)" and I looked up to see water stains forming along the crown molding of the living room ceiling!

Buyer Beware!

  • If you are buying a flipped property, ask if the flipper used licensed contractors to do the major work
  • Work with an experienced real estate agent. Your buyer's agent will be looking for what is wrong with a house as much as what is right with a house. 
  • Hire an excellent home inspector. An inspector will evaluate electrical, plumbing and the structural elements of a home. If there are major issues, a good inspector will find them.
  • If you have a chance to talk to the neighbors, do so! One day I was checking out the backyard of a home for sale. I chatted with a neighbor who told me how the previous owner (the owner who sold the house to a flipper) struggled for years with a wet basement. Once inside the home, I saw the flippers had installed not one but two sumps pumps. They had also installed an interior french drain .  My client moved ahead with the home inspection and the inspector determined the work was done well and the basement would stay dry. 

For more information on Flipped houses, townhouses & condos

CNBC-Why your flipped house may be a flop

5 Mistakes that make house flipping a flop

 4 Keys to Buying a Flipped House

 

Inspection of a Crawlspace

A home inspection is a vital part of the home buying process. We recommend several home inspectors who are licensed, experienced and highly qualified but remember it's always the home buyers choice. 

Last summer, one of our buyers hired a home inspector we didn't know. The inspector, Glenford Blanc, is with Pro-Spex. We were impressed by Glen's knowledge about homes. He patiently answered all of our buyers questions and showed him what was right and wrong with the home. He also uses a drone during home inspections when roofs are too steep to climb.  Pro-Spex made our "cut" and the company, which employs about 8 home inspectors, is now on our preferred home inspectors list. We also recommend Jeff Pearce with The Pearce Group who is licensed in Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. In addition to being a licensed home inspector, Jeff has a background in HVAC installation. 

Bobby Mayberry owns RPM Home Inspect. He is licensed in Washington D.C. and Virginia. Bobby stars in our video titled, "Inspection of a Crawlspace" 

Marshall and I enjoy working with Bobby because he goes through the house with our home buyers explaining how everything works. He encourages buyers to ask questions and like our other preferred home inspectors, he provides a detailed home inspection report. If you are buying a home in the Greater Washington D.C area, consider working with exclusive buyer agents with Buyer's Edge. We are licensed in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. and advocate for home buyers through the entire home buying process. 

Bobby Mayberry with RPM inspecting a crawlspace. He recommends conditioning crawlspaces. If you DIY $500 If you hire someone to do the work $1500 a $2000 Buyer's Edge 4849 Rugby Avenue Bethesda, MD 20814 301.657.1475 or 301.922.1677

Thank you for watching our video on the inspection of a crawlspace. Watch other videos on our YouTube Channel and have a great day!