As the march into winter gets underway, a lot of people are already starting to plan their spring and summer vacations. Oh, they’ll go somewhere sunny, or to a fantastic resort or maybe, if you’re lucky, your house.
They might as well, you’re going to be going on that fantastic cruise after all. Besides, you’ve heard such good things about being an AirBnB host. Your guests will end up paying for most of your trip, it’s totally win-win.
Short Term Rentals and You: The Tip of the IcebergUsing your personal home, in whole or in part, as a short-term rental can certainly help pay the bills, but the truth is that short-term rentals also have huge issues you have to consider. It’s not as easy as listing on AirBnB and hoping for the best. You’ll need to do considerable legwork before getting started, otherwise you may find yourself in a lot of trouble and with expensive problems that eat all your profit.
Still, it can be a solution for some homeowners. Before you list, make sure you’ve considered these five things that might complicate your situation:
Does your mortgage allow you to rent the property without penalty? Many loan programs that help people buy with a low downpayments have restrictions on renting the building. If the short-term rental you’re offering was purchased with you as an owner-occupant, there is likely language in your agreement that spells out what constitutes a breach by turning your house into an “investment property.” Generally, if you rent your property for more than 14 days in a year, you risk having to face the music.
Despite what many websites may say about a lack of punishment for using your home as a rental when it goes against your mortgage agreement, breaching this agreement is serious business. Your mortgage likely has an acceleration clause that explains under what conditions your loan will essentially be revoked, with the entire balance due immediately. If you can’t cough up those hundreds of thousands of dollars, your bank will foreclose.
Find this paperwork, then scour it (and have a friend or three take a look, too) before you move any further. You should have gotten a copy at closing, check the packet the closing company sent you home with.
Do you have the right Insurance coverage? Even if your mortgage lender is ok with your using your place as a vacation rental, you’re still going to need the blessing of your insurance company. Although places like AirBnB claim to offer insurance, the word on the street is that it’s very hard to convince to pay out on claims.
Don’t risk it, talk to your agent about the best way to cover your home and property. You may want to add a comprehensive insurance policy that will cover pretty much anything, including slips and falls, or your agent may advise you simply increase your current coverage.
What do your neighbors think? The number of articles that have been written about neighbors pushed beyond the brink by AirBnB and other short-term rental guests is staggering. Even if your homeowners association and zoning allows for short-term rentals (check with your HOA and planning and zoning), if your neighbors are becoming perturbed because your guests are real jerks, you may have bigger problems on your hands.
Check your zoning, then talk to your neighbors about your goals with the short-term rental, including the timeframe in which you intend to have guests and for how long they’re likely to stay. Starting a conversation with your neighbors about your vacation rental plans before things turn into a dumpster fire can make having an AirBnB-listed property less of a dramatic situation.
It’s also important to check with your municipality about how long a guest can stay before they become a bonafide renter. In many areas, a “guest” automatically turns into a renter if they occupy the property for 30 consecutive days. You’re then assumed to have a month-to-month rental agreement, which means that you will have to actually evict them if they refuse to go quietly.
Can you refinance your property? This is a tricky question, especially with rates on the rise. Still, you may need to refinance at some point, even if it’s not today. The bad news is that many lenders won’t count the AirBnB income you’ve generated when calculating your debt to income ratios.
Luckily, there are a few banks that are capable of dealing with AirBnB income properties. Even if your lender is open to a refinance, you may be forced into a commercial loan because you rent your property out too often, effectively making it an investment property in the eyes of the bank. If you purchased using a loan eligible for a streamline refinance, you may not have to explain the AirBnB stuff at all.
Do you really want a rental? There are so many people out there that believe owning investment property is key to a better retirement, increased wealth and easy peasy income.
Owning rentals, especially short-term rentals, is a lot of hard work. From stocking consumables like soap and toilet paper to keeping things in good repair, doing background checks on applicants and keeping your taxes straight, it’s not a low-stress investment. This is why so many property owners rely on property managers to handle the day-to-day stuff.
At the end of the day, even if your PM is doing everything right, you’ll have a decent work load of your own. If you’re not all in on owning a rental, don’t do it.
For a lot of home buyers, finding their dream home means choosing an older structure that has passed the test of time. These grand places have an undeniable charm about them, with classic styling that can be adapted to nearly any taste. Older homes can be incredible places to live and love, but no home is perfect. The history of your older home may include skeletons in the upstairs bedroom closet.
Five Amazing Reasons to Choose an Older Home
Buyers who are into the details are going to love owning an older home. Not only do you get all those little bits of period hardware, real wood floors and intricate trim work, your home has a real history that you can trace should you be so interested. Older homes can become a real love story really fast.
There are a lot of reasons to choose an older home, here are five to get you started:
The neighborhood is established. You may not be giving any thought to this particular item right now, but when you’re living with the sound of bulldozers, skid loaders and other heavy equipment nearby as they add even more streets to a newer neighborhood, you might wish you had gone another way. Established neighborhoods don’t give you a lot of room to move, but you also know exactly what to expect day to day.
Mature landscaping! Even if you’re not a gardener, you can appreciate that 50 or 80 year old shade tree that protects your house like a giant leafy umbrella. If past owners put in plants, you may also have bought into a hedge or foundation plantings that will give you lots of green without lots of effort.
High ceilings. Although the types of ceiling treatments that are in modern homes rarely pop up in older homes, you may find high ceilings in older homes (this will depend on how old of a house you’re looking for). Before air conditioning, those high ceilings helped keep occupants cooler in the summer. Today they give you a more spacious atmosphere and more room for vertical storage.
Lots of natural light. One of the best features of many older homes is the sheer number of windows that have been installed. So many windows means so much more light inside your home. When you’re buying a glass house, though, make sure that those windows have been replaced or brace for high winter energy bills.
You become part of the story. Older homes tell the story of the lives of past owners, in small and large ways. Every owner left a mark somewhere in that place, just like you will. For example, you may decide you’re not so fond of the carpets, instead choosing to recover the wood floor underneath. Your fingerprint was just added to the collection.
Owning an older home can be a home ownership dream come true. But don’t fall headfirst yet. Read on so you know when to walk away.
Five Reasons to Reconsider That Older Home
Although older homes can be charming and even decadent with the details, there’s a lot more to them than history and natural light. Every house is the result of its cumulative care over its lifetime. The longer the house has been around, the more care (or neglect) it receives. Even so, there are many reasons to be wary when it comes to buying an older home.
Vital systems may not be to code. When that house was built in 1940, there weren’t really building codes to adhere to. In fact, that house might have come from a catalog and was shipped in pieces for a homeowner to build like a giant Lego set. The fact that it’s still standing is probably a good sign, but you’ll want to have a very thorough home inspection before you get your hopes up too high.
Owners adding defects when trying to repair things. Homeowners regularly make repairs without the proper permits or inspections, leaving you to wonder how good the work really was. Whether the repair was made in the 60s or last week, discovering that a closet light was wired using lamp wire is a terrifying discovery that should leave you wondering what other “repairs” are hiding behind the wall, in the attic and under the floor.
So many windows means thermal leakage. All that natural light is awesome, until it gets cold or hot — then you’ve suddenly got a major issue with thermal leakage. Even the best weather seal isn’t much on a single pane window when compared to modern engineered double and triple paned windows with Low-E coatings. If you like a drafty house, by all means go for it. If not, at least look for a place with upgraded windows.
Add-ons should get the side eye. Above we discussed how each owner touches a house in a unique way. One of those ways is to add more square footage. There are good add-ons that flow seamlessly from the original structure to the new part without it being obvious. Then there are the others. Does this place have something that’s akin to a shanty attached to the back side and called a bedroom? Run away.
Infestations. Another gift former owners may leave you is pest infestations. From bats to cockroaches and mice, older homes are accidental havens for all sorts of creatures. Along with a termite inspection, you definitely want to have a pest control expert out to look for signs of other things that you’d probably rather not be sharing your home with.
Living in a remodeling zone is not a party. Some people gravitate toward older homes because they believe this will save them a lot of money. There’s certainly a chance of that, but market forces are finicky, so you definitely want to talk to some pros before putting the numbers together. Even if you do find that you’re sitting on a gold mine, consider what this is going to do to your life and family. Living in a construction zone means that you never get away from the destruction and that you’re potentially dumping a lot of money into upgrades and fixing old “repairs.”
Is an Older Home Right for You and Your Budget?
It’s one thing to dream a little dream and yet another to turn that dream into a reality that may have unforeseen results. This is why it’s really important to talk to your Realtor and other home pros before making an offer on an older home.
Way back in 2012, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was being phased in. One of the most useful — and controversial — results was that old fashioned light bulbs had to be reinvented. All light bulbs manufactured after the phase out dates, which varied from state to state, had to use 25 percent less energy than their ancestors.
With that one change in the way light bulbs would be made rose three major options for homeowners: the curly compact fluorescent bulb, halogen incandescents and the light emitting diode. Although there are some specific uses for halogen incandescents, the most commonly used bulbs in residential settings are CFLs and LEDs. Of the two, the LED is currently the most cost-effective option, even when adjusting for the difference in price.
What is an Light Emitting Diode?The part that actually creates the light in an LED bulb is a tiny cell the size of a fleck of pepper. Using a mix of blue, red and green LEDs, a bulb manufacturer is able to create white, directional light that costs almost nothing to power.
Unlike incandescent bulbs that waste electricity by converting up to 90 percent of the energy they use into heat and CLFs that release about 80 percent of their energy as heat, LEDs release so little heat that they’re often cool to the touch even after hours of use.
An Energy Star rated LED bulb uses significantly less electricity (up to 75 percent!) and lasts up to 25 times longer than traditional lighting. This is no small thing, especially when you consider that every home, every business, every street light, may eventually sport these bulbs.
Doing the Math: Cost Savings With LEDs
The United States Department of Energy already did the math, a lucky break for bulb-shoppers everywhere. When new bulbs are compared to a traditional 60 watt bulb, the 12 watt LED outshines them all.
According to the Department of Energy, those LEDs use 75 to 80 percent less electricity than the 60 watt bulb and only costs about $1.00 to use for two hours each day for a year. Oh, and the bulb life is approximately 25,000 hours, compared to 1,000 hours for the old reliable.
This means that if you have, say, 50 bulbs in your house and they’re all running for five hours a day (a more realistic number than two hours), your cost to light up with an LED is about $125 each year, for 13.7 years, provided energy costs remain stable.
The same lighting use with the old fashioned incandescent would cost you $600 each year, plus you’d be replacing bulbs every 6.57 months. Sure, maybe they cost a buck or two each, but the constant replacement and increased electricity costs certainly can make a big impact on your pocketbook.
Choosing the Right Bulbs
Along with better lighting standards came a way to compare bulbs across platforms. After all, who really knows which CFL is equivalent to that LED or halogen incandescent option? The Lighting Facts Label solved that problem. Instead of measuring bulbs by the power they consume, it measures them by the light they produce.
Now, a 1600 lumen CFL, LED and halogen incandescent are easy to price compare. This label also includes information on how much energy the bulb uses annually, its lifespan and what color the light is that it produces, measured by the correlated color temperature on the Kelvin scale. It’s an easy way to know that you’re getting exactly what it is that you want in a bulb.
You found the perfect home. It’s gorgeous, energy efficient, in a great neighborhood and well within your budget. You wonder to yourself, “why is this perfect home still on the market?” Then you read the disclosures. Your perfect pad has a serious radon problem.
Radon and You: 7 Things to Know
Radon is a reasonably common problem in homes, so if you come across a house that you absolutely adore, you’re not even remotely out of luck. Instead, you may reap the benefits of someone else’s lack of information about the gas. Here are seven things to know if you’re considering a home with a radon problem:
Just because radon is everywhere doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Radon mitigation systems are very good at removing large amounts of radon from any home. Most work by literally sucking the radon right out of the crawlspace or from underneath a poured concrete slab like what you’d find in a basement.
Slabs must be sealed and barriers installed in crawl spaces to ensure that the radon has no place to go but up and out the vacuum system. Once released into the air above your home, it’s no longer a threat and you can breathe deeply once again.
If you need a radon vacuum, make sure yours comes with a continuous monitoring system as well. It might cost a little bit extra, but you’ll know exactly if or when radon levels are unacceptable. Since levels vary throughout the year, this is a good investment in your future.
When you moved into your new house, the neighbors were so friendly. You almost felt bad about putting up a fence, but you promised your dog he’d have plenty of room to frolick when you finally owned your own little piece of land. So you did, and now those same neighbors are giving you the cold shoulder, along with a letter from their attorney.
What in the world caused them to turn from the nicest people you’d ever meet to ice-in-their-veins cold? According to their lawyer (they’re not speaking to you anymore), you’ve encroached on their property with your fence.
Property Line Disputes: The Basics Please note: the laws that revolve around property line disputes vary wildly from state to state, so this topic can only be addressed in broad strokes. I’ll give you a good place to start to understand why your neighbors are so angry, though.
All you wanted to do was build a fence. You thought the place you stuck it looked right — it was kinda along the middle of the space between the two houses. You kind of figured that if you were off by a foot or two, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. As it turns out, people get really touchy about a foot of land these days.
What’s happened here is that you’ve accidentally taken the first step to adverse possession of the neighbor in question’s land. This threatens to decrease their property value, since you could, in theory, become the legal owner of that land given enough time and effort. Of course, you didn’t mean to do it, but they can’t see that right now. Right now they’re just angry.
What is Adverse Possession?
Adverse possession, as defined legally, is when a random person occupies your property in an open, hostile and continuous way. Breaking it down:
The open: The occupant made no secret of being there. They’re not hiding or trying to be sneaky.
The hostile: You didn’t tell this person it was ok to hang out, they didn’t seek your permission anyway, maybe they thought it was theirs or maybe they just didn’t care who owned the place.
The continuous: The usurper is there for a long time without stop. In some states, this can be as little as about five years, in others it might be 20. It’s important for affected owners to act fast if they don’t know which category their state is in.
By not having your property surveyed before putting up your fence, you’ve done all of these things, though obviously not intentionally. But now that you know, it’s time to do something to clear the air.
Some Solutions to Boundary Woes
In this scenario, you’re the accidental assailant, but it could just as easily happen in reverse, where you’re the one whose new neighbor built a fence that you weren’t happy about. Either way, the approach is similar.
Step 1. Talk to the neighbor. If you did the encroaching, apologize profusely and throw yourself on the mercy of your neighbor. Explain that you didn’t realize you needed a survey or that you thought you were putting the fence in the right spot. Often people will surprise you with their ability to forgive if you’re willing to meet them part of the way.
Step 2. Figure out your options. With the neighbors warmed up again, it’s time to figure out how to solve the problem. You could simply have a survey, dig up the fence and move it to the proper location. But, let’s say that’s currently cost-prohibitive, what with the recent house purchase and fence erection both taking up a lot of your free cash. To protect your neighbor’s rights, start with one of the following:
* A notarized letter granting you permission to use the land. This way, you’re openly declaring that your intentions are not hostile and the owner is giving you permission to be on their land. You can leave your fence in place — at least for now.
* A rental agreement. By agreeing to a small rental fee (even as low as a few bucks a month), you immediately acknowledge that your fence is on the neighbor’s property. Should they want to sell their home, they could simply terminate the rental agreement and you’d have to move the fence. It might be a good idea to stipulate a deadline for moving the fence just to protect everyone.
Whatever you choose, make sure to file a copy with your county recorder so that it becomes a public agreement. This will help your neighbor by creating a permanent record that any appraiser or title researcher could pull up later should the fence problem threaten to cloud their title.
What If You Can’t Come to Terms?
If you’re in the situation where the shoe’s on the other foot — your neighbor built his fence on your lot and you sent the letter from the attorney, then you’re the one that’s angry and frustrated at such ruthless behavior. Remember that it could have been a simple oversight, but definitely try to work it out with minimal bloodshed initially.
If, on the other hand, you went to chat with the neighbor and he told you he liked your lot and wanted to keep it for himself like some sort of real estate pirate, well, you can’t just leave it like that. You may have to take him to court to settle the issue (if you live in a planned neighborhood with an active HOA, they may have a mediation process in place to handle these problems).
In the weeks leading up to court, you may be given any or all of these options by the neighbor’s attorney as a settlement: sell your property, split the difference or give up and let the pirate win. Likely end results of these choices include:
Sell: You lose a piece of property that could affect your real estate values. If it’s a few inches, maybe it’s not a big thing, but if it’s several feet all the way down your 200 foot long lot line, it could be an issue. Consult with a Realtor or appraiser for more on the value impact, as well as how much compensation to seek.
Split the difference: You’re not admitting defeat, but it’s still not the outcome you’d hoped for. You still lose something, though not as much as you would have if you hadn’t gone to court. If the neighbor will pay you something for your loss, consider it.
Give up: Don’t do this. It’s just like selling, except you don’t get any compensation for the property you’ve lost.
Always consult with your lawyer before making a final decision on how to handle a property line dispute.
It Might Not Be Too Late to Avoid Trouble…If that fence hasn’t gone up yet, it’s not too late to avoid all this hassle by hiring a surveyor. They’ll locate the pins planted at the corners of your lot and mark the line clearly, so both you and the neighbor know exactly where the boundary is located.
A college friend of mine almost lost her home. True story. What happened? The dryer lint caught on fire in the exhaust duct. Here's how you can keep your home safe:
Dryers require regular simple maintenance to keep working safely & efficiently.
To avoid potential fire hazards and having to do costly repairs to your appliances.
It goes without saying that you should clean your lint screen after every load of laundry. Keeping the filter clear will shorten the drying cycle, save you money, and prevent any potential fire hazards. It is also a good practice to regularly, but at least twice a year, remove the lint that accumulates at the bottom of the housing that holds your lint screen. You can generally use a vacuum cleaner's flat attachment to reach down in the housing to suck out anything that has accumulated in there. Finally, you should be cleaning out your dryer's exhaust duct using a dryer duct cleaning brush (it's a stiff bristled circular brush with a flexible handle that you can buy at most hardware stores) at least twice a year. The exhaust duct vents your dryers exhaust to the outside of your house and can become a fire hazard if not kept clear. Consider doing this more often (say monthly) if you do heavy amounts of laundry on a consistent basis. Many service providers sell regular service plans to handle this for you, so consider signing up for one.
Most people think that if they created a revocable living trust, that the process of settling their affairs won't require the services of an attorney. However, in my experience, this assumption is true for only a handful of trusts. Here's a list of things to keep in mind if you find yourself the successor trustee, settling your family's trust.
Was the Trust Fully Funded?
One of the most important aspects of having a living trust work as expected is to ensure that it is fully funded with all of the Trustmaker's assets prior to death. If, at the time the Trustmaker dies, anything of even limited value is left out of the trust, a probate administration may be required.
Was the Trustmaker Married?
If the living trust contains follow on AB or ABC Trusts, the successor trustee and surviving spouse should meet with an attorney to ensure those follow on trusts are funded correctly. Also, any federal or state estate tax returns need to be prepared and filed, sometimes even if no tax is due.
Will the Beneficiaries of the Trust Receive their Inheritance in another trust?
If there are no issues that need to be addressed by a trust attorney, such as paying estate taxes, getting tax releases, dealing with debt or deciding what to do with retirement accounts, then all parties may be able to settle the trust without an attorney. If there are issues such as the above, or if any of the beneficiaries will receive their inheritance in a trust, then it's best to discuss how the new trust will be funded, the tax returns and how each trust should be handled with a reputable attorney.
Will the Estate Owe Federal, State or Inheritance Taxes?
If the Trustmaker lived in or owned real estate in one of the jurisdictions or states that collects inheritance taxes, the successor trustee should work with a trust attorney to make sure all tax returns are filed and taxes paid, else the successor trustee could be stuck paying taxes out of personal assets.
Is a Business Involved?
Even if the Trustmaker made an exit plan for a business, the successor trustee will need to work with a trust attorney to implement the exit plan. Without an exit plan, an attorney would be needed to deal with the legal aspects of the business.
Is there contention among Beneficiaries?
If beneficiaries hire their own attorney to represent their interests, the successor trustee would want to hire a trust attorney to settle the trust.
Are there Retirement Accounts Involved?
If ether the trust is the beneficiary of a retirement account such as a 401K or IRA, then an attorney would be needed to ensure distributions are handled correctly and tax consequences minimized.
In conclusion, as a successor trustee, you may wish to at least consult with a reputable estate attorney to understand your family's living trust situation.
Note - the foregoing should not be construed as legal advice. Contact Avanti for a list of local, reputable attorneys in the Grass Valley area.
Deciding you’re ready to buy a house is a big moment in your life, whether it’s a first time purchase or you’re snatching up yet another investment property. The home buying process is fraught with dangers, both real and imagined, as well as very real financial risks.
That’s why there are so many pieces of advice about when to buy a house. The truth is that there’s no one answer for anyone. Because market conditions can vary dramatically, there’s no way to safely predict if or when the neighborhood you’re looking at will be ripe for the picking. These are the times when having a really knowledgeable Realtor comes in handy.
Today’s Real Estate Market: An Overview
You should have some idea of what you’re walking into before you jump in the real estate market. Sometimes, there’s way too much supply (too many houses for sale) and not enough buyers — this is a “buyer’s market,” and that’s who has the upper hand in negotiations. Sometimes there are too many buyers and not enough supply — a “seller’s market.” Often, there are roughly balanced parts supply and buyers, which makes for a very healthy and predictable market.
We’re not in a healthy and predictable market at the national level. There are currently way too many buyers who want to buy at any price and not nearly enough new homes being built, nor are there enough existing homes to meet demand. Generally, this would push prices up. However, since interest rates are increasing, some buyers are starting to get squeezed out of the market entirely, which should be pushing prices back down, but doesn’t seem to be.
What we seem to have right now, as of the writing of this blog, is a market that’s sort of stalling. Normally, the summer is the craziest time of the year for Realtors — no one wants to pull their kid out of school mid-year to move across the city. And although many Realtors are reporting that they have plenty of potential, well-qualified buyers, they’re fighting over scraps as the supply continues to shrink.
Should You Be Trying to Buy Right Now?
Depending on who you are and where you are in your life journey, the competitive, weirdly stalled market we have this year may be as good a time as any for you to buy. Below is a brief breakdown of major buyer types and how the market could affect them if they were to buy today:
First time homebuyers. Jumping into the real estate market as a first timer is always a little terrifying, but the current market may give you a serious complex. If you’re buying a house to live in, not one that you expect will make you a bundle down the road, and your life is fairly settled, there’s no time like the present to go down the home purchase road. Just bear in mind that you will probably have to write several offers before you land that starter home — give yourself plenty of time for houses that will get away.
Maturing family. When you’re looking for that last house, the one you’re going to send your kids away to college from, the most important thing is finding a house that’s suitable for your family. There’s no time that’s better or worse for this purchase, especially if your plan is to hold it indefinitely. Sure, you may end up paying a little bit more now than you would have a couple of years ago, but the value you get from living in the house, as well as natural appreciation, generally ensure you come out a little bit ahead. It beats renting, anyway.
Empty nester. Aging in place is the thing these days, and for good reason. That just creates one big problem: not enough inventory that will accommodate mobility equipment like walkers and wheelchairs that you may ultimately need. Housing starts are really rising, though, so you might as well visit a few Open Houses to see if there’s a builder out there that you can picture building the home where you’ll retire. Although existing homes can work for your needs, new construction gives you the option to create an age in place friendly universal design from the foundation up.
Investor. Investors! You are literally the only group on this list that should be seriously concerned about the timing of your purchases. Since owner-occupied homes tend to be held for the long term, the risk to those buyers is minimal, but you’re looking to buy and almost immediately start making money.
Finding a good price on a listed home may be tricky right now, but switching gears to the building of new homes will introduce a lot of competition. Buying and holding properties as rentals could pay off, but only if you really buy them right. Now may not be a great time for you to buy if you have investments that are already paying for themselves. It would, however, be a pretty good time to unload properties that you’ve fully depreciated or those that just really don’t fit in with your portfolio.
When it comes down to it, the biggest factor you should be considering when purchasing real estate that you intend to occupy is whether or not you’re really ready for homeownership. A close second, of course, is whether or not you can really afford a house, but your Realtor and mortgage lender will help you with that part.
You’ll have to decide for yourself if today is a good day to buy, there’s no way to know what the market will look like in five to 10 years when you may want to buy again.
Let Your Realtor Be Your Guide… your Realtor is the best person to go to when it comes to the question of timing your real estate purchase. If they tell you to punch it, then all systems go.
Now that you’ve bought a home of your own, you might be thinking that you’re kind of good at handywork and you want to give flipping a go. It’s certainly one way to make money in today’s somewhat volatile market, provided you know what to look for in an optimally flippable property. Of course, the house that flips best in downtown Newark probably won’t be the same one that flips amazingly in Dallas, but there are some general things you can look for in a fantastically flippable house.
Five Focal Features of a Flippable FindBuying a flip should be a numbers game. You’re not buying your own place to make memories, you don’t have to live there, so the house that you have in mind for your first flip should be one that’s not needing too much repair work, but is seriously undervalued.
This happens frequently when an older person goes into a medical facility long-term or they pass away. It’s much more common for children that inherit a property to want to move it as quickly as they can, rather than fight over who gets to live in mom’s house. That’s why you’ll often see several promising properties in neighborhoods that are more than 30 years old — many of those owners bought when they were early to mid-career, all at the same time, and, well, time makes fools of us all.
Your ideal flip looks something like this:
It’s structurally sound. Unless you are absolutely stealing this property, there’s no substitution for structural soundness. You can’t flip a house that’s on a crumbling foundation. You can do a preliminary assessment yourself by carefully looking at the roofline. If it’s straight and sharp, the chances are good that the rest is, too, but don’t skip a professional structural inspection. If the roofline is wavy, the roof itself is cupped or it’s doing anything except being a good and proper roof, keep on looking.
The systems are solid. You can drop some serious money on updating or replacing electrical, HVAC, plumbing and roofing, so make sure that your flip has most of these in good, working order with long life expectancies. Your home inspector can give you an idea about how much time each should have remaining. Most flips can absorb one of these items, so don’t pass on a great deal just because it needs an electrical update — unless, of course, there are other big issues.
The house just doesn’t look like much. Even when the market is highly competitive, small changes can make all the difference. The plain little house tucked behind that bushy tree is not going to be on anybody’s short list, unless they’re looking to flip. Get a tree crew in there to groom or remove that monster, add some shutters in a contrasting color, dress up the landscaping with perennials and bam! Instant (almost) curb appeal.
There are a lot of memorable cosmetic items. If you look at a house and your brain keeps trying to sort out what it is that you’re seeing, you might be in a fantastically flippable property. Bright green carpet, fuschia backsplashes, mirrors on the bathroom walls? Nailed it! These are often the real gems, provided that the cosmetic stuff is what’s scaring buyers away. That cosmetic stuff is a serious turn-off for so many people who can’t see beyond the ugly to that potential house under the surface. Obviously, that homeowner cared about their place or they’d not have added so many personal touches, so chances are good that you’ll find most everything that costs a lot to be in good working order.
It’s a fine representative of the overall neighborhood. Ok, so the walnut paneling and the bright orange carpet have to go, but in terms of the architectural style, size, age and general upkeep, a good flip is the one that looks like it fits into the neighborhood. Not too big, not too small, not too weird. Especially not too weird.
Ready to Start Flipping Houses? You’re Gonna Need Some Pros…Even the best flippers — especially the best flippers — have a team of experts at their disposal. Whether you’re acting as a general contractor or just directing the person who is, your main role is to pick out materials and coordinate the repairs to come. But don’t worry, you already have access to the best network of home pros in your area with Avanti's recommendations. Connect with the experts you need, any time, and make your first flip a total success.
Your new house has an awesome outdoor kitchen, or maybe you just had one installed, either way you’re all set to grill outside all summer (and maybe into the fall and winter, too). Have you stopped to consider all the things that it takes to keep an outdoor kitchen running smoothly? Remember there’s live electricity, gas lines, appliances and other things that are going to require regular effort.
An outdoor kitchen can be the best investment you’ve ever made, but you definitely should be considering how an outdoor kitchen is different from an indoor kitchen.
Outdoor Versus Indoor Kitchens: The Big DifferencesThere’s nothing wrong with an outdoor kitchen, they’re not inherently dangerous or troublesome, they’re just different than an indoor kitchen. Heck, some of the early pioneers had outdoor kitchens before it was cool. At the end of the day, though, the two are fairly different, so let’s take a look at the biggest stuff.
Exposure to the Elements
Your indoor kitchen is around 72 degrees Fahrenheit or so all the time, day in and day out. Depending on where you live, your outdoor kitchen could be exposed to some really extreme weather, swinging from below freezing in the winter to above 100 degrees F in the summer. It’s a lot for gaskets, plumbing and wiring to bear.
Maintenance and regular health checks are vital for your outdoor kitchen, otherwise you could have catastrophic failures without warning. In addition, ensure that all your outdoor kitchen components are approved for outdoor usage — if anything is not, replace it right away or plan for it to have a shortened lifespan.
Levels of Cleanliness
Look, no one is judging you here, but your outdoor kitchen is a lot dirtier than your indoor one. It’s partially because your indoor kitchen is inside, protected from blowing pollen, dust and the various types of insects and animals that happen to run around at night in your backyard. But, there’s also the fact that you neglect to clean your grill as often as you should and you leave the grease catch full.
You can’t keep an outdoor kitchen squeaky clean, but you should always, always, always clean that grill from top to bottom. Not only does grease left in the catcher underneath attract mammals that you’d not normally invite into your kitchen, but the dirtier the grill is, the worse it will perform when it’s time to cook.
Counters and Floors
Inside kitchens are pretty easy to maintain. You clean the tile, vinyl or hardwoods with a regular household floor cleaner and wipe the counters with a wet sponge. No problem! Your outside kitchen, as you may have guessed, is a bit more complicated. So many outside kitchens use stone like granite for counters because of this material’s ability to withstand heat and, of course, because they look amazing next to the pool. The “floor” of that kitchen is often concrete or stone. Not exactly the kind of thing you just mop and go with.
First, make sure your granite counters are sealed every three to five years to protect them from the worst the sun can deal out. Next, make sure you always sweep your patio clear of grass clippings, blown dirt and other plant materials to prevent weeds from popping up where they can find footing. Lastly, make sure to power wash that patio at least once a year to remove stains, grease and mildew.
WinterizingObviously, your indoor kitchen should need little to no winterizing since it’s both serviced by a modern heating system and protected from the cold by at least one wall and the insulation therein. Even in a very old house, the most you might need to do is turn on heat tape that’s wrapped around plumbing to prevent frozen pipes. Your outdoor kitchen, though, will need a lot of care ahead of the cold.
Remember to disconnect all your appliances from their various services. Turn the gas off to the grill, empty and disconnect the fridge, drain and winterize the water lines running to the sink. Cover your patio furniture or bring it inside. Cover the grill and other appliances, too, if your outdoor kitchen lacks a permanent roof (a sail or solar cloth isn’t the same thing). If you’re lucky enough to live in a place that only freezes once in a while, you can wait to disconnect everything until just before the storm comes, provided you’re still using the kitchen regularly.
Having an Outdoor Kitchen is Amazing……until something breaks or is severely damaged because of a lack of maintenance, that is. Keeping these items in mind can help extend your period of trouble-free enjoyment, but even the best kitchen will need to have a thorough professional inspection every now and again to remain reliable.