Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Step 6

Perform Due Diligence

Unlike other purchases we make, a house can't be returned if you're unhappy with it, which is why property inspections and home owner's insurance are so important. 

The property inspection is completed before you sign the closing papers and will expose any and all problems the home may have. Here are a few things you should keep in mind about inspections:

1. Structural damage. This should always be your main concern as structural damage is often very expensive to fix, if it's fixable at all. If the cost of repairs will be more than 3% of the home cost you should seriously consider whether or not it would be in your best interest to go through or walk away. Any damage that is not fixed can seriously affect the resale value of the home.

2. Minor repairs. Every home will have minor issues and it's best to over look them. Leaky faucets, nail holes in walls, missing light switch covers, all of these things can be repaired easily for very little money. Don't let these minor inconveniences distract you from any big issues that may be present. 

3. Big problems. If your inspector finds a big problem it's best to bring in a specialist. A specialist will take a deeper look at the problem and let you know just how bad it is. Don't be afraid to walk away from the purchase if you feel the problem is more than you feel comfortable dealing with. 

Once inspection is complete and you're satisfied and ready to move on, the next step will be to purchase homeowner's insurance. Insurance will protect you in the following ways:

1. Loss or damage of the property. Although unpleasant to think about, unfortunate things can and do happen. Fires, earthquakes, floods, these are all potential disaster that can happen and you should be sure to get insurance that covers all possibilities. 

2. Liability for injuries. The insurance will also cover any injuries that may occur to people while on your property.

Remember, your home will be one of the biggest investments you will ever make and protecting that investment should be top priority. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Summer is finally in full swing! Garden parties, barbecues, and cook outs are surely taking up some space in your schedule, so what better time than now to give your yard a mid-century makeover? Grab some gardening gloves and let's make your yard the talk of the town!

Getting Started

First thing's first, how do you want your outdoor space to be utilized? Will it be your own private oasis, or a gathering spot for all your friends? Are you going for a woodsy look with a lot of trees and foliage, or do you prefer a wide open space spotted with colorful garden beds? Unlike furniture in a room, plants can't be moved around on a whim once they're in the ground, so have a game plan and know what you want before you begin. 

When choosing plants be sure to do a little research first and make sure they can survive in the climate where you live. Just because a local nursery sells a particular plant does not mean it will thrive in your yard (I found that out the hard way).

There isn't too much difference between the gardens of the 50s and our gardens today, and there really aren't any rules to follow in order to obtain your perfect mid-century yard. Below are some examples of what outdoor living looked like in the 50s, I hope they inspire you to get outside and make the most of your outdoor space. 

Front Yards

It's common practice today for people to erect 6 foot fences around their entire properties, blocking the yard from their neighbors view, but this form of privacy was not popular in the 50s and definitely wouldn't be considered very neighborly. Wide open front yards with inviting pathways, and maybe a white picket fence for decoration, was much more common. 

Flowers, especially roses, were planted around perimeters of the home, creating accent points. 

Depending on the size of the home, and of the yard, garden beds could be small and modest, or large and flowing, Small beds were often planted close to the front door to enhance the entrance and make it more inviting 

In larger yards the gardens might spread out away from the home along fences or walkways, inviting people to enter from the sidewalk.

These homes have utilized the natural slopes and hills of their lots to create cascading gardens, and to give the yard a bit of privacy while still keeping it open and friendly. 

This type of gardening may seem like a lot of work, but adding this type of curb appealing can add quite a bit of value to your home! Look carefully at the space you have and maybe make a few sketches to help you decide how best to accent the natural appeal. Then head to the nursery and start getting dirty!

Back Yards

In my opinion, this is where outdoor renovations get fun. The backyard is often much more secluded and it offers much more opportunity to really make the space yours. Here a few ideas people of the 50s had for their spaces.

All the color!! Give your patio a makeover by painting it in fabulous mid-century pastels. And why not add a sporty yellow convertible in the driveway, just for fun?

This is a great example of a Pacific Northwest yard. This family opted for concrete slabs over grass, which can be a great idea if you hate mowing the lawn, or if the pine trees on your property prevent grass from growing.

 A very simple outdoor space for anyone who doesn't do a lot of outdoor entertaining, but would like the option to once in awhile.

Another simple outdoor space, with a lovely concrete and stone table! The barn-style split door is a nice addition to this home.

If you'd like the space to be all yours, consider installing a koi pond. The staggering stone slabs give this pond a lovely modern look.

Building your very own brick barbecue was very popular in the 50s and could be a fun summer project. If Lucy and Ethel can do it, anyone can!

This yard is my favorite and comes from an article titled "How to build a guest house and yard for $2000!" Wouldn't that be nice? This little area features a brick "rug", plenty of seating, and the strategically placed shrubs gives it a lot of privacy. Three of the concrete slabs have been replaced with aluminum pans to create reflecting ponds, which is something I hope to do in the future! 

I hope these photos have given you some inspiration for your own yards! Happy gardening! 

Monday, July 6, 2015


Step 5

Make an Offer

You've spent the past month viewing many marvelous homes, and you've finally found the one for you. It's time to make an offer! As fun as the viewing process was, it's time to get serious now and put your business cap on. There are three basic components to to an offer; Price, terms, and contingencies.

1. Price

The price you offer for the home does not have to be what the seller is asking for, but it should reflect the market value of the home. Your agent will do market research and guide you in this process, but the price you offer is your decision alone. 

2. Terms

There are six basic categories that terms fall under;

1) Schedule - This is a schedule of events that happens, and that both buyer and seller must abide by, before closing date.

2) Conveyance - A list of items that will stay in the house when the sellers leave.

3) Closing costs - Generally buyer's will pay their own closing costs, but if you would like the sellers to cover these costs, or if you want them included in the sale price, you will need to write it into the contract.

4) Commission - The commission fee for both your agent and the seller's agent must be written into the contract. It is standard for the seller to pay the commission fees, not the buyer.

5) Home warranty - This covers repairs or replacements for major appliances and systems. You may ask the seller to pay for this. 

6) Earnest money - This protects the seller in the event you back out of the offer. It also shows how serious, or earnest, you are about the purchase.

3. Contingencies

Once your offer is agreed to and signed by the sellers it becomes a binding contract known as a Purchase and Sale Agreement. However, there are still ways for a buyer to back out of a deal without losing their earnest money. By adding contingencies to your offer, you are protecting yourself against unfavorable circumstances that may arise and which would cause you to change your mind about purchasing the home. There are many, many contingencies that may be added to an offer, but I will go over the most common.

1) Inspection contingency -  The buyer is given 10 days to perform an inspection on the house with a licensed inspection company. Once the results are received the buyer will have 3 days to either:
  • Accept the report and continue with the home purchase,
  • Ask for repairs to be made at the seller's expense and continue with the home purchase, or
  • Reject the report and back out of the home purchase. 
The buyer can back out of the purchase in this 3 day time period for ANY REASON. There does not have to be anything wrong with the home in the report, and the buyer does not have to give a reason for backing out. However, once the buyer has agreed to the report as is, or agreed to repairs being made at the seller's expense, the contingency is removed and the buyer can no longer back out of the deal. 

2) Financial contingency - This makes the offer contingent on the buyer's financing coming through. If for any reason financing is denied, the buyer may walk away from the deal.

3) Title contingency - This makes the sale of the home contingent on the house having a clean title. A title search will be done and if there are any liens (money owed) or if the seller does not have the right to sell the home, the buyer can once again walk away from the deal.

As I mentioned before, there are many different contingencies which can be added, but adding too many can hurt your chances of a seller accepting your offer. Too many contingencies may make the seller feel you are not serious about the home purchase, because you are giving yourself too many ways out. Discuss with your agent which contingencies you should use to give your offer the best chances of being accepted, while still keeping you, the buyer, protected. 

The Process

You may be thinking "I have no idea how to write a contract like this!" Well don't worry, you don't have to. In fact, unless you're a lawyer, you aren't allowed to. Your agent will use a legal contract pre-drafted by a lawyer and simply fill in the correct information on the spaces provided. Your agent should explain each and every section of the contract with you, and if at any point you do not understand you should speak up and ask that it be explained again. 

Once the offer is complete it will be sent to the seller's agent, who will in turn present it to the seller for consideration. Legally all offers MUST be presented to the seller, their agent can not choose to ignore your offer. There will be a time limit in which the seller must reply to the offer, usually 3 days. If the buyer changes their mind within that time period and BEFORE a response from the seller is received, the buyer can retract the offer. 

The seller will likely respond to the offer in one of three ways;

1. They can accept your offer as is and sign it, making it a binding purchase and sale agreement.

2. They can make changes to the offer, such as a different price or removal of contingency, and send it back to the buyer. The buyer can then either agree to the new terms and sign it, making it a binding purchase and sale agreement, or they can make changes themselves and send it back to the sellers. The offer can go back and forth indefinitely until both parties agree on the terms, or a party chooses to walk away.

3) They can do nothing. If the seller does not wish to accept the offer, or make a counter offer, they can simply do nothing and the offer will expire. They do not need to contact the buyer. 

The last thing I would like to touch on are personal notes. I have many buyers who ask me if they can include a personal note to the seller explaining who they are and why they would be the best choice for the home. Notes can always be included, but whether or not they help the offer will depend on the situation. Here are some scenarios in which a note may help an offer:
  • The home in question will be getting multiple offers and the buyer would like to stand out from the rest.
  • The home has been owned by one family for many decades.
  • The buyer is making a fairly low offer on the home.
Agents have differing opinions on this matter, some believe notes always help, some believe they never help, and some believe it depends on the situation. Ask your agent for their advice, but remember they can't deny you if you strongly wish to include a note. One more thing you should know regarding notes is that the seller's agent is NOT required to present the note to the seller with the offer UNLESS the inclusion of the note is part of the offer. 

Good Luck!