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March 26, 2017

5 Early Warning Signs of Electrical Problems in Your Home

Electrical problems cause almost50,000 house fires every year in the United States, making wiring and electrical issues among the leading causes of residential fires and fire damage. Recognizing these early warning signs of electrical problems can help protect your family, prevent hazardous malfunctions, and decrease the risk of fires in your home:

  • Burning Smells From Outlets or Appliances. “Hot,” smoky, or burning smells emanating from outlets or appliances are a sign of serious and immediate danger. Exposed or damaged wiring, overloaded circuits, and fire hazards inside the electrical outlet, box, or system can all cause fires, often preceded by noticeable smells. If you notice a burning smell, or see smoke, emanating from outlets or appliances, shut off the power and call an electrician.
  • Unexplained Electrical Shocks. Occasional minor shocks that occur after walking over carpets may result from harmless static discharge. However, if you experience any significant (or regular/recurring) shocks when touching switchplates, outlets, or appliances, the cause may be a hazardous ground fault or other wiring issue. Contact a professional immediately if this occurs.
  • Sparking Outlets.Age, exposure to water, or faulty wiring can all cause outlets to spark and create a serious risk of fire or electrocution injuries. Although some less-dangerous causes can also result in sparks – for example, the rapid draw on power created by plugging in certain kinds of appliances – sparking outlets should never be ignored, especially if sparks are accompanied by electrical shocks or occur on a regular basis.
  • Circuit Breaker Problems. If the circuit breakers in your home switch off frequently, requiring resets (or replacements, in the case of older fuse-style boxes), call an electrician promptly. Tripping breakers may be a sign of electrical overload, faulty wiring, or other dangerous conditions in need of immediate repair.
  • Flickering or Dimming Lights. Not every lighting flicker represents cause for concern, but lighting irregularities caused by turning on other appliances or for which no immediate cause is apparent are often signs of more serious wiring or electrical problems. After making sure the light bulbs in your home aren’t loose, or designed to flicker, call a licensed electrician to inspect the systems and correct the problem before a fire starts.

Don’t ignore these, or any other warning signs. Have your home inspected by a licensed professional electrician immediately at the first signs of faulty or malfunctioning wiring or electrical systems. Electrical burns, shocks, and fires create a serious hazard and should never be ignored.

March 11, 2017

January 2017 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area

*Market information courtesy of RBIntel.com

In January 2017,Median Housing Prices Dropped Compared With December 2016, But Remained At Ten-Year Highs For The Month of January.

The January 2017 median home sale price in the greater Washington D.C. area was $390,000– an decrease from December’s median prices but still the median sales price for January in the last ten years.Sales volume also increased by 19.5% over January 2016 numbers. More than 11% more home sales closed in January 2017 than during the first month of 2016, and the properties sold, on average, at 97% of the listing price.Overall, the January market numbers suggest a healthy housing market in the greater Washington D.C. area.

Falls Church City remained the region’s “most expensive”location (measured by average prices), with January median sales prices of $610,000; Prince George’s County remained the most affordable, with January median sales pricesof $260,000 – very close to December’s average of $265,000.Individual home prices and neighborhood values vary, but the average numbers in January demonstrate an increase over both the five and ten-year averages.

Pending Sales and New Listings Increased in January 2017.

According to figures published by RBIntel.com:

The number of new listings in the Washington D.C. area increased in January, with almost 13% more new listings coming on the market this January than were listed for sale in January of 2015 and 47% more listings in January than in December 2016. Every part of the D.C. Metro area showed an increase in new listings, though the largest increase in new properties on the market occurred in Falls Church City, while Fairfax County showed the smallest increase.

Pending sales at the end of January increased by almost 16% over January 2016 numbers, and by almost 12% over December 2016.This January growth applied across all housing types, with condos, townhouses, and single family homes all showing increases in pending sales.

Average “Days on Market” For Listed Properties Remained Unchanged.

The median days-on-market for listed properties in Washington D.C. and the surrounding counties in January 2017 was 34 days,five days longer than the DOM for December 2016 but ten days less than the average days-on-market in January of 2016.

Falls Church City was the slowest regional market last month (median days-on-market: 60), while Washington D.C. remained the fastest-moving market, with a median DOM of 23 (up two days from December 2016’s median DOM of 21).

Sales numbers vary from county to county, and even among neighborhoods. The speed and success of a housing sale is dependent on many factors, from listing price to home condition and comparable listings in the area. Your personal experience may vary, but knowing the average numbers is still helpful when making plans to sell your home, either through a realtor or to an investor.

February 27, 2017

Understanding the Home Appraisal Process

Appraisals are an important part of the home sale process, but many people don’t understand what an appraisal involves or why it’s such a critical part of buying or selling a home. Today, let’s look at some common questions—and answers—about the home appraisal process.

What is an appraisal and who creates it?

An appraisal is a written estimate of the value of a home, created by an unbiased, third-partyappraiser – a person with experience establishing the value of houses, who has no connection to the buyer or the seller.

Most appraisals are conducted by licensed appraisers familiar with the area and market in which the house is located.

Why is an appraisal needed?

Lenders use appraisals to evaluate the amount of the loan they are willing to make, either as purchase money for a home or in refinancing. The appraisal serves as proof of the house’s value, which impacts the amount of money a bank or other financial institution is willing to lend, and at what price.

How does the appraiser determine the value of a home?

Appraisers consider numerous factors when evaluating a home. They look at the house itself, including its age, condition, curb appeal, and other relevant details. They don’t care about moveable things like furniture and art on the walls, but do pay attention to fixtures like sinks and toilets, especially if those fixtures need repair. Appraisers also review recent home sales in the neighborhood, paying special attention to the ones most comparable to the house they are appraising.

Homes in better condition appraise for higher values than those that look run down, ill-maintained, or in need of significant repairs.

Who pays for the appraisal?

In the case of appraisals associated with mortgages or purchase money loans, the buyer often pays the appraisal fee as part of the closing costs. When the appraisal relates to a refinance, the person obtaining the loan (usually, a homeowner) is responsible for the fee. However, like many other parts of real estate transactions, the cost of the appraisal may be shifted to another party, depending on the terms the parties negotiate among themselves.

Appraisals are an important part of buying, selling or refinancing a home. They help establish the value of the property and the amount of the loan a lender is willing to offer. In addition, buyers can sometimes insert language into the purchase contract requiring re-evaluation of the purchase price if the home does not appraise for at least the value the buyer and seller agreed upon.

Although appraisals are a common part of the purchase and sale process, not every sale is contingent upon the house appraising for a certain value. Selling a home to investors is a shorter, less complicated option that may not even involve a formal appraisal. To find out more, click here and get a free, no-obligation quote from 4 Brothers Buy Houses today.

February 18, 2017

Preventing Slip & Fall Injuries At Winter Open Houses

Open houses offer prospective buyers a chance to view, and consider making an offer on, your home – but slip and fall injuries can ruin a buyer’s impression of even the loveliest homes, and may even land the seller in litigation.

Here are some tips to help prevent slip and fall injuries during a winter open house:

  • Shovel, Salt, & Sand All Paths & Driveways. Clear away snow and ice from driveways, sidewalks, and paths around your home—and remember to clear the sides and back of the house as well as the front approach. Put down salt or sand to increase foot traction and help prevent unwanted slips and falls. Visitors often want to walk around the outside of a house and tour the backyard area, so make sure to clear and prepare a path where buyers and real estate agents can walk safely.
  • Place Absorbent, Non-Slip Mats Near Entrances. Winter snow and ice can melt into slippery puddles in the entrance, creating hazardous conditions for visitors to an open house. Protect your guests by offering absorbent, non-slip mats near entrances—both front and back—to help prevent mud and puddles from accumulating.
  • Post Warning Signs in Steep or Slippery Areas. Warn visitors of hazardous, steep, or slippery surfaces, especially slopes and stairs. Post warning signs, especially when a surface is steeper or more slippery than it seems.
  • Clean Up Puddles Promptly. Melting snow and ice become slippery puddles in entryways, and other parts of the home as well. Don’t wait until after the open house ends to clean them up. Keep cleaning supplies on hand, and mop up water, mud, and slippery tracks as soon as possible to keep your visitors safe.
  • The Brighter, the Better. Well-lit, welcoming homes sell better in any season, but bright lighting also helps prevent injuries during winter open houses. Use strategic lighting to illuminate your home’s best qualities . . . and also to keep potential buyers safe!

All of the other safety tips for open houses are important during the winter too: clear away clutter, have at least two people monitoring the open house whenever possible, and put jewelry and other valuables in safes (or remove them from the property altogether). A little common sense and preparation can help keep your home, and your visitors, safe and reduce the risk of slip and fall injuries during your open house.

February 10, 2017

What is Foreclosure?

“Foreclosure” is the legal term for the process lenders use to recover the unpaid amount of a loan from a borrower after the borrower violates the terms of a loan agreement.

What Kind of Borrower Violations Trigger a Foreclosure?

Normally, the borrower’s “violation” takes the form of non-payment, meaning the borrower has stopped making payments on the loan or fails to make payments in the amounts or at the times required by the loan agreement.

While many lenders will negotiate with borrowers, in hopes of getting payments back on track, if the negotiation fails—or if the borrower misses additional payments—the lender may decide to foreclose on the loan. Where the loan is secured by a mortgage or a deed of trust on the lender’s home, the lender pursues foreclosure proceedings in an attempt to recover the loan by forcing a sale of the collateral used to secure the loan – in this case, the borrower’s house.

What Happens Once Foreclosure Proceedings Start?

The exact foreclosure process lenders must use is controlled by a number of laws and regulations, some of which vary from state to state.

However, most foreclosure proceedings involve four different phases:

  • Pre-Foreclosure/Notice of Default. This phase begins when the borrower misses payments. The lender will send the borrower notices about the missed payments and indicating that the borrower is in default (or in danger of a default) under the loan agreement. The lender may also file notices with the county recorder or post a notice on the door of the borrower’s home, to make sure the borrower knows that (s)he is in danger of a foreclosure suit.
  • The Redemption Period. After receiving a notice of default, a borrower has a period of time – normally 1-3 months – to pay off the overdue amount of the loan, to sell the home, or otherwise to bring the property out of default. While lenders will sometimes negotiate arrangements with borrowers during this period, it’s dangerous for homeowners to let a loan go this far into default.
  • Sale by Auction. If the homeowner fails to cure the default or sell the home before the end of the redemption period, the lender arranges an auction (either directly with the county assessor or, where necessary, after appropriate legal proceedings) and the house is sold, normally to the highest bidder – who then becomes the new owner of the home.
  • Right of Redemption. In some states, the law gives borrowers who default on a loan a certain period of time to “redeem” the property—even after the auction sale—by paying back the entire remaining amount of the loan, plus the lender’s costs and interest. The redemption period varies by location, as do the terms the borrower must comply with to redeem the home.
  • Eviction (if Necessary). After a house is sold in a foreclosure auction, the lender will give the borrower another notice, stating how long the borrower has to vacate the home. If the borrower fails to comply, the local sheriff will evict anyone remaining in the house after the stated date.

Foreclosure proceedings are stressful, and can be scary, especially if you find yourself in a position where the loan is due and you lack the funds to pay. If you need to sell a home quickly—either to avoid foreclosure or for any other reason—consider selling direct to an investor, to avoid the hassle and delay of open houses, long escrow times, and requests for repairs. To learn more, click here for a free, no obligation quote from 4 Brothers Buy Houses.

This article is for information purposes only; itis not and should not be taken as legal advice. If you are facing foreclosure, contact a legal specialist in your area for a consultation about your legal rights.

January 28, 2017

December2016 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area

*Market information courtesy of RBIntel.com

4 Brothers Buy Houses is proud to share this update on current Washington D.C. area housing sales and market conditions.*

In December 2016,Median Housing Prices Reached the Highest December Level On Record.

In December 2016,the median home sale price in the Washington D.C. area was $410,000 – an increase over November’s median prices and also the highest-ever median sales price for the area during the month of December.This is true even though sales volume decreased slightly (though still less than 1%) from the numbers we saw in December of 2015. The total number of home sales that closed in December was also 4.2% lower than last year’s December numbers.Overall, the year-to-date median sales prices of homes in the Washington D.C. area is up by 3.8% compared with last year and almost 1% higher than last month.

Falls Church Citywas the region’s “most expensive”location (measured by average prices), with December median sales prices of $678,750; Prince George’s County remains the most affordable, with December median sales pricesof $265,000. The prices of individual homes and neighborhoods may vary, but the average numbers in December show an increase that suggests the continuance of a strong sales market in the greater Washington D.C. area.

Pending Sales Increased, But New Listings Declined in December 2016.

According to figures published by RBIntel.com:

Pending sales at the end of December were up by almost 2% compared with December of 2015, and down by almost 15% from last month’s numbers – but decreases in month-to-month pending sales are fairly normal at this time of year, due to the winter weather and holiday season.

The number of new listings in the Washington D.C. area decreased in December, with only 3.089 new residential listings coming on the market. Condos showed an increase in listings, with 3.8% more units coming on the market in December than in the previous month, but the number of new listings for single-family detached homes and townhouses were both lower than the total of new listings that came on the market in November.

On-sale housing inventory decreased in December, with almost 14% fewer houses on the market last month than were listed for sale in December 2015, and 18.5% fewer listings available than at the end of November 2016.

Average “Days on Market” For Listed Properties Remained Unchanged.

The median days-on-market for listed properties in Washington D.C. and the surrounding counties in December2016 was 29 days,six days longer than the DOM for November but five days less than the average days-on-market for houses listed in December of 2015.

FairfaxCity remained the slowest regional market in December (median days-on-market: 56), while Washington D.C. was the fastest-moving market, with amedian DOM of 21.

Sales numbers vary from county to county, and even among neighborhoods. The speed and success of a housing sale is dependent on many factors, from listing price to home condition and comparable listings in the area. Your personal experience may vary, but knowing the average numbers is still helpful when making plans to sell your home, either through a realtor or to an investor.

January 20, 2017

Common Questions (And Answers) About Lender-Required Repairs

Few, if any, houses are in perfect condition, even at the time of sale. While many buyers are willing to overlook certain defects when purchasing a home, some lenders (including the United States Fair Housing Administration, or FHA) may require repairs before agreeing to fund the buyers’ loan.

Are Lender-Required Repairs Mandatory?

Generally, yes, in the sense that any lender-required repairs are conditions to funding of the loan. This means that the lender does not fund the buyers’ loan, and the seller does not get the purchase money, unless the repairs are made.

Most people can’t afford to buy a house without a loan (sometimes called “purchase money financing”),so lender-required repairs are mandatory for the sale to close.

How Do Lenders Learn About The Need For Repairs?

Lenders normally receive a copy of the appraisal report, which contains information about the condition of the property being sold. Lenders may also receive a copy of any disclosures provided by the seller, including disclosures relating to the property’s condition.

What Kind of Repairs Do Lenders Require?

The type of repairs a lender may request depends on a number of factors, including the size and type of loan, the lender’s business preferences, and the overall condition of the house in question.

Structural issues, like problems with a roof or foundation, and termite infestations often trigger a request for repairs from conventional lenders (generally, banks and mortgage companies). Conventional lenders rarely ask for repairs aside from these issues (although it can and does happen in certain areas or with certain types of loans).

Loans obtained through the United States Federal Housing Administration (commonly known as the FHA) typically have far more required repairs than loans obtained through a conventional lender. FHA loans are subject to a number of government guidelines, including repair guidelines, that must be complied with before the loan can fund and the sale can close.

FHA lending guidelines typically require the seller to repair any issues that negatively impact the house’s structural integrity, as well as conditions that create health and safety risks for the buyers and their families. After reviewing appraisal and inspection reports, the FHA lender (or representative) will provide a list of conditions and repairs that must be completed before the loan can fund.

Who Pays For Lender-Required Repairs?

The short answer is: it depends.

Sometimes, the sales contract signed by the buyer and seller dictates who will pay for certain kinds of repairs. When the contract is silent (meaning its terms do not resolve the issue) the parties normally negotiate who will pay for mandatory repairs.

However, the loan does not fund if lender-required repairs are not made, so sellers often agree to bear a large portion of the burden to ensure the sale will close.

If you don’t want to worry about lender-required repairs, consider selling your home to 4 Brothers Buy Houses instead. We never ask for repairs, and buy for cash, so there are no lender contingencies.Click here for a free, no-obligation quote and more information.

January 14, 2017

5 Top Tips For Selling Your Home in Winter

Cold, stormy winter days may not seem like an ideal time to list a house for sale, but buyers purchase homes in every month and every season. If you want (or need) to sell your home this winter, consider taking advantage of these tips to help your listing look its best in this chilly sales season:

  • Use Strategic Lighting. Bright, well-lit houses sell better in any season, but proper lighting is particularly important during winter months, when natural light is dimmer. Install strategic lighting, and ensure that lights are on when buyers visit.
  • Clear Away Snow From Drives And Walkways.Buyers don’t want to slog through snow—or risk a slip on dangerous ice—in order to tour an open house. Keeping paths and driveways clear improves accessibility and also makes your home seem more inviting—and easier to maintain—in the minds of buyers. If you don’t already have them, consider investing in proper maintenance tools to keep your property clear of snow and ice.
  • Maintain Heating and Ventilation Systems.Keep your house’s heating and ventilation system well-maintained, and always ensure the house is warm and properly ventilated during showings and open houses.
  • Keep Entries and Mudrooms Clean. Dirty boots and dripping coats can quickly soil a house’s entry during winter months, but a dirty entrance makes a poor impression. Take extra care to keep your entry (or mudroom) clean and organized, especially in advance of visits from potential buyers.
  • Organize and De-clutter. Cleanliness and organization – inside and out – are important parts of selling a home at any time of year, but even more important in winter months, when homeowners can’t depend on colorful flowers and lovely spring and summer views to boost a home’s desirability. Cluttered houses feel cramped, especially in winter, so make sure your home is extra-clean when listing it for sale in colder months.

These tips are supplementary to the standard advice for listing a home, all of which applies to selling houses at any time of year. Make necessary repairs, improve the landscape and curb appeal as much as possible, and price your home appropriately for its size, condition, and location.

If you need to sell in a hurry, or don’t want to take the extra time to prepare a house for listings, showings, and open houses during the winter months, consider selling directly to the investors at 4 Brothers Buy Houses – we don’t request or require repairs, and can close a sale quickly, for cash, and without the hassle of inspections, long escrows, and loan approvals. Click here for a free, no-obligation quote, or to get more information now.

January 8, 2017

November2016 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area

*Market information courtesy of RBIntel.com

4 Brothers Buy Houses is proud to share this update on current Washington D.C. area housing sales and market conditions.*

In November 2016,Median Housing Prices Reached the Highest Level Since 2005.

In November 2016,the median home sale price in the Washington D.C. area was $407,000 – the highest median sales price for the area since 2005.Sales volume increased by more than 14% over November 2015, and last month saw the largest number of total sales in any single month since 2009.

The year-to-date median sales prices of homes in the Washington D.C. area is up by 0.7%, with the greatest year-to-date increases seen in Prince George’s County and Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. replaced Falls Church City as the “region’s most expensive location” (measured by average prices), with November median sales prices of $549,000; Prince George’s County remains the most affordable, with November median sales prices of $260,000. The prices of individual homes and neighborhoods may vary, but the average numbers in November show a strong housing market in the greater Washington D.C. area.

Pending Sales and On-Market Inventory Declined in November 2016, But New Listings Increased

According to figures published by RBIntel.com:

Pending sales at the end of November were down almost 1% compared with November 2015, and down by 14.5% from October 2016 numbers. However, new listings increased last month, with 4,264 new residential listings coming on the market in November. This increase applied across the housing spectrum, with single-family homes, townhouses, and condos all showing an increase in the number of new listings.

On-sale housing inventory at the end of November 2016 was 14.4%lower than this time last year, and 12% lower than at the end of October 2016.Most likely, these decreases reflect the greater sales volume and the closing of pending sales before the end of the month.

Average “Days on Market” For Listed Properties Remained Unchanged.

The median days-on-market for listed properties in Washington D.C. and the surrounding counties in November 2016 was 23 days,exactly the same as October’s DOM, and two days lower than the average DOM in November 2015.

Fairfax City remained the slowest regional market in November(median days-on-market: 32) though this number is significantly lower than the 52 average days-on-market for listings in Fairfax City this time last year. Falls Church City was the fastest-moving market last month, with a median DOM of only 9 (down from 14 in November 2015).

Sales numbers vary from county to county, and even among neighborhoods. The speed and success of a housing sale is dependent on many factors, from listing price to home condition and comparable listings in the area. Your personal experience may vary, but knowing the average numbers is still helpful when making plans to sell your home, either through a realtor or to an investor.

December 30, 2016

When Should You Repaint Your Home?

Although it may seem obvious that houses need repainting when the paint is rotten, peeling off, and shabby, repainting the exterior of a home can be expensive, and homeowners often struggle with the decision whether or not to repaint the entire house—and if so, when.

Here are some tips on how to know whether it’s time to invest in a new coat of paint for your home’s exterior:

  • Peeling or Significant Cracking.Cracked and peeling paint is unpleasant to look at, but it also provides an opening for pests and weather damage.Paint provides an important seal on woodwork and other building components, so once you see signs of serious damage, especially damage that reveals the surface underneath, it’s time to repaint.
  • “Chalking.” As paint breaks down over time, it may begin to crack, peel away, or develop a powdery texture. This breakdown is known as “chalking,” and it’s often a sign of old or overly weathered paint. While not all chalking requires repainting, if your house’s exterior paint has significant chalking, it’s worth consulting an expert to see if repainting is required.
  • Dirty & Stains That Won’t Come Clean. Exterior paint lasts longer when homeowners clean the house on a regular basis, washing or cleaning away accumulated dirt and stains. However, not even the most attentive cleanings can keep paint looking perfect forever. Permanent stains and streaks can leave your home’s exterior looking sad—but it’s nothing a fresh, well-applied coat of paint can’t cure.
  • Planning To List Your Home For Sale. Although nothing can guarantee that a house will sell, or sell quickly, a fresh coat of paint improves a house’s curb appeal and increases the likelihood that buyers will want to come inside and see more. Before you put your house on the market, consider repainting the exterior (as well as the inside surfaces) to give your house a cosmetic boost.

Repainting does more than merely improve your home’s outward appearance; fresh paint helps seal woodwork and other structural components, increasing their life and reducing the chance of pests, rot, and other problems. Don’t wait too long to repaint; not only does waiting require you to live in a dirty, ugly home, but it increases the chance of expensive damage and the likelihood that repairs will involve far more than just repainting. By contrast, a new coat of paint will make your home attractive, more pleasant to live in, and also easier to sell.