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House With a Pool: Dream Home or Not?

by Karen Picarello

When buying a house, one thing that inexperienced home buyers love is the presence of a pool. It can be incredibly motivating, as a potential buyer can envision themselves and their friends cooling off and partying in privacy. However, as anyone with a pool knows, they can be a headache to maintain. Not only will you have to pay for maintenance and repair, but there are insurance ramifications and ancillary costs associated with owning a pool which can cause serious financial frustration for an unsuspecting homeowner. So, is a pool worth it? And if you don’t have one, is it a good investment to have one installed?

The first thing to look at when you are considering a pool, is the age of the pool. If you are installing a new one, the materials used and the quality of the installation will be relevant. A newer or well-maintained system will cost you less in repairs and will have fewer unexpected expenses for maintenance. An older pool with cracks or leaks could be a hugely expensive drain on your finances. So, like the rest of the house, make sure that you are quite aware of the condition of the pool before buying.

Secondly, pools can cause insurance liability. If you have a pool, insurance companies will be likely to increase your payments. Not only is a pool potentially expensive to repair, but there is the potential for a very expensive payout if someone dies in the pool and their family sues you. This means that a pool could increase your insurance payments drastically, depending on your situation. Additionally, if you have young children or people who are unable to swim, you might need to install some type of fence or cover to protect them.

Therefore, while a pool can increase the value of a home, the upkeep and ancillary costs can mean that installing a pool does not end up making you money in the long term. However, it can increase the appeal of your house to buyers, and might mean that your house sells faster. So, while pools may not necessarily be a very solid financial investment, if you will get a lot of enjoyment out of a pool, you might find it worth it. Pools should be viewed as an expense that can increase your quality of life, and if you are willing to spend that money, you can have a great experience. 

Secure Homes are Worth More in Market

by Karen Picarello

An often-overlooked aspect of home improvement is creating improvements that make a house safer. There are two main ways to increase the value of your home in this way, and I’ll talk briefly about both, as well as a few strategies to employ when looking to help your house sell.

First up is the fact that security improvements can be done quickly and relatively cheaply. One of the most common options when looking to increase house security is the addition of external lighting. Whether they be motion sensitive or on a timer, external lighting can greatly help the safety of a house. Depending on your wiring, you may even have the infrastructure already in place to install these. They are fast, but they are a huge bonus to potential buyers in today’s market.

A more expensive but potentially more effective method to increase security is the replacement of old doors and windows. Modern windows are safer, more likely to lock securely, and present more of a barrier to a determined intruder. Additionally, you can upgrade and replace old locks in various areas of the house. A popular choice nowadays is the inclusion of “smart” or internet connected technology. However, the idea of someone hacking your front door can be scary to some buyers, so don’t get too ahead of yourself connecting all of your security to the internet. These types of physical improvements to the properties safety are great things to mention to a potential buyer.

If you are looking to go a little further, there is the option to include security cameras. A buyer who worries of home invasion might jump at the chance to feel secure and protected. Not only will they know that they can see what is going on outside, a camera is a very visible deterrent to any type of illegal activity. And your neighbors will like it too: as crime in a neighborhood decreases, the value of the houses rise.

Speaking of neighbors, there are ways to make your home value rise in the long term as well. While the previously mentioned improvements are fast and personal ways to make your house more secure, things like a neighborhood watch program can also help to discourage crime. And as noted above, any steps that you take to decrease crime in your neighborhood as a whole will affect all the properties positively. Nothing like increasing safety while simultaneously having your house appreciate in value. 

Home Inspection

by Karen Picarello

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When looking to buy or sell a house, you will absolutely be dealing with home inspection. However, there are not only many misconceptions about home appraisal, but there is also confusion about how to properly utilize a home inspector’s services, when they can be employed, and what you should expect from a competent home inspector.

First, when dealing with a home inspection, you should know what they will be looking for. Depending on the structure and the records of the house, home inspectors will look at many of the various components of the property. Here are some of the things a home inspector will look at.

  1. The Foundation. One of the most basic elements of a home inspection is ensuring that the structure is sound. A solid foundation, as well as proper framing atop it should all be features which will stand up to weather and time. No one wants a house that could collapse.
  2. The Roof and Exterior. A home inspection should examine exterior features of the house such as trim, siding, and look for external damage. Also, home inspectors will look at the condition of the roof, in the hope that your home will not have unknown leaks. Ideally, a home inspector will be able to get information about the age and lifespan of the roof.
  3. Plumbing and Electrical. Ensuring that all of the houses systems are operational is also critical. Faulty electrical systems cause headache when trying to live in a house but can also be a serious fire risk. Plumbing problems can cause water damage, which could cause structural issues necessitating expensive repairs over time.
  4. General Condition of the house. Things like exterior and internal damage, heating systems, ducts, water damage, and the condition of various areas of the house are all important things to know before you purchase a home.

With this understanding of what the home inspector will be looking at, you should also be aware of a few other things. The first is ensuring that you, as a buyer, have located a reputable and licensed home inspector. Do not use an inspector affiliated with the seller or someone else involved in the sale. If you have reliable and recent service records, it can be ok to not pay for certain inspection services, but make sure you are following all local laws and regulations. Just remember, you are paying for peace of mind that the potentially largest investment you ever make will not turn into a loss. 

Flipped House? What You Need To Know

by Karen Picarello

If you are entering the housing market as a buyer, one thing that you should be aware of is that not all sellers have the same motive. A seller desperate to escape a financial situation they were unprepared for will make for a drastically different sell than an investor looking to prune off an unneeded property. Nowhere is this more evident than when you are buying a house that has been flipped. They might not always be upfront about the flip, so here are ways to find out if the house was flipped recently, as well as what you need to look out for when buying a potentially flipped house.

Flipping houses is a practice whereby an investor will purchase a house, renovate it, and look to put it back on the market quickly, often in 6 months to a year. Therefore, the easiest indicator that a property is being flipped is that the current owner has owned the house for less than a year. If they are selling so soon after buying, you always need to be asking why. In particular, if the asking price now is higher than the previous asking price, the home is likely being flipped.

A flipped home is not necessarily a bad thing though. It’s possible that the house has been renovated to be stylish and in good condition. If you are looking for a property that is in good shape, you may find that a flipped house will be in better condition than other houses in the area.

However, all of this depends on the ability and integrity of the person performing the flip. It is good to ask for a record of all work that has been done recently. Shy away from homes with purely cosmetic improvements. If the bathroom and kitchen are gleaming with new tile and fixtures but there have been no repairs to the electrical, plumbing, or other systems, it is likely that the flipper is trying to sell you based on the shiny appearance rather than good quality work. Also, find out if the work done has been done by a licensed contractor. Licensed contractors will have ensured that a good job was done, and that everything is up to code. If the seller did the repairs themselves, it will be up to you to find out if they knew what they were doing, or were just trying to save money and got in over their heads. Look for uncovered or shoddily put together electrical boxes, especially under cupboards or other areas where it might not be immediately visible.  

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

Contact Information

Photo of Team Picarello Real Estate
Team Picarello
RE/MAX Fine Properties North Scottsdale
21000 N. Pima Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale AZ 85255
Office: (480)860-8733
888-548-8713
Fax: (480)860-8755