Maureen Harmonay - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage



Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 11/6/2018

A home inspection is a vital part of every real estate transaction. Its importance is usually solidified in a purchase contract in the form of a contingency clause.

Whenever you buy or sell a home, the transaction is typically contingent upon a few things being fulfilled. Inspections help protect the buyer from purchasing a home that they believed didnít have any major issues.

For buyers, an inspection can save you thousands in the long run. For sellers, getting a preemptive inspection done (on your own dime) can be useful since it will help you avoid any surprises that could arise when a potential buyer has your home inspected.

Hiring a home inspector

Regardless of whether youíre the buyer or the seller in this instance, hiring a home inspector isnít something you should take lightly. Youíll want to confer with your agent before you pick an inspector.

Itís also a good idea to check out some online reviews and visit the inspectorís website for pricing. Typically, inspectors charge between $200 and $400 for an inspection, so feel free to shop around.

Inspectors are certified, so make sure whoever you choose has the proper licensure. You can search for inspectors in your area with this search function.

Ultimately, youíll want to choose an inspector that can give you the most unbiased assessment of the home, so that you can be assured that you know what youíre getting into when you buy or sell a home.

Preparing for an inspection

Many buyers arenít sure what to expect on inspection day. However, the process is relatively simple.

Youíll want to make sure the inspector can easily access workspaces (like around the furnace, circuit breakers, etc.). This will make the inspectorís job easier and allow them to focus on the service theyíre providing you.

If possible, itís also a good idea to provide them with records of important home maintenance and repairs. Inspectors know what red flags to look for with the home, both physically and on paper.

Finally, make sure pets, kids, and any other distractions are away from home or with someone who can attend to them.

Post inspection

After the inspection is complete, the inspector will hand you a report and be able to answer any questions you have about their findings. They will give recommendations about the timeline for repairs that need to be made soon or even years into the future.

With this report in hand, you can determine if there are repairs you want to negotiate with the seller if youíre buying a home. As a seller, this report will tip you off to issues that potential buyers will likely have and give you a chance to address them in advance.




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Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 10/23/2018

The rent vs buy dilemma is something that Americans have been facing for decades. Both options have their benefits, and itís really a matter of timing and preferences when it comes to choosing which is best for you.

However, there are a lot of things to consider before making this decision. So, in todayís post weíre going to break down some of the benefits of renting an apartment and of buying a home. That way you can make your decision with a clearer picture of what each situation looks like.

One thing to note first, however, is that it isnít always as simple as buy vs rent. Some living situations draw on the pros of each type of living. For example, living in a condo might be a good option for people who want the privacy and independence of owning their own home, but who also donít have the time or desire to keep up with maintenance.

So, as we compare buying and renting, keep in mind that the features of each are not mutually exclusive.

Renting an apartment

Most people who are living on their own for the first time start off renting. For younger people just out of school, renting offers the first taste of independence without the prerequisites of homeownership.

When you rent your first apartment, youíll learn the skills associated with budgeting for your monthly expenses, making your rent payments on time, and will start learning some of the skills that it takes to run a household.

In terms of monthly costs, apartments can vary greatly. Depending on where you live (and how luxurious the apartment is) you could end up having rent and utility payments that are much lower or much higher than mortgage payments for a house.

However, apartment leases often come with the benefit of utilities, trash removal, and other expenses built in. They also typically require the landlord to maintain the apartment and the land it sits on.

Live in the northern part of the country and hate shoveling snow? Make sure your lease specifies that your landlord will provide snow removal.

One technique that many renters take is to find an apartment that is small and affordable while they save up for a home. In this case, itís worth living with fewer amenities if your end goal is saving for a down payment.

But, what if you want to own a home someday but havenít quite decided where you want to settle down? Maybe your work keeps you moving from place to place or youíve always wanted to move away to somewhere new.

Renting is typically a better option for those who arenít quite sure what their plans are for the next coming years. They can have a stable place to live while they figure things out and plan their next move.

Buying a home

Once youíve rented a home for a while, you might become increasingly aware that you want more space and more control over your home.

Youíre also likely noticing how much money you spend on rent each month that is essentially a net loss.

When you buy a home, your mortgage payments might be going to the bank, but someday the money youíve paid toward that home will be yours in the form of equity. You can then use this as a down payment for another home.

This financial benefit cannot be understated. Since house values dependably increase over time, owning a home is a great investment toward your future.

So, those are the main pros and cons of renting vs buying a home. Think about your circumstances and determine which one makes the most sense for you right now. Then, start planning for the future.




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Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 8/28/2018

A home inspection represents a key stage during the homebuying journey. This inspection enables you to examine a house with a professional property inspector. And if you discover minor or major property issues, you can ask a seller to perform repairs. Or, you may choose to reduce your initial home offer or rescind your proposal.

Ultimately, it pays to be diligent during a home inspection. If you perform an in-depth assessment of a house, you can understand whether this residence is the right choice.

On the other hand, there may be property problems that you identify during a home inspection that you won't ask a seller to repair. These issues may include:

1. Cosmetic Problems

If you ask a home seller to perform cosmetic repairs, the seller may choose to walk away from your homebuying proposal. And if this happens, you could lose your dream house to a rival homebuyer.

There is no need to jeopardize a home sale due to a cracked floor tile, a deck that needs to be stained or other cosmetic problems. Instead, plan to perform cosmetic repairs on your own.

In addition, keep in mind that many cosmetic issues are quick and easy to fix and won't require you to break your budget. This means you likely will have no trouble completing myriad cosmetic repairs after you close on a home.

2. Loose Fixtures

A loose doorknob or light fixture can be frustrating. And as you walk through a house during an inspection, you may feel like repairing a loose fixture is a top priority.

Loose fixtures generally require simple hand tools to repair, and problems with these fixtures frequently can be solved in just minutes. As such, you may want to focus your attention on bigger and potentially more expensive home repairs as you determine which property repair requests to submit to a seller.

Of course, if a loose fixture creates a safety hazard, you should not hesitate to ask the seller to fix this problem. Because if a hazardous fixture remains in place, it may put your health and safety at risk.

3.Non-Functional Light Switch

A non-functional light switch may raise red flags as you inspect a house. But in many instances, this problem is minor.

If you notice a non-functional light switch during a home inspection, there usually is no need to worry. In fact, a property inspector typically can tell you whether a home's electrical system is safe to use and up to code.

For homebuyers who are uncertain about how to proceed with a residence following an inspection, it pays to consult with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can offer expert tips to help you make informed decisions at each stage of the homebuying journey.

Consider your potential property repair requests following a home inspection. By doing so, you can prioritize major property repairs and increase the likelihood that you and the seller can find common ground as you work toward finalizing a purchase agreement.




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Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 7/17/2018

Once you discover your dream house, you probably want to do everything possible to acquire this residence. However, it is important to remain calm, cool and collected as you navigate the homebuying journey. Because if you act too hastily, you risk overspending to purchase your ideal residence.

Let's face it Ė the temptation to submit an offer to purchase your dream home that may require you to break your homebuying budget can be overwhelming. Lucky for you, we're here to help you consider your offer to purchase closely and ensure you provide a competitive homebuying proposal that won't force you to exceed your budget.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you craft a competitive offer to purchase your dream house.

1. Analyze the Housing Market

The real estate market may have major ramifications on the offer you submit to acquire your dream residence, and perhaps it is easy to understand why.

For example, if you are operating in a buyer's market, there likely is an abundance of sellers and a limited number of buyers. If you find your dream house in a buyer's market, you may be able to acquire this residence by submitting an offer to purchase at or near a seller's initial home asking price.

On the other hand, navigating a seller's market may prove to be tricky. In a seller's market, there is a shortage of high-quality houses available and an abundance of buyers. Therefore, if you want to purchase your dream residence in a seller's market, you may need to submit an offer to purchase at or above a seller's initial home asking price.

Consider the housing market closely as you prepare an offer to purchase. If you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's one, you can submit an offer to purchase your dream house that falls in line with the current housing market's conditions.

2. Weigh a Home's Strengths and Weaknesses

When it comes to putting together a competitive offer to purchase, it helps to consider a house's strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can account for the costs of any potential home repairs or improvements in your homebuying proposal.

You should consider a home's location as well. For instance, a home in a remote town may prove to be more affordable than a comparable house near a big city. And when you craft an offer to purchase, you should always account for a house's location.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can help you submit a competitive offer to purchase at any time. This housing market expert is happy to provide a recommendation about how much to offer to acquire your dream home. And if you have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them at your convenience.

Want to buy your dream residence? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can avoid the risk of spending too much to acquire your ideal house.




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Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 5/29/2018

The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in a home. Not just a place to cook meals itís also often the entrance to a home and where families gather together at the end of the day. Arguably, itís also the most important room in the home and the one home buyers should be most astute of.

The kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms to remodel ranging between $20,000 and $50,000. Whether youíre eager for some renovation projects or looking for a move-in ready home, youíll want to assess the level of work this room will need as your shop potential houses.

Start with perhaps the most obvious - is the room large enough for your daily needs? Is there plenty of counter space or room to expand cabinetry? Do you have a lot of kitchen tools that call for plenty of storage space or perhaps prefer an island to prep dinner at? Know what your ideal kitchen space ahead of time, especially if it is a priority, so your realtor can help you find the perfect fit.

Check that all appliances to ensure they are in working order as per the disclosure statement claims. Appliances are a big expense and youíll want to have a good idea of what will need replacing or to be installed. Consider if they are an easy color to match when it comes time for replacement and if any are under warranty.

Youíll also want to examine the cabinetry. Check to ensure all drawers and cabinets are properly aligned and open smoothly. If they are wooden cabinets you can easily swap out hardware or change the color if youíre not a fan of the current style. However, other materials are not as convenient so consider replacement costs if youíre unhappy with the current installation.

Countertops can be another major expense. Have the granite countertops been properly taken care of? If they are laminate are they scratched or chipped? If this isnít an upgrade youíre looking to make, be sure to look closely at what each home already has in place.

Kitchens are one of the busiest rooms in your home, especially if you love to cook. Check flooring for loose tiles, discoloration or poorly maintained wood flooring. This tells you a few things. Firstly, the quality of the materials used to build the home. And secondly, how well the house has been maintained over time.

Remodeling isnít on everyone's list when house shopping. And with kitchenís being one of the most expensive to renovate, this is one room you want to pay extra attention to as you view each potential home. Happy house hunting!




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