A home inspection is always a good idea to have, especially when buying an older property (condo or house). In today’s escrow transaction, the home inspection report has become the “second round of negotiations”, in which buyers will select various items they would like to ask the seller to pay for, repair or credit them in escrow. During the 17-day due diligence period, the buyer performs their investigations on the property including: Review of seller disclosures, HOA documents (if applicable), any permits for additions, remodels, etc., and having inspections conducted. For condominiums, only the “walls in” are inspected by a home inspector. What this means is that only the area that the buyer is purchasing will be inspected. Shared walls, roofs, decks, walkways, etc. belong to the association. Essentially, the inspector will provide a thorough analysis of any and all findings – scuff marks on walls, minor cracks in drywall, discolored wood due to sun damage, whether the required smoke detectors are present, CO detectors, leaks, mal-functioning appliances, water heater strapped and braced, faulty wiring, etc. They will not inspect plumbing, roofs, sewer systems, crawl spaces or other parts of the common area (owned by the HOA – Homeowner’s Association). Where a home inspection is indispensable is for the purchase of a single family residence or multi-family. You never know what may be looming upon examination of the structure, foundation, roof, walls, electrical systems, plumbing, crawl space, etc.
Recently, I’ve heard a few people comment on the “Zestimates” they received on their estimated property value from Zillow.com. One person in the L.A. area stated that Zillow used a nearby condo complex, which had several closed sales to determine an estimate of value for his house, a single family residence. It’s basic real estate knowledge that a closed condo sale cannot be used to determine an estimate of value for a single family residence. After having a licensed appraiser perform an appraisal on her property, another property owner discovered that Zillow was quoting her estimate of value at $150,000 below appraised value.
This prompted me to do my own research on the topic. What I discovered specific to the Mammoth real estate market is that Zillow was estimating property values at least $100K to $175K under market value (for single family residence). Because Mammoth is such a small area of only 4 square miles and is also a resort market, the generalized formulas that Zillow uses to determine value estimates proves to be significantly off base. Taking a property that recently sold on Monterey Pine, which backed right up to Chair 15 (ski-in, ski-out), Zillow’s estimate was $875,000 in November of 2011. This home, which was listed at $1,149,000, just sold last week for $1,000,000. In researching other Mammoth properties, and in comparing estimated values from Zillow versus actual closed sales, I discovered a similar trend.
In some cases, the Zillow estimates can “coincidentally” be correct, but it appears to be more of a mere coincidence rather than any real credible formula used to determine property value estimates. Anyone who is looking to find out what their property value...
When it comes to energy efficiency, look for smart features and expertise to help you save energy and money and add value to your home.
1. Begin with a Right-Sized Home.
If the home you buy is simply too large for you or your family’s needs or plans, you stand a good chance of wasting energy through excessive heating and cooling costs. If it’s too small, you’ll feel cramped and uncomfortable. It’s a big investment, so seek balance and buy it “right” from the outset.
2. Purchase Energy Star Appliances Such as Your TV, Dishwasher, Washer and Dryer, and Microwave.
And especially the refrigerator, as it alone contributes about 10 percent of the energy use in a home. Also, unplug electronics not in use or turn off power strips to avoid phantom charges.
3. Install Efficient Lighting Such as Compact Flourescent (CLF) or LED Bulbs in Every Fixture.
Lighting accounts for about 6 percent of an energy bill each year.
4. Get an Energy Audit and Have Tests Performed to Identify Ways of Improving Your Efficiency.
You can always upgrade your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system as well as your thermal envelope, which includes insulation, windows, and doors and the seals or weather stripping around them. Visit energy.gov/energytips for more tips.