Our latest articles
March 19, 2016
- Failure to Obtain Multiple Estimates. Contractors’ prices vary widely, even for the exact same work. Always obtain at least 2-3 estimates before hiring a contractor, and let the contractors know you’re interviewing multiple candidates for the job. Contractors generally offer more reasonable estimates when they know the contract isn’t guaranteed. Also, make sure each estimate covers the exact same scope of work.
- Working Without a Contract. Many homeowners hire contractors on a handshake, with only a handwritten estimate that might or might not stand up in court. These estimates may or may not protect you against costly overruns or contractor failures, leaving homeowners liable for thousands of dollars in extra expenses—or stuck with incomplete work when a contractor walks off the job. While contracts can’t prevent every problem, homeowners who insist on a contract generally have fewer problems—and more remedies—than those who hire contractors on a handshake.
- Unrealistic Budgets & Expectations. Far too often, homeowners start the renovation process without a clear idea about the renovations they actually want, and without an understanding of what remodeling actually costs. Homeowners who under-budget often end up spending more than people who investigate the costs and options thoroughly before the work begins.
- Homeowner Indecision. Many homeowners ask for changes after the work begins. These changes cost significantly more than alterations made before the start of construction, sometimes adding thousands of dollars to the overall cost of renovations.
- “DIY” Isn’t Always the Cheapest Option. Popular television shows often make home renovation look easy, and homeowners sometimes opt for “Do It Yourself” renovations in an attempt to save time and money. Unfortunately, most remodeling isn’t as easy as it looks on TV, and hiring a contractor to fix your mistakes can be more expensive than hiring a professional to handle the renovations in the first place.
- Unnecessary or Unhelpful Renovations. Not all renovations will increase the value or sales price of a home. Homeowners often embark on costly remodeling or improvements, only to discover that the payoff is lower than expected—or, in some cases, nonexistent. Buyers often care most about “visible improvements” like granite countertops and updated bathroom or kitchen fixtures, but these renovations sometimes cost more to install than they add to the sales price of a home.
March 12, 20164 Brothers Buy Houses. We’ll buy your home for cash, regardless of its condition, and close the sale in days instead of weeks. Renewing or extending a listing agreement won’t guarantee a sale, especially if your house didn’t bring in acceptable offers the first time around. Consider all your options before you sign another listingcontract. Curious about how to sell your home to investors, or how much your property is worth?Click here to get more information or a no-obligation quote today.
March 4, 2016
February 27, 2016
If you are a homeowner in Washington DC who is interested in selling your house to avoid foreclosure, you have a number of options available. Regardless of whether you want to sell the house or try keep it prior to a pending foreclosure auction, there’s one thing that’s certain: you need to act quickly before it is too late.
Option 1: Loan Modification
If you’re facing a foreclosure and want to keep the house, the first and best thing you should do is contact your mortgage lender about a potential loan modification. As a homeowner in Washington DC, if you are at risk for foreclosure, you are covered by protections from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). These rules are in place to protect you as a mortgage borrower from costly surprises and runarounds by your lender.
You should consider a load modification if you have stable income and can afford the mortgage payments with a lower interest rate. If this is the route you decide to go, you need to contact your bank or a mortgage servicer and see if they are willing to do some sort of modification. The servicer or the bank will usually require a ‘proof of hardship,’ which demonstrates why you are unable to make mortgage payments. If the modification is approved, you’ll typically be put on a trial period of 90 days or more. This means they will allow you to make three payments at the lower rate. If you are able to pay on time, they will finalize the loan modification.
It’s important to note that the negotiation process can be lengthy, and often frustrating at times. In fact, it’s not uncommon for banks and servicers to lose paperwork and give you the runaround, so be prepared for this.
Option 2: Sell Your Home
If you find that a loan modification isn’t going to work, or you otherwise decide to sell your house, there are a number of ways you can do so:
In the typical fashion – on the market with a Realtor or For Sale By Owner
By selling to a real estate investor like 4 Brothers Buy Houses
Important consideration when thinking about selling your house as a means to avoid foreclosure, is If you owe more than what you can sell the house for, the only way you can sell the house will be by ‘selling it short’- more commonly known as a short sale.
Selling Your Home Using a Short Sale
If you are underwater on your home mortgage – meaning you owe more on your mortgage than what the house is currently worth – then the only way you will be able to sell the house is through a short sale. A short sale is when your mortgage lender accepts a sales price on your home that’s lower that what you actually owe. This options gives you a way out of your mortgage and in many cases, you won’t be requireed to pay back the outstanding balance. This means that in a short sale, all debts can be settled or re-negotiated.
If you want to attempt a short sale in Washington DC, you need to understand several key things:
- Not all mortgage lenders will agree to pay off the balance of your loan. That means you have to make sure that there is a solid commitment between you and the lender before making a deal. Otherwise you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ve sold your home and still owe the remaining balance.
- Going through a short sale will negatively affect your credit score, so it’s best to have other housing lined up before it’s complete. Otherwise, your credit scores might drop to a point where it’s difficult to obtain financing on another house, or even rent an apartment.
On the bright side, if you go for a short sale, you may qualify for generous government cash incentives to help with your relocation. If you meet the requirements of the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA), you may receive a “relocation assistance” of up to $10,000 when your short sale closes.
Selling Your Home to a Real Estate Investor
If you are unable to modify your loan and you don’t want to go through a short sale, you have a third option with is to sell your house to a real estate investor. In many cases, real estate investors offer cash and are able to close the sale within weeks, saving you from the detrimental effects that a foreclosure would have. The nice thing about going down this path is that you don’t have to prepare your house for the market, find a realtor, and deal with all the hassle of selling your house. You’ll simply work with an investor who offers a fair price and break out of a mortgage contract in the blink of an eye.
Time Is of the Essence
The foreclosure process takes many months, and you’ll have ample notice from your lender that you are behind on payments, as well as what action will be taken. It’s important not to stick your head in the sand, and to address the situation immediately instead of kicking the can down the road. If you realize that you are probably going to wind up in foreclosure in Washington DC, the best thing to do is know all your options and act strategically to avoid the house being sold at the sheriff’s sale, which is the absolute worst option at your disposal.
Many homeowners who are facing foreclosure often accept it for what it is and lose their homes as a result. But this doesn’t need to be you. There are ALWAYS options available – and these options are almost always better than accepting a foreclosure. If you’re facing a foreclosure and want to bring resolution to the situation as quickly as possible, contact us today!
February 21, 2016Click here to get more information now!
February 20, 2016
If your home falls short of a municipal or county building code, then it has a code violation. Code violations can be anything from breaching minimum construction standards to broken doors, windows and smoke alarms. If you have a home in Washington DC that has code violations, you should know your options if you want to sell it. Preventable Code Violations In most cases, serious code violations occur when homeowners make modifications or expand on their current residence without permission. Here are some examples of serious code violations:
- Fire Safety Hazards
- Violation of Zoning Ordinances
- Violations of Mechanical, Electrical and Energy Codes
- Electrical Code Violations
February 6, 2016
- Use Airbnb: You could rent your home as a vacation stay during times of large events and conferences. DC is a huge convention and conference town, so why not take advantage of that by offering up your home to professionals seeking an affordable place to stay. You can also make some income during Thanksgiving, Christmas and the summer tourist season. Homeowners in the city have been renting out their entire homes on average for about $150/night and as high as $400/night. Just plug in “Washington, DC” into the Airbnb search results and you can see for yourself. Just imagine paying your mortgage every month in just a couple of weekend.
- Get Your House on TV: Film and TV location scouts are always on the lookout for homes that they can use to shoot scenes for television series, movies, commercials and music videos. Compensation is normally about the amount of your monthly mortgage payment multiplied by the number of days the shooting took place at your house. So a 12 day shoot could pay the mortgage for your house for a year! Why get a tenant when you could get your home on House of Cards? Just list your property on ScoutSource, filminglocations.com or contact an area location scout and invite him or her over for a tour.
- Install solar panels: More property owners, both residential and commercial, are installing solar panels on their properties as a means to not only save energy, but for the ROI. In some cases, you could increase the value of your home just by installing solar panels. The costs for solar panels have decreased considerably as investments and subsidies in green technologies have increases. And though the initial costs may still seem onerous for some, years down the line you can sell your energy back to the utility company. Just imagine four years after installing solar panels that you get a check from your utility company for $1000. You can estimate your property’s solar potential here. You’ll have to hurry though, because the Federal solar investment tax credit expires Dec 31, 2016.
February 3, 2016foundation, electrical system, plumbing system, and the roof. Since these are the most important systems in the home, and also the most costly to repair, these are what a buyer should be most focused on. ‘Small stuff,’ like missing screens, doors that stick, missing doorway thresholds, etc, are not usually anything to worry about. And the reality is, when asking for repairs from a home seller, it is best to be judicious with what items you ask the seller to fix- fewer items that are higher price point will often be received better than long laundry list of less expensive repairs. Foundation/Structural Problems This is probably the single most important potential problem that may be uncovered from a home inspection, as the entire structure of the home could be at risk with a major foundation issue. Typically, as long as floors, ceilings, and walls are straight, and doors open and close normally, any foundation problems that come up will be more minor- like cracks in the foundation. However, even with these minor issues, it could still cost somewhere between $5K and $15K if something like Helical Piers are needed to reinforce a settling corner of the foundation. A good rule of thumb that we use when renovating properties is that any small foundation issue will take around $10K to fix. If it’s a more significant issue, like a cracked or bowing wall, then the cost will go up dramatically. On a house we renovated in Lanham, we had to completely tear down and rebuild a basement wall in a 1,000 square foot rambler basement, which ended up costing around $45,000. If any structural or foundation issue is uncovered by the inspection, the buyer will have the option to walk away from the deal using the home inspection contingency that is in almost every offer. Or, if the buyer would still like to buy the house, write into the inspection addendum that the issue must be evaluated by a structural engineer of the BUYER’S choosing, and any recommended repairs made at seller’s expense. Leaky Roof The best way to spot a leaky roof is to look inside the attic. Any worthwhile home inspector will go into the attic (make sure that the seller has provided some means of attic access), and will also often go on top of the roof. It is HIGHLY recommended to find an inspector with a long ladder that will always physically go onto the roof, as many issues can’t be uncovered unless the inspector is literally on top of the roof. If a roof leak is uncovered on a buyer’s home inspection, the buyer’s best bet is to write into the inspection addendum to have the roof further evaluated by a licensed roofer of the buyer’s choosing and any repairs made by the seller at their expense. If seller will not agree to this and will only agree to use their roofer, this opens the buyer to more risk, but can still be workable as long as seller provides a written report and proof of license from the roofer. Often, the best course of action if a roof has more than 1 or 2 leaks is to replace the entire roof, which can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000. Electrical Problems There are 2 main electrical systems in the house- the main electrical meter and panel, which is where the power from the street attaches to the house and is the way all the power is provided to the house, and the internal system, which goes from the electrical panel to all the various outlets and switches inside the house. Any issues with the main electrical panel will be most costly to repair, while a few non working outlets or switches is usually not particularly costly and is something that most seller’s should have no problems with fixing. Dealing With Major Problems Revealed On Inspection Reports In Washington DC Those homeowners who find that that they have major problems with their property in Washington DC often decide to simply sell their real estate to an investor who specializes in such sales. The advantages of doing so are plentiful, real estate investors are able to complete the sale quickly, with cash, and allow homeowners a way out of their property without the stress and headache of costly repairs.
January 21, 2016
The Arlington VA Real Estate Market Expected to Remain Flat in 2016The Arlington real estate market has been in a sideways trend over the last year and is expected to remain stagnant. According to Zillow, current median property values in the area are $604,000, a decrease of 0.4% on the year, while 2016 is projected to bring a 0.2% increase in value.[i] In addition, the average rental rates in Arlington are $2039, a decrease of $23 or 1.1% from six months ago.[ii] The good news is that development is taking over center stage, as there are a number of real estate projects in motion. What does this mean to homeowners, those looking to buy real estate, and those looking to move into Arlington in 2016? Single Family Home Prices In Arlington The shinning beacon of light throughout the Arlington real estate market is single-family homes, as they are in high demand. 3 BR single-family homes have increased in value 4.8% on the year to $732,500, while selling in an average of 1.79 months.[iii] Those who are in a position to sell this type of housing should take action now, while there are plenty of buyers available. On the other hand, those looking to purchase real estate in Arlington might want to consider holding off on purchasing single-family homes due to their hefty price. Arlington Condos Condos in Arlington have dropped in value 9.7% since November 2014 to a median price of $375,000.[iv] Those looking to purchase a condo in Arlington should take advantage of the opportunity they have available right now. On the other hand, those looking to sell their condo may want to hold onto it for a while in hopes that their property value picks back up. Rental Rates In Arlington With rental rates at an average of $2039, real estate investors in the area are taking advantage of the market conditions. Those who are considering renting property in Arlington should be able to capitalize on relatively stable rental rates in 2016, as the overall market isn’t expected to move significantly. Developments In Arlington There are a number of real estate developments in Arlington that were recently completed, including the Maxwell Apartments, The Beacon, Columbia Place, Pike 3400, The Shell, Clarendon Apartments, Verde Point, and The Arcadia.[v] Since Arlington is bracing for a population boom, property values are likely to increase over the next 10 years. Future Developments In Arlington There are a large number of future development projects in Arlington that will likely support this real estate market over the long-term. Since most of these projects are focused on the residential rental market, expect people to move into the area and improve the region economically. Arlington Real Estate Market Real estate values are likely to remain stable throughout 2016 and increase over the next ten years. Overall the market is strong and is calling people into the area, allowing those who own or want to purchase real estate with an investment that carries very little risk. References: [i] Zillow, Inc. “Zillow”. Zillow. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Dec. 2015. [ii] Rentjungle.com,. “Average Rent In Arlington, Arlington Rent Trends And Rental Comps”. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Dec. 2015. [iii] Getsmartcharts.com,. “Home | Smartcharts”. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Dec. 2015. [iv] Getsmartcharts.com,. “Home | Smartcharts”. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Dec. 2015. [v] Arlingtoneconomicdevelopment.com,. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Dec. 2015.