Monday, April 28, 2014

Trees - Too Close to Home(s)

Tree Dangers by Nick Gromicko - Although trees are generally a desirable feature of home landscaping, they can pose a threat to buildings in a number of different ways. Inspectors may want to educate themselves about tree dangers so that they can inform their clients about potentially dangerous situations. Tree Roots and Foundations Contrary to popular belief, InterNACHI has found that tree roots cannot normally pierce through a building's foundation. They can, however, damage a foundation in the following ways: •Roots can sometimes penetrate a building's foundation through pre-existing cracks. •Large root systems that extend beneath a house can cause foundation uplift. •Roots can leech water from the soil beneath foundations, causing the structures to settle and sink unevenly. Other Dangers: •Trees that are too close to buildings may be fire hazards. Soffit vents provide easy access for flames to enter a house. •Leaves and broken branches can clog gutters, potentially causing ice dams or water penetration into the building. •Old, damaged or otherwise weak trees may fall and endanger lives and property. Large, weak branches, too, are a hazard, especially if weighed down by ice. •Tree roots can potentially penetrate underground drainage pipes, especially when they leak. Water that leaks from a drainage or sanitary pipe can encourage root growth in the direction of the leak, where the roots may eventually enter the pipe and obstruct its flow. •Trees may be used by insects and rodents to gain access to the building. •Falling trees and branches can topple power lines and communication lines. Structural Defects in Trees. Trees with structural defects likely to cause failure to all or part of a tree can damage nearby buildings. The following are indications that a tree has a structural defect: •dead twigs, dead branches, or small, off-color leaves; •species-specific defects. Some species of maple, ash and pear often form weak branch unions, while some other fast-growing species of maple, aspen, ailanthus and willow are weak-wooded and prone to breakage at a relatively young age; •cankers, which are localized areas on branches or stems of a tree where the bark is sunken or missing. Cankers are caused by wounding or disease. The presence of a canker increases the chance that the stem will break near the canker. A tree with a canker that encompasses more than half of the tree's circumference may be hazardous even if the exposed wood appears healthy; •hollowed trunks; •Advanced decay (wood that is soft, punky or crumbly, or a cavity where the wood is missing) can create a serious hazard. Evidence of fungal activity, such as mushrooms, conks and brackets growing on root flares, stems or branches are indications of advanced decay. A tree usually decays from the inside out, eventually forming a cavity, but sound wood is also added to the outside of the tree as it grows. Trees with sound outer wood shells may be relatively safe, but this depends on the ratio of sound-to-decayed wood, and other defects that might be present; •cracks, which are deep splits through the bark, extending into the wood of the tree. Cracks are very dangerous because they indicate that the tree is presently failing; •V-shaped forks. Elm, oak, maple, yellow poplar and willow are especially prone to breakage at weak forks; •The tree leans at more than 15 degrees from vertical. Generally, trees bent to this degree should be removed if they pose a danger. Trees that have grown in a leaning orientation are not as hazardous as trees that were originally straight but subsequently developed a lean due to wind or root damage. Large trees that have tipped in intense winds seldom recover. The general growth-form of the tree and any uplifted soil on the side of the tree opposite the lean provide clues as to when the lean developed. Tips that inspectors can pass on to their clients: •Binoculars are helpful for examining the higher portions of tall trees for damage. •When planting trees, they should be kept far from the house. It is impossible for the homeowner to reliably predict how far the roots will spread, and trees that are too close to a building may be a fire hazard. •Do not damage roots. In addition to providing nutrition for the tree, roots anchor the tree to the ground. Trees with damaged roots are more likely to lean and topple than trees with healthy roots. Vehicles are capable of damaging a tree's root system. •Dead trees within the range of a house should be removed. If they are not removed, the small twigs will fall first, followed by the larger branches, and eventually the trunk. This process can take several years. •Inspect your trees periodically for hazards, especially in large, old trees. Every tree likely to have a problem should be inspected from bottom to top. Look for signs of decay and continue up the trunk toward the crown, noting anything that might indicate a potential hazard. In summary, trees that are too close to buildings can potentially cause structural damage. From Tree Dangers - Int'l Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pro's and Con's of Home Owners Associations

To everything ther is a yin and a yang. or so they say, the same holds true for homeowners and property owners associations. They have their good sides and their bad. Only you can decide what you are willing to live with if you buy a home in a neighborhood with an association. Associations are set up to maintain common areas and set the rules and standards for an area, keeping home values in mind. They try to keep indiual homeowners from letting properties get "out of hand" such as deferred maintenance, unsightly debris or trash in yards, etc. If your neighbors house is a run down mess think it will effect the price or salability of yours? You bet it can! How about if they have 4 old junkers or project cars in their driveway up on blocks or covered in tarps? Yep. It's also in fairness that all homeowners in the association pay their individual share of the cost to keep up the common areas like entrances and parks or playgrounds. Some offer ameneties such as pools, clubhouses or tennis. Some associations have more rules than others. Be sure to read through the condo or property owners association disclosures before you close on the sale of any home in an association. It's your legal right to see them and have time to read them (In VA, typically 5 days) before you close on the purchase. If using a charcoal grill is an everyday event for you and the condo association you are looking to buy in says: no charcoal grills, you may want to reconsider. Can you use an electric or gas one? Maybe your main mode of transportation is a motorcycle, does the association have rules against motorcycles after hours? This could be a problem. If you live in an area with an association, be thankful they are there upholding standards for all neighbors to meet, so that your home values and pride in your neighborhood can all stay high! Without one, your neighbors can do anything they want to thier own home and in the long run that may effect the value of yours.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Things to Ponder: Before you Reject that Offer (on your house)

Before you reject that offer you just received on your house think twice. Think long and hard about these things before you decide to reject it or even counter offer: 1) The longer your home stays on the market, the less money it will likely make. Buyers will begin to think something is wrong with it, since it hasn't sold right away. 2) If it's vacant, it is more likely that issues will develop and cost you money to fix. 3) If you have a mortgage on it, the longer you own it, the more interest you pay and the less money you net. 4) Insurance and taxes are still your responsibility as long as you own it. 5) What is the worry worth to you? Worrying about when will we get another offer? When will it sell? Why do we have to reduce our price again? Why didn't we just take that offer when we had it? What happens if we can't sell? Let's say you accept the offer presented to you (like it is, no changes) then the buyers are legally "under contract" to purchase from you and you begin the steps neccessary (according to the contract) to get to closing. If you make any changes to the offer (in price, conditions, terms, etc) then it becomes a counter-offer the buyers can reject, for any reason. If you reject it outright, the buyers will not likely ever make you another offer as they will see you as unwilling to negotiate and move on to other properties, of which there are many. Consider this: how many more months of mortgage, insurance, utilites, etc, do you want to keep paying? At what point have you wasted that profit by holding on to the house at "your price"? EXAMPLE: If mortgage monthly payments are $1,500 and monthly insurance, taxes and utilites are (combined) $250. then 4 more months of ownership would cost you $7,000 additional dollars. That does not include POA/HOA/Condo fees, interest accrued on the mortgage or any issues that develop in the house and what about your relocation expenses? Did you have to shell out money for hotel rooms, meals out or rentals while waiting to close on this home? It may have been easier and wiser to accept the offer that was $5,000 low in the first place. Think it over. Talk to your REALTOR*. Selling a home can be emotional ... try to seperate yourself from it personally ... it is now only a business transaction. You have already decided to sell it, let it go. Keep only the memories. It is someone elses home now. Take your money/profit from it and go make your next house a home.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

3 Reasons to Sell Your Home This Spring

(By the KCM Crew - 4-8-14) Many sellers are still hesitant about putting their house up for sale. Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed? These are all valid questions. However, there are several reasons to sell your home sooner rather than later. Here are three of those reasons. 1. Demand is about to skyrocket Most people realize that the housing market is hottest from April through June. The most serious buyers are well aware of this and, for that reason, come out in early spring in order to beat the heavy competition. We also have a pent-up demand as many buyers pushed off their home search this winter because of extreme weather. Sellers in markets where seasonal weather is never an issue must realize that buyers relocating to their region will increase dramatically this spring as these purchasers finally decide to escape the freezing temperatures of the winters in the north. These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now! 2. There Is Less Competition - For Now Housing supply always grows from the spring through the early summer. Also, there has been a growing desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners have seen a return to positive equity as prices increased over the last eighteen months. Many of these homes will be coming to the market in the near future. The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all the other potential sellers in your market put their homes up for sale. 3. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by approximately 4% this year and 8% by the end of 2015. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with an interest rate at about 4.5% right now. Freddie Mac projects rates to be 5.1% by this time next year and 5.7% by the fourth quarter of 2015. Moving up to a new home will be less expensive this spring than later this year or next year.