6 Telltale Signs Your New House Is a Money Pit

»Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on 6 Telltale Signs Your New House Is a Money Pit

If buying a fixer-upper is your next big money move, make sure you’re not settling for something that’s going to cost you much more than you planned. Buying a house in need of repair can mean ample savings in the short term but a potential significant investment in the long term.

If you don’t know how much it’s going to cost to fund all of those renovations, you might be diving right into a money pit. Ideally, your budget for repairs and renovations should have 10 percent to 20 percent tacked on for unforeseen problems. Run into these problems, though, and your budget could go well over that. Here are six signs you’re moving into a money pit.

1. Water Stains

“Water stains, those unsightly brown circles on the ceiling or the trickling brown lines on your walls, are a huge red flag to interested homebuyers,” warned Janice Hoffman, president and CEO of Signs of Success Realty Group in Belmont, Mass. She encourages home sellers to pay attention to flaws like these since those water stains can indicate a major roof leak.

According to Fixr’s Cost Guide, the cost of replacing a 10-by-10 foot area of a roof can run anywhere from $500 to $1,750, depending on where you live and what the project involves. If you have a larger or older home, your total repair and maintenance costs could be even higher.

See: The Cost of Renting vs. Owning a Home in Every State

2. Water in the Basement

If tornadoes, hurricanes and torrential rains are a frequent occurrence in the area, make sure the basement and home are protected from the elements.

“Just know that if your home has a basement and there’s been flooding before, the chances of recurring flooding issues are high unless you hire a professional to come out and ‘waterproof’ the basement, which can be extremely costly,” said Stephanie Sullivan of Dream Town Realty Brokerage.

Any puddles of water or small pools of water in the basement are a sign the basement might not have proper sealants or a fully functional interior water drainage system. According to the latest HomeAdvisor cost profiles, you’ll be looking at spending an average of $3,816 to waterproof the basement. But, your bill could reach $9,135 or more depending on the amount of work that needs to be done.

3. Musty Smells

If that musty or musky smell trails well beyond the attic or an over-packed basement, you might be dealing with a mold problem in the home. If you’re looking at an older home, the chances of mold toxicity can be much higher.

“Mold is another sign that you might want to run away,” said Sullivan. Mold problems are not always easy to detect and might require a professional inspection.

Rose Ann Gould Soloway, a clinical toxicologist at the National Capital Poison Center, pointed out how actively growing mold in an indoor setting damages the structure of the home and can trigger allergies. Mold spores can grow even in the absence of obvious water leaks.

You’ll want to check for signs of mold around air conditioners, windows and cellar floors. If you find mold, expect to pay between $500 and $5,050 on the cost of mold remediation, according to HomeAdvisor.

Find Out: 10 Open House Red Flags Before Buying a Home

4. Cracks in Drywall or Floors

Small cracks in the drywall or flooring are usually nothing to worry about. But when you notice larger crevices and visible cracks in these areas, it could be a sign of damage to the foundation.

A cracked foundation can drastically reduce a home’s value and cause severe structural issues, according to the Foundation Repair Association. A few warning signs of a shifting foundation include doors and windows that are hard to close, cracks around doors and windows, and sloped floors — such as in bathroom and kitchen areas.

When it comes down to cost, you could be paying more than $10,000 or more when the repair work involves hydraulic piers, according to HomeAdvisor.

5. Signs of Pest Infestation

Termite activity might not be easy to detect during certain seasons, since termite swarms can appear after a long winter or during other seasonal changes. According to, some of the signs of a termite infestation include piles of discarded wings, mud tubes near the home’s foundation and cracked or bubbling paint in certain areas of the home. Cracking or bubbling paint can also be a red flag that there are water leaks present in the home, according to the experts at Great Western Restoration.

If the damage from termites or other pests is significant, you could be looking at spending money on structural repairs or replacing entire walls and other parts of the home. While a termite inspection could cost only between $65 and $100, according to, the repairs and renovations you might need to make to counteract the effects of past infestations could set you back thousands.

Related: 15 Nightmarish Ways Bedbugs Cost You

6. Major Interior Design Flaws

If you aren’t completely happy with the pillars and columns in the hallway, the location of a wall or the size of the kitchen island, you might be thinking you can fix the issue with a home DIY renovation. It is a fixer-upper, after all.

Interior design projects might not look like they would be extremely costly or challenging, but it’s still buyer beware. In a podcast about flipping houses, Michael Woodward, a house flipper in Nashville, Tenn., shares how he’s always prepared to hire contractors to do much of the repair work on a property because even though he has the skills to do renovations on his own, it’s just not worth the time and stress. Instead, he budgets for contractors who can do the work so he can focus on other tasks.

You can find affordable — and reliable — contractors in your area on sites like Angie’s List to keep your project on track.

This article originally appeared on GoBankingRates.

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Avoiding Home Buyers Remorse: Top Resources

»Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Avoiding Home Buyers Remorse: Top Resources

Avoiding home buyer’s remorse is much more important when buying a home than other types of purchases. If you buy some clothing or an appliance and decide a few days later that it is not right for you, it is rather simple to exchange it for something else or even get your money back. Many car dealers are now offering a no-questions policy on returning new cars. However, this is not the case with buying a home. The mortgage is a legally binding contract, which means you must pay the loan or sell the house.

There are lots of things to look out for when searching for a home. You want to make sure that the home is located in the right area for you. Whether it is a job commute, proximity to schools, presence of activities like movies and museums, or some other important item to you, you need to ensure that the location of the home fits your needs.

Besides the location, the layout of the home is important to help you avoiding home buyer’s remorse. If you have a young family full of energy and fitness, you may be searching for a home with a set of stairs and a large back yard. On the flip side, if you are an empty nester and facing a couple of health issues, a small home with a small yard could be a better option.

Most importantly, getting the home at the right price is key to avoiding home buyer’s remorse. While making the monthly payment is vital to keeping the home, you also need and want to pay for other things. Having a nice home is worthless if you can’t afford to upgrade your vehicle, take an occasional vacation or pay for the maintenance on the home.

Take your time and do your research before getting a new home. The articles below offer actionable tips and advice that will really help you in avoiding home buyer’s remorse when it comes time to get the keys at the closing table.


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»Posted by on Mar 24, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on HOW LANDSCAPING INCREASES HOME VALUE – 6 TIPS


Whether you’re looking to sell your home or simply improve its overall appearance, consider upgrading the landscape. These six tips will help you utilize landscaping to increase your home’s curb appeal:

1. Freshen your mulch

Mulch eventually dulls and blends in with the surrounding plants and shrubs. Adding new mulch doesn’t cost very muchand can greatly improve the appearance of your flowerbeds.

2. Add potted plants

Container plants allow you to add mobile color to your home. Add attractive containers to your porch, driveway or any other place that company enters your home.

3. Plant shrubs

Make sure to trim existing bushes for a well-manicured appearance. Adding additional shrubs in sparse areas gives your yard a lush look. Shrubs also add privacy to your home and property. For additional springtime appeal, invest in flowering shrubs.

4. Spruce up your porch

Add a porch swing with comfortable, colorful cushions to create an inviting atmosphere. Rocking chairs are another way to add some old-world charm to your home and porch.

5. Plant trees

Even smaller trees have a big impact on the beauty of your property. Plant a few trees that have interesting blooms and trunks, like dogwoods or Japanese maples. Trees also help with your home’s energy efficiency by providing cover from the sun and storms.

6. Add landscape lighting

Choose a style of landscape lighting that complements your home and its amenities. There are various types of outdoor lighting available, each priced to work within a certain budget. Some types of landscape lighting also double as security lights.


Landscaping will enhance the value, enjoyment and appearance of your home. A few fundamental improvements to your yard will help your home entice prospective buyers or keep your family comfortable for years to come.


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5 Ways to Make Your Devices Last Longer

»Posted by on Jan 7, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on 5 Ways to Make Your Devices Last Longer


Your smart phone, laptop and other devices are key to the smooth operation of your business as a real estate pro. Avoid committing commonplace mistakes that can strain and drain your electronic devices. Writer Nicholas Pell explains five things you should do to make sure they last as long as possible.

Power Down

Users commonly reboot devices, but they rarely realize the benefits of completely powering down, says Pell. Here’s how: Occasionally let the power run all the way down. While the device is powered off, charge it all the way up, not using it or turning it back on until it’s fully charged.

Buy a Case

Your new smartphone isn’t quite as slim when it’s wearing protective gear, but you should resist the temptation to go commando. A case is simply the best way to ensure that a quick slip has the fewest consequences.

Seek Specialized Cleaners

There’s a reason manufacturers make special cleaners for electronic devices: Their screens are coated with a protective layer that is broken down by common household solutions like Windex. So spend a few extra bucks and get the cleaner designed specifically for your screen.

Take Time to Cool Down

Devices must stay below a certain temperature and excessive heat will damage systems. Laptop fans will sometimes engage to help cool them down during periods of high activity or in warm environments, but fan-free devices such as smartphones and tablets have this same temperature need. Avoid setting your devices on blankets and other surfaces that don’t allow for quick and easy cooling.

Wrap it Right

Remove cords from the wall gently and wrap them as loosely as possible when you’re transporting or storing them. Apply this same rule to your headphones and they’ll last longer too.

Source: “How You’re Ruining Your Devices” (Xfinity’s Your Security Resource blog). 

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6 Factors Guide Investors to Profitable Rental Property

»Posted by on Feb 16, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on 6 Factors Guide Investors to Profitable Rental Property

Just about any investor on the lookout for a promising rental property has a number of assumed criteria in mind—often arrived at without bothering to sit down to list them. Remember, this is already a successful individual, usually with ample business experience—and always with the financial acumen to be able to make a substantial investment. For them, creating a written decision matrix really isn’t necessary.

Still, there’s a lot of literature on the web offering opinions on what are the most commonly agreed-upon factors for choosing a rental property. Quite a few “Top 10”s. Going over them, it turns out that some are only slight variations on a single theme, so I’ve boiled them down to a “Top Six.

The first one is barely ever mentioned. It’s this:

  1. Most investors have predetermined the price range that his or her rental property must fall into, but that can turn out to be a false step. If the goal is to garner the maximum return, it’s possible that some humbly-priced rental properties can actually turn a greater annual profit—even in absolute dollars—than some higher-end homes (particularly those that suffer extended periods without suitable higher-end tenants). So Number 1 is SET YOUR INVESTMENT GOAL. Cash flow return can be a very different goal than long term property appreciation.
  2. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION.  This is the one that combines a half dozen factors, variously listed as Neighborhood, Proximity to Jobs, Amenities (parks, malls, gyms, movie theaters, public transportation hubs, etc.), Crime, Schools, and even Property Taxes. This factor might be chosen for convenience, as when a rental property investor wishes to be able to supervise the property; or for an expectation of value appreciation in an area which is gaining popularity. As everyone has had heard from time immemorial, L.L.L. is always important!
  3. HEALTH OF THE PROPERTY. If the underlying structure and mechanicals have been intelligently designed and well maintained, this one is of no importance. If not, a thorough inspection with top-grade recommendations and cost projections is a must.
  4. VACANCY RATES. The number of rental homes listed and the number of vacancies should be considered highly important for determining a promising rental property. In newly expanding communities, sometimes you can spot a man parked near an intersection, clicking away on a counter as the autos pass by. He’s measuring traffic to see if the volume is great enough to support a gas station, or market, or mini-mall. The turnover of rental listings—how long rental properties stay vacant from week to week—can provide guidance about the same kind of information.
  5. COMPETITIVE MARKET. The average rent amounts advertised for comparable properties can be the decisive factor for whether a rental home investment makes financial sense.

Of course, another factor that can make a big difference is the experience level of your Realtor®. That’s actually key factor #6—and (I hope) where I come in! You can call me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: so we can discuss your real estate needs.

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Sharp-Eyed Prospects Prepare to Find Affordable

»Posted by on Jan 28, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Sharp-Eyed Prospects Prepare to Find Affordable

Despite the improving economic outlook, for many families, finding an affordable house can still be a challenge. According to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, more than a third of today’s families have had to devote at least 30% of their combined household income to the monthly mortgage payment—and that figure exceeds the generally accepted standard. In other words, even though mortgage interest rates remain pegged at historically low levels, landing an “affordable” house (just as in the rest of the country) can take some doing. Here is one five-step approach that has rewarded house-hunters in the past:

1. Define Affordable House in dollars   

The first step to finding an affordable house should be to work out a target budget. The Wall Street Journal currently recommends spending no more than 28% of monthly income on your house). Make sure to include additional fees such as legal fees, repairs, maintenance, and closing costs in your calculation. The bottom line you come up with isn’t one set in stone, but it’s a reasonable goal to have in mind.

2. Set space requirements

Space will be a prime consideration for the entire time you’ll be living in your home. If you are planning on expanding the family in the near future, having a spare room is close to a necessity. If it’s just something that would be nice to have, it’s not a requirement—and recognizing the distinction can be all-important.

3. Balance travel time against housing costs

Often you can offset the purchase price of a home by expanding your search radius to include a reasonable commute. Get out your pencil: you’ll need to compare the savings in the house payment against the additional cost of an extended commute.

4. Include properties that need some TLC

One of the best ways to zero in on an affordable house is to keep an eye out for otherwise-eligible “fixer-uppers.” You can avoid any serious structural problems, such as plumbing, electrical, and roof issues, yet still focus on properties that just need a little cosmetic revamp can put you across the affordability finish line.

5. Investigate home buying programs

In a limited number of instances, there are some generally underpublicized home buying programs that might be available. For instance, there is the Good Neighbor Next Door program. For teachers, medical professionals, firefighters, and law enforcement officers looking in revitalization areas, as much as a 50% discount from a HUD-listed property can make a house more than affordable!

Most observers believe residential prices are likely to continue to rise—so it’s not outlandish to suspect that today’s affordable houses may become less so as time passes. Give me a call if you are thinking of taking advantage of this winter’s bargains in our area.  You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email:

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