Office: (419)874 7958
Office: (419)874 7958
By: Jeanne Huber Published: August 28, 2009
Finding drainage problems when they’re smaller and easier to fix can save you thousands of dollars and plenty of headaches down the line.
But many drainage problems aren’t so obvious. Here’s how the pros read some of the more subtle signs of bad drainage, and why you’ll save big bucks if you tackle these problems now instead of later.
Sign #1: Gushing gutters
A mini Niagara over the edge of your gutter means dead leaves and debris are blocking the flow. But you don’t need a live gusher to tell you you’ve got problems: Vertical streaks of dirt on the outside of gutters, mud spattered on siding, or paint peeling off the house in vertical strips are other sure signs. If you don’t take action, overflowing gutters can rot siding, ruin paint jobs, and cause structural damage.
Best case: Leaves are clogging the downspout, and you just need to clear them out or hire a pro to do it (about $75).
Worst case: Gutters are undersized or improperly pitched and need to be replaced or reinstalled. That could run a few thousand dollars, but it’s still cheaper than new siding.
Sign #2: Downspouts that dump
Each inch of rain that falls on 1,000 square feet of a roof produces more than 600 gallons of runoff–enough to fill 10 bathtubs to the brim. Dumping that much water too close to the foundation can send it right into the basement, where it can ruin furnishings, flooring, and all the stuff you swore you’d put on shelves one day.
Best case: You can add gutter extensions (about $10 for a 10-foot length) to carry the water at least 5 feet away from the house.
Worst case: Too-short downspouts continually dump buckets of water around your foundation. The water seeps deep into the soil and puts pressure on your foundation walls, eventually cracking them. A foundation contractor comes out and gives you an estimate of $30,000 to excavate around your foundation and fix everything. You begin to cry, dumping buckets of water into the soil around your foundation.
Sign #3: Water stains in the basement
Depending on where a stain shows up, you can tell if the problem is caused by surface water, which can be easy to deal with, or water traveling underground, a potentially bigger headache.
Best case: You see stains high on your foundation wall, meaning that water is coming from an overflowing gutter, or that surface runoff backed up against your house because the soil around your foundation doesn’t slope adequately (6 inches for every 10 horizontal feet is best).
Worst case: The stain extends in a line around the basement. If that’s the case, you may be looking at a high-water mark caused by a fluctuating water table. Or, your basement floor lies below the level of municipal storm drains that back up during heavy rains. In either case, an interior drain system and sump pump (around $3,000) will pump any seepage out of our basement, keeping your old bowling trophies dry.
Sign #4: Cracks in the foundation
Foundations often have small cracks that appear as houses settle over time. Most are harmless, but bigger cracks bear watching. Keep an eagle eye on cracks larger than 1/8-inch wide by marking the ends with an erasable pencil line. Measure the width and jot it down. If you notice the cracks are growing, you’ve got potential problems.
Best case: A crack appears where the builders finished installing one load of concrete and began pouring the next. Such cracks usually don’t penetrate all the way through. And even if they do, as long as they’re stable you can patch them with hydraulic cement or polyurethane caulk for less than $20.
Worst case: Cracks are continuing to widen, indicating that a drainage problem may be ruining the foundation. Call a structural engineer (not a contractor or waterproofing expert) to diagnose the problem, assess the risk, and suggest a repair. Expect to shell out $300 for a structural engineer’s diagnosis.
Sign #5: Flaking and deposits on walls
If you see areas of white or gray crust on the basement walls, that’s efflorescence–mineral deposits left behind by evaporating water. Or the wall may be flaking off in big patches, a condition called spalling.
Best case: The efflorescence points to a place where moisture is condensing. It doesn’t cause structural problems, but you may want to check out your gutters, downspouts, and the grading of the soils around your foundation. Scrape off the crust if it looks ugly.
Worst case: The wall is spalling because water is getting inside the masonry. Spalling can be just superficial, but if it’s deeper than ½-inch and widespread, it may be a sign of improper drainage that threatens the integrity of your foundation.
Sign #6: Mildew in the attic
Sure, the attic might be a strange place to look for drainage problems, but mildew on the underside of the roof can be a tipoff to serious trouble at the ground level.
Best case: Bathroom fans are spewing hot air directly into the attic, where it condenses on the cold back side of the roof and causes mildew. Venting the fan through an outside wall or the roof (about $200) solves the problem.
Worst case: Moisture from the basement or crawl space is rising through the house and condensing on the underside of the roof. In that case, you’ve got to find and stop the source of the dampness under the house. If you don’t act, you’ll end up replacing roof sheathing and shingles, a job that runs $6,000 to $9,000 for the typical house.
Sign #7: Migrating mulch
When soil doesn’t drain properly, rain runs off in sheets, carving gulleys in the landscape, dumping silt on pathways, and carrying piles of mulch or wood chips where they don’t belong.
Best case: For a few hundred dollars, you can hire a landscaper to create a simple berm (a soil mound) or swale (a wide, shallow ditch) to redirect the water flow away from the house.
Worst case: Your concrete patio cracks and paving stones start popping up because the gravel or sand base material has washed away. After redirecting the water, you’ll need to excavate the patio and start again.
Office: (419)874 7958
Congratulations to Laneta Goings for being named a Jefferson Award recipient. The American Institute for Public Service has awarded the Jefferson Awards for Public Service nationally, since 1972. Dubbed the “Nobel Prize” for community service, the Jefferson Awards honors and recognizes volunteerism and public service.
The four winners were selected from 14 finalists, who were selected from 61 nominees. The nomination packets for the winners will be sent to a national committee to be judged and then one will be chosen to represent the region in the national competition. The national competition will take place in Washington later this year.
Fax: 419 891-1092
VM: 419-897-2700 ext. 207
How to Pick Paint Colors
Published: December 17, 2012
Paint has remodeling power when you use it to emphasize a room’s best features or play down the flaws.
“Paint is a powerful tool that can enhance the architectural character and intent of space,” says Minneapolis architect Petra Schwartze of TEA2 Architects. “As you choose your paint, think about what the experience in the room should be.”
More Schwartze advice:
- Always sample paint colors on a few walls. Don’t be shy about painting a few large swaths on walls and trim to consider the effect of natural and artificial lighting. Add samples to opposite sides of a room to judge the paint color from different angles.
- Check the space with the samples in place and watch how the paint color changes at different times of the day.
- Evaluate your reaction to the proposed colors: Does the space feel cozy or is the openness enhanced?
How to enlarge space with color
Painting walls white, cream, pastels, or cool colors (tinged with blue or green) creates the illusion of more space by reflecting light. Paint trim similar to walls (or use white on trim) to ensure a seamless appearance that visually expands space.
White or light colors lift a ceiling; darker shades can have a similar effect if you select a high-gloss paint sheen, which reflects light and enhances space.
Employ a monochromatic scheme to amplify the dimensions of a room. Select furnishings in one color and paint walls and trim to match. Lack of contrast makes a room seem more spacious.
Make walls appear taller by extending wall color onto the ceiling. Create a 6- to 12-inch-wide border of wall color on the entire ceiling perimeter, or wherever walls meet the ceiling.
Vertical and horizontal stripes of alternating color can make a room grand. While vertical stripes enhance room height by drawing the eye upward, horizontal stripes lure your gaze around the perimeter, making walls seem further away. Use similar light colors for low-contrast stripes, and your room will look even larger.
When a space feels cavernous, draw walls inward and make it cozy with warm colors (red-tinged) because darker hues absorb light. Similarly, a dark or warm color overhead (in a flat finish) helps make rooms with high or vaulted ceilings less voluminous.
Give peace a chance
The right paint choice can lend tranquility to a bathroom, master suite, or other quiet, personal space. A palette of soft, understated color or muted tones help you instill a calming atmosphere. Some good choices include pale lavenders, light grays or greens, and wispy blues.
Define your assets
Call out notable features in a room with paint. Dress crown mouldings and other trims in white to make them pop against walls with color. Make a fireplace or other feature a focal point by painting it a color that contrasts with walls.
“Using a higher sheen of paint on woodwork, such as baseboards and door or window casings,” says Schwartze, “creates a crisp edge and clear transition from the wall to the trim.”
Not everything should stand out in a space. Using a low-contrast palette is a good way to hide unappealing elements or flaws. Conduit, radiators, and other components painted the same color as the wall will seem to disappear.
Selecting low-sheen or flat paint colors also helps hide flaws. Unless walls are smooth, avoid using high-gloss paint because it reflects light and calls attention to an uneven surface.
What’s the cost?
As a DIY job, painting a 12-by-12-ft. space costs about $150, including paint, primer, brushes, drop cloths, and other painting tools and supplies. A professionally painted room using high-quality, brand-name paint costs $200-$400.
Fax: 419 782-0989
VM: 419-782-0978 ext. 121
5 Essential Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor
By: Oliver Marks Published: September 30, 2009
You’re ready to remodel but you want to make sure you get the best contractor for the job. Here’s what to ask the candidates before you decide.
1. Would you please itemize your bid?
Many contractors prefer to give you a single, bottom-line price for your project, but this puts you in the dark about what they’re charging for each aspect of the job. For example, let’s say the original plan calls for beadboard wainscot in your bathroom, but you decide not to install it after all. How much should you be credited for eliminating that work? With a single bottom-line price, you have no way to know.
On the other hand, if you get an itemized bid, it’ll show the costs for all of the various elements of the job—demolition, framing, plumbing, electrical, tile, fixtures, and so forth. That makes it easier to compare different contractors’ prices and see where the discrepancies are. If you need to cut the project costs, you can easily assess your options. Plus, an itemized bid becomes valuable documentation about the exact scope of the project, which may eliminate disputes later.
The contractor shouldn’t give you a hard time about itemizing his bid. He has to figure out his total price line by line anyway, so you’re not asking him to do more work, only to share the details. If he resists, it means he wants to withhold important information about his bid—a red flag for sure.
2. Is your bid an estimate or a fixed price?
Homeowners generally assume that the bid they’re seeing is a fixed price, but some contractors treat their proposals as estimates, meaning bills could wind up being higher in the end. If he calls it an estimate, request a fixed price bid instead. If he says he can’t offer a fixed price because there are too many unknowns about the job, then eliminate the unknowns.
“Have him open up a wall to check the structure he’s unsure about or go back to your architect and solidify the design plans,” says Tampa, Fla., attorney George Meyer, who is chair-elect of the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Construction Industry. If you simply cannot resolve the unknowns he’s concerned about, have the project specs describe what he expects to do—and if he needs to do additional work later, you can do a change order (a written mini-bid for new work).
3. How long have you been doing business in this town?
A contractor who’s been plying his trade locally for 5 or 10 years has an established network of subcontractors and suppliers in the area and a local reputation to uphold. That makes him a safer bet than a contractor who’s either new to the business or new to the area—or who’s planning to commute to your job from 50 miles away.
You want to see a nearby address (not a PO box) on his business card—and should ask him to include one or two of his earliest clients on your list of references. This will help you verify that he hasn’t just recently hung his shingle—and will give you perspective from a homeowner who has lived with the contractor’s work for years. After all, the test of a quality job, whether it’s a bluestone patio or a family room addition, is how well it stands the test of time.
4. Who are your main suppliers?
You’ve found a few potential contractors, you’ve talked to the happy former clients on each of their reference lists, now it’s time for one additional bit of homework: talking to their primary suppliers. There’s no better reference for a tile setter, for example, than his preferred tile shop; for a general contractor than his favorite lumberyard or home center pro desk; for a plumber than the kitchen and bath showroom where he’s on a first name basis.
The proprietors of these shops know a contractor’s professional reputation, whether he has left a trail of unhappy customers in his wake, if he’s reliable about paying his bills—and whether he’s someone you’ll want to hire. The contractor should have absolutely no qualms about telling you where he gets his materials, as long as he’s an upstanding customer.
5. I’d like to meet the job foreman—can you take me to a project he’s running?
Many contractors don’t actually swing hammers. They spend their days bidding new work and managing their various jobs and workers. In some cases, the contractor you hire may not visit the jobsite every day—or may not even show himself again after you’ve signed the contract. So the job foreman—the one who’s working on your project every day—is actually the most important member of your team.
Meeting him in person and seeing a job that he’s running should give you a feel for whether he’s someone you want managing your project. Plus, it gives the general contractor an incentive to assign you one of his better crews since you’re more likely to hire him if you see his A Team. If the contractor says he’ll be running the job himself, ask whether he’ll be there every day. Again, he’ll want to give you a positive response—something you can hold him to later on.
The subtleties of how to hire a contractor
It’s not only the answers to these questions that will help you judge potential contractors—it’s the way they answer them. Were they easy to talk to and forthcoming with details or did they hem and haw and make you ask more than once? Difficulty communicating now means difficulty communicating on the job later. But clear, timely and thoughtful responses—combined with terrific references, great completed work that you’ve seen, and a smart take on your project—may mean you’ve found the right pro for your job.
Fax: 419 891-1092
VM: 419-897-2700 ext. 237
By: Richard Koreto
Published: December 21, 2012
Deducting mortgage interest, as well as interest on home equity loans and HELOCs, can save money on taxes.
Know your loan limits
A good place to check out what you can deduct before you borrow is the chart on page 3 of IRS Publication 936. It’ll walk you through the requirements you must meet to deduct all of your home loan interest. It’s an hour well spent.
The first hurdle you’ll run into is the total amount of your loan or loans. In general, individuals and couples filing jointly can deduct the interest on up to $1 million ($500,000 if you’re married and filing separately) in combined home loans, as long as the money was used for acquisition costs, that is the cost to buy, build, or substantially improve a home, explains Scott O’Sullivan, a certified public accountant with Margolin, Winer & Evens in Garden City, N.Y. Any interest paid on loan amounts above the $1 million threshold isn’t deductible.
The same $1 million limit applies whether you have one home or two. Buying a vacation home doesn’t double your loan limits. And two homes is the max; you can’t deduct a mortgage for a third home. If you have a mortgage you took out before Oct. 13, 1987, you
have fewer restrictions on claiming a full deduction. The calculations for “grandfathered debt” can get complex, so get help from a tax professional or refer to IRS Publication 936.
Whatever you do, don’t forget that you can also deduct the points and fees associated with a first or second mortgage when you initially buy your home, says Jeff Rattiner, a CPA with JR Financial Group in Centennial, Colo. If you refinance the same house, you have to deduct those costs over the entire term of the loan. If you refinance again, you can deduct all the costs from the earlier refi in the year you take out the new loan.
Spend loan proceeds wisely
The other limitation on how much you can borrow and still get your deduction comes into play when you take out a home equity loan or HELOC that you don’t use to buy, build, or improve your home. In that case, you can deduct the interest you pay only on the first $100,000 ($50,000 if married filing separately). This loan limit also applies in a so-called cash-out refi, in which you refinance and take out part of the equity you’ve built up as cash, says John R. Lieberman, a CPA with Perelson Weiner in New York City.
That means if you decide to take out a $115,000 home equity loan to buy that Porsche, you can deduct the interest on the first $100,000 but not on the $15,000 that exceeds the limit. Use the same $115,000 to add a new bedroom, however, and the full amount is allowable under the $1 million cap. Keep in mind, though, that the $115,000 gets added into the pot of whatever else you owe on your other home loans. In many cases, points and loan origination costs for HELOCs are deductible.
Consider this simplified scenario: You borrow $250,000 against your home at 8% interest. That means you’ll pay $20,000 in interest the first year. Spend the $250,000 on home improvements, and all of the interest is deductible. Spend $150,000 on improvements and $100,000 on your kids’ college tuition, and all the interest is still deductible.
But spend $100,000 on improvements and $150,000 on tuition, and the improvement outlays are deductible, though $50,000 of the tuition expense isn’t. That’ll cost you $4,000 in interest deductions. Preserve the $4,000 deduction by coming up with the extra money for tuition from another source, perhaps a low-interest student loan or by borrowing from a retirement plan. For someone in a 25% bracket, a $4,000 deduction lowers taxes by $1,000, plus applicable state income taxes.
Beware the dreaded AMT
Even if you’ve followed all the loan limit rules, you can still get stuck paying tax on mortgage interest. How come? It’s all thanks to the Alternative Minimum Tax. Congress created the AMT, which limits or eliminates many deductions, as a way to keep the wealthy from dodging their fair share of taxes.
Calculating the AMT can be complex, but if you make more than $75,000 and have several kids or other deductions, you might well be subject to it. Problem is, if you fall into the AMT group, you may not be able to deduct interest on a home equity loan, even if the loan falls within the $1 million/$100,000 limit. If you’re subject to the AMT and borrow money against the value of your home, you’ll have to use it to buy, build, or improve your place, or you may not have a chance to deduct the interest, says Rattiner, the Colorado CPA.
This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.
Fax: 419 891-1092
VM: 419-897-2700 ext. 230
By: Christina Hoffmann Published: January 24, 2013
Now that the housing market is back, home improvements are, too. And they’re paying off better than in years past.
2013 is shaping up pretty sweetly for home owners.
First, there were the home owner-centric tax benefits (energy tax credits, PMI deduction, mortgage debt forgiveness) that Congress and the President extended through 2013; and now, we’re seeing that our home improvement dollars are working harder.
After several bruising years, spending on remodeling projects is up and so too is your return on your remodeling dollars. The national average percentage recoup on all 35 projects in Remodeling Magazine’s 2013 Cost vs. Value Report rose since last year.
What a different story from 2012, when the ROI dropped in all but three categories.
The annual report is based on a survey that asks REALTORS® around the country to estimate what specific projects, from adding an attic bedroom to installing new windows, would recoup in their market at resale under current conditions.
Of course, what you recoup depends on the specifics of your project, your market, and when you sell. But the report offers a great bird’s-eye view of project costs and returns.
So which projects offer the best value for the money?
Exterior projects like siding, window, and garage door replacements took seven of the top 10 spots in this year’s list.
See a slideshow with the cost-vs-value details on exterior remodels.
Makes sense since REALTORS® always say curb appeal is half the battle when you’re trying to sell.
Although it’s not in the top 10, I was gratified to see that the backup generator project is up about 5 percentage points since 2012. One of our bloggers, Lisa Kaplan Gordon, invested in a portable generator last year after one too many storms and power outages, and despite the learning curve, she was glad she did. She had power when a lot of her neighbors didn’t; she even shared power.
Indoors, the top-10 projects include a minor kitchen remodel (involving cabinet refacing and new countertops and appliances), which recouped 75.4% nationally.
Kitchen redo aside, replacement projects, such as installing an entry door or new siding, tend to have a higher cost-to-value ratio than remodeling projects. But now that housing has turned a corner, home owners are stepping up their remodeling plans.
Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies saw 9% growth in remodeling in 2012 and predicts that trend will continue as more and more distressed properties are bought and rehabbed.
The housing group says interest in energy-efficiency updates will keep on trucking, too. It’s the one area where spending on remodeling projects rose during the recession.
I’m betting the revived energy tax credit will add fuel to that trend.
Fax: 419 535-7571
VM: 419-539-2700 ext. 111
7 Tips for a Profitable Home Closing
By: G. M. Filisko Published: February 10, 2010
Be sure you’re walking away with all the money you’re entitled to from the sale of your home.
1. Take services out of your name
Avoid a dispute with the buyers after closing over things like fees for the cable service you forgot to discontinue. Contact every utility and service provider to end or transfer service to your new address as of the closing date.
If you’re on an automatic-fill schedule for heating oil or propane, don’t pay for a pre-closing refill that provides free fuel for the new owner. Contact your insurer to terminate coverage on your old home, get coverage on your new home, and ask whether you’re entitled to a refund of prepaid premium.
2. Spread the word on your change of address
Provide the post office with your forwarding address two to four weeks before the closing. Also notify credit card companies, publication subscription departments, friends and family, and your financial institutions of your new address.
3. Manage the movers
Scrutinize your moving company’s estimate. If you’re making a long-distance move, which is often billed according to weight, note the weight of your property and watch so the movers don’t use excessive padding to boost the weight. Also check with your homeowners insurer about coverage for your move. Usually movers cover only what they pack.
4. Do the settlement math
Title company employees are only human, so they can make mistakes. The day before your closing, check the math on your HUD-1 Settlement Statement.
5. Review charges on your settlement statement
Are all mortgages being paid off, and are the payoff amounts correct? If your real estate agent promised you extras—such as a discounted commission or a home warranty policy—make sure that’s included. Also check whether your real estate agent or title company added fees that weren’t disclosed earlier. If any party suggests leaving items off the settlement statement, consult a lawyer about whether that might expose you to legal risk.
6. Search for missing credits
Be sure the settlement company properly credited you for prepaid expenses, such as property taxes and homeowners association fees, if applicable. If you’ve prepaid taxes for the year, you’re entitled to a credit for the time you no longer own the home. Have you been credited for heating oil or propane left in the tank?
7. Don’t leave money in escrow
End your home sale closing with nothing unresolved. Make sure the title company releases money already held in escrow for you, and avoid leaving sales proceeds in a new escrow to be dickered over later.
Fax: 419 891-1092
VM: 419-897-2700 ext. 303
G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has survived several closings. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.
The real estate market in Toledo, Ohio may be looking more positive in 2013 than in other areas of the country. The National Association of Realtors’ chief economist Lawrence Yun predicted recently that home values could rise 15% and number of homes sold 20% this year. And he said the Toledo area should be leading the numbers because it has been a bit behind in the general national recovery.
Some other developments that point towards a healtier market are…
Local City of Toledo and suburban areas housing inventory is down making for more competition, multiple offers, quicker sales and putting some upward pressure on prices. We’re especially seeing some shortages of high end homes in Sylvania and Perrysburg.
We are finally seeing more 1st time buyers enter the market creating the snowball effect of helping current home owners move to other more desired homes.
Federal regulators have reached yet another agreement with 10 large banks who wronged homeowners in the foreclosure process and will make modest payments to those people. How much help this will have for the housing market is debateable. But, $5.2 million of that settlement will be available for banks to do loan modifications for people at risk of foreclosure and keeping families in their homes will certainly help the housing market.
New rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to take effect in 2014 are going to require that lenders only make loans that borrowers can afford. Banks and Mortgage Brokers will have to verify and inspect borrowers financial records (odd that hasn’t been regular practice) and lend only an amount that keeps the borrowers’ total debt including credit cards, student debt and car payments to 43% of their total income. And finally “interest only” loans and “no doc” loans are being banned.
There was an extension of the Mortgage Cancellation Relief through January 1, 2014 as part of the fiscal cliff deal just reached. This has to do with the amount forgiven by mortgage holders in short sales not being taxed as income to the poor people losing their homes. It is good for the housing market because short sale homes are generally in better condition and sell for more than foreclosed homes.
Fax: 419 535-7571
VM: 419-539-2700 ext. 102
How to Use Comparable Sales to Price Your Home
By: Carl Vogel Published: August 5, 2010
Before you put your home up for sale, use the right comparable sales to find the perfect price.
Knowing how much homes similar to yours, called comparable sales (or in real estate lingo, comps), sold for gives you the best idea of the current estimated value of your home. The trick is finding sales that closely match yours.
What makes a good comparable sale?
Your best comparable sale is the same model as your house in the same subdivision—and it closed escrow last week. If you can’t find that, here are other factors that count:
Location: The closer to your house the better, but don’t just use any comparable sale within a mile radius. A good comparable sale is a house in your neighborhood, your subdivision, on the same type of street as your house, and in your school district.
Home type: Try to find comparable sales that are like your home in style, construction material, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, basement (having one and whether it’s finished), finishes, and yard size.
Amenities and upgrades: Is the kitchen new? Does the comparable sale house have full A/C? Is there crown molding, a deck, or a pool? Does your community have the same amenities (pool, workout room, walking trails, etc.) and homeowners association fees?
Date of sale: You may want to use a comparable sale from two years ago when the market was high, but that won’t fly. Most buyers use government-guaranteed mortgages, and those lending programs say comparable sales can be no older than 90 days.
Sales sweeteners: Did the comparable-sale sellers give the buyers downpayment assistance, closing costs, or a free television? You have to reduce the value of any comparable sale to account for any deal sweeteners.
Agents can help adjust price based on insider insights
Even if you live in a subdivision, your home will always be different from your neighbors’. Evaluating those differences—like the fact that your home has one more bedroom than the comparables or a basement office—is one of the ways real estate agents add value.
An active agent has been inside a lot of homes in your neighborhood and knows all sorts of details about comparable sales. She has read the comments the selling agent put into the MLS, seen the ugly wallpaper, and heard what other REALTORS®, lenders, closing agents, and appraisers said about the comparable sale.
More ways to pick a home listing price
If you’re still having trouble picking out a listing price for your home, look at the current competition. Ask your real estate agent to be honest about your home and the other homes on the market (and then listen to her without taking the criticism personally).
Next, put your comparable sales into two piles: more expensive and less expensive. What makes your home more valuable than the cheaper comparable sales and less valuable than the pricier comparable sales?
Are foreclosures and short sales comparables?
If one or more of your comparable sales was a foreclosed home or a short sale (a home that sold for less money than the owners owed on the mortgage), ask your real estate agent how to treat those comps.
A foreclosed home is usually in poor condition because owners who can’t pay their mortgage can’t afford to pay for upkeep. Your home is in great shape, so the foreclosure should be priced lower than your home.
Short sales are typically in good condition, although they are still distressed sales. The owners usually have to sell because they’re divorcing, or their employer is moving them to Kansas.
How much short sales are discounted from their market value varies among local markets. The average short-sale home in Omaha in recent years was discounted by 8.5%, according to a University of Nebraska at Omaha study. In suburban Washington, D.C., sellers typically discount short-sale homes by 3% to 5% to get them quickly sold, real estate agents report. In other markets, sellers price short sales the same as other homes in the neighborhood.
So you have to rely on your REALTOR’s® knowledge of the local market to use a short sale as a comparable sale.
VM: 419-825-5217 ext. 228
Other web resources
What’s the Value of a View? Research from Texas Christian University
Carl Vogel, a freelance writer and former editor of The Neighborhood Works magazine, lives in a home in Chicago that is not typical of those nearby, so he appreciates a savvy comp.