Your Home is Your Castle

“Your home is your castle,” is something we have heard many times over the years. And let’s face it–it is. When you go home you should feel safe and protected from everything that is outside–the boogie man, the weather, unwelcome guests, bugs, animals. Really, home is a place  where you should feel safe. So when looking for a home, you really need to consider location. That’s why you hear, location, location, location!

We all cannot afford to live in a castle with moat and huge concrete walls surrounding us but, we can find a home that is well built and located in a safe neighborhood. This all still comes at a cost so save up or prepare to compromise. That’s right, compromise. Sometimes we have to consider what is more important? We may have to forego that spare bedroom we wanted. Or maybe we will have to forego the big yard. Then again, maybe we can have the spare bedroom and the large yard but, we have to move to the suburbs. Are schools important? Well, that’s another thing to consider.

We live in a world of–I need this NOW! But, that isn’t true, we just seem to think that. I remember growing up and thinking I had to wait until I could afford something. Technology has changed our lives and our thinking. Technology has brought things to us so quickly we hate to wait for anything. Our patience has flown out the window. When buying a home, (that’s right you are not buying a house, you are buying a home) you need to exercise patience. Remember, good things come to those who wait.

If you are looking for a home, make your list of necessities and then your wants. You may find homes that have all your necessities and some of your wants. Make sure you know what you can live without–at least for now. Talk to your realtor® and be honest. We really want to help. We want to find your castle.

While you are searching on line please stay off Zillow and Trulia and all those sites that have inaccurate information. Please use realtor.com to search for your home–it is the most accurate of all the sites for home searches.

 

 

The Headaches of New Construction

Who doesn’t want new? Buying a new home–new build-can be wonderful and it can be really stressful. Trust us, we know. Diana and I spent 20 years selling new homes–working for builders. We were the agents who sat in a model home all day, just waiting for you. Actually we had a lot of things to do but, that is the impression most people had of us. We probably spent more time with the buyers than their agent even though we did not represent them. That’s right, we represented the seller–the builder. Many customers who came into the model home, thought we were their (the customer’s) agent. So here is a head’s up–if you are a buyer looking at new construction–make sure you have an agent. The on site agent has to protect their client–the builder. Though we did everything we could to protect you (the buyer) our loyalty was with our client–even if we didn’t agree.

Many buyers head out on their own to look at model homes. This is fine but, make sure the on-site agent knows that you have an agent. In fact, if you can, have your agent call ahead to let the on-site agent know you might stop by without them. Don’t sign anything with out your agent being present.

We are not going to get into representation because this is really about new construction. When you are buying new and starting from the ground up there is plenty of time and room for errors. Know what you want when you write the contract. After the contract is written it is difficult to make changes and/or add ons. Here is an example: You write a contract and after it is binding you realize you forgot to include the island in the kitchen -which was an option. Though you do not see anything being done, it does not mean it is an easy change. Many builders today use a computer program to order all their vendors. What this means is: Upon a binding agreement, the contract and all it’s content is sent to all the subcontractors to place orders. An island requires electrical (on a slab that is underground), it requires cabinets and countertops. It may require additional lights. It seems like such a simple fix but, the cabinets have been ordered, countertops have been ordered and electric has been ordered–without the island. Again, there seems to be plenty of time–right? Well, before any changes can be made, an amendment must be written and signed by all parties.

Let’s say the builder agrees and the amendment is now binding. You go into the house as it is being built and you don’t see where the island is suppose to go. Where is the electric coming out of the floor? It should be there–the amendment was signed last week. Well, the electrician didn’t get the amendment yet, so it was built according to the original contract. It doesn’t mean you won’t get it, it just means there are some things that will have to be “fixed” first. If this is a slab, the concrete will have to be broken up to run the conduit and electric. It’s going to look real messy–but it’s ok–don’t get upset.

The next time you go in you notice the cabinets are installed but not the island. Oops, cabinets are ordered really early in the building process and naturally the cabinet maker was not aware. He is aware now but there is a delay because the island was ordered later. This can delay closing–so be prepared.

Let’s say you wrote a contract and made no changes. What could go wrong? To begin, even subcontractors are human and make mistakes. One time we had a builder “forget” there was an open rail upstairs looking over the family room. Seriously, it happens. It was in the plans but somehow, someone framed for a wall. Again, no big deal. It can be fixed–but it could delay things depending on when it was noticed.

Why are there delays? Hmmm–so many reasons. Number one is weather. The weather can hold things up in the beginning and at the end. Once a house is dried in, most of the work is inside so the weather won’t cause delays. Another delay, especially today, is shortage of subs. Subs are working around the clock and there is more business than they can really handle so, you may experience delays due to subcontractors being too busy. Shortage on building materials. You might think this is a joke but there was a time when there was a major shortage on sheetrock. It was taking months to get sheetrock delivered. Who would have thought. Then of course we have the utilities being connected. Power will not come out if they “think” it is going to rain (in some areas). The utilities also work in stages. First the locating crew comes out to “mark” the location. Then someone comes out to dig and then the crew comes out to connect.

When building new, be prepared for any delays. Always have a back up plan in case you do not close on time.

When visiting the site, keep in mind you cannot talk to the subs nor keep them from doing their work. This is usually written in the contract. You may think they are not working on your house because the last couple days you came by no one was there. Your house could be waiting for an inspection. There are a lot of inspections during the building process and most often once a builder gets to the point of an inspection, nothing can happen until the house is passed. If the inspector fails, the builder must complete what the inspector failed and call for another inspection. It’s ok, but keep that in mind.

Though the on-site agents usually don’t mind the buyer bringing in a “check list” of things they think are wrong in the house, most builders will through that list away. Let the builder build the house. I say that and one time I had a builder build the wrong house. He was glad someone brought it to his attention at framing. He had to tear it down and build the right house. That cost him–and it also caused a delay in closing.

I know there are many more things that can go wrong and cause delays and headaches but, being prepared makes things go a little smoother. If you have any questions feel free to call me or Diana

 

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What Is Going On In The Real Estate Market?

Everyone is always asking about the real estate market. What is going on?  Are there still deals? How much to do need to put down? What is the interest rate? What is a good offer on a house?  Do I need a realtor®?

First let me say, the market is good, but it could be better. It is definitely a sellers market–which means they are getting their price. Depending on the area–because all real estate markets are relative. What that means is the real estate market is relative to the area. It could be relative to a city, town, county or even a neighborhood. Be sure to ask a realtor® for the most up to date information in your area. The biggest problem we have today is lack of inventory.

So, are there deals? It depends on what you consider a “deal.” If you have to pay full price, does that mean you did not get a “deal?” A good deal means both buyer and seller are happy with the price. Let’s face it, full price on a house that is priced fairly is a good deal. Did you get what you were looking for in a house? Is it in your price point? I had a buyer offer more than list price for a home because she really wanted the house. Did she think she got a good deal? Yes! She loves her house and she was willing to pay more to out bid the other buyers. If you think a good deal means you bought for less than list price–you might not think there are deals out there. Many homes are selling for list price or more–because there are more buyers than sellers and buyers want the house. It doesn’t mean it isn’t a good deal.

How much do you need to put down? Well that depends on you and your lender and I will answer the next question with this one. What is the interest rate. First let me explain, interest rates change daily. So it really doesn’t matter what I tell you today. It can go up or down before I spit the rate out. In addition, the interest you will pay is determined by the type of loan and your credit score. That means it doesn’t matter what I tell you because I don’t know what your  credit score is nor do I know what your debt, nor income is. While interest rates have gone up lately, they are still considerably low. The best thing you can do–if you are buying a house–is to bind a contract and lock in your rate.

Another thing I can tell you is, your lender is your friend. Your lender can tell you what you need to do to bring up your credit score and advise you through the process at no cost. You do not need to pay someone to help you improve your credit score. So just a FYI, if you need credit counseling, call a lender. You might also want a realtor® to recommend a good lender. We know who we like and who works harder for our buyers.

What is a good offer on a house? Well, that is another question that is difficult to answer. It is best to have your realtor® do a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) on the home you want to buy. Depending on the market, a good offer could be list price. Don’t think a realtor® is going to tell you a higher price because he/she wants a higher commission. We don’t work that way.

Do you need a realtor®? Yes, yes and yes. Whether you are buying or selling, you should use a realtor®.

For the seller, we market the home–including signage, lockbox, multiple listing servers, open houses, agent lunches, flyers, pictures. . . In addition, the realtor® is there to negotiate on the sellers’ behalf and , monitor the transaction from start to finish. There are companies that will list for you but then you are totally on your own when it comes to negotiations and follow through. They don’t help you with the contract, negotiations nor the follow through. They do reduce the commission for not doing the work.

For the buyer. Today, buyers have access to all the multiple listings through Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and so many more. What they don’t have is access to the house nor someone to help with negotiations and follow through with contractual agreements. The buyer can always call the listing agent to get into the house and that agent will also write a contract but, that agent is representing the seller. Do you think the listing agent has the buyers’ interest in mind? No. And that agent receives commission for both sides of the transaction. Buyers, make sure you have a realtor® to represent you. This holds true for new construction too. On site agents represent the builder and do not represent you!! Remember that.

 

Real Estate Today

Let me start by saying although I sit on site in a new subdivision, I also list homes for resale and help buyers in the search for their home. Today, I worked at Kinridge Place–on site–while trying to handle some of my outside sales.

I knew before I started out for the day that I would have someone waiting for me at  Kinridge. An agent had called about one of our floor plans and planned to bring his buyer out to see the subdivision and gather some information about the builders and the construction. They were sitting in front of the model when I arrived.

Last night I had an agent schedule a showing for one of my listings. My seller called to tell me she had been sitting in the car with her dogs waiting for 20 minutes. Naturally my seller called while I was trying to gather information for the agent who was waiting when I arrived. I called the agent regarding the showing of my listing as the other agent and his buyer walked through the model home. After several calls between seller and agent, all is resolved and I could concentrate on Kinridge.

The agent and his buyer would like to see the plan but we only have one and it closed yesterday. Hmmm, I called the agent who sold that home to see if she can arrange a viewing. While we were waiting, the agent left. I called the agent a couple times to tell him we can show the home–but he never returned my calls so we could not schedule.

I also had two buyers who were already under contract come in to make their selections. Fortunately they came in at separate times. I had two other visitors who registered and gathered their information.

I had also been working on two counter offers in the subdivision and the printer decided to stop printing. Luckily for me the builders’ go to techie was in the neighborhood and she came out and had it up and running in no time. I was able to get both counter offers out, a change order done (again thanks to our techie) and I left on time.

As I arrived home I received a call from the agent who showed my listing. He had sent me an offer. Yay!! I called my seller to let her know and I sent her an email that explained the contract, attached the contract and I suggested a counter for her. After dinner I headed out to Home Depot with my husband and my phone rang. My seller just saw the email! We discussed the details and as soon as I got home I prepared the counter offer and sent it to her.

I noticed in my inbox I had finally received an amendment from a buyer that had to go to the listing agent yesterday. I had been trying to get a signature for 2 days. Tomorrow is the last day of our due diligence so I sent it to the listing agent and told her I needed an answer from her seller as soon as possible.

Looking for a New Home?

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There’s a new builder in town! That’s right, Piedmont Residential is building new homes in Douglas, Cobb and Cherokee Counties. One thing you will love about Piedmont Residential is they want happy customers! Really, they do. Now I am not saying other builders do not want happy homeowners–they do too, but they all don’t work hard to make you feel the warm and fuzzies like Piedmont Residential. The Piedmont builders will actually sit down with you after a contract to go through that contract and make sure everyone is on the same page. I have worked for a lot of builders and there are not that many who will do this. Piedmont also has an outside company to do your walk through and warranty work. If you build a Piedmont home, you will do 5 walk throughs! Wow, that’s a lot of walk throughs and they use an outside company to do them with you. They also send out a survey from Woodland O’Brien about 45 days after closing. They really want to know how everyone performed from the onsite agents, the builder, the lender, and the warranty company.

Piedmont offers a one year and a 2-10 year warranty on your home. You can be sure you are protected when you buy a Piedmont Residential home. They also use Hardie-plank Plus which is probably the best siding you can get. The color is baked into the siding so you don’t have to paint for about 15 years. That’s right, 15 years!

Check them out–Hey, I’m out at Kinridge and Granite Mills in East Cobb. Come by and visit me.