Ryan Broos

Cell: 780-239-5948 |

Welcome to my Blog!

This is the place where I rant about whatever I like, though I try to keep it mostly Real Estate related. Whether you are looking to by a home in the Edmonton area or anywhere else, I am sure you can find some helpful advice here. Use the sidebar to navigate through my blog to access either my Real Estate section, Market Updates, Home Buying/Selling Tips, Recent Sales, or my Random section where I talk about anything and everything. Feel free to leave comments, I'd love to hear from you!

 

Ryan Broos, Remax Real Estate.

You might be asking yourself, “what the heck is a Pre-Home Inspection, Inspection?” To put it simply a Pre-Home Inspection, Inspection is something that could save you somewhere around $500 and a lot of wasted time. 

I have been a realtor for about ten years, and during this period I have been through a lot of inspections, some went great, some didn’t. Let's play a little game where I explain two different inspections, one that I consider went great and the other horrible. Oh and if you just want to know what a Pre-home Inspection, Inspection is and don’t want the examples just scroll down to where I wrote, ‘So what do you do to avoid all this,” it’s in bold a few paragraphs below.

Inspection #1, Inspector discovers the shingles are well past their expected life and need replacing. The interior ceiling has water marks, and the inspector thinks the marks are due to roof leakage.

Inspection #2, Inspector notices one of the support pillars in the basement is leaning slightly. The basement is finished so the foundation's walls are not visible. The Inspector finds a spot where he can just see behind the drywall and discovers that the foundation wall is crumbling. The reason why the pillar is leaning is that the house is collapsing. He isn’t an expert in foundations, but at a minimum, some major repairs are required, and possibly the entire house will need to be knocked down and rebuilt.

So which inspection went great and which went horribly? Well, you might be thinking neither went great and in some ways you are correct. However in another way you are wrong. 

Inspection #2 the one with crumbling foundations, in my opinion, went maybe not great but could have gone much worse. Sure my clients lost out on the money they paid for the inspection, and the house is in trouble. But think about how much it would have cost them if they hadn’t got the inspection?

So what about inspection #1 why did I say that one went horrible, well that is the whole point of this blog post that I am finally getting to the point. In inspection #1 the clients were at their budget’s limit with the purchase of the house and couldn’t afford the repairs, they ended up having to walk away from the house, just like in inspection #2. What was the big difference, well simply put inspection #1 was completely unnecessary, a waste of money and a lot of time. 

You see the inspection could have been avoided by the buyer simply looking at the roof from the street and noting that the shingles were in really rough shape. Then after noticing the shingles, taking a closer look at the interior ceiling would have revealed the leak. At that point, the buyers should have decided that since they can’t afford the repairs, the house wasn’t for them, or done something in the negotiations to try and get the sellers to fix it. What they should not have done was write the offer, waste a ton of time for everyone involved and most importantly spend $500 on an inspection.

This kind of thing happens all the time. People have a house inspected only to discover there are issues and walk away. For issues that they couldn’t have figured out on their own, that is fine, but when it is easily identifiable problems, that's a waste of time and money.

So what do you do to avoid all this?

Do a pre-home inspection, inspection. Don’t do it for every home you see, just for the one you like best and are thinking of putting in an offer on. Book a second showing through your Realtor and do a quick 20-30 min more detailed look at the house. You could very likely find something that would turn you off the home and therefore save you around $500 on a home inspection. Note I am not saying don't do the home inspection. Buying a home is likely the largest investment you will make in your life. Find a qualified home inspector to ensure your investment is a good one. Doing a pre-home inspection, inspection will help you decide if the actual inspection, and writing the offer, is worth doing at all.

Here’s what to look for; 

Exterior

Shingles- Asphalt shingles are the most common in Alberta, so that is where I will focus. Don’t bring a ladder and go up to the roof; the inspector can handle that. Walk a little down the street or find a safe place you can see the roof, bring binoculars if you have. Look for curling shingles or completing missing ones.

Windows- Check the framing of the windows, if they are the old wood style, look for rotting. In the windows themselves look for moisture, you can look at this when indoors as well. Also look for broken windows.

 

Foundation- Walk around the exterior of the house and look at what you can see of the foundation, there is usually a foot or so exposed above the ground. Look for cracks. Parging cracks are fine (image #1). The parging is thin and primarily just to look nice, so the cracks don’t really matter and are easy to repair. What you want to look for is in image #2 which is a crack in the actual foundation. They are not always the end of the world, but they are an area of concern. Make a note of any you find and where they are located so when you get to the basement you can check for moisture.

Grading- The grading (ground) around the home should slope slightly away from the house. If it slopes towards the house, then when it rains, or the snow melts, moisture will flow towards the foundation. If the ground is dirt or lawn, repairing isn't a huge deal. Concrete, however, can be a little more tricky. Mudjaking might be an option for concrete, they drill a hole in the concrete, pump a material in which then raises the concrete. Mudjacking isn’t overly expensive, but it is not always an option. If the concrete is old and has lots of cracks in it, you may not be able to mudjack which may then require having the concrete removed and repoured which is costly.

Siding/Exterior Finish- There are multiple types of siding/exterior finishes; vinyl, brick, hardy plank, etc. The biggest thing to look for is missing pieces. Missing one square foot of siding likely isn't costly, providing you can find a matching piece. The issue is depending on how old the siding is, finding more of it might not be possible. If you can’t match it, can you find something similar or will you have to replace the siding on the whole house?

Driveway- Similar to what I mentioned concerning concrete in the grading section. Concrete only lasts so long, and it is an expensive repair. Cracks are normal and to be expected, but when the cracks spread to gaps and dips between slabs, repairs can get costly.

 

Garage door- Open it, did it work great!

Fence/Deck- Give them a good look over and keep your eye out for rotting wood. Replacing a few boards is minor, but you might not want a total rebuild.

Interior 

Electrical- So you probably aren't an electrician, and even if you are, you shouldn’t be opening panels and inspecting the electrical components of someone's home without their permission. It should only be inspected be a trained professional who has permission. You don't want to hurt yourself or screw something up. Aluminum wiring can be a concern. If the home is older and you are concerned about aluminum wiring, the best bet is to ask the owner's rather then try to inspect it. If you ask they likely won’t lie seeing as you are going to be getting the home inspected anyway and will know for sure after that. You could look (not touch) around the electrical panel and try to identify it that way also. The issues with aluminum wiring are easy to find online, in some rare cases, it can cause fires, and because of this sometimes you might run into issues getting house insurance. There are modifications that can be made to make it safer, for example, pig tailing. Again I want to repeat in case you somehow missed it but asking is the best route here. Test the light switches to see if they work though it could always just be the bulb. Another one is, bring your phone charger and check the plugins.

Plumbing- Look under all the sinks and around the toilets for water damage. If the home was built in the 1970’s to 90’s, look for Poly B plumbing. You can look online and see what the issues can be. Some people argue there are no problems with this stuff others think it's horrible and just a matter of time until it starts to leak. I am not a plumber, so I don’t know which is true, but you should know what is in the house you are thinking of purchasing and decide if it's an issue for you.

Foundation- Just like for the exterior, for the interior walk around the foundation and look for cracks. Not every crack is evil, but if the crack is large enough to slide a coin into, it could be an issue. Also look for wet concrete beside the cracks, puddling or signs of previous moisture on the ground near the cracks. Horizontal cracks could be signs of a structural issue so look for those as well. If dealing with a finished basement, things can be a little tougher. Look at the baseboards and flooring, discoloration or swelling could be signs of moisture. Look extra close below any windows; often cracks start near windows.

Flooring- If you see an area rug or something in an odd spot, maybe take a quick peek underneath. You would be surprised how often people try to hide carpet stains or flooring scratches.

Things I would love to tell you to do, but you probably shouldn't do are things like testing the stove, dishwasher, washing machines or running the furnace. Although I am sure you are capable of handling these, you don’t want to be on the hook for damaging something. If you really want to test them, then run it by the listing Realtor/sellers first.

That pretty much sums it up, there are of course other things to look for, but that should cover all of the big ones that may or may not prevent you from wanting to purchase the house. Though I have already said it repeatedly I will still say it one more time, if you do decide to go through with buying the house, get it professionally inspected.

No house is perfect, and they will all likely have problems, including some of the ones I listed above. Hopefully, this will help you identify the majors one without costing you more than an hour of your time. Once you know, then you can decide if you want to go through with writing an offer and getting an actual inspection.

Happy house hunting.

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I don’t believe I have ever listed a home for sale and not had my clients ask what they should do to prepare for showings. So then, you might wonder why it is that a good portion of the homes listed for sale are in poor showing condition? Well the answer in most cases is very simple and can be summed up in one word - TIME. I’ve sold my home as well as helped plenty of other people sell their’s, so I know first hand how hard it can be to keep a home in good showing condition. 

There is no denying how important it is, but for many, keeping their home in good showing condition is hard. To keep things simple, I’ve ordered my advice in the list below from most important to least.  That way, if you don’t have time for it all, at least you know where best to focus your time and effort. Everything on the list is relatively simple to fix and often commented on by the buyers I've worked with in the past. This list doesn’t include the minor extra credit details; I will create another post for those later.  

#1 De-Clutter 

Clutter can give the impression that the home is not large enough or does not have enough storage.  Additionally, you want to give potential buyers the opportunity to imagine themselves living in your home; this becomes difficult when you have an overabundance of personal items visible throughout the house.

Whether it’s all the sentimental ornaments covering every coffee table and shelf, your overabundance of kid’s toys, or your entire collection of Don Cherry’s Rock’em Sock’em videos, to the average home buyer, it’s just clutter. You’re planning to move which means you are going to have to pack it all eventually, so you might as well start now.

I’m not saying you have to put all your ornaments away, keep out a few of your favourite most tasteful ones. 

As for clients with kids, invest in a couple of large storage bins and pack away the less-favored and the messiest toys. Maybe do this when the kids are not looking, or you could have a battle on your hands. Try to keep the amount of toys left to a reasonable level so that it is easy to put them away before showings.

The reason why I rank de-cluttering number one is that it is critical and you should only have to do it one time.

#2 Kitchens and Bathrooms

In my home, and most others I assume, these are the two quickest places to become a mess. And guess what? They are often the most important to buyers. Leaving a magazine on the couch, not freshly vacuuming the living room or an unmade bed, are not exactly what a buyer wants to see, but how about dirty caked on macaroni and cheese dishes in the sink? A toilet with residue? Little hairs around the sink? All kind of gross. I promise you; the last thing you want to do is make a buyer disgusted.  The kitchen and bathrooms are where this is most likely to happen, so make sure they are as clean as possible.

One simple solution to help you with this task is to keep on top of them daily and not let a big mess build up. For the bathrooms, buy a container of those disinfectant wipes and take a minute once a day and wipe everything down. You should still do a big clean once a week or so but a minute or two a day should be enough to keep appearances up. As for the kitchen; the wipes are great again and make a new family rule that no dirty dishes are left in the sink. 

The biggest thing with these two areas is just keeping on top of it so that, when you get a call from your Realtor that someone wants to see the house in an hour, you don’t have to panic.

#3 Curb appeal

Picture your significant other and the first time you met them. Now change the situation in your head so that when you first saw your special someone, they hadn’t showered in a week or combed their hair. Do you see where I’m going with this? 

First appearances matter, and when people pull up to view your home, impressing them would be great, but at a minimum, you don’t want to disappoint. Here are a couple of quick things to consider:

  • Weeds - I’m not going to chose sides and say how you should deal with weeds, if you are an environmentalist pick them if not spray the buggers, just get rid of them;
  • Lawn - cut and water regularly;
  • Flowers- plant a few and/or get some flower pots for your front step, they make wonderful looking fake flowers if you don’t want to water;
  • House - Clean the outside of your house. Depending on the material, a hose or a pressure washer should do the trick. Put an extra focus on the entryway. 
  • Snow - shovel your’s and if you have a lazy neighbour, do their walks also. Don’t stop right on your property line. This creates a sense of a friendly neighbourhood and stopping right on your property line does the opposite.
  • Trees/hedges/bushes - cut back and trim if they are overgrown. If you have an overgrown bush covering a window, do something to get rid of it as it will reduce the natural light getting into your house.

Now I realize a lot of this is picky, but it is important.  For the average household a hard days work can get most of it done for a season and if you can’t keep up with the rest, hire someone. Plenty of companies will do this, or better yet maybe a neighbourhood kid is looking to make a few bucks.  It’s worth the cost as you may get more for your home if it has good curb appeal. 

#4 Furniture

Wherever you can, try to remove oversized or old and junky furniture. You don’t want your place to look empty, but over-crowded is worse as it makes a home look smaller than it is.  You are looking for a comfortable happy medium. If you have crowded rooms, and there is furniture in those rooms that you don’t use, put it in storage. Same goes for the couch your cat has torn to shreds or the old chair that has visible butt imprints in it. If you don’t need them, pack them away.  Some of it you may not even want anymore for your new house, so make moving day easier and get rid of it now. Renting some nice furniture or hiring a home stager is a good idea if you don’t have furniture in great condition. It might seem a little strange seeing as you are selling the home not the furniture, but believe me, nice furniture makes a huge difference in how buyers will perceive your home.

#5 General Clean

We already touched on cleaning some parts of the house, now for the rest of it. A good thorough clean to begin with, and then just keep it up. Vacuum and dust once a week or so. If you don’t have the time, hire a home cleaner either for just the initial clean or have them come by once every week or so. Don’t forget to clean the baseboards, doors or anything else that is white or light coloured. The white contrasts with the dirt and although these aren’t areas you likely regularly clean, they are easily noticeable when unkept.

And that’s about it folks. Sure, there are many more little extra credit things you can do, but the reality is that if you do everything I just listed, you are well ahead of the game. Also, keep in mind it can sometimes take months to sell a home, but hopefully this can be reduced by following these few tips.

I know I’ve suggested hiring someone to help you out with a few of these things.  Maybe the last thing you want to do is hire someone because it is too expensive, right? Wrong. Having a cleaner come by once a week should only be $100-200 as long as you don’t let things get out of hand. As for the yard, a weekly cutting and watering or snow removal is probably under $50. Sure, if you hire for the first home clean or yard maintenance it will cost you, but probably not thousands. Want to know who will be paying thousands of dollars? The buyers, and that makes it more than worthwhile, also your home will sell faster it has been proven time and time again.

So think about it and do your honest best.  I guarantee it will be worthwhile.

Ryan Broos, Remax Real Estate

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