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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.
December 29, 2016

How to Hold an Open House

If you list your home for sale with a real estate agent, the listing agent should schedule (and host) the open houses for you, but if you list your home For Sale By Owner (or “FSBO”) the responsibility for planning—and hosting—open houses falls on you. Since most homeowners don’t have much experience holding open houses, here are some tips for getting the most from your FSBO open house:
  • Hold Your Open House On A Weekend. Plan in advance, and hold your open house on Saturday or Sunday – the days when buyers are most likely to be looking. Also, find out when local real estate agents normally hold their open houses, and schedule yours for that day of the week whenever possible.
  • Advertise (And Put Up Signs). People can’t visit your open house if they don’t know it’s happening. Advertise the open house online, on social media, and in the local newspaper’s “open house” or real estate section. Don’t forget to put up signs in front of the house and in your neighborhood (if allowed) on the day of the open house as well.
  • Prepare The Property—Inside & Out. Before the day of the open house, make sure the house is sparkling clean, clear away clutter, and make sure the yard has curb appeal. Houses make a better impression, and usually sell much faster, when freshly cleaned and staged.
  • Treat Your Visitors Like Welcome Guests. During the open house, greet guests at the door, offer a brochure or flyer with details about the home, and make sure they feel welcome. Offer to answer questions, and be willing to show potential buyers through the house, but don’t hover—many buyers prefer to walk through a house on their own, without the pressure of a seller looking over their shoulders.
  • Dress And Act Professionally.Homeowners who look and act professional during an open house tend to inspire more confidence in potential buyers, which may increase the likelihood of those buyers making an offer on your home. You wouldn’t want a real estate agent showing up to host your open house in worn-out jeans—and you should expect no less from yourself!
  • Follow Common-Sense Safety Rules. It’s normally a good idea to have at least two people present during open houses, for safety reasons. Put valuables in safes (or remove them from the home), and call police if someone or something threatens your safety (or that of your home).
Even if you follow these tips, your house may take some time to sell—especially if there are lots of properties on the market in your area. However, with proper planning and preparation, a successful open house can dramatically increase your chances of finding the perfect buyer for your home.
December 19, 2016

4 Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Front Door

Whether you want to sell your home or simply improve your home for your own enjoyment and personal comfort, timely replacement of old front doors can give your home a physical and economic boost. Although most homeowners realize an old front door detracts from a house’s appearance, worn or ill-fitting entry doors can also let heat escape and let in drafts, increasing energy costs. Here are some tips to help you decide if it’s time to replace the front door of your home:
  • Trouble Opening, Closing, and Locking (or Latching). Over time, doors and doorframes can become warped or worn, and hinges may start to sink or bend. Cracks and fractures can also develop in wood or fiberglass doors. Once this happens, the door may stick, have trouble opening or closing, or even refuse to latch.
  • Signs of Water or Insect Damage.Once weather or pests cause visible damage to a door, it’s time for replacement. Termites and other pests can damage the structural integrity of exterior doors, and water can cause wood to swell and crack. Don’t waste time trying to repair a visibly damaged door; install a new one for maximum energy savings and security.
  • Tarnished or Broken Locks, Knobs, or Hinges. It’s sometimes possible to clean or replace the broken or tarnished hardware without installing a whole new door, but sagging hinges and ill-fitting locks may also impact the structural integrity of the door itself. In those situations, it’s time for a door replacement.
  • Dents, Scratches, and Serious Cosmetic Flaws. Replacing the entry door is one of the simplest ways to give your house a facelift, improving its curb appeal and charm. New, clean entrances make houses look more modern and inviting, and can make a significant difference in the way that you – and prospective buyers – feel about your home.
Whether you’re planning to sell your home or simply increase your own enjoyment (and possibly reduce your energy bills), take a look at the entry door for these and other signs of potential problems. If your door is damaged, hard to open, or outdated compared with the rest of your home, you may want to consider replacement, especially before you list the house for sale. If you want to sell, but don’t want to bother replacing doors, windows, and other old or broken systems in your home, consider selling your house to an investor like 4 Brothers Buy Houses. We purchase homes “as-is,” for cash, and never request repairs before closing. Click here to get a fast, no-obligation quote today.
December 14, 2016

October 2016 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area

october-median

*Market information courtesy of RBIntel.com

October 2016 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area

In October 2016,Median Housing Prices Remained Close to Last Month’s Figures, With Increased Sales Volume, But Fewer New Listings. In October 2016,the median home sale price in the Washington D.C. area was $400,000 – only $1,000 difference from the September, 2016 average.Sales volume increased by 4.5% over October 2015’s numbers. The year-to-date median sales prices of homes in the Washington D.C. area is up by 0.6% overall, with the greatest year-to-date increasesseen in Prince George’s County and Falls Church City. Falls Church Citycontinues to hold the title of “region’s most expensive location” (by average prices), with October median sales prices of $702,500 (5.6% higher than last year’s prices); Prince George’s County remains the most affordable, with October median sales pricesof $267,137. New Listingsand On-Market Inventory Declined in October 2016. According to figures published by RBIntel.com: On-sale housing inventory at the end of October 2016 was 18% lower than this time last year, and 6.4% lower than September 2016’s figures. These decreases apply to all housing types, with single-family detached homes, condominiums, and townhomes all showing decreases in on-market inventory. New sales listings also decreased in October, with only 5,398 new properties coming on the market last month – a 12% decrease from September’s new listing numbers (and 20% fewer new listings than came on the market in October 2015). As with inventory, the decreases were seen in all available property types. October Saw a Decrease in Average “Days on Market” For Listed Properties. The median days-on-market for listed properties in Washington D.C. and the surrounding counties in October 2016 was 23 days –just one day less than September’s figure, but four days lower than the average DOM in October 2015. Reductions in DOM are not uncommon when inventory decreases; with fewer houses to choose from, the available properties often sell faster due to increased scarcity. FairfaxCity was the slowest regional market in October (median days-on-market: 36), and Washington D.C. remained the fastest-moving area for a second month in a row, with amedian DOM of 12. 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 5, 2016

Three Easy Steps to Prevent Ice Buildup From Damaging Your Roof

ice_dam_slate_roof The holidays are approaching fast, and winter storms aren’t far behind. Snow, ice, and freezing rain are winter travel hazards, but they also create dangers for your home. “Ice dams” are dangerous lumps of ice that often build up along the lower edges of roofs—where the roof meets the gutter—during the winter. Dams are formed when melting snow flows down the roof and resolidifies as ice along the edge of the roofline. This occurs when warm air rises up through the roof from the attic, melting the underside of the snow that accumulates on the house. The melted snow trickles down the slope of the roof and refreezes along the eaves, which are naturally colder than the portion of the roof above the attic. Over time, ice builds up along the eaves, blocking gutters and downspouts and often also forcing newly melted snow back up beneath the roof, causing leaks and other damage to your home. Although ice dams are dangerous, you can prevent ice dams from forming and damaging your home. Here are some simple tips to spot, prevent, and keep your home safe from ice dams during the winter months:
  • Don’t Let Snow Build Up On Roofs. Use a broom or snow rake to remove new snow from your roof as soon as it’s safely possible after snowfalls (or hire a professional snow removal service). Ice dams form more easily on roofs with flatter slops, so if your roof is not steep, you must be extra vigilant when it comes to removing extra snow and ice.
  • Seal And Insulate Roofs Properly. Ice dams result from warm air leaking upward through the roof. You can prevent this (and lower your heating bill into the bargain) by installing adequate insulation, venting roofs properly, and ensuring roofs are properly sealed to prevent warm air from leaking into the attic from the living space below.
  • Install Metal Roofing, Drip Edges, or Waterproof Membranes. Replacing old shingle or tile roofs with metal roofing or metal drip edges near the eaves can help prevent ice dams from forming and pushing water back up beneath the roof. Waterproof membranes beneath your roofing can also help prevent damage from ice dams, melting snow, and other water-related leaks. However, be aware: not even metal roofing can stop ice dams from occurring in every case, especially on roofs with flatter slopes.
No matter how well a roof is vented and insulated, smart homeowners inspect the roofline regularly during the winter months, removing extra snow and ice and paying attention to icicles that block or overhang eaves and gutters. A little time taking care of your roof will help ensure that your roof takes care of your family (and your belongings) too.
November 28, 2016

5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Heating Bill This Winter

heater For most homeowners, a drop in outdoor temperatures means an increase in the heating bill. As chilly weather returns to the east, it’s time to start thinking smart about heating costs and winter energy conservation. Here are five top tips to lower your heating bill this winter season:
  • Install a Programmable Thermostat. Programmable thermostats can save hundreds of dollars on your annual heating bill, and replacing a manual thermostat with an electronic, programmable unit is simple and inexpensive. Many homeowners can handle the installation without professional help (and home improvement stores will often help you, inexpensively, if you’re not confident in your DIY abilities).
  • Close Curtains or Shutters at Night, and Open Them In Daylight Hours. Window coverings like curtains or shutters provide insulation and help prevent nighttime heat loss through your windows. During daylight hours, open your curtains and shutters so sunlight can enter, warming the interior of the house.
  • Turn the Water Heater Down to 120 Degrees. Reducing the setting on your water heater to 120 degrees can save up to ten percent on your home’s annual water heating costs. Most people can’t even tell the difference between water heated to 120 degrees and 140 (the maximum temperature on most water heaters) – but you can see the difference on your monthly electric bill.
  • Replace Worn Weather Stripping Around Doors and Windows. Warm air leaks out any available opening, including the spaces around the edges of your doors and windows. Replacing old, worn, or damaged weather stripping can have a measureable effect on your heating bill, and reduces drafts through doors and windows too.
  • Clean and Unblock Vents and Ventilation Ducts. Blocked vents and air ducts can reduce air circulation and prevent much-needed heat from reaching your home. Before winter sets in, inspect all visible vents and move furniture and rugs away from openings, ensuring the free flow of air. (Be sure to check floor vents behind the furniture, too.) Arrange for professional cleaning of the air ducts, too. Clean ducts can lower your heating costs and improve air quality in your home.
In addition to these tips, smart homeowners should keep a sharp eye on doors, roofs, and windows, watching for places where heat can escape and blocking or repairing leaks as soon as possible. Consider new insulation in your roof or attic if the existing insulation is old or damaged. By paying a little extra attention to these helpful tips, you may save hundreds of dollars on your winter heating bill.  
November 22, 2016

Recognizing Warning Signs of Damage to Your Basement

water-proofing-basement-standard1_7b1d084bb7291768ac1e8b85546f6cd7_1280x854_q85 Many homeowners think about the basement rarely, if at all. Most basements are used for storage, and rarely accessed, but damage to the basement (or foundation) can cause serious damage to your home. Homeowners should inspect basement areas regularly, and be on guard for any of these warning signs of trouble in the underground areas of a home:
  • Cracks in Walls or Basement Foundations. Cracks in basement walls and foundations may appear slowly, over time. Hairline cracks may indicate normal settling or shrinkage. Larger cracks, especially those exceeding a quarter inch in diameter or accompanied by noticeable shifting or displacement of the wall, are signs of potentially serious problems. If you notice significant cracks or settling in your basement, contact a professional for an evaluation right away.
  • Basements flood for many reasons, some more serious than others. However, flooding may lead to additional problems, like mold or bacteria growth, unpleasant smells, and even foundation problems. Flooding may also be a sign of other issues with a home, like faulty pipes, poor grading, or cracked foundations. Serious or regular flooding merits a professional inspection (and repairs).
  • Musty or Unpleasant Odors.Basements often develop a musty smell from lack of ventilation. Many musty odors can be fixed with proper cleaning or the addition of dehumidifiers and other moisture removal aids. However, smells that don’t go away after cleaning, or that carry the scent of sewage, often indicate serious problems like mold or sewer leaks.
  • Mold Growth. Mold thrives in damp, unventilated environments, and basements often offer exactly the conditions mold requires to thrive. Inspect your basement regularly, and arrange for immediate removal of any growth. Mold spreads by releasing spores into the air, and spores from the basement can easily infiltrate other parts of the house through your heating and ventilation system. Don’t risk your family’s health – inspect the basement for mold on a regular basis.
  • Sinking Floors.Sinking or settling in the basement floor is a potentially serious sign of problems with the home’s foundation or the earth beneath the house. Settling, either across the entire basement floor or in localized areas, can be a sign of soil erosion beneath the home, a damaged foundation, or issues with the house’s footing pads—all of which, if left untreated, will result in extensive damage and costly repairs.
If you notice any of these signs of trouble in the basement area, contact a professional contractor, mold remediation team, or other experienced home repair specialist for assistance. Solving the problem may cost a little time and money now, but could save thousands of dollars down the line. If you’re considering selling your home, but don’t want to invest in repairing a problem basement or foundation, consider selling directly to 4 Brothers Buy Houses instead. We never ask the seller to make repairs, and purchase homes in any condition. Click here for a free, fast, no-obligation quote and offer today!