Dec 072015
 

When I purchased my first home back in 1985 I was in the same situation as many first time home buyers: I had more energy than cash. So it was natural that any home in my price range would be a little rough. But I had basic carpentry and general home repair skills that I learned from my dad so a little work didn’t scare me. The home I purchased had been built during WWII and was a solid little home. But it did indeed need a little attention.

The first project my buddy and I attacked was the wobbly toilet. That ‘little’ project turned into replacing most of the rotten bathroom floor and the cracked leaky toilet. We did this while the girls kept reminding us that it was the ‘only’ toilet in the home so we had to get it done in one afternoon. We did get it taken care of and over the course of several years I did quite a bit of those little (and sometimes big) projects. But I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and never really gave it much thought.

Today many first time home buyers are in a similar situation as they’ve grown tired of paying high rent but don’t have a lot of cash to buy a ‘move in ready’ home. What this article will discuss is some of the more expensive items to look for when searching for a ‘fixer upper’ so you don’t end up with a ‘money pit’ that needs a lot of money (that you didn’t have in the first place).

When looking at lower price point homes one of the first things to check is if it has a private well and / or septic system. You don’t need to automatically avoid them but understand the possible costs if either (or both) are in bad shape and need repaired or replaced. I’ll be writing another blog post about them in the near future. If you are looking at newer production homes which are commonly found in some areas with affordable prices you typically avoid issues with your water and sewer because they are provided through the local town or city.

Next you want to look for possible foundation issues as anything wrong with the foundation affects the entire building. Major defects such as crumbling foundation walls or sagging floors can be very expensive to repair. If the home has a crawl space, you’ll want to be sure and find out if anything has been done to it lately and be sure and have it inspected as we see a lot of moisture problems show up that the owners were not even aware of while living there. One of the advantages of homes with basements is you can usually easily see if there are any moisture/leaking issues.

After that be sure and look up at the roof and gutters as nothing ruins a home more than a leaky roof. Check on the age of the roof if the seller knows and look for stains in the ceilings anywhere inside the home. Make sure when you hire an inspector they will go into the attic to look for any staining or damage on the upper framing structure.

The reason I mention the above items first is they all will pretty much require you hiring a company to repair / replace and in each case the costs are usually very expensive and not usually covered by typical homeowners’ insurance. There are many other items such as plumbing, electrical, heating & cooling systems that need to be checked so you’ll want those inspected as well. Again you probably will need to pay someone to repair these items unless you have knowledge of these items or have a friend / family member who works in that trade and owes you a favor. You can also ask about a home warranty when you purchase your home to cover some of the mechanical systems (heating /cooling, water heater, etc) the first year you live there.

So what kind of home isn’t a ‘money pit’? Generally, you want a home that is in need of updating (which can be a personal opinion), fresh paint, new flooring, or just general cosmetic issues that you or a general handyman can take care of for materials and low (or free) labor costs.

HomeSweetHome

Home Sweet Home

The home that we now live in was a ‘fixer upper’ I purchased in the ‘90s that I knew needed major repairs. But I also knew it was a solid home because I had it inspected and it is in a great location in Hendricks County. I have since gutted and redone almost everything myself or paid contractors for items beyond my knowledge and/or abilities and we now have a great home that is perfect for us.

Buying a ‘fixer upper’ isn’t for everyone but sometimes the current financial situation requires you to at least consider a home that needs a little fresh paint and new flooring. Just remember to look at each home with the idea of it’s potential after you do a little work to ‘personalize’ your home. It’s actually nice to sit back and look at your work and take pride in what you’ve accomplished.

If you are thinking of looking for a ‘fixer upper’ be sure and give us a call. We’ll be glad to help you find a home that needs a ‘little’ attention. Or one that needs a ‘gut job’ if that’s what you are up too. I don’t mind crawling round a home with a flashlight to help point out obvious ‘major’ issues with a home you are interested in. While I’m not a trained inspector I can at least point out some things that will keep you from wasting your money hiring an inspector to tell you the home ‘has issues’. Call or text The Derrick Team today at 317-563-1110, 7 days a week. We’re here to help!

Aug 192015
 
Building a deck

That’s me, working on our home.

First time home buyers are always fun to work with because of the excitement they bring to the process (along with some anxiety). First timers have made that commitment to own their own home because they have been paying rent, sometimes for years and have nothing to show for it but an empty bank account. This article is for those first timers and those considering their first home purchase. It’s also a general summary of the responsibilities that come with owning your home and most importantly taking care of your investment.

First and foremost is of course the financial aspect of making payments as almost all first timers must get a mortgage to cover some part of their purchase. There is also the need for insurance and we cannot forget that the government will take some of your money in property taxes. But most of this is explained up front during the discussions on financing and the purchase itself. I want to discuss the after the sale responsibilities of maintenance.

All home owners should understand the value of proper maintenance of your home. It’s an investment and you probably expect to sell it someday and at the very least get some of your money back that you’ve paid into it. And when you do indeed decide it’s time to sell, proper maintenance or lack of it will have a big impact on how much return you get on your home investment.

Let’s start with the basics, regular maintenance such as lawn care. Don’t just mow the lawn but maintain the trees, bushes, and general landscaping to keep the yard looking neat. Go ahead and plant flowerbeds and install attractive lawn decorations but don’t overdo it and make the yard look like a flea market for landscaping. It’s also important to keep up your home appearance for the sake of your neighbors who are selling. Remember the more they get for their home when they sell also increases the value of your home. Plus it’s just a good idea to keep your neighbors happy.

Maintaining the home’s exterior is probably one of the most important as water intrusion will destroy not just the outside but the interior as well. Keep the gutters clean and make sure the downspouts carry the water away from your foundation, the further the better. Make sure your roof is in tip top shape and if you don’t know what to look for have it inspected by a roofing contractor on a regular basis. Replace loose or missing siding or any of the exterior cladding on your home as soon as you see it. Waiting to do repairs on the exterior is inviting much more damage to the homes entire structure and will cost much more in repairs in the long run.

Next on the list would be your mechanical systems which typically consists of your heating / cooling system, water system (plumbing, water heater and possibly a well & septic system), and electrical. All these often need some regular maintenance, especially the heating / cooling system so be sure and become familiar with the systems in your home and follow recommended guidelines. Again, regular maintenance can save you money by extending the lifetime of these systems and avoiding major repairs from ignored minor issues.

You should also pay attention to your interior structure such as walls, ceilings and flooring. Much of what needs attention here will be from normal wear and tear but keeping things clean regularly helps in the long run. Allowing items to get really dirty ruins the finish and you’ll find in order to make it look good enough to sell you’ll have to replace it completely, and those costs take away from your bottom line.

This is just a few basics items of what you need to take care of to maintain your home. Each home has different priorities to the maintenance schedule such as type of building materials, type of heating system, etc. But regular maintenance can make your return on investment when it’s time to sell well worth it. We’ve seen a lot of owners take a lot less for their home because of the poor condition it was in due to the lack of maintenance. Keeping your home in great condition makes financial sense but it’s also nice to live in a well maintained home so do it for yourself and your family’s health and well-being as well. And again, a neighborhood of well-maintained homes brings everyone’s homes value up when it’s time to sell and makes for happy neighbors.

If you have questions on your homes’ condition in preparation to sell feel free to call or text The Derrick Team at 317-563-1110, even it’s a few years away. We’ll be happy to come out and take a look and let you know what you might need to address at no obligation. It’s what we love to do, help people with home ownership!

 

May 262015
 
This porch sold this house with multiple offers!

This porch sold this house with multiple offers!

A question we realtors often get is ‘What can I do to my home that will add value when I’m ready to sell?’  If you watch HGTV and read most articles on the subject you usually hear things like ‘kitchen upgrades’ and ‘adding / renovating bathrooms’. Those items do add value but usually only if you sell soon after doing it. After a few years they once again will appear outdated to current buyers and you’ll be stuck in the endless cycle of updating every time you want to sell a home. But one item we see buyers love time and time again is a really nice porch or patio area. It’s not unusual to show buyers several homes and once they see a home with a really nice covered / enclosed porch they stop and say ‘let’s write an offer on this one!’

Porch’s used to be pretty much a standard feature on all homes back before there were air conditioners. So many older homes built before the 1940’s include what was really considered the ‘outdoor room’ for sitting or even sleeping in on hot summer days. Usually covered to protect from rain but open on 3 sides to make sure and allow a breeze to flow thru, these were the gathering rooms for the family and often nearby neighbors to share the latest gossip and local news. After WW II the mass of homes built for returning vets often left off the larger porches to cut costs. In later years air-conditioning became a more standard item on new homes and porches became more of a luxury item as they really weren’t needed to deal with summer heat.

But now there is a new trend back to making a porch area more of an ‘outdoor room’ again. With all the high end outdoor furniture you see today in home improvement stores you really would feel like you’re are sitting inside with a porch furnished like that. Add to that the idea of having an ‘outdoor kitchen’ and now you can cook and eat without ever entering into the home. With so many people (myself included) loving to grill out, the whole idea of the cook ‘n eat area outside has become a very attractive item for home buyers. And with the ‘hustle & bustle’ of today’s lifestyles a nice porch is considered a retreat to go relax, read a book, or nap on a hammock. Let’s just say there are not many people who say they wouldn’t utilize a nice porch on their home.

So if there were one item that I would say adds value AND is something you can enjoy until the time you decide to sell a porch or even just a nice patio area is the way to go. Other than normal maintenance most porches never ‘go out of style’ so it’s a safe bet that it’s going to add value when it’s time to sell your home.

If you’re thinking of any updates to your home and want a REALTOR’s opinion, text or give us a call at 317-563-1110. The Derrick Team is here to help!

Feb 052014
 
Merlin is often 'triggering' automatic lights at our home.

Merlin is often ‘triggering’ automatic lights at our home.

By now you’ve probably heard the term ‘Smart Home’ as a selling buzzword on a lot of new technology available today. But what really is a Smart Home and what does the future hold?

The general definition is a home with programmable controls for running systems within the home. A common item found in homes today is a programmable thermostat. Google ‘Smart Home’ and you’ll find plenty of companies with items to sell you to make your home automated (or smart). There actually have been items available for quite some time to automate homes and once the personal computer became a common household item linking the computer to these systems was a natural fit.

For example we’ve been using automation to control some of the lighting at the Derrick household since the late 90’s. Originally based on a system known as X10 many lights are either triggered to switch on & off by motion sensors or computer set timers. We now incorporate Insteon, which is another system compatible with X10. Over the years these device controllers have expanded in capability to pretty much turn anything on and off you want to automate. So from this perspective you can make your home as smart as you want (and how much $$ you want to spend). Today you can control anything from your computer, tablets, smart phones, or anything that connects with the Internet and back to your home. But these are all controlled by programmed timers, some sort of trigger, or by a remote switch device. Things are starting to change for the next level of ‘Smart Homes’ and the future of home automation.

'The Smart' Nest Thermostat

‘The Smart’ Nest Thermostat

A good example of the next level of automation is the Nest thermostat. Now we have an automation device that learns your habits and controls the heating & cooling in your home based on your personal activities (or it’s interpretation of them). And you can easily track and control the Nest via the Internet from your smartphone or computer. Coupled with the fact that Google just purchased the company you know this will soon be expanding into other household devices. They’ve already developed a smoke detector that will talk to the Nest and shut down the heating system when it is triggered.

Many appliance manufactures are adding monitoring systems to give the homeowner alerts. In the near future I can see a refrigerator that inventories it’s contents and lists them on your smartphone so you know to stop at the store on the way home because the kids just emptied the last of the milk. Add Google or Amazon to the mix and the milk will just show up on it’s own.

A more practical application would be a service call is automatically called when diagnostics indicate a problem and the home security system then knows to allow access for a technician with the proper verification code. You’ll be notified there was a problem and it was fixed without lifting a finger. At the point where the devices in your home are making decisions we can almost call it a ‘Artificial Intelligence Home’.

So the true definition of a ‘Smart Home’ is changing as fast at technology does. There are already a lot of voice controlled options so when you couple the security and home control systems it is now possible to come home and talk to your home to get in the door, turn on the lights, adjust the thermostat, etc. In the not too distant future your home may just talk back to you. It’ll be up to you to determine if that is ‘Smart’.

Whether it’s a smart home you want or any home, The Derrick Team is here to help. Call or text 317-563-1110 for all your real estate needs. Or use our handy Contact Form.

 

Jul 082013
 

Demo Man Dennis DerrickSome are born with the need to tinker. I am one of those persons and got that from my Father. He was always working on some sort of project around the house as I was growing up. Even then I was aware that this was not an automatic thing for all dads. Today as each generation has been raised with more diverse talents and occupations available the ‘around the home handyman’ is becoming less common. But since you can figure out how to do anything on the Internet (right or wrong), some still try to be that handyman that produces, um shall we say dubious results. This often becomes all too obvious at a point when you try and sell a home.

One of the most common ones we see is the attempt to paint, when a person shouldn’t really be allowed to hold a paintbrush. Walking through a home as they proudly show off the freshly painted walls, we have to point out the fresh paint on the ceilings, trim, windows, floor, etc. and politely ask how soon will you be finished cleaning up the, um overlap. Painting is more than slapping paint on the walls so keep that in mind if you plan to give it a shot. And if selling is in the near future, pick your colors carefully.

Flooring is often marketed these days as DIY with simple ‘peel & stick’ or ‘snap & click’. But again it stands out when the edges around the walls are not matched up, there are buckles in the middle, and the transition to the next room is an afterthought. As in painting, the quality of the installation is all in the details. And the cost of materials can make for an expensive mistake.

Another project today’s handyperson likes to tackle is tiling a backsplash or for the more brave, a whole shower. Watching the shows on HGTV makes it look like a snap. One little piece at a time you slap sticky stuff on it and slap in on the wall. Later you fill in the gaps with more sticky stuff to cover up the gaps, no matter how large. How hard is that? Let’s just say many find out halfway through the project they may have been just a little too ambitious.

These are just some of the most common little ‘big’ jobs that handy wannabes will attempt to spruce up their home. Our advice to anyone thinking about it: research and practice a little before taking on a larger project and take your time and pay attention to details. If you plan to sell your home in the next few years think carefully on how your workmanship will look when your home is on the market. Otherwise you may find yourself paying a professional more to undo all the damage you did.

Want free advice on getting your home ready to sell? Give The Derrick Team a text or call at 317-563-1110 today!

Oct 122011
 

EntryDoorArtworkWe’re moving to the cooler months where spending time indoors is the norm in central Indiana. If you are thinking of selling your home next spring, now is the time to start getting ready. We are going to talk about looking at your home through a potential buyers eyes (and nose).

First, while it’s still nice out, take a walk around your neighborhood and get some fresh air. While doing that make note of the homes that seem attractive to you. Neat yard, nicely trimmed hedges, colorful flowers, no peeling paint, etc. Look at those compared to the homes with weeds, broken fences, missing gutter, etc and think which home would you think about buying? Now when you get back around to your home, stand out front and look over what you might want to address before next spring and make a list before you forget!

Now step inside and take a deep breath. Smell anything at all? This morning’s breakfast or something currently cooking aside, make note of the source and make sure that it is addressed before you market the home. Anytime friends are over ask them if they notice any smells. Sometimes you get used to a home smell and don’t even notice it.

Now to the interior of the home. Walk around with a clipboard or notepad and make note of ANY defect you notice. Dirty ceiling lights, broken outlet cover, broken trim board, etc. Don’t think about how you can hide it with furniture, it must be cleaned / fixed / replaced! No detail is too much. Buyers will pick apart the home and when a list gets too lengthy in their mind, they will walk out and move on to the next home. They want a “Move In Ready” home.

Start with the simple things, like cleaning dirty items. As a rule of thumb we say clean it to make it look like new. If it won’t come clean replace or paint it. Not sure on what to replace it with? Look at home centers for ideas, or go visit nearby new model homes in the price point you expect (or want) your home to sell in.

Next look at more major things such as painting a room or replacing carpet or flooring. Try to look for what fits with the room’s original use; like hardwood in a dining room you’re using as a playroom now. Again you can get ideas from model homes and improvement centers / magazines. But don’t go crazy with colors when painting. Neutral tones or single accent walls are a safer bet. Tone down any walls you have that are currently really loud if at all possible. For projects you cannot do yourself, get quotes and mark those costs on your list.

Then there are the major items that can be really pricey to replace so first consider the value they add to your home before a complete bathroom or kitchen makeover. Again get quotes on these items and mark those costs on your list.

This is the point where you want to talk to a REALTOR about local home values. This will help you determine improvement vs. home value to see if it’s worth the costs. The Derrick Team will be glad to come talk to you months before you are ready to sell. And you are under no obligation to use us at any time. We just love to help people sell their homes. Call or text The Derrick Team anytime at 317-563-1110, we work 7 days a week including evenings!

May 022011
 

We often are told by potential homebuyers, “We want to find a really great deal”. Well that makes sense, you’re shopping for the most expensive item you’ll buy during your lifetime, why not get a great deal too.

So in today’s market, that usually starts them looking at the homes everyone thinks are steals, foreclosed homes. Lets look a little deeper on what these deals are all about.

First, we break these into 2 categories, foreclosed homes and pre-foreclosed homes.

Pre-foreclosed homes are commonly referred to as short sales, possible short sales, or even pre-foreclosed homes. In general what this means is the owner is unable to pay the note holder of the mortgage (typically a bank) and the property is worth less than the amount owed. Various rules apply to what the homes status is depending on the note holders requirements are for short sale but often the owner must be behind on at least 3 payments and be able to document why they cannot pay the mortgage. This is known as a ‘hardship package’. If the requirements are met then the home is marketed as a short sale. For buyers these can be good deals, but the purchase process requires a lot of patience. There is a lot of back and forth negotiations with the purchase of a short sale and for a REALTOR it can be a challenge to get everything to work out, and each bank handles these completely differently. But it is doable and the federal government is working on ways to smooth this out. Short sales could be a long topic on their own so for now lets just say if you are not in a hurry, these can be a deal.

Foreclosed homes fall into a few different categories depending on who was the note holder of the home. The most common are listed as HUD’s, Homepath’s , & REO’s.

HUD homes were financed via a federal entity such as FHA, VA, USDA, etc. When the property is foreclosed the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development takes over the home and it is then listed for sale with a processing service that works with a set of rules on how to sell the home. But the basics are it’s sold with a bidding process, kind of like the Ebay of home sales. These properties can be really nice or a total mess. But once you find one the purchase process can be pretty straightforward.

Foreclosed homes that had mortgages with Fannie Mae are now usually marketed as Homepath homes. These can be similar to HUD homes (Fannie & Freddie are quasi federal entities). Lately the Homepath homes are often marketed towards first time homebuyers with deals such as $100 down and escrows allowed to do repairs to the home. These homes can be very affordable and easier to purchase than HUD properties.

Finally there are the Real Estate Owned (REO) properties. (Nothing to do with the great rock band REO Speedwagon). These are listed like normal homes except the owner you negotiate with is the bank that was the mortgage holder. These can range from really nice homes to those referred too as “distressed”. Because you are negotiating directly with the owner, the purchase process is similar to a normal home sale. The question of how good a deal this can be depends on the status of the banks inventory and how bad they need to unload the home. But generally these will be sold for less than the general area market value so these can be a good deal for a buyer to consider.

This is a general high level overview of what deals a buyer can find. Each of these are more complex subjects so you want to make sure and have a professional REALTOR help you with these purchases as the respective sellers will pay their fees. But to summarize each, short sales require patience, bidding on HUD’s can be like playing the lottery, Homepath homes can have great financing options, and REO’s are more like normal deals that often are discounted, depending on the banks situation.

Ready to get a deal? Give The Derrick Team a call today and we’ll help you find the best fit for you.

Mar 302011
 
What were they thinking?

What were they thinking?

While I am a fan of some shows on HGTV in real estate we often see houses with a condition I like to call ‘HGTV Syndrome’. Sometimes it is done in moderation and with good taste. But more often it is more of good intentions gone badly.

What is ‘It’ you ask? ‘It’ is the trendy ideas that come from some shows on HGTV (and other channels as well), that give the homeowner the idea that they know how to make their home look like the one on TV. It doesn’t help that we have stores full of stuff to sell homeowners to do these ‘ideas’ like Lowes, Home Depot, etc in every major metro area that of course also promote ‘It’, and the fact that anyone can do it.

In most cases the worst damage is in the form of wild paint jobs, which will just take someone, sometimes a professional, to undo. This would be a house with a mild case of HGTV Syndrome. In the worst cases, you’ll find the home will do very badly in the home inspection. Home Inspectors find things all the time that are obviously a DIY job and in some cases very dangerous such as bad electrical wiring work.

So when showing homes to our buyers, The Derrick Team will always point out when we see the home is suffering from HGTV Syndrome. The question at that point is how hard will it be to repair the damage.

We personally talked to a homeowner that purchased a home in Avon used in Trading Spaces. He said it took a lot of work to cure that home of its HGTV Syndrome. So beware if you get the urge to decorate after watching a TV show. You might end up making your home worth less or even too sick to sell!

If you are thinking of doing some updates, give us a call or text today at 317-563-1110. We’ll be glad to come take a look at your ideas and let you know how that might effect your homes value. It’s what we do for our clients, for free!

Jul 012010
 
Many people get ‘the bug’ to get a new car occasionally. No real reason to replace the one you have, just ‘they see something new and just gotta have it’. Most people view this as they’re already making a payment, might as well make it a few more years. This mentality can lead to perpetual car payments for the rest of your life. Great when things are good but, well you get the idea.
Derrick Team Transport

My Reliable 10 Year Old Car

So the best advice I’ve heard when you get ‘the bug’ is really true. Since you get the best bang for your buck if your trade-in vehicle looks top notch, spend a day cleaning, waxing, and making it look its best before you head to the dealership. The reason that’s such a good idea is that you might sit back and realize your current car looks great and will be paid off next year. And common sense kicks in and you keep it and save a lot of money.

OK, now let’s think about your home the same way. There are always reasons that trump this way of thinking like job relocation, don’t like the area, or just tired of walking up and down stairs.  But if you just think it’s a tired old home and you want something new, keep in mind you need to freshen up the look to sell it, so what the hell, figure out what you don’t like and work out a budget. Then decide if you made those changes to the house it would be fine. Need more room? Maybe you can add an addition for less than all the moving expenses would add up to. Kitchen just not up to par? Would a remodel be worth the effort instead of an entire house replacement? Just sit down and write up a list and get some quotes. Then check with a REALTOR® to see what the current market is like. This gives you an idea of what the real costs of staying vs. moving are.

If you find yourself in this position, feel free to call or text The Derrick Team at 317.563.1110. I’ve done a lot of remodeling myself and can give you real world advice on what’s worth the effort, and what to walk away from. And we’ll help research the market to see what’s the best approach.

You’ll get a much better feeling with whatever decision you make then as you know it was the ‘common sense’ approach to dealing with ‘the bug.’

Jan 092010
 
This 'lean to' was to far gone. I had to tear it down and build a new garage.

This ‘lean to’ was to far gone. I had to tear it down and build a new garage.

Are you handy person who likes to bang nails, cut wood, and slop some paint on the walls?  Well I’m that type and am still working on my old farmhouse I purchased back in 1997 known as ‘This Old Dump’. I had a plan to have the total project completed in 5 years. 13 years later I’m still working on that 5 year plan. I now know that it will never be ‘complete’ as I’ve already started redoing things that just seemed to need a little more attention. And of course sometimes one just likes to change their mind….

Why do I mention this now? Well there are a flood of older homes listed for sale that need a little TLC. Many are bank owned and the prices reflect that because the banks do not want to be homeowners.

Maybe you are looking for your first home. Youth helps as many projects require a lot of physical work, I know as I don’t put in the long days on projects now like I did many years ago when I worked on my first home in the 1980’s. Older people may be looking for something to put money in as an investment. They just need to be aware that it can take awhile for the home to increase in value as the market drives that, not what you put into it. Then others want to become landlords and buy homes as rentals.

Whatever reason you are looking, now is a good time to look for these deals. With my personal experience with my own adventures of This Old Dump, The Derrick Team is ready to help you search and purchase a great deal today! Call or text us today at 317-563-1110 or use our handy Contact Form.

 

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