Buying an Investment Property

We would like to buy an investment property – something that we can fix up and then rent.  Any tips?

Real estate rental properties can be a great way to diversify your investment portfolio and create an income stream for retirement, if you hold your properties long enough! During your ownership, if you have invested properly, the tenant’s rent should be covering your mortgage and taxes and maybe even generating some cash.  Over time, the rent will have purchased you a home and the income stream becomes cash in your pocket, or the home an asset you can sell and invest in something else (Retirement home? Child’s education?)

However, before you run out and start buying investment properties, there are a few things you should consider beyond the financial aspects. First, consider where you want the property to be.  Lower priced properties may not be in our best school districts, and while there are always people looking to rent, the rents will be lower.  Also consider the risk of non-payment.  The lower rent properties may also bring tenants with riskier jobs which could increase the possibility of having to evict tenants.

Consider your own location as well.  Do you want a long drive to the property if there is an issue?  Are you planning to stay local or might you be transferred, raising the question of whether you should sell the property?  If you are not planning to manage the property yourself, how much will property management cost you and how will that impact your profits?

Finally, and most importantly, consider how much “fixing up” you are willing to do.  Investors frequently underestimate the amount of time and money it will take to create a property that is actually desirable to renters.  You need to anticipate dedicating a significant amount of your personal time if it is a project.  The concept of calling a general contractor will deeply erode your profits – the best investments are the ones you are personally involved in at a high level. Also keep in mind when making your improvements, this is not going to be your personal home.  Your choices should be what the mainstream market wants and should be the least expensive choices that still convey an appropriate level of quality. Investment properties should not be your opportunity to put your personal stamp on a home – save that for the home you plan to stay in! If you would like to consider an investment property further, give me a call – I can help you with that! 412.779.6060

52 Timberhill – New Price!! 

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

 

22 Woodland Road – New Price! 

Outstanding opportunity to live on Woodland Road in Edgeworth!  The contractors just left this handsome brick colonial!  With newly remodeled kitchen and hall bath, this beautiful home is move-in ready! 5 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 2 car attached garage, large eat-in kitchen, spacious family room, beautiful sunroom, main level laundry and more!  In an ideal neighborhood close to Village shops and amenities.  $1,025,000

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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

The Importance of a Survey

Should we get a survey in connection with our new home purchase or can we rely on the seller’s old survey?

Often buyers do not order a survey of their new home and while this saves a buyer at least $400 – $500, ordering a new survey when you buy a home is a good investment. Surveys are valuable because they will show you whether there are any boundary issues with the property that might be expensive to fix later. For example, the neighbor may have built his new shed slightly over the property line. Getting that fixed might strain neighbor relations and cost you money. Better to let the current owner handle it before closing. Surveys can also reveal undisclosed easements across your property. You might find out that the neighbor has the legal right to have their driveway on a piece of your property or that the neighbor has a right to use your driveway to get to their property. While you may be ok with shared use, it is certainly something you want to make an informed decision about and not something you want to find out after the fact.

Surveys are also valuable because they show you where you can build and where you can install items such as decks, patios, pools and sheds. These can be expensive to undo if you make a mistake and end up on your neighbor’s property – better to make an upfront investment in a survey and get it right the first time. Surveys are essential if you are planning to install a fence or invisible fence. In these situations its actually an excellent idea to have the surveyor return to “stake” the property line so that you are certain you don’t put your fence on your neighbor’s land.

Finally, without a survey, at closing your title insurance company will issue a policy with “survey exceptions,” meaning that if you later find out there is an issue, the title insurance policy will not pay to resolve the issue. In order to get the best possible title insurance coverage, it is important to get a new survey.

When you are moving toward closing on your new home your settlement company will ask you whether you want a survey and I recommend that you respond yes!

 

106 Raintree Lane – NEW LISTING!

Fabulous Sewickley home checks every box! The huge yard offers plenty of play space! Inside, the open floorplan is ideal for daily living and entertaining. Upgraded kitchen with granite tops and stainless appliances is open to family room with fireplace and large breakfast room with walls of windows overlooking the yard. Finished lower level with full bath is ideal for indoor fun! Upstairs there are four bedrooms including a spacious master suite. Wonderful attached garage. Main level laundry. Fabulous deck off kitchen/breakfast room is wonderful for warm-weather entertaining. This is a well-built S&A home with a great yard, a great floorplan and a great sense of style! $555,000  See More… 

 

256 Thorn – NEW LISTING!! Open House- October 13th, 2019

Landmark Sewickley Village Home in Incredible Central Sewickley Village Location. Stately Stone & Shingle Masterpiece has been completely remodeled and seamlessly blends today’s modern amenities with gorgeous architectural detailing only found in the most elegant of homes! Magazine perfect high-end kitchen is fully loaded and open to the incredible family room & breakfast room. The most perfect pergola topped outdoor patio with custom log-burning fireplace is ideal for your warmer weather entertaining. 3 car garage. Just steps from the Village shops and restaurants.  Open Sunday 1-4pm. $1,550,000  See More…

 

 

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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

For Sale “As Is”

We want to sell our home “as is.”  Is this possible?

If everything comes together perfectly, then yes, it is possible to sell your home “as is”  — here is what you will need to do to make that happen!

First, you must start by having your home pre-inspected.  Very few buyers would consider waiving inspections if the home has not been a qualified home inspector, with reports provided to prospective buyers. You will then need to take the inspection and use it to thoroughly complete the disclosure, making sure that you clearly identify all deficiencies that you aren’t planning to repair.  If there are larger items such as a high radon reading, suspected mold or knob and tube wiring, you should at a minimum get estimates for the repairs.  All of these things, the disclosure, the inspection reports, and the estimates, all need to be provided to prospective buyers.

The second step to a successful “as is” sale is to price the home for the condition you now know it to be in.  The advantage to this approach is being able to tell buyers that the price reflects known condition.  You will be far less likely to have requested price adjustments later for unknown issues.  It is very important that your chosen price reflect the condition you now know your home to be.  For example, if your home has knob and tube wiring, you can’t expect to receive the same price as a similar home that had been rewired.  Rewiring is generally speaking a $20,000 – $40,000 project.

Finally, a great marketing strategy is key.  To truly achieve an “as is” sale your agent will need to drive in significant traffic and generate multiple offers so that the bidding buyers are willing to waive all inspections in order to be the winning bidder.

I just orchestrated this approach on one of my listings and it worked perfectly.  A seller I represented wanted an “as is” sale, did the pre-inspections, obtained estimates and priced very well.  We ended up with 4 offers, inspections waived, and ended up selling at nearly 10% over list price!  The up-front effort was well worth the end-result!

 

321 Merriman Road, Sewickley Heights – NEW LISTING!

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  See More…

106 Raintree Lane, Sewickley – New Listing! 

Fabulous Sewickley home checks every box! The huge yard offers plenty of play space! Inside, the open floorplan is ideal for daily living and entertaining. Upgraded kitchen with granite tops and stainless appliances is open to family room with fireplace and large breakfast room with walls of windows overlooking the yard. Gorgeous wood floors on the main level. Finished lower level with full bath is ideal for indoor fun! Upstairs there are four bedrooms including a spacious master suite with large walk-in closet and en-suite bath. Wonderful attached garage. Main level laundry. Fabulous deck off kitchen/breakfast room is wonderful for warm-weather entertaining.  This is a well-built S&A home with a great yard, a great floorplan and a great sense of style!  $555,000  See More…

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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

Selling It Empty

We plan to move out of our home before we put it on the market.  Any thoughts on selling an empty home?

Some homes definitely sell more readily vacant – my last home was one of them – and so I definitely do not dissuade sellers from emptying their homes before selling them, but there are some important tips to keep in mind!

If you are emptying your home, then empty it.  Do not leave behind the items you don’t want.  Do not leave behind soaps, shampoos, chemicals, lawn fertilizers… Empty is empty.  So please plan on a complete clean out.  If you need help finding people to help dispose of items, give me a call!

It is critical to be sure that once your home is empty, you bring in a handyman to make sure that everything is in good order.  Holes should be patched and touch-up painted, scuffs eliminated, carpets and windows cleaned, all light bulbs working … When there is no furniture to look at, the condition of the home is all the more important.

Make sure you have a plan for upkeep of your empty home.  The yard must be regularly maintained, including weeding, leaf and snow removal.  The interior tends to be easier to keep up, but do be sure you arrange for a periodic quick clean.  It is also a good idea to hire a neighbor or friend to check your home regularly to make sure that there has been no crisis at your home (such as a broken water pipe).

Be sure to keep your home properly conditioned (warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer). I have actually seen mold grow inside a home when sellers do not keep the air conditioning running in warm weather in their vacant homes – this will cost far more to clean up than the air conditioning bill!  Finally, consider putting lights on timers so when buyers drive by in the evening, your home does not appear dark and unloved!

Selling a vacant home is not a bad thing, but it is important that you follow these tips to be sure your home is presenting well to prospective buyers!

 

226 Foxwood Rd, Moon Twp – NEW LISTING

Trendy, stylish 6 year old home in convenient Moon neighborhood checks all of the boxes NEW kitchen features all stainless appliances & industrial pendant lighting adds a touch of style. Ultra-convenient upper level laundry. NEWLY finished walk-out lower level w/ half bath, walk-up bar opens to large green space backing to woods. Highly energy efficient w/ high performance windows, high efficiency HVAC & water heater and thermal barrier. Immaculate condition throughout! $425,000

 

 

139 Blue Heron Drive, Wexford – New Listing

Better than new brick front colonial in ultra-convenient Wexford neighborhood with incredible access to Rte 19 shops and restaurants and I-79, downtown Pittsburgh and the airport. Immaculately maintained, walls of windows flood this cheerful home with natural light. Open floorplan,  Gourmet kitchen, tranquil back deck with wooded views. Private den, laundry adjacent to kitchen, dramatic two-story. Master suite includes a luxurious walk-in dressing room.  $495,000

 

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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

The Decluttering Mindset

We are finding the process of decluttering to get our home ready to sell very challenging – any suggestions on what to do with all this stuff?

If you’ve lived in your home for a while, it’s easy to accumulate a lot of “stuff,” yet we all know from HGTV and my weekly columns how important it is to present a more minimal home to the market to maximize your price and minimize your days on the market.  And yet, more often than not, cleaning out is easier said than done!

I’d like to start with a reminder that once you have committed to moving, be it now or in 5 years, its key to adjust your mindset.  Moving all of the “stuff” that you have accumulated to your new home is going to rack up your movers bill, and movers are surprisingly expensive. If you wait until your home is under agreement to address your accumulations, you are going to feel like you are in crisis mode having to address it all in a short time frame!  So start now, and think about what you really are going to want/need in your next residence and then get rid of everything else!  Below are some suggestions on what to do with your stuff. I’ve had to come to the difficult realization that my kids don’t want the basement full of stuff I saved – you may have some of the same processing to do.

Take advantage of your waste management program and call for the free hazardous waste disposal bags and start getting rid of old paints and other toxic substances.  Most garbage contractors will also haul away at no additional charge one larger item per week, such as an old mattress and box spring set (which counts as one item). You would also be surprised, if you put unwanted items on the curb a full day ahead of trash pickup, how many of them will be gone overnight.  Drop off old, broken or unwanted appliances for recycling at the Appliance Warehouse on the South Side. Left over items from renovation projects can be donated to Construction Junction in Point Breeze.  Clothes can be donated to a myriad of local charities including the Sewickley Academy Clothesline Sale coming up in September.  And all of the household items and furniture you don’t need or want anymore can be donated to the Day on the Lawn Fundraiser at the Presbyterian Church, Sewickley – the last two drop off times this year are this Friday, 8/30, 9am-noon and Saturday, 8/31, 9am-noon!  If you have items of higher value that you don’t want to just give away, there are many options for selling these items – give me a call and I can connect you to valuable outlets for selling your treasures.  If there are items that you want to hold onto them but they are not being incorporated into the home staging, I recommend moving them to an off-property storage facility or using a storage pod that you can load in your driveway and have taken to a storage facility.  I would be happy to chat with you personally about how to orchestrate it all – just give me a call! 412.779.6060

 

6181 Rittman Road, West Deer

Incredible 46 acre equestrian estate in Gibsonia with easy access to downtown Pittsburgh! This fabulous horse farm includes the farm house with 4 car garage, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, finished lower level, main level master suite and inground pool.  The large barn has an upper level for storing farm equipment and hay and a lower level equipped with stalls, tack room, laundry. The  property includes a 16,000 SF indoor riding arena, outdoor arenas and fenced pastures.  This is a working farm, ready for you to bring your horses!  $1,500,000

 

179 Sweetwater Drive

Looking for new construction in Sewickley? Here’s your chance! Beautiful 7 year old colonial with three car garage! Hardwood floors unify the main level. Amazing open floorplan is ideal for family living or entertaining. Kitchen features timeless white cabinetry topped with granite, stainless appliances. Large center island easily seats 4-6. Main level laundry/mudroom conveniently connects to the attached garage. Master suite with large walk-in closet and en-suite bath. 3 additional bedrooms.  Unfinished lower level with rough-in for full bath is ready for your custom finishes. $529,000.  See More…

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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

Can I Take It With Me?

I spent a lot of money on my lighting fixtures and really don’t want to leave them in my home when I sell it – can I take them with me?

This question comes up more often than you might think! Sometimes the fixture is a family heirloom or was a gift for a special occasion.  Maybe it has followed you from home to home and you can’t imagine a home without it.  Maybe you just absolutely love it.  Or maybe it was very expensive and you just don’t want to leave it behind.

Whatever the reason, you absolutely can take a favorite fixture, keeping in mind some important guidelines.  First, the best thing you can do is to remove the fixture before listing your home and replace it with a stylish but not to pricey replacement.  If you are like nearly every seller out there, you will want top dollar for your home and that will be much harder to achieve, so be sure to find something that is stylish – I can help with that.  It is far better that the buyer never see the fixtures you want to keep – they might attach to them and removing them after the buyer has seen them could jeopardize the entire deal.

Sometimes, however, it is not possible to remove the fixture before listing the home.  Occasionally fixtures are too big or fragile and require special crating to move them. If this is the case with your fixture and there is no way it can be removed in advance of listing your home, it is critical that you disclose this upfront. It should be listed as an exclusion in the MLS and in the property brochure. Hopefully with upfront disclosure the buyer will not attach and you will be able to remove them before you close.  You will need to cap the fixture outlet of course – you cannot simply leave the wires hanging out of the ceiling!  Be certain before you sign an Agreement of Sale that the fixture is clearly listed as exclusion.

Leaving the lights up and listing them as exclusions is clearly easiest for you, but keep in mind that if you are expecting a premium price for your home, a buyer may balk at you stripping lights from the home.  For this reason, removing the lights pre-listing and replacing them with stylish choice is the best alternative!

188 Sweetwater Drive

Kiss old house “problems” good bye and still live in Sewickley!  Sound too good to be true?  Check out 188 Sweetwater Drive.  Only 6 years old, this wonderful home is sited on an awesome half-acre lot at the end of a cul-de-sac in a fabulous Sewickley neighborhood!  Incredible outdoor spaces include Trex deck, patio and two firepits, all backing to natural woodlands. Three finished levels include huge finished lower level with full bath.  Gorgeous design aesthetic throughout unifies this incredible open floorplan.  4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 3 car attached garage. $569,000.

 

518 Irwin Drive

Exceptional opportunity to own one of Sewickley’s landmark homes! Recently remodeled with a current design aesthetic, this notable home is architecturally impressive and yet incredibly comfortable for today’s lifestyles.  Outstanding main level space includes a huge kitchen open to a large family room, spacious “homework room” adjacent to the kitchen, and living room, dining room and den.  Finished lower level. 6 bedrooms, 4.5 baths PLUS a nanny/in-law suite.  Incredible yard with room for a pool.  So close to all Village amenities and yet giving you the perfect amount of privacy.  $2,700,000.

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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

Disclosing the Ghosts

I’m superstitious and want to avoid buying a haunted house.  Does a seller have to disclose that information?

We live in an old town, with homes dating back to the early 1800s.  With old homes comes a lot of history, and sometimes a ghost story or two.  While approximately half of our states do require disclosure of paranormal activity, Pennsylvania is not one of those states.  Pennsylvania also does not currently require a seller to disclose if someone has died in a home, although they cannot affirmatively lie if asked.

Many other states have adopted far more comprehensive disclosure laws.  In our neighboring New York, paranormal activity must be disclosed.  In California, any death in a home in the preceding three years must be disclosed.  And in Massachusetts, the law is even more comprehensive, requiring disclosure of paranormal activity, as well as whether the home was ever the site of a felony, suicide or homicide or whether someone with HIV ever lived in the home.

Our disclosure simply asks whether there are any material defects, which is defined as anything that could significantly impact value. Material defects would clearly include any major problems with the physical structure, as well as pending tax assessments and disputes over property boundaries with adjoining landowners.  But what about those ghostly apparitions or eerie cries in the night?  According to a well-known California appraiser who specializes in diminution of value, a well-publicized murder can reduce value by 15% – 35%.  Does a ghost reduce a home’s value and need to be disclosed?  Right now, the answer is no in Pennsylvania, although sellers wishing to avoid lawsuits would be well advised to disclose anything that could be seen as stigmatizing a property, including paranormal activity and deaths in the home.  For some buyers, value actually increases with the prospect of living among ghosts.  But before disclosing the ghost in your attic, be sure there isn’t a rational explanation for what you are experiencing.

Buyers, if you don’t want to move into a haunted home, what can you do to protect yourself in the absence of required disclosure?  You can start with the internet – do a thorough search of the property address and sellers’ names.  That will likely turn up information on any more recent concerns with the property.  You can also pay for a property report at Diedinhouse.com, but I can’t vouch for its accuracy. Some recommend burning sage to rid the home of spirits, and if all else fails, you can always call Ghostbusters!

305 Chestnut Road, Edgeworth – New Listing 

Utterly charming historic Village colonial set on a large lot with fully fenced backyard and private back patio, ideal for warm weather entertaining.  Nicely remodeled throughout.  Large kitchen with huge walk-in pantry and mudroom. Finished lower level includes large walk-in closet and full bath. Beautiful architectural detail and wood floors throughout. Dramatic ceilings, sun-drenched rooms.  $475,000  See more…

 

 

 

415 Orchard Street – New Listing 

A fabulous renovation of this incredibly spacious Village home.  Three finished levels including lower level with full bath. Beautifully renovated kitchen with breakfast “café,” coffee bar, mudroom with lockers.  Beautifully finished wood floors. Delightful covered front porch.  Quiet back patio. Fenced rear yard is ideal for pets. Exceptional condition throughout.  $795,000  See more…

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I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.