Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Termites and tree roots and tear-downs o my! What to expect from your property inspection.

If you are purchasing a new home, you are likely going to be getting a property inspection.  While most Realtors see these as routine, most buyers will find them scary.  Hopefully, this will dispel some of the fear about your soon-to-be-new home's condition.

Your inspector will be checking out the house’s major structures and its systems.  These include the roof, the foundation, the electrical system, the plumbing, the garage if there is one, and the HVAC.  The other structures he or she will check are most of the appliances, windows, doors, floors, and safety items.  No house is perfect, not even brand-new ones.

Here is what very commonly comes up on home inspections.  This is mostly for single family homes, but some of the items pertain to condos, too.

First thing to know: most of the houses around here were built several decades ago.  Yes, they are old, but hopefully they have been decently maintained.  Even if they haven’t been well taken care of, remember that everything can be fixed (yes, for a price). 

Plumbing – water is a house’s enemy and some plumbing item almost always needs to be fixed or properly installed.  Also, each plumber does everything differently from every other plumber (why IS that?) and they all complain about their predecessor’s work.  The water heater almost always needs something fastened or replaced. See below about sewer inspections.

Electrical system – Most electrical panels need to be upgraded from time to time to handle new electrical loads.  The chances are that your electrical panel may not be sufficient for your power usage.  And even if your house is rewired, the previous owners may not have rewired the garage, or it may not be rewired to code. Codes change all the time.  And, in 95% of all home inspections that I’ve attended, some breaker will be wired incorrectly.  The electrical system’s problems are safety items, so please take care of the issues right away if your seller doesn’t do so.

HVAC – These systems are usually adequate unless the heater or a/c unit is really old.  Sometimes the inspector will call for the units to be fastened down better than they currently are.  Inspectors almost always call for the filters to be changed which is really easy to do.

Roof – Even if the roof is newer, the inspector will probably call out maintenance items like sealing pipes, fastening a few shingles down, replacing the ridge cap, etc.  The good news is that maintenance like this is not difficult or expensive.  Once you own the house, have a roofer check this stuff out from time to time and don’t forget to clean your gutters out.

Foundation – Many, if not most, houses are bolted, but they may not be bolted to current codes.  That does not mean that they are unsafe, but you may want to upgrade the bolting once you own the place.

Termites – This is a separate inspection from the general inspection.  Almost every house here is made of wood.  (Forget what your relatives back east tell you – you don’t want a brick house in earthquake country.) If your new home is like 99% of all homes here, it will have termites, because termites eat wood.  You may have negotiated a termite inspection and correction with your seller.  If not, you will want to have a licensed termite company take care of this.

You may also get a sewer check and a fireplace/chimney inspection.  These are difficult to critique because we can’t see what the inspector sees.  One thing, tho: I have never, ever seen a fireplace or chimney inspection that didn’t show problems. I promise you that your chimney/fireplace will not be perfect.

If there is a tree anywhere near your property, you will likely have tree roots in your sewer.  If there are just a few, don't worry.  If they block the entire sewer, you could have plumbing backups.  Watch the video with the inspector and ask a lot of questions.

I will continue to update this list as I think of other items.  Please contact me if I can help you find your soon-to-be dream home. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

1034 N. Evergreen, Burbank, Debbie Reynolds, and throw-back Thursday

For throw-back Thursday: This is a picture of Debbie Reynolds in front of her home at the time, 1034 N. Evergreen in Burbank.  For those of you who don't know, Debbie was a popular movie-star of the 1950's and 1960's -- see Singing in the Rain. Anyway, I listed and sold this house last October for $657,500.  The house looks almost exactly the same 65+ years later! If these walls could talk...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Yes, some home sales can go smoothly in every way - such as 2008 N. Rose in Burbank

This is 2008 N. Rose in Burbank and it closed last week for $515,000 after listing for $505,000.  My seller, Laura, had just retired and wished to move out of the area.  She had kept the house up nicely and had remodeled the kitchen and baths.  The buyers are a young couple and this is their first home.  Everybody moved through the escrow very smoothly and we faced no big hurdles.  Yes, that's a surprise to me, too! East West Bank did a very impressive job at getting the appraisal done, getting the loan documents early, and closing the loan right on time.  I will miss Laura, and I wish the buyers lots of luck.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mortgage rates defy expectations -- by moving down

Today's L.A. Times states that mortgage rates are moving lower! Click here for the article.  This is in contrast to expert forecasts that rates would be steadily going higher and would be at 5% by the end of the year.  This is the news we need to help buyers get off the sidelines and into the local real estate market.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

New listing in Magnolia Park, Burbank

This is 907 N. Lima in Burbank's Magnolia Park. It features 4 beds, 3 baths, 2400 sf and has been completely redone inside.  Lima is one of my favorite streets in this terrific neighborhood, and this house is very close to all the cool stores and restaurants.  Plus, it's in the award-winning Roosevelt Elementary district.  Although it's not my listing, please call me if you want to see it -- it's priced at $918,000.

L.A. Times' Ted Rall and megamansions

As a Realtor, I know I shouldn't post this.  But Ted Rall is such a genius...

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Too good/horrific NOT to repost

Thanks for this, #Terriblerealestatephotos from Tumblr! I guess if you don't mind going in the kitchen, you also don't mind doing it in front of a large window.

Groupon and real estate

Groupon now has a "deal" for "express" real estate licensing classes. Great.  Just what the world needs -- more barely-knowledgeable Realtors.

Monday, May 05, 2014

It's the beginning of May -- where are the L.A. area houses for sale?

If you are searching for a home in the SFV or elsewhere in the L.A. area, you may be wondering why there aren't more homes for sale.  Or you may be wondering where the homes for sale are.  You're right -- inventory is very, very short, except for condos and townhomes.  And many, many other buyers are looking for a home as well.  Here's what you can do: 1) consider a different area.  I know you want to live in Silverlake or Studio City, but why not consider neighborhoods in Glendale or North Hollywood? Prices will be lower there, too, and most neighborhoods offer lots of attractions that you may like. 2) If you don't have a family, consider a smaller home or a condo.  You can usually always add on to a single family home, and if you need a home office you might be able to convert your dining room or garage space (I bet 95% of garage spaces are used for storage and not for parking.) I know, I know; this is all so easy for me to say.

If you are thinking about selling your home, you are probably wondering: a) where you're going to go.  The homes you may move into are just as expensive as the house you're selling.  So there goes your profit. And b) you want to stay put for your commute or your kids' school or another good reason.  Selling and moving will be really tough.  I don't have suggestions here, except: home prices have come roaring back.  If you are considering making a life change, this year may present great opportunities for you, at least as far as home profits go.  Will home prices continue to increase? Nobody knows.  If you're thinking about selling, I'm happy to prepare a comparative market analysis for you that will show you what you may gain -- just call me.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Pet Adoption Fair in Burbank this weekend

Need a new, four-legged member of your household? (You know you want one. Or two.  And it's kitten and puppy season.) Or just need your furry kid microchipped or vaccinated? Please come to the Tour for Life Pet Adoption Fair in Burbank's #MagnoliaPark this Sunday, May 4, between 11 and 3.  It will be held in the BofA parking lot at 3400 W. Magnolia. I'll be there helping out at the #MagnoliaPark table.  Please stop by and say hi.