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Very often, when a buyer and seller come to terms with a home sales agreement, there stands one big hurdle to get over (other than the lending process.) It’s the dreaded home inspection. Sellers most often do not want to go through tinspectorhe expense of having their home professionally inspected before placing it on the market. Buyers on the other hand when purchasing a resale home often want the home in ‘showroom’ condition as if they are purchasing new construction.

When a seller places their home on the market, they are required (in Delaware) to complete a Sellers Disclosure report. Sellers are required to disclose everything they are aware of; good or bad, to the buying public. Surprisingly, many sellers don’t seem to know a good deal of information about their own home or property and just assume everything is good to go. They haven’t been in the attic or under the house for years and since the home has not collapsed, they feel all is right with the world. From experience, these are two of the biggest areas of neglect I see with many homes.

Case in point. Seller has never been in the crawl space. After an inspection when the inspector tells them they have apparent mold on the floor joists, they are moldshocked. The inspector tells them they have a slight leak in the plumbing under the house and most likely this is where the unwelcome growth is  coming from. The inspector writes it up as a major health defect. By contract (in most cases) the mold must be professionally remedied (sorry, a bottle of bleach is not sufficient remedy.)

The inspector goes in the attic and finds a squirrel nest, although no immediate activity. The vent screens aren’t in place and the rodents invaded! Again, a major defect. The inspector notes some of the windows in the house have frosting in them. Not the good kind, but the etching inside the glass because the thermal seals are blown and moisture is trapped between the panes of glawindow sealsss. Oh man, the seller didn’t think anything of this and say they “bought it that way.”

Some other very common defects: Electric pagfcinels with double tapped breakers, mixtures of copper and aluminum wiring, knob and tube wiring in older homes, reverse polarized outlets, GFCIs that don’t safety trip, missing emergency discharge lines from hot water heaters, missing roof edging shingles, missing gutters, damaged roof vent boots, inoperative emergency backup heat, cracked heat exchangers, broken window sash cords, fireplace flues that don’t operate, rotting wood at the bottoms of doors and windows, termite damage, and on and on. Most of these things a seller may not know about by simply looking at them. But, and inspector will spot them in a minute.

My advise, get your home inspected so there’s no surprises when a buyer’s inspector looks at the house. Better to know up front, disclose everything up front, and let the buyer make their offer based on what they read in your disclosure.

Thomas Schoenbeck, Associate Broker, Keller Williams Realty, 18344 Coastal Highway, Lewes DE (302)360-0300(o) (302)632-7407(c) http://www.tom.kwrealty.com

 

Why Land?

moneyOften times I am asked about investments. While I am not an investment broker or counselor, I can address what I feel is a secure investment relative to my profession. Bar non, the purchase of land is in my estimation the wisest investment purchase you can ever make. Why? There are three things about land that make it first and foremost, the smartest purchase. There is no more land on the face of the earth than there has ever existed, nor will ever exist. While some land has been uncovered by ocean loss or ice erosion, etc, the underlying land has always and will always be there. There is about 36,803,875,446 (that’s billion) acres of land on the earth’s surface. Some of it is exposed, some not. It’s rather like water. The same water that exists today is the same water that has existed since the beginning of time, merely recycled. But let’s get back to land. Land has three properties that no other ‘commodity’ has; it is totally unique, totally immovable, and totally indestructible. 

Now, you might argue each point, but let’s clarify. Land is totally unique in thatearth there are no two parcels of land, in all those other 36+ billion acres, that are precisely like yours. You might argue your neighbors lot is the exact same size as yours, inch for inch. Ah, but there’s something unique about yours that your neighbors can not claim. The sun, due to the earths curvature, does not and will not, ever rise or set on your land in the exact same manner as your neighbor’s. This would be a physical impossibility. While you may not be able to perceive it, it is a scientific and indisputable fact of nature.

rosieSecond, your land is immovable and cannot be placed elsewhere. Yes, you can shovel dirt out of your individual parcel of land, but that same dirt can be put right back where it was and the boundaries of your land never changed, not one fraction of an inch. You simply cannot pick up your land and move it anywhere else.

Third, your land is indestructible. Ok you say, what if an atomic bomb lands precisely in the middle of my land. It’s been fireballdestroyed!
Again, no. Although the bomb struck your land and now there’s a huge crater, the boundaries of your land still remain fully intact and you can still backfill the crater. Naturally this will come at a cost, but the land has been preserved.

Now you might again consider other investments. You think your home meets these same 3 criteria. Unfortunately, it does not. Your home, for as lovely as it is, can be reproduced (of course at a very high cost) is totally destructible, and can be moved. What does make your home unique is that it sits on a parcel of land that does meets the three criteria.

How about a rare coin? Well, although rare, it again can be destroyed and most likely was produced along with other coins exactly like it- not unique.

Wait, wait you say. How about the human body? Yes, the human is unique (one of a kind,) but is not indestructible, and of course we can’t and don’t invest in humans (just not good form.)

So, when it comes to investments, I would always opt for land. Because of it’s unique nmoneyature, land does not devalue, it will always be there, even a thousand years from now. It might be submersed under an iceberg, but it’s still there. And as we began, there will never be any more land than there currently exists. And think about this, of all things to give your heirs, land will always be there and they can pass it down.

Thomas Schoenbeck, Associate Broker, Keller Williams Realty, 18344 Coastal Highway, Lewes DE (302)360-0300(o) (302)632-7407(c) http://www.tom.kwrealty.com

 

percentDo you have the money for a down payment and closing costs? The down payment is a percentage of the value of the property. Freddie Mac says the percentage will be determined by the type of mortgage you select. Down payments usually range from 3.5% to 20% of the property value. Also, you may be required to have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI or MIP) if your down payment is less than 20 percent. Closing costs include points, taxes, title insurance, attorney fees, financing costs, and items that must be prepaid or escrowed and other settlement costs such as surveys and home inspections. You can expect to pay between from 2% (if paying cash) to 6% of the property value in settlement costs. Buyers will receive an estimate of these costs from your lender shortly after you apply for a mortgage and you will have 10 days to accept the loan or reject it. And, you can always ask the seller to help defray some of your costs (not the down payment, but customary settlement costs.)

Having a good down payment will open up more house buying options for you. Getting pre-approved will also put you in a great position to purchase from thmoneyhousee best homes.

As your real estate professional, I will make sure that these and other advantages are explained to you so that your position is stronger than many other buyers bidding on the same homes.  Feel free to call me at your convenience for a no obligation conversation about your home buying goals.

Thomas Schoenbeck, Associate Broker, Keller Williams Realty, 18344 Coastal Highway, Lewes DE (302)360-0300(o) (302)632-7407(c) http://www.tom.kwrealty.com

As a 20 year military leader, a 20 year supervisor in state government, and a 5 year run at owning my own lawn care business, the linchpin of survival was my perceived locus of controboardroom2l. Being a Realtor for the past 10 years and therefore, by default- a business owner once again, I’ve come to realize that any successful business relies on extending some control to those with equal or more talent and insight. It’s extremely difficult to brainstorm with yourself and nearly impossible to gather facts from outside our own limited experiences. I finally decided, after many years, in order to grow as a business, I needed to grow personally, and part of that growth was learning to negotiate (not abdicate) some control. Not an easy undertaking when you’re just south of 60 and learned to control every aspect of your life, personally and professionallyboardroom3.jpg

So, recently I’ve teamed up with an exceptional business partner. We negotiated and codified the responsibilities of each party, came to an agreement with regards to financial obligations, and drew out a roadmap to our mutual success. Although the decision to team up was not necessarily an easy one to arrive, the ensuing relief and success I’ve experienced having the right person at hand has been phenomenal. My teammate brings a fresh approach to my business, has expanded my insights, allows us each to develop our business with a greater sense of ease, allows us to have more freedom in our lives, keeps one another accountable and on track, and best of all, we truly have fun running a business! Thus far, there’s been no downside to doing what I should have done 10 years ago.

Thomas Schoenbeck, Associate Broker, Keller Williams Realty, 18344 Coastal Highway, Lewes DE (302)360-0300(o) (302)632-7407(c) http://www.tom.kwrealty.com

Tired of buying high-end kitchen cleaners that never seem to work very well? Try making your own, much more cost effective spray. It only takes 3 simple ingredients, one of whsoapicvinegarh I know you already have! Dish soap, cleaning vinegar, and good old tap water. Add about 2 parts cleaning vinegar, 2 parts water, and one part dish soap. Pour them in a spray bottle, give a little shake to mix- instant kitchen cleaner. Safe, effective, and cheap! The soap provides for the clean and clingability (is that a word?) the vinegar for dirt cutting power and odor control, and the water for easy spraying. The vinegar is pleasant enough on odor and the spray can be used in trash bins, bathroom floors, and any other place those pesky household odors tend to linger. Give it a try. If it doesn’t work for you, well, you’ve still good ingredients you can use elsewhere.

Nasty sponge odor ospongen the sink? Instead of throwing it away every week, try this. Dampen the sponge with dish soap (or the cleaning spray you just made, put it in the micro wave for one minute. Be careful taking it out as it will be extremely hot! The microwaves will kill the bacteria and the associated odor. Yes, it does work! Don’t put a sponge with metal in it in the microwave or else snap, crackle, and pop!

Thomas Schoenbeck, Associate Broker, Keller Williams Realty, 18344 Coastal Highway, Lewes DE (302)360-0300(o) (302)632-7407(c) http://www.tom.kwrealty.com

 

 

Why Use A Real Estate Professional

There is a misperception among many first-time home buyers that by using a Real Estate Agent, they will be subject to paying a commission. In virtually all situations, this is not the case. The costage1mmission for the sale of a home is paid for by the seller, not the buyer. If you went to your local appliance store and bought a new refrigerator, you wouldn’t expect to pay a commission to the salesperson. The same applies when you buy a house–it is the seller of the item (in this case a house) that is responsible for paying to have it sold.

Let me or my seller’s expert, Sally Laux, work in your corner during your home searching and buying experience. We’ll make sure every party in the process does an ethical and value-conscious job for you. We do it the right way, right out of the gate, every time!

Thomas Schoenbeck, Associate Broker, Keller Williams Realty, 18344 Coastal Highway, Lewes DE (302)360-0300(o) (302)632-7407(c) http://www.tom.kwrealty.com

Traditionally, when we think of the word ‘invest,’ we think of putting money in some type of financial vehicle and wait for a monthly statement to see how that initial investment has grown such as in a bank account, money market, certificate of deposit, stocks, bonds, mutual funds.  Many times investments can cost large sums of up-front money which many of us don’t necessarily have. So, what can you do with $100 TODAY and actually see a tangible benefit in a short period? Here are some tips, especially for this time of year, but equally relevant in the balmier summer months. Some of these ideas will cost you a few dollars, some of them are simply a change in behavior, but will equally fatten your wallet. Some of these you will have no doubt heard before, but in combination, you’ll see a difference.

On a cold windy day, pan your hand around the perimeter of your windows. Feel that draft brushing your palm? Don’t think of it as cold air rushing in, think of it as hot cash rushing out! Can’t buy new windows with $100, but what can you do? Think simplicity, think bubble wrap. Yes, Ibubble wrap2.jpg said bubble wrap. Why do you think bubble wrap stretched out over a swimming pool heats the water? Those little air pockets super heat in the sun and create an excellent insulation source. It can also prevent heat loss and cold air entry, if edge sealed, with double sided tape. A roll of bubble wrap from U-Line,  12″x 300′, (that’s 300 square feet) costs about $27.  A roll of double sided tape about $2. That’s a $29 investment. The U.S. Department of Energy says your  energy savings could be between 5% and 30% of your annual energy budget. So, if your heating and cooling bills run $250 a month, then your savings could be as high as $900 a year. So far, you’ve gotten a 3000% return on your meager $29 investment.  Can you do that in the stock market?

Got ceiling fans? Hopefully you are aware they can reverse direction? In the summer months, run your fans counter clockwise. This creates a wind chill effect direfan2.jpgctly under the fan. In the winter months, run your fans clockwise. This will create an updraft effect and recirculate warmer air down towards the floor (since warm air naturally rises.) Estimated savings are about 10%. So, using our the monthly energy bill estimate as before, you’re looking at a possible energy saving of $300 a year. And this cost you ZERO dollars!

Need that scalding hot water on your hot water heater set at 140 degrees? No, you really don’t! Your body temperature generally runs around 98.6 degrees. Water set at 120 degrees, is 21 degrees warmer than your own body produces and is a comfortable showering or bathing temperature and will still clean your clothes and dishes water heater.jpgquite well. Lowering the manual thermometer on your hot water heater can save on the average of 6% to 10% on your annual energy bills. Again- costs you ZERO!

Ok, quick calculation here. So far, you’ve invested, mmm how much? That’s right $29!

Let’s look at a couple more items. Lower your home’s thermostat in the evening hours when you’re going to bed. If you sleep under cover, maybe even with pj’s, perhaps running the heat all night at 73+ degrees isn’t that necessary? How about while you’re awaythermostat.jpg at work or school? Why would you heat your home for 8 hours a day when you’re not there at 75 degrees? The Goldfish really aren’t appreciative of the extra warmth during the day (especially since you installed that bubble wrap!)  Turning down the thermostat just 10 to 15 degrees when not really needed can save up to 10% on your electric bill. Did I mention, it cost you ZERO!

And one last thing. If your home is not well insulated, sometimes warm air can escape (with your hard earned dsocket wrap.jpgollars) around the electric sockets. Simple solution- socket insulation. A Frost King insulation kit at Home Depot costs about $1.95 each.

So, how much did your investment cost? All together about $29 for bubble wrap and tape, and about $20 for 10 electric outlet insulation pads for a grand total investment of $49! That still leaves you with $51 to invest. Well, after all that hard work, you deserve dinner out on the town and a movie!

Thomas Schoenbeck, Associate Broker, Keller Williams Realty, 18344 Coastal Highway, Lewes DE (302)360-0300(o) (302)632-7407(c) http://www.tom.kwrealty.com

 

 

 

 

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