Marin County Real Estate Blog

Are Home Inspections Necessary?

Successful Home Inspection GuideOne of the first things that many home buyers do after putting down an offer on a home is to get a home inspection.

Home inspections cost money, sometimes hundreds of dollars, which can lead some home buyers to question whether or not a home inspection is really necessary and worthwhile.

The Importance of Getting a Home Inspection

Home inspections help home buyers make smart decisions when negotiating the purchase of a new home. Ultimately, a good home inspection can help ensure that the home buyer will get the right property at the right price.

How Home Inspections Work

A good home inspection starts with an exhaustive examination of the various systems of the house. Being present for the inspection can be eye opening for the home buyer. Often during the examination, home inspectors will give maintenance tips and point out observations about the wear and tear on the home. Home buyers can (and should) ask questions during this time.

When the report is finished, the home inspector will produce a detailed, lengthy report about the state of the house. Usually these reports include pictures and an evaluation of the state of each system of the house. If repairs are needed, this is noted in the report. If some aspect of the house represents a danger to the occupants of the house, this too is noted.

Typically, home inspectors will inspect the HVAC system, plumbing,...

First Time Selling a Home? 7 Tips for a Great Experience

First Time Home Sale AdviceTechnology has changed the real estate market for the better, creating a way for home sellers and buyers to more easily find each other from anywhere in the world, instead of just inside a small local area.

Because of this, some home sellers, especially those selling their first home, often believe that all they need to do is advertise their home online and wait for the right buyer to arrive.

The truth is that this expanded marketplace also increases the level of competition each home seller will face, making it necessary for each home to be as close to perfectly prepared as possible in order to get it sold quickly and at the best possible price.

If you are a first time home seller, the following tips can help you cut through the competition and speed your way to the closing table. 

1. Thoroughly Prepare the Home Before Listing

Taking the time to thoroughly prepare your home before putting it on the market is one of the best ways to ensure that buyers find your home to be a good value and want to make an offer on it. Homes that have repair or condition issues, or those that are not clean, attractive and well-organized will automatically be discounted by serious buyers.

No matter how quickly you want to list your home, taking the time to ensure that it will show well will pay off with more offers and a faster sale. 

2. Understand the Competition

Since buyers in a particular area are often looking for similar qualities in the homes they choose to view, home sellers...

Feeling Safe & Secure At Home

When selling your home how it visually presents has always and will always be very, very important.  Yet, as we have become a more technology savvy society, buyers want as many things that aren’t necessarily seen but just as important to them as how the home looks.

In short, buyers want not only the right number of bedrooms and baths with a floorplan that works for their family, but also the upgrades and improvements that make them feel they got their monies worth in the purchase of their new home.   

With more and more folks telecommuting, modems, routers, blue tooth speaker systems and wireless internet are the norm in most households, as are motion detector lights, security cameras and/or alarm systems.  As these technologies have evolved, and the prices for them have dropped dramatically, most everyone can afford any or all combinations of them. Many of the systems also incorporate heat, fire and CO2 detectors in them. Some turn on your lights and can unlock your door right from the owners smart phone.   Just a few years ago, who would have ever thought one would be able to go to Costco to buy indoor/outdoor camera surveillance systems or Ring doorbells(so you can see who is at your front door via the screen on your smartphone)?   

These extra systems are perks that appeal to almost every buyer…and they are willing to pay more for a property that has them.  Buyers want to not only feel confident about the quality of their home but they also want to feel safe and secure in and around their home and property. 

Putting in a security system, whether it is one that you access from your cell phone anywhere in the world or whether you have a 3rd party company monitoring it, tends...

PACE Loans - the good and the bad...

There has been some buzz going on around about a recent legislation that has passed in California that is now rolling out in Marin County. Have you heard of PACE?  What is it? Is it good or bad? How can this help homeowners?  The talk around town has been very mixed!

PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy.  It is a way for homeowners to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation upgrades in their home. These upgrades can include solar panels, new windows, tank less hot water heaters, new heating and cooling systems, insulation, lighting improvements, and water pumps…just to name a few.

There are several companies that partner with PACE to provide this kind of financing.  HERO or SCEIP are a couple common names in our area.  Rates on these loans can be anywhere from 5-10% and the terms can be from 5-20 years. Unlike other loan products, the loan is rolled into the homeowner’s property taxes as an assessment.  The payment is fixed and it stays with the property when transferred in a sale.  Many people can qualify for these loans with little equity in their homes while a home equity line of credit may require more equity in the home and a lot more paperwork for loan approval.

So there are pros and cons for sure.   You may pay higher to carry the PACE loan and it is a fixed payment at a higher interest rate than a HELOC in most cases.  However, the homeowner may be able to get the loan when they cannot pull money out of the house for home improvements because there is not enough e        ...

FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: What's the Difference?

Difference Between FHA Fannie Mae and Freddie MacYou have probably heard of FHA loans, but you may not be aware that other organizations buy mortgages as well.

These entities, sponsored by the government, use different methods to encourage homeownership and promote lending as a way to strengthen the economy.

With this guide, you will understand how the FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac function, and what these organizations do to assist potential home buyers obtain a mortgage.

And in all cases, it is always helpful to speak with a lender, mortgage broker or financial advisor to see which mortgage loans may work for your current financial situation.

What is an FHA Loan?

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) came into existence during the Great Depression, when the federal government realized that banks needed protection to guarantee the mortgages that they offered to borrowers. The FHA now serves certain buyers qualify for mortgages, especially those who cannot get a loan through conventional methods. These potential home buyers may include those with:

  • low income
  • limited credit or lower credit scores
  • minimal ability to make a down payment

The FHA does not provide the money for a mortgage, nor does it buy the mortgage debt from your lender once the loan is approved. Rather, the FHA insures the loan. In doing so, the lender may have more security loaning money in the form of mortgages to a greater percentage of borrowers. ...

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