Now the Fun Continues!

We’re first time home buyers.  Where do we begin? (continued from last week)

For those of who just picking up the conversation today, check out my blog at www.askkathe.com to read the past two weeks’ introduction to the home buying process.  If you are following along, so far you have gotten pre-approved for your mortgage, researched and chosen a buyer’s agent to be your advocate, saved money for your down payment, shopped for a home and gotten one under agreement.  Now the fun continues!

Once you have a home under agreement and have deposited your hand money, you will be ready to schedule your inspections.  Your buyer’s agent should provide you with guidance in finding reputable home inspectors.  You will want to consider scheduling a general home inspection as well as inspections for radon, wood boring insects (termites), mold, and possibly of the sewer lines.  If the home has a septic system you will absolutely want to fully inspect the system – they are quite costly to replace.  If there is a well on the property, you will want to test both the water quality and the capacity of the well.  You may also need to have specialists evaluate aging components such as the roof.  You generally have 10 – 14 days to complete your inspections and at the end of that period, you will need to make a request of the seller if you would like any items addressed.  To reach a successful conclusion of inspection negotiation, it’s a good idea to keep some simple tips in mind.  First, anything on the disclosure should have been considered when you were making the offer – its not a great idea to revisit disclosed items.  For example, if the seller disclosed that the roof is at the end of its useful life, asking for money toward a new roof is unlikely to be well received. The same can be said for items you could have easily seen.  If the inspector notes that the driveway is cracked and you should have seen it while visiting the home, asking for the seller to pay for a new driveway will also not be well received.  So when deciding what, if anything, to request of the seller, eliminate disclosed items and things you noticed when visiting the home and then turn your focus to the items that concern you most.  Of course, if there were multiple offers and you were the winner in a bidding war, you may not be able to ask for much if anything as there is likely another buyer on standby!  Ultimately, you and your seller will need to reach a compromise on the inspection issues and that agreement will be formalized in a written addendum to your Agreement of Sale.

At the same time you are working through inspections, you will also need to make application for your financing.  This must be complete (in other words, you must have all of your paperwork to your lender) within 7 days of the final Agreement of Sale.  Applying for a mortgage these days can seem quite challenging – be prepared for the lender to ask for what will seem like a mountain of documents.  And do NOT make any major purchase until after you close on your home – changes to your outstanding debt at this point could affect your ability to qualify for a loan at all!  Once you get through inspections and mortgage application, it should be smooth sailing.  We will cover the final step in the process next week!

 

307 Grant Street, Sewickley – NEW LISTING! 

Incredible central Village home in a phenomenal neighborhood with flat, fenced yard, 2 car garage.  Newly remolded kitchen and baths.  Upstairs features 3 bedrooms, 2 baths.  The main level includes living, dining and family rooms, eat-in kitchen and den.  Charming covered back porch.  $725,000. Join me for our open house Sunday, 1-3pm.

 

 

213 Chestnut Road

Beautifully remodeled Sewickley Village Victorian with high ceilings, open floorplan and fabulous original architectural detailing.  Wonderful newer master suite with stylish newer bath.  Four finished levels of living space including lower level gameroom. Flat backyard, two car detached garage.  In a wonderful Village neighborhood, within a very easy walking distance to Village shops and restaurants. $795,000

QUICK SEARCH

I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com

Let the Fun Begin!

We’re first time home buyers.  Where do we begin? (continued from last week)

For those of who just picking up the conversation today, check out my blog at www.askkathe.com to read last week’s introduction to the home buying process.  If you are following along, so far you have gotten pre-approved for your mortgage, researched and chosen a buyer’s agent to be your advocate, and hopefully saved money for your down payment.  Now the fun begins!

Once you are preapproved for a loan and have determined what price range you are comfortable shopping in, you can start your home search.  Typically this begins with an online search – your buyer’s agent should set you up to receive new properties as they become available. As interesting homes come on the market, you will want to tour them immediately.  In most price ranges, we have an extreme shortage of inventory and those who snooze tend to lose.  It is important to have seen enough properties upfront so when you see the right one, you know it and are ready to make a move.  When evaluating homes, it is also important to be realistic.  There is no perfect home, so establish your list of criteria upfront.  If a home achieves 7 out of 10 wish list items, in real estate we call that a home run. If you are going to hold out for all 10, a move is probably not in the cards for you in the short run.

Once you find a home that works for you, in this market you do need to anticipate a bidding war is a realistic possibility.  Interestingly, even homes that have sat on the market for seemingly prolonged periods of time will often receive more than one offer at the same time, so if you find a home that peaks your interest, do not delay in making an offer.  Any delay could end up costing you money if another buyer comes along!  If there are multiple offers, you must put your best foot forward out of the gate. I have written many articles in the past on how to do that, and they can be found in my AskKathe archives on www.askkathe.com, but briefly stated, you should not assume you will get a second chance – work with your buyers offer to make the highest, “cleanest” offer that you can out of the gate, and consider including a personal letter to the seller telling them why you love their home and hope to make it yours – that personal touch will often sway a seller when they are reviewing multiple similar offers.

Once you have a home under agreement and have deposited your hand money (anticipate 1%-5% of your purchase price depending on your price range), you will be ready to schedule your inspections.  Next week I will talk more about inspections and how to get through them!

 

16 Highview Drive

Start planning now for your fun this summer — 16 Highview offers a beautiful inground pool, ideal for warm weather entertaining, a NEW deck and 3.8 acres of privacy, yet sited in a mature Sewickley neighborhood.  With over 4100SF of living space plus a finished lower level, the home features an open floorplan ideal for entertaining.  Newly remodeled kitchen, 3 car garage, main level bed/bath for guests, walk-out lower level, sauna, wine room, screened porch & more!  Remodeled throughout and ready for immediate occupancy! $595,000.

 

52 Timberhill

Amazing privacy on 10+ acres in Sewickley Heights, this custom designed and built home offers 11,000+ SF of exceptional living space set on a stunning parcel of land.  Gorgeous outdoor venues are ideal for warm weather entertaining, including resort-like pool and stunning patio with fireplace.  Additional exceptional features include 3 bedrooms including luxurious master suite and nanny/in-law suite, soaring ceiling lines, massive stone fireplaces, finished lower level gameroom and exercise studio, 5 car attached garage, huge custom kitchen open to family spaces and more!  An exceptional opportunity.  $5,900,000

QUICK SEARCH

I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com

First Steps for the First Time Buyer

We’re first time home buyers – where do we begin? 

Buying a home is one of the best choices you can make.  Rather than paying money to your landlord so that he can be closer to owning an asset outright each month, when you make your monthly payment each month a portion actually goes to your benefit – when you sell the home someday, as long as the market is in a good place, that money is refunded to you (called equity) and you can use it to buy again.  It is, in effect, a forced savings plan and over time you can amass quite a large amount of savings while you are simply doing what you would have done otherwise – paying for housing each month.

To buy a home, however, you must have two things to start:  a down payment and good credit.  There a host of specialty loan products for first time home buyers far too extensive to review here, but figure on saving no less than 2.5% of the purchase price for a down payment if you are able to use an FHA product or 10% if you are going to use a typical mortgage.  Credit scores are also key.  Again, there are many things you can do to help or hurt your credit as you prepare to buy your home.  Do not open any new credit – don’t buy any new cars. Pay all bills on time.

When you think you are ready, start by finding a full-time buyers agent.  We now have Buyer’s Agency in this state and you need someone looking out for you from the outset.  Check the agent’s website, review references, interview if you wish.  Make sure you understand what the agent will do for you and be sure you have done your homework and are selecting the best agent for your needs.  Once you select an agent, you will need to sign two documents:  a Consumer Notice, informing you of your rights, and a Buyer Agency Agreement, whereby you actually hire the agent to work for you.  While the seller still pays the commission, an Agreement is still required to create the legal relationship whereby the agent is working for you and not the seller.

Your agent should then refer you to a mortgage broker for a pre-approval.  The broker will review your assets, liabilities and credit and give you a written statement of how much you can afford to buy.  This step cannot be skipped.  There is no sense looking at homes you can’t afford.

With pre-approval in hand and agent on board, you are now ready to begin the home buying process…stay tuned next week and I will continue to walk you through the process…its when the fun begins!

141 Beech Ridge Drive

Beautifully remodeled newer high-end custom construction home nestled on 8 private acres in Sewickley. Newly painted interior. New carpeting. New lighting.  Newer designer kitchen. Updated/new baths. Half-court indoor basketball court, full racquetball/squash court, complete locker room facilities including sauna, 60’x30’ heated in-ground concrete salt water pool w/ stone waterfalls, patio w/ outdoor fireplace, 6 bedrooms, 5 full & 4 half baths, 9 fireplaces, 6 garage spaces, two kitchens, wine room, roof-top observation deck, new home theater.  Simply remarkable! $3,500,000

 

321 Merriman Road, Sewickley Heights

An exceptional opportunity to live on 42 gently rolling acres in very desirable Sewickley Heights.  Beautifully remodeled, this classic historic colonial perfectly blends sophisticated living, modern amenities, and stunning architectural details throughout!  Featuring 6 bedrooms, 7 full and 2 half baths, this home boasts a grand entry hall, large open kitchen and inviting two-story family room, well-cabineted butler’s pantry, two mudrooms, handsome private den, spacious formal rooms, main-level gameroom with three walls of windows, large bedrooms and fabulous master suite with dressing room. Glass doors open to charming patios which spill out onto the sprawling lawns!  Wonderful pool, outdoor kitchen and living space with impressive outdoor fireplace offer ideal venues for warm-weather entertaining and fun!  Four car garage. $4,250,000

QUICK SEARCH

I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com

An Acceptable Level of “Wear & Tear”

Sometimes it seems like everything is breaking around our house and we get behind on repairs. Isnt there some level of wear and tear buyers of “previously enjoyed” homes are expecting to have to accept? 

The process of selling and buying a home involves many fine lines. How far do you take preparing your home for sale? Do you really need to address all of the items suggested by your agent, the home stager or the home inspector who did a pre-inspection? Do you really have to attend to everything your family has broken or worn out over the years?

Anything that could come up on an inspection, if you know about it, really must be repaired or disclosed. My vote is repair. Even with items that are very obvious, when an inspector gets involved, he may blow the issue out of proportion and something that might have cost you $1000 to repair before you listed ends up costing you $3000 on the inspection request. If its something an inspector might find, you can bet he will find it and you will be expected to cover the cost of repair anyhow, so you might as well repair upfront.

Many buyers actually get quite nervous during the home inspection (also known as buyers remorse). If you happened to have gotten one of these buyers, it is possible that they could walk away from your deal if the inspection concerns feel too weighty to them. After you actually receive and negotiate the offer, the last thing you want to do is lose the buyer over items that you could have fixed but didn’t think anyone would notice or care about! In today’s market, they notice, they care. Sometimes they are willing to let you pay for the repair. Sometimes they just walk. Don’t take any chances. If you suspect it is likely someone would seek a repair, get it done!

Buyers, as much as I advocate for sellers to take care of the wear and tear items on their homes, it is important for you to be reasonable on your inspection requests as well. If you see an item that needs to be fixed while you are touring the home, take that into account when you make your offer and do not revisit it on the inspection. Inspection requests are supposed to be for items you didn’t know about and didn’t have a chance to adjust for in making your offer. Again, its a fine line buyers also walk in deciding what are fair and appropriate inspection requests of a seller.

321 Merriman Road, Sewickley Heights

An exceptional opportunity to live on 42 gently rolling acres in very desirable Sewickley Heights.  Beautifully remodeled, this classic historic colonial perfectly blends sophisticated living, modern amenities, and stunning architectural details throughout!  Featuring 6 bedrooms, 7 full and 2 half baths, this home boasts a grand entry hall, large open kitchen and inviting two-story family room, well-cabineted butler’s pantry, two mudrooms, handsome private den, spacious formal rooms, main-level gameroom with three walls of windows, large bedrooms and fabulous master suite with dressing room. Glass doors open to charming patios which spill out onto the sprawling lawns!  Wonderful pool, outdoor kitchen and living space with impressive outdoor fireplace offer ideal venues for warm-weather entertaining and fun!  Four car garage. $4,250,000

 

49 Woodland Road

Boasting newer kitchen and baths in a sought after Village neighborhood, 49 Woodland offers a unique opportunity for newer construction in the heart of Sewickley Village.  The main level master offers hard-to-find convenience – with 3-5 additional bedrooms upstairs. The beautifully remodeled white kitchen opens to family room and sunroom, with 3 walls of windows overlooking the private backyard.  The three car attached garage offers another hard-to-come buy amenity in the Village, as does the finished lower level! $1,625,000.

QUICK SEARCH

I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com

Maximizing Value

We are planning to sell our house this spring.  We have invested a lot in our home and know what we want to sell our home for.  How can we make that happen?

The answer here is really quite simple. You are not the first home seller to have a clear idea of what you think your home should be worth and what you are willing to sell it for.  And the easy to remember answer to your question is: if you want what you want, you must give the market what it wants!

So what exactly does this mean? If you are fixated on a particular price, then unless you happen to be one of the 5% of sellers who are not trying to push the market on value, you must do your work upfront to present your home as what the market is looking for.  This is not the time to ready the home as you would prefer it – you are moving and must detach from your own personal style and preferences.

So what does the market want exactly?  Well, that will vary depending on your price point.  When you are ready to speak to a Realtor, I am more than happy to help you fine tune the specifics for your home.  My past articles, which are archived on my blog, AskKathe.com, have a lot of this information easily accessible to you! Here are a few pointers I have shared in the past! The market does not want wallpaper!  No matter what the designers say, it needs to come down, unless you just put it up (and please be minimal in your choice of wallpaper if you are redecorating). The market does not want colored carpets, or worn carpets, or bold jewel tones painted on the walls, or swag curtains, or deferred maintenance, or wear and tear on walls and cabinetry, or cluttered rooms. If you take the time to meet the market preferences, you have a much higher likelihood of getting what you want. But if you don’t want to address market preferences and just want to enter the market “as is” then unless what you want happens to be well below market value, you will need to adjust what you want!

601 Academy Avenue, Sewickley

Stunning remodel of this signature Sewickley Village home!  Huge rooms, beautiful new white kitchen, remodeled baths and unparalleled architectural interest combine in a home you will enjoy living in and a location you will absolutely love!  Located in one of Sewickley’s most popular neighborhoods with tree-lined streets and sidewalks to everywhere.  Amazing, flat and private yard, detached garage with finished living space above! $1,675,000

 

515 Spanish Tract

Amazing privacy, peace and quiet in this gorgeous mid-century modern home sited on 8 exquisite acres in close-in Sewickley Heights.  Incredible remodel features a main level master, main level laundry and attached garage — this house easily functions for those seeking one level living.  Four additional bedrooms, four additional baths, wonderful walk-out lower level and stunning indoor pool with waterfall.  An amazing peaceful home with exceptional amenities.  $1,495,000.

QUICK SEARCH

I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com

Getting a Jump on Spring Market

We’re getting ready to put our home on the market this spring and have read all of your prior articles on staging – any new do-it-yourself ideas to maximize sale-ability?

Now is the perfect time to be readying for Spring – our Spring market starts in January so you have some time to make final preparations. I cannot say often enough how important it is to stage your home – those that are staged sell quickly and for top dollar.   For those of you who have completed the primer course in home staging and have de-wallpapered, de-cluttered… here are a few more great ideas!

Expose your windows. Pittsburgh can be gray enough. Take down window treatments (yes, even custom ones unless they are less than 5 years old) and always show your home with the blinds up. It’s important that your home feel light and bright to prospective buyers and not dark and cave-like.

Expose your wood floors. Buyers love hardwood floors. If you have old wall-to-wall carpeting over hardwood floors, remove it and expose the wood. If you have area rugs, unless they are the latest trend and are measurably adding to your design, roll them up and store them.

Do a “super quickie” on your kitchen and baths. Even replacing old lighting fixtures and cabinet hardware will go a long way to making a space feel more updated. The big box stores have a large selection of reasonably priced choices. The safest choice these days is silver tones, but champagne/ brushed gold is also well-liked.

Buy new white towels and other white accessories for your baths (and don’t use them so they stay fluffy). White brings a sense of cleanliness to a bathroom.

Finally, when you have a showing scheduled, leave all of your lights on in anticipation of the showing. Light, bright & squeaky clean is a great formula for getting your home sold!