Well, it’s September already? How did that happen? I thought we would just have a good old fashion question and answer period. I get a lot of questions about the market, interest rates, investing in multi family properties etc. So, I was thinking we should spend some time and just answer some of those questions. You may find your question in here.
Now, these are not in order of importance or anything like that, just off the top 0f my head, questions that I have been asked just this week, here we go…
- What is driving the real estate market? Answer: low inventory. It’s your basic supply and demand scenario. Because interest rates are so low, currently for most people, less than 3%, it pushes more people into the home buying market. More people can afford more house. Then you add the last 18 months of COVID related reasons for buying up, moving down, investing etc and you end up with more people buying than there are homes to buy. People weren’t moving out of state during covid as much, too much instability out there – to many what ifs! You could call it the “perfect real estate storm”. Builders couldn’t keep up with demand because they could not get materials! Is the market the same? Yes, it’s still difficult to get materials, still difficult to find a builder, still low inventory – but a little bit better. We have seen much more on the market this month than we have in the last several months and that’s very encouraging. Don’t give up – the rates are low, and the inventory is coming up – let’s go shopping!
- Should I avoid buying a house with an all-weather wood foundation? Answer: No, like any foundation, it can have its problems. You need to have it checked by a professional home inspector. All-weather wood foundations can bulge, they can deflect, they can leak and have many other problems too. There are 4 basic types of foundations, all-weather wood, concrete block, poured concrete and slab on grade. Each have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, I have a slab on grade foundation. In the earthquake of 2018, I got hairline cracks in that slab. Did it weaken the foundation – no. Many people say that all weather wood foundations do better in earthquakes because they ‘bend’, they are not as ridged as block and concrete, which tend to crack. Just get it checked out good, buy a good a reputable home inspector. If you are concerned, ask him or her to pay special attention to the foundation.
- If there is moss on the roof, does the roof need to be replaced? Answer: No, it means that there are trees too close to your roof. If you are listing your house and it has moss on the roof, have it pressure washed and cut back trees from “shading” your roof. Installing zinc strips along the top of the ridge will prevent moss from growing, it just doesn’t allow for a “happy place” for moss to grow, you want your roof to be a hostile environment for moss. The mental picture of that makes me laugh. But anyway, the reason why you don’t want moss is because not only does it look bad, but it can also cause your roof to leak. The water cannot shed off the roof as easily, and it can pool and back up under the shingle and have a great time ruining your insulation and leaking all over your carpets and your pretty things. Getting rid of the moss, keeps the rain and snow melt moving in the right direction, down and off your roof.
- What does determine when a roof needs to be replaced? Answer: Age. Roofs have a life span. When shingles are purchased, they have a 20 to 25 year life span, some have 30 to 35 years, metal rooves have like 50 years! Rolled asphalt roofing, less. If your roof has less than 5 years on that life span, I would be a good time to start looking into a new roof. Missing shingles can age your roof. If you don’t replace those shingles, what can happen? Come on, you know the answer……if you have only one missing shingle, it weakens the others around it. I mean that an intact roof system interlocks with each other, if a piece is missing, other shingles are more vulnerable. Then you lose more shingles, and then a good rain or windstorm can do some major damage. So, watch for those missing shingles after a windstorm.
- When I buy a house, isn’t it required that the seller have the carpets cleaned? Answer: Nope. You must request it in your contract. Just ask your realtor to put in the contract that you would like the carpets professionally steam cleaned. This way the seller knows exactly what you are looking for and can calculate the expense before they accept your offer. “Ask and you may or may not receive!”
- If I am selling my house, and I move out, but I haven’t closed yet, who mows the lawn or shovels the snow? Answer: You do! Just because you aren’t there anymore doesn’t mean that you are not still responsible for taking care of your home. The new buyer is not going to do it until the house belongs to them. The seller must maintain the home until it transfers to the new buyer and that is done when the title is actually recorded at the state recorders office.
- When Can I cancel the utilities and insurance on my home when I sell it? Answer: Once it has recorded. Now there is a little bit of confusion on “closing vs recording” so let’s clear that up. Closing is when you go to the title company and you sign the deed that transfers title from you, the seller, to the new buyer. The following business day, it is recorded at the recorder’s office. It receives a recorders number and now transfers out of your name and into the new buyer’s name. It’s at that time – the time of recording – that you can cancel your utilities, and your insurance.
- Who comes to closing? I mean, who has to sign all the documents? Answer: if you are the seller, all parties who are on the deed and if you are a buyer all parties who are on the loan, or if it’s cash, the deed. So, sellers, if you own a home with your mom, and the two of you decide to sell, you BOTH must sign. And buyers, if you are married and only one of you is getting the loan, then the one getting the loan is the one that signs. You only sign at closing. Recording is just something the title company does in house with the recorder’s office. You aren’t there for that.
- If the doors in the house rub or don’t close correctly, is that a signal that there is something wrong with the house? Answer: No, sometimes, it means that it should be looked into by a qualified inspector, but most of the time it means that the doors need to be adjusted. Over time and use, door hinges can get sloppy, and this can cause doors to rub and not close correctly. I have been in homes built in the 1980’s that are perfect and others, I am sure, had monkeys swinging from them! But just to justify your question, I have seen homes that have settled and caused doors to stick and not close properly. This is when that professional inspector will really help you.
- What does it mean when you hear someone say, “it has a hot roof”? Answer: It means that the roof system is sealed. A cold roof has space above the insulation that is ventilated. A hot roof does not. It’s a sealed system and should not be opened. These types of roofs are rarely done anymore, in fact, the Municipality of Anchorage does not recognize them as viable building practices anymore. But there still are a lot of hot roofs out there that were built in the 1980’s. These roofs will show signs of failure on the interior of the home. Water marks, and crumbling sheetrock in the ceiling mean that moisture has been able to build up in rafters. Usually, a rafter system is a hot roof, and a truss system is a cold roof, this will help you know what type of roof you are looking at. Just because you have a vaulted ceiling doesn’t mean you have rafters, there is something called a scissor truss that can create a vaulted ceiling, but not a hot roof! Again, before you buy, have an inspector examine it carefully for you. He or she can tell you if it’s a hot roof and if it’s in good condition.
There you have it, 10 whole questions answered – keep them coming!