Monthly Archive: December 2014

How Home Inspections Work

Home inspections are the objective examination of the condition of the structure and systems of a home from its roof to its foundation. This is usually done in connection with the purchase of real estate. A home inspector, who is trained and qualified to carry out such checkups, does home inspections. After the procedure is done, the home inspector gives the client a detailed report or checklist of the findings. The client then uses the given report to create decisions about his/her potential purchase. People sometimes confuse home inspection with the term real estate appraisal. While a home inspection is a checkup of the condition of a house, a real estate appraisal is an assessment of the value of the house or any property.

Purchasing a house is one of the biggest investments a person can make. To avoid unexpected problems and difficulties, the client has to understand the systems of the newly built or existing house before purchasing it. The home inspector will help in determining the major repairs the client has to make. The inspector can also give some advice on how to maintain the house to keep it in top-notch shape. If the client is already a homeowner, then the inspector can help identify existing problems and suggest methods that might help the owner prevent costly future renovations. If someone wants to sell a house, then a home inspection can offer a person an opportunity to fix damages, which can place the house in a better selling price and condition.

Home inspectors differ in skills, ability, and experience, but a good one should be able to examine some elements of the house and can provide a detailed report showing his or her verdicts. The usual home inspection lasts for around two to three hours. The presence of the client is essential so that they can get a direct explanation of the findings and if needed, ask questions as well. Everything will also make much more sense if the client personally sees the inspector instead of depending on the photos and explanations in the report.

The detailed report given to the client must at least have the following notes:

Problems grouped into different categories ─ major and minor deficiencies, and safety issues
Things that need to be repaired or serviced and those that need replacement
Items that can still be used, but need to be regularly checked
Though it is very difficult for someone to list everything a home inspector can observe, the following are the elements that he usually examines.

Exterior part of the house: foundation, garage, exterior walls, grading and roof
Interior part of the house: bathrooms, laundry room, fire safety, water heater, kitchen appliances, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), electrical wiring and outlets and plumbing
The client has to keep in mind that the home inspector can’t examine everything that might cause damage because he only makes an assessment using visual cues. For example, a slanted floor might be a result of a cracked foundation. It is difficult to prove this by just looking at the floor. Unless the inspector can pull up the flooring of the house, and then he or she can’t assure the client if it’s really there. Additionally, home inspectors do not check for problems such as mold contamination, termite damage, engineering issues and other specialized problems.

Once the home inspector finished the report, the client will have different options to make. If the damages are too costly to repair, the client has the liberty to back out from the purchase, as long as the contract contains a home inspection contingency. The client can also ask the seller to repair the problems or lower the price of the purchase. If neither of the options is applicable, then the client can just directly estimate the cost to fix the problems and come up with a strategy for repair once the property is bought.

The cost of a home inspection for a normal one-family house differs geographically. The cost may also vary depending on different factors such as the age and size of the house, and other possible services like radon, septic, and well testing. Furthermore, prices differ depending on the home inspector’s qualifications such as training, accomplishments, and experience. A home inspection can cost a client more time and money, but this will surely benefit him in the long run. The knowledge acquired and assurance of safety from a home inspection that can make a house as safe and sound as possible is worth the cost.

Reasons Behind the San Francisco Bay Area’s High Property Costs

The San Francisco Bay Area (commonly known as the Bay Area), circling the San Francisco Bay in the northern part of California, is a geographically wide and diverse populated region. It is the home to over seven million residents in cities including Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco, alongside minor urban and rural areas such as San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Solano, Napa and Sonoma. The Bay Area is popular for its high-tech industry, liberal politics and lifestyle.

The Bay Area is a good place to live in, but most buyers cannot afford the cost of housing because of its expensive price. Housing costs have relatively decreased in some parts of the United States over the past years, but San Francisco Bay Area real estate properties have been able to maintain their value. The average rent in the Bay Area costs around $1,500 a month. That rate is higher than any major city in the US.

Despite the recession, real estate properties in the Bay Area have retained their value for different reasons. Since San Francisco Bay Area is located on a peninsula, the size of land available for potential inhabitants is limited, thus making every land more expensive and valuable. There is rather only one way for the region to increase the number of housing units: by building more units vertically.

The Bay Area will be able to fit more residents if more houses are added and rents are lowered, but that is impossible to achieve since the state and local government enforce strict land controls and regulations, hence decreasing the housing elasticity in the area. Some of the boundaries imposed by the government are the following:

  • Some mandates made it easier for residential areas in San Francisco to avoid development of tall properties. This effectively puts a stop on major expansion plans outside the downtown area.
  • Majority of the residents in the Bay Area are afraid to lose the iconic views of the region. To preserve them, the residents started passing mandates that created Sunset Zoning. This mandate outlaws any tall building creating shadows on any public square or park for more than an hour before the sunset and an hour after the sunrise.
  • To preserve the history of some structures in the Bay Area, the government prohibited development of historic buildings. One example of this is the situation in the South Market area. Many old buildings there used to be warehouses for San Francisco’s finest industries. While they are good to look at, warehouses demand lots of space, thus making it impossible to build more housing units.

Another reason why rent is so expensive is the Bay Area’s enticing amenities. The San Francisco Bay area is a densely populated region and the competition for real estate properties can increase prices of services even if the values across the US are decreasing.

Lastly, since the residents and families in San Francisco have been able to preserve a good amount of income even when the recession came, there has been no basis for real estate costs to lower. The increase in the average income of the families in the area makes it possible for the Bay Area residents to afford high housing rates.

During the recession, several people hoped for a decrease in San Francisco’s property values to make way for high return investments. Still, property costs remained higher compared to the prices in other parts of the US. Despite the high value, San Francisco Bay Area real estate continues to be appealing to buyers for several reasons. The Bay Area is a very diverse community that is why majority of the buyers will mostly find at least one property that fits their needs. Several buyers are also able to find great investment opportunities that assure a significant amount of yield when the market goes back to its normal state.

Property values in San Francisco may not be affected by the recession, but this does not mean that people cannot find great bargains and deals in the area. Real estates in the Bay Area are famous for their flexibility and long life so it is safer to make an investment there rather than buying real estates in other locations. Buyers can also enjoy an increase in the cost of a certain property if they ever decide to sell it. The cost of San Francisco Bay Area real estate may become increasingly expensive over time so if someone is interested in buying some properties in the Bay Area, then it is better to do it as early as possible.