Troy Hansford for Denver Real Estate | 303-617-0607 | HansfordTeam@TroyHansford.com
          

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Recognizing Hail Damage On or Around Your Home and What to Do About It

If you are asking yourself “What the hail??” then chances are you just experienced a storm and there has been some hail damage on your property. It does not happen often but when it does, things sure get interesting.
The easiest way to tell if there is hail damage on your property is of course by walking around the home and doing an informal survey of the premises. Once you determine that there is indeed damage as a result of a storm you can then approach your insurance company to find out what types of coverage your policy offers. What kinds of things should you look for while going through the exterior of your property?
Roof Damage
Granules blown off from a damaged roof
Indentations on metal
Pockmarks on shingles
Lots of granules in your gutter or concrete
Dings and Dents on the Property’s Exterior
Pockmarks on your siding, eaves trough or garage doors
Areas where paint has come off from heavy hail
Deck surfaces, railings and benches with large marks
Window Damage
Torn screens
Chips on window frames
Other Outdoor Fixtures
Indentation marks on hot tub covers
Damaged metal awnings
Regardless of what you find, it may be a good idea to contact your insurance company and request an adjuster to come out and survey your property formally. Not only will they be able to determine the extent of damage, they will be able to report it if it is significant enough to warrant insurance coverage.
Myths and Facts About Hail Damage
(Source: hubpages.com, author: RDHayes)
Myth: I looked at my roof and didn’t see any problems, or my roofer inspected it and there are no problems.
Fact: Someone with training and experience must physically inspect roofing systems to determine where there is actual hail damage. Insurance companies send their adjusters to special training so they can properly identify hail damage to property. Unfortunately there is not much ongoing training for the roofing or home inspection industries.
Myth: I’m not missing any shingles so I must not have damage.
Fact: Missing shingles are related to wind damage claims and can happen during a hailstorm if the winds are high enough. However hail damage is insidious in nature and may not physically cause leakage for years after a hailstorm.
Myth: I only have 1 year to file my insurance claim.
Fact: Many insurance companies do have a one-year time limit and some even less, however due to the nature of hail damage they may pay claims past the deadline. This usually happens if a hailstorm is widespread geographically.
Myth: My roof is new so it is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, the homebuilder or contractor.
Fact: Manufacturer’s specifically name hail an exclusion to their product warranty. So do home builders and roofing contractors. Newer roofs can actually be more susceptible to hail damage versus older roofs due to the time it takes a new roof to cure from exposure to the elements.
Myth: I was told my roof has minimal or very little damage and therefore I don’t need to file a claim.
Fact: If your roof has any damage whatsoever you have a valid insurance claim and should file with your insurance company. Damage might not cause your roof to leak for years. This is why it’s important to have a qualified person inspect your roof.
Myth: My insurance company will cancel my policy if I file a claim.
Fact: Most states prohibit insurance companies from cancelling policies for filing claims arising from severe weather related events. Check your state’s policy and your policy language as well.
Myth: If I don’t file my claim, my insurance company won’t raise my rates.
Fact: After a disaster, insurance companies may raise everyone’s rates. By not filing your claim, your personal rate increase is paying for every one else’s damage except yours.
If you are unsure, it is still a good idea to contact your agent since there are likely areas that you may not have considered that might have been damaged. One thing to look out for is inflated quotes from companies looking to make a quick buck through your ordeal. Roofing and siding companies might inundate you with offers to repair your home.
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If you’d like more information on this or other things concerning your property or if you are in the market to buy, sell or invest – contact me today!

New Changes to the HARP Loan Program Means More People Getting Much-Needed Help

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The announcement made recently by the Federal Housing Finance Agency about proposed changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) could mean that many more homeowners will get much-needed assistance during this difficult economic time.  Homeowners that are underwater have traditionally turned to HARP loans to help them refinance their homes, being able to keep them rather than losing them to foreclosure.  Here are the main differences between the old and the new programs and how they will potentially affect homeowners going through times of strife.

No More Glass Ceiling for HARP

With the old program there was a limit to how much borrowers could borrow with respect to the home’s loan to value.  This posed a problem for many people that owed far more on the home than it was valued – given the steep decline in housing values during the past two or more years. 

New changes to the program will allow homeowners to refinance no matter how foregone the situation is with respect to more money owed on a property than its market value.  The elimination of the 125 LTV ceiling for fixed-rate Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgages is by far the most impactful proposed change to the program.  This change will quite possibly help millions of people avoid undergoing foreclosure. 

Fewer Fees or Better Yet, No Fees For Some

As per the current HARP loan process, risk-based fees are assessed and applied to loans to protect the lender.  Considering borrowers’ credit profile, the lower the credit scores, the higher loan to value and that translates to greater risk to the lender.  Fees that are traditionally associated with this risk are a huge burden for buyers.

With the expected new HARP guidelines there will be no more risk-based fees for homeowners that refinance their home into short-term mortgages and fewer fees for others.

No Longer A Need For a Property Appraisal

The cost of getting an appraisal done on a home can get quite expensive and adds up when you factor in all the other costs of getting into a new home.  Most home purchases entail having an appraisal done on the home – at the buyer’s expense. 

The changes that are looking to be implemented soon for people seeking assistance through HARP will include eliminating the requirement of a new property appraisal.  The only thing that buyers need to be wary of is that there must be a reputable AVM estimate in lieu of the appraisal.

The Absence of Warranties That Put Lenders In a Stronghold
Lenders are at a huge risk when borrowers default on their loans and as a protective measure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantee those loans but not without a long list of warranties that protect the creditor.  At present, refinance loans that have these warranties or stipulations on them cause lenders to comb through each application very carefully before considering an approval.

With the proposed changes taking place, the warranties will be waived, reducing secondary exposure to lenders of buying back the loan in case of default or even indication of default.  The change will make it far easier for homeowners to obtain the refinance loan they seek to help get them out from underwater. 

More Time For Homeowners to Get Afloat

The HARP loan program began in April of 2009 and after an extension in March of this year (2011) the deadline was extended to June 30, 2012.

According to the list of projected enhancements to the program, the program’s deadline will be extended to December 31, 2013 – giving more homeowners more time to avail this opportunity.

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There are a few important things to mention regarding the upcoming announcement expected on Tuesday November 15th.  First, not only does the HARP loan apply only to homeowners that have a mortgage owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, the mortgage being refinanced must have been obtained on or before May 31, 2009.  Second, this applies only to homeowners who have not previously refinanced their home.

It is also important to note that these are projected changes – and they can change at any time contingent upon policy at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

10 Questions to Ask a Potential Realtor

As you embark upon what will be one of the most important transactions of your life – whether buying or selling a home – you should be absolutely certain that you are happy with the real estate agent you have hired to help you manage it. 

To help you with this all-important hiring process, here are ten important questions to ask an agent before you decide on whether or not to hire them:

Question #1
How Close Do You Get in Sale Price Related to Asking Price?

It is important to ask for this information as it relates to the past 60 days.  Given that many agents are not that active in the market, you would be best served to obtain the most recent information possible.  As a seller, your agent’s ability to come close to the asking price is a strong attribute and can mean a difference of thousands of dollars in your transaction.

Question #2
How Many Days on Average Does It Take You To Sell a Home?

What’s the average number of days on the market for properties listed by your prospective agent? Since this statistic can reach as high as six to nine months and in some cases and as much as a year, it is important to ask how your prospective agent ranks on the scale.

Question #3
What is the Rate of Homes Sold on a Monthly Basis?

Knowing the absorption rate of homes similar to yours that are on the market allows valuable insight as to how the market is performing for your particular needs.  Not only does it give sellers a glimpse into the system and how it would translate to their own sale but it also presents a broader view of the entire market in general.

Question #4
What Do You Do Differently To Get Homes Sold?

Especially with the current trying economic times, many agents have been faced with adversities trying to sell the homes on their list.  One of the best ways to learn whether your agent is a self-starter is to find out what they have done in the past when they were unable to successfully sell homes.  Ask why the agent feels the home(s) did not sell and then find out what they are doing differently to get them sold.

Question #5
What Percentage of Deals Do You Represent the Buyer Versus Seller?

Some agents work primarily with sellers while others work mostly with buyers and still others are experienced with dual-agency deals.  Depending on your needs, you will benefit from an agent that specializes in one of the two.  It is important to ask which side of the fence your prospective agent tends to represent. 

Questions #6
How Many Homes Did You Sell Last Year?

Nothing speaks louder than numbers.  A very important statistic, ask what the total number of homes sold last year was and if possible try to get a more long-term picture of the agent’s performance in this regard. You can also ask for a month-to-month breakdown to see if there are certain stronger months.

Questions #7
Can You Provide a List of the Ten Most Current Clients You Have Worked With?

Rather than rely on the given list of referrals that many agents have handpicked, it’s a good idea to obtain a list of clients that are currently working with this Realtor.  It will provide a much-needed glimpse into the agent’s performance on various stages of real estate transactions.

Question #8
How Much of Your Work Day Do You Dedicate to the Real Estate Industry?

You want an agent that is 100% committed to their  job and if they are focusing more on a day job with real estate being a secondary thing, you run the risk of inaccessibility, lack of knowledge and experience plus lackluster motivation.  Find out how they feel about the real estate industry and whether they are passionate about their work.

Question #9
What is Your Style of Marketing – Proactive or Reactive?

What is your potential agent’s style of working?  Does he or she speak to a large number of people each day? Are they proactive or reactive in nature when it comes to marketing? See how this lines up with your real estate needs.  Are you in a hurry to buy or sell?  Does a laid back agent hinder your efforts? Or does slow and steady work better for you?

Question #10
What Does Your Daily Schedule Look Like?

The typical schedule of a real estate professional can be very telling.  By asking for a copy or general idea of how they conduct their day in terms of their work, you can get a good idea of how much time is devoted to the profession and what kind of business they are running.

5 Things You Should Do When You Move Into a New Home

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1. Install new batteries in smoke alarm and carbon dioxide detector

You have no way of knowing when the batteries were last changed and if the home has been unoccupied, it’s probably been awhile. Test the alarm and detector and put new batteries in each. This investment of time and a few dollars is well worth it, given the stakes.


2. Change locks

Unfortunately, you can’t assume the keys you’re holding are the only keys to your home that could exist out there. Play it safe and have all the locks changed as soon as you can.

3. Re-program garage door opener

Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the security of your new home. Most garage door remotes have a reset button that you can hold down to reprogram the opener. If you want more concise instructions, note the make and model of the opener and contact the company to walk you through the steps.

4. Replace furnace filter

Most manufacturers recommend that a furnace filter be changed once a month during the heating season to ensure the most efficient performance. While there are higher-quality filters that may not require monthly replacement, it’s still a good idea to check the filter monthly and, of course, replace it when you move into a new place.

5. Make sure windows remain locked

Just go around your house and check those window locks.

Dealing With the Pitfalls That Slow Down Real Estate Transactions

Whether you are buying or selling, you will notice a definitive change in the real estate industry lately with respect to how smooth the entire process is.  Where once a long time ago a buyer could walk into a mortgage lender’s office and walk out within a week with a bank note in hand for his or her new home, things have now changed.  Now we are witnessing a major shift in the way industry professionals handle home buying and selling endeavors.

What exactly is happening that causes this change in real estate practices?  To understand and also learn how to cope with the lending and purchase procedures of late, we go through some major pitfalls and explain how to manage each.

Documentation, Documentation, Documentation!

Gone are the days when it was easy to get no doc loans or low doc loans. In fact, it is quite the opposite these days. More documentation and verification is required today, than ever before, in order for a homebuyer to qualify for a loan.  Not only that, lenders are using third-party verification services, taking added precautions to verify that information provided by borrowers is correct – and then they triple check it all.

Certain guidelines are also more closely followed than from before, such as income, length at previous address, income-to-debt ratio and of course credit scoring and profile.  In general, as a result of this entire extra load being added to the process, the underwriting process takes far longer than it used to just a few years ago.

Appraiser’s Value of the Home and Home Inspections

A factor that largely contributed to the decline of our real estate industry in 2007 was the gross over-value of many homes at that time.  One of the safeguards being taken by lenders is to stringently adhere to the home appraiser’s recommendations.  The home is scrutinized in great detail and every little thing that could potentially pose a problem in terms of the condition of the home, is reported.  One way for sellers to avoid delays on this end is to preempt any potential issues by having them repaired or renovated prior to the appraisal process.

Similarly, home inspections can yield significant delays if any noteworthy issues needing attention surface during the inspection.  Given the current soft market, buyers expect far more concession on the part of sellers – an area that sellers often find difficult. If managed before the home is listed, significant delay can be avoided.

Bank-Owned Properties and Short Sales Go Slow

Unlike a straight sale, properties that involve banks as owners or those that require a bank’s hand in the decision-making process, naturally take a lot longer.  In some cases where there is more than one lien holder, as in with some short sales, the process can take months or even a year.  Though patience is generally the only thing a buyer or seller can practice in this case, expecting delays and being prepared for them can make it easier.

Surprisingly, sometimes the parties involved in the transaction are also cause for delays.  Whether it is a buyer that is unsure of whether to make the purchase or the seller that wants to investigate all tax options or be completely sure they are ready to sell their home – these things add more time to the process.

Working With Unverified Contractors or Vendors

Renovations and fix-ups are an integral component of selling a home.  Unless a reputable contractor is used, things can and do go wrong.  Realtors have a wide network of preferred vendors, suppliers and service companies that they have worked with and referred for years.  Homeowners can avail this tool and utilize the assistance of their real estate agent to coordinate the preparation of their home for sale.
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Now, more than ever, buying (or selling) a home takes a long time.  It is rewarding nonetheless and as long as you can be patient throughout, it all ends up being worth it!

Home Inspection Basics – What To Expect and How to Gauge the Results

The real estate and mortgage industry has faced some tough times lately and one of the results of the even more stringent procedures in place is the strong preference for a home inspection to take place prior to obtaining financing.  Though not a requirement, getting a home inspection is a practice that can and does save buyers (and sellers) thousands of dollars.  But what can you expect from a home inspection these days?

To help guide you through the process, here is a list of basic areas of the home that are included in the inspection, as well as the potential defective aspects that an inspector looks for during the process. We also provide a list of those areas that do not come under the home inspection umbrella.

What All Is Included in a Typical Home Inspection?

Assessment of Exterior – includes grading and elevation of the home, drainage, driveway and walkways, fences, siding, trims, doors and windows, exterior lighting and landscaping.

Structural Aspects of the Home – Walls, floors and ceiling are evaluated in addition to the foundation.  The inspection also includes a detailed assessment of the roof and attic, including ventilation, construction and framing.

Systemic Operational Elements – HVAC, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, ductwork, fireplace and chimney function is checked as well as outdoor sprinkler systems.

Functional Major Appliances – All major appliances that are included in the sale of the home such as refrigerators, stoves, microwaves and dishwasher as well as smaller items like the garbage disposal system are checked by the inspector.

Electrical Systems – Wiring, grounding, receptacles, exhaust systems, circuit breakers and the main panel are studied in sufficient detail to confirm whether the home is up to code.

Plumbing – All areas of the home that involve plumbing are checked, including bathroom and kitchen sinks, toilets, tubs and showers plus faucets as well as the evaluation of materials used in the plumbing construction of the home.

Safety Assessment – Smoke detectors, CO detectors and fire extinguishers are also checked for function and adequate placement.

Garage Structure – A detailed evaluation of the garage door and opener, firewall, walls and ceilings, lights as well as exterior is completed.

Results That Indicate Potential Concerns With the Home 

A home inspection yields a detailed inspection report that is broken down by section/type of evaluation performed. While there are some areas that are not covered under a home inspection, others are resultant of major red flags that must be addressed by the seller.  Anything that indicates potential safety issues is reported as top priority on the inspection report and similarly anything that appears to be a possible health concern is reported.  Another thing to look for is inadequate results or concerns with the furnace or air conditioning systems.  The presence of excess moisture or problems with drainage is a big indicator that the home will need major repairs soon if not immediately. Two more expensive problem areas that can be revealed during an inspection are roofs that may not be able to withstand the elements much longer and faulty foundations.

Things Not Included in a Home Inspection That Must Be Evaluated Independently

Oftentimes a home can be found to have major problems in areas that are not reviewed within a typical home inspection.  If there is an indication or possibility that one or more of the following health, safety or structural hazards may exist it is strongly recommended that the prospective buyer seek specialized inspections in each respective area.

The potential of asbestos, mold and mildew presence, insect or other pests, chemical assessment for the presence of radon, radiation or lead – all are issues that require independent evaluation by their respective experts in the field.  To learn more, here is a link to the top ten areas not covered in a home inspection.
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Before getting a home inspection done on a home you are considering, check with your Realtor to find a preferred inspector that they may have worked with for years.  Using a quality inspector that is certified in the areas being inspected versus utilizing the services of a less-than-qualified inspector – can make a difference of thousands of dollars.  Once you have the inspection report in hand it is a good idea to consult with your Realtor again to see whether there is some leverage to be gained when negotiating the sale on your property.

Are Home Inspections Really Worth The Cost?

 

Many home buyers wonder whether or not home inspections are really worth the cost.  We get this question quite a lot, especially from buyers who are trying to save as much money as possible.  After all, a home purchase is an expensive proposition, so you don’t want to spend extra money that you don’t need to spend.  However, it’s critical to understand that a home inspection is a vital part of making sure that you don’t lose money when purchasing a property.

What is involved in a home inspection?

A home inspection is simply a complete evaluation of the interior and exterior of the home.  A good home inspector will look at a variety of different components throughout the house including roofing, siding, foundation, electrical, plumbing and the HVAC system.  Some home inspectors may have more experience in certain areas, so it’s important to find out if your inspector can look at all of these vital components of the home.

Why do I need a home inspection?

The idea behind getting an inspection is to find major defects that would prevent you from wanting to purchase the home or would be an unexpected expense.  The unfortunate truth is that many buyers who don’t get home inspections end up having to spend thousands of extra dollars they weren’t expecting when they uncover an issue in the home once they move in.

The better idea would be to find out these issues up front so that you can negotiate with the seller if anything needs to be replaced or repaired.  There is no reason that homebuyers should move into a property only to find out that there were hidden issues that now need to be repaired. Often, you can get a price reduction from the seller to cover the cost of the repairs after closing.

Remember that we are not talking about new homes in this situation.  These are resell properties that someone has lived in, so there are bound to be minor issues that come up in every home.  You might even be looking at a foreclosure property which has been sitting vacant for quite some time.  These kinds of homes especially need inspections to be done.

The home inspector will be looking for major issues only, so take that into consideration.  This really isn’t the time to be asking for cosmetic or minor repairs to be done.

How much does a home inspection costs?

The cost can vary depending upon the size, condition and year the home was built.  It can also be different depending upon the kind of inspector that you’re using.  Generally speaking, the range for a home inspection is about $300-$800.

Should I be present at the home inspection?  

As a home buyer, it’s very important for you to be present when the home inspection is being done.  It will usually take about 2 to 3 hours to have a thorough home inspection.  The reason why you want to be there is so that the inspector can show you things about the property that you may not have otherwise known.  For instance, they can explain how to light the burner and where your main water shut off is. They can also give you tips and tricks about maintaining your home over time.

How do I find a good home inspector?

There are many different ways to find a home inspector including searching Google, looking in the phone book and asking for referrals from your family and friends who may have recently purchased a home.  Of course, one of the best ways is to ask us since we have worked with many different home inspectors over the years.

At the very least, we recommend that you get a home inspector who is ASHI certified.  This means that they belong to the American Society of Home Inspectors.  In order to be a member of ASHI, inspectors have to maintain a minimum level of continuing education to keep up with the trends in home repair.

To get more information on finding the right home inspector for your needs, contact us today!