Home Repairs

Home Maintenance Tips: Assessing and Addressing Water Damage

With the heavy rainfall we've had this summer, you may have noticed water in places it shouldn't be in your home. Basement cracks, damaged shingles, even improperly sealed vents can provide an entry point for water, causing small spots, stains, or (at the very worst) rot, mold, and possible structural damage to your home.

There are other ways water can wreak havoc in the house, though, that have nothing to do with mother nature. Think about all of the appliances you have in your home that use water- the dishwasher, the refrigerator, the washing machine, the hot water heater- and all of the pipes and fixtures that control the flow of water in your home, like your sinks, showers/baths, exterior faucets, and more!

To make sure you're protecting your biggest asset, we thought we would share some great tips from Ryan Waite of Neckerman Insurance, on checking your home for leaks and drips that happen without the help of mother nature. 

Baby, It's Cold Outside! Time to winterize your home

Whether you love winter in Wisconsin or wish you could head south, you’ll soon be grabbing that shovel and building snow people. Avoid costly repairs, stay safe and be ready to get warm and cozy with these tips.  

 

  • Test, replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices.

  • Seal leaks around doors and windows.

  • Check roof for missing, damaged or loose shingles. (Be careful up there!)

  • Insulate your attic

  • (especially in those beautiful old homes).

  • Drain outdoor faucets and hoses, shut off water to outside spigots.

  • Inspect and clean chimneys and fireplaces.

  • Clean and repair gutters.

  • Clean leaf, yard waste. Check City of Madison yard waste pick-up schedules.

  • Reverse ceiling fans.

  • Service snow blower, find your shovels, clean out and reorganize your garage.

  • Add salt to a bucket for slippery spots, walkways and steps.

  • Sharpen skis and ice skates and dust off boots!

  • Tune up heating system and winterize air conditioner.

 

***SPECIAL OFFER***

CLICK HERE to get a $25 discount off a furnace cleaning and check and/or a $100 off a home energy audit from Cardinal Heating & Air Conditioning.

You'll be asked to sign up for our #REALestateTALK list, which you'll have to do so we can send you the promo code (and you can unsubscribe after that if you wish).

 

 

 

What's the big deal about Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. InterNACHI inspectors can supplement their knowledge with the information offered in this guide.

How Can Asbestos Affect My Health?

From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer in the forms of mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity, and asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increase with the number of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.

Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard.

Where Asbestos Hazards May Be Found in the Home

  • Some roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement.
  • Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation.
  • Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. Their use was banned in 1977.
  • Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos.
  • Older products, such as stove-top pads, may have some asbestos compounds.
  • Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard or cement sheets.
  • Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
  • Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape.
  • Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation.

What Should Be Done About Asbestos in the Home?

If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic.  Usually, the best thing to do is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. There is no danger unless the asbestos is disturbed and fibers are released and then inhaled into the lungs. Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don't touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage, such as tears, abrasions or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow. Sometimes, the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it. Discard damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top pads and ironing board covers. Check with local health, environmental or other appropriate agencies to find out proper handling and disposal procedures. If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present.

How to Identify Materials that Contain Asbestos

You can't tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos, or have it sampled and analyzed by a qualified professional. A professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended. If you nevertheless choose to take the samples yourself, take care not to release asbestos fibers into the air or onto yourself. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone. Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed should be sampled. Anyone who samples asbestos-containing materials should have as much information as possible on the handling of asbestos before sampling and, at a minimum, should observe the following procedures:

  • Make sure no one else is in the room when sampling is done.
  • Wear disposable gloves or wash hands after sampling.
  • Shut down any heating or cooling systems to minimize the spread of any released fibers.
  • Do not disturb the material any more than is needed to take a small sample.
  • Place a plastic sheet on the floor below the area to be sampled.
  • Wet the material using a fine mist of water containing a few drops of detergent before taking the sample. The water/detergent mist will reduce the release of asbestos fibers.
  • Carefully cut a piece from the entire depth of the material using a small knife, corer or other sharp object. Place the small piece into a clean container (a 35-mm film canister, small glass or plastic vial, or high-quality resealable plastic bag).
  • Tightly seal the container after the sample is in it.
  • Carefully dispose of the plastic sheet. Use a damp paper towel to clean up any material on the outside of the container or around the area sampled. Dispose of asbestos materials according to state and local procedures.
  • Label the container with an identification number and clearly state when and where the sample was taken.
  • Patch the sampled area with the smallest possible piece of duct tape to prevent fiber release.
  • Send the sample to an asbestos analysis laboratory accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Your state or local health department may also be able to help.

How to Manage an Asbestos Problem

If the asbestos material is in good shape and will not be disturbed, do nothing! If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal. Repair usually involves either sealing or covering asbestos material. Sealing (encapsulation) involves treating the material with a sealant that either binds the asbestos fibers together or coats the material so that fibers are not released. Pipe, furnace and boiler insulation can sometimes be repaired this way. This should be done only by a professional trained to handle asbestos safely. Covering (enclosure) involves placing something over or around the material that contains asbestos to prevent the release of fibers. Exposed insulated piping may be covered with a protective wrap or jacket. With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place. Repair is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make removal of asbestos later (if found to be necessary) more difficult and costly. Repairs can either be major or minor. Major repairs must be done only by a professional trained in methods for safely handling asbestos. Minor repairs should also be done by professionals, since there is always a risk of exposure to fibers when asbestos is disturbed.

Repairs 

Doing minor repairs yourself is not recommended, since improper handling of asbestos materials can create a hazard where none existed. If you nevertheless choose to do minor repairs, you should have as much information as possible on the handling of asbestos before doing anything. Contact your state or local health department or regional EPA office for information about asbestos training programs in your area. . Even if you have completed a training program, do not try anything more than minor repairs. Before undertaking minor repairs, carefully examine the area around the damage to make sure it is stable. As a general rule, any damaged area which is bigger than the size of your hand is not considered a minor repair.

Commercial products designed to fill holes and seal damaged areas are available. Small areas of material, such as pipe insulation, can be covered by wrapping a special fabric, such as re-wettable glass cloth, around it. These products are available from stores (listed in the telephone directory under "Safety Equipment and Clothing") which specialize in asbestos materials and safety items.

Removal is usually the most expensive method and, unless required by state or local regulations, should be the last option considered in most situations. This is because removal poses the greatest risk of fiber release. However, removal may be required when remodeling or making major changes to your home that will disturb asbestos material. Also, removal may be called for if asbestos material is damaged extensively and cannot be otherwise repaired. Removal is complex and must be done only by a contractor with special training. Improper removal may actually increase the health risks to you and your family.

Asbestos Professionals: Who Are They and What Can They Do?

Asbestos professionals are trained in handling asbestos material. The type of professional will depend on the type of product and what needs to be done to correct the problem. You may hire a general asbestos contractor or, in some cases, a professional trained to handle specific products containing asbestos.

Asbestos professionals can conduct home inspections, take samples of suspected material, assess its condition, and advise on the corrections that are needed, as well as who is qualified to make these corrections. Once again, material in good condition need not be sampled unless it is likely to be disturbed. Professional correction or abatement contractors repair and remove asbestos materials.

 

Some firms offer combinations of testing, assessment and correction. A professional hired to assess the need for corrective action should not be connected with an asbestos-correction firm. It is better to use two different firms so that there is no conflict of interest.

The federal government offers training courses for asbestos professionals around the country. Some state and local governments also offer or require training or certification courses. Ask asbestos professionals to document their completion of federal or state-approved training. Each person performing work in your home should provide proof of training and licensing in asbestos work, such as completion of EPA-approved training. State and local health departments or EPA regional offices may have listings of licensed professionals in your area.

If you have a problem that requires the services of asbestos professionals, check their credentials carefully. Hire professionals who are trained, experienced, reputable and accredited -- especially if accreditation is required by state or local laws. Before hiring a professional, ask for references from previous clients. Find out if they were satisfied. Ask whether the professional has handled similar situations. Get cost estimates from several professionals, as the charges for these services can vary.

Though private homes are usually not covered by the asbestos regulations that apply to schools and public buildings, professionals should still use procedures described in federal or state-approved training. Homeowners should be alert to the chance of misleading claims by asbestos consultants and contractors. There have been reports of firms incorrectly claiming that asbestos materials in homes must be replaced. In other cases, firms have encouraged unnecessary removal or performed it improperly. Unnecessary removal is a waste of money. Improper removal may actually increase the health risks to you and your family. To guard against this, know what services are available and what procedures and precautions are needed to do the job properly.

In addition to general asbestos contractors, you may select a roofing, flooring or plumbing contractor trained to handle asbestos when it is necessary to remove and replace roofing, flooring, siding or asbestos-cement pipe that is part of a water system. Normally, roofing and flooring contractors are exempt from state and local licensing requirements because they do not perform any other asbestos-correction work.

If you hire a corrective-action contractor:

  • Check with your local air pollution control board, the local agency responsible for worker safety, and the Better Business Bureau. Ask if the firm has had any safety violations. Find out if there are legal actions filed against it.
  • Insist that the contractor use the proper equipment to do the job. The workers must wear approved respirators, gloves and other protective clothing.
  • Before work begins, get a written contract specifying the work plan, cleanup, and the applicable federal, state and local regulations which the contractor must follow (such as notification requirements and asbestos disposal procedures). Contact your state and local health departments, EPA regional office, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regional office to find out what the regulations are. Be sure the contractor follows local asbestos removal and disposal laws. At the end of the job, get written assurance from the contractor that all procedures have been followed.
  • Assure that the contractor avoids spreading or tracking asbestos dust into other areas of your home. They should seal off the work area from the rest of the house using plastic sheeting and duct tape, and also turn off the heating and air conditioning system. For some repairs, such as pipe insulation removal, plastic bags may be adequate. They must be sealed with tape and properly disposed of when the job is complete.
  • Make sure the work site is clearly marked as a hazardous area. Do not allow household members or pets into the area until work is completed.
  • Insist that the contractor apply a wetting agent to the asbestos material with a hand sprayer that creates a fine mist before removal. Wet fibers do not float in the air as easily as dry fibers and will be easier to clean up.
  • Make sure the contractor does not break removed material into smaller pieces. This could release asbestos fibers into the air. Pipe insulation was usually installed in pre-formed blocks and should be removed in complete pieces.
  • Upon completion, assure that the contractor cleans the area well with wet mops, wet rags, sponges and/or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaners. A regular vacuum cleaner must never be used. Wetting helps reduce the chance of spreading asbestos fibers in the air. All asbestos materials and disposable equipment and clothing used in the job must be placed in sealed, leakproof, and labeled plastic bags. The work site should be visually free of dust and debris. Air monitoring (to make sure there is no increase of asbestos fibers in the air) may be necessary to assure that the contractor's job is done properly. This should be done by someone not connected with the contractor.

Caution! 

Do not dust, sweep or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos. These actions will disturb tiny asbestos fibers and may release them into the air. Remove dust by wet-mopping or with a special HEPA vacuum cleaner used by trained asbestos contractors.

 

Gary Mason Home Check Inspection Services, LLC Wisconsin Registered Home Inspector 106-49

Green Your Home, Madison WI Free Community Event

Alvarado Real Estate Group invites you to listen to the experts, ask questions and learn more about making your home healthy and energy efficient. We hope you can join us!

Monday March 26th 2012 at 6pm Goodman Library, 2222 S. Park St. in Madison

 

Our Panel includes:

  • Green Madison Advocate: Alicia De BarrenoGreen Madison Green Madison Program

    Green Madison helps City of Madison homeowners and businesses achieve significant energy savings, while increasing the comfort and durability of your home and business. Personal assistance, generous cash incentives, and hassle-free financing makes Green Madison the go-to energy-efficiency resource for Madison homeowners and businesses.

  • Green Building: Leah SamsonMadison Enviormental Group-Samuel Madison Environmental Group

  • Landscape Architect: Steve WhaylandKen Saiki Design, INC in Madison, WIKen Saiki Design

    Steve helps design and manage site planning, stormwater management related, and LEED/sustainable design projects.  Steve enjoys working as a civil engineer with the landscape architecture firm Ken Saiki Design, using an integrative, collaborative and creative approach to excellence in site planning and design.  Ken Saiki Design has astrong reputation for: quality landscape architecture & site design, and are good people to work with.

  • Solar Expert: Lincoln TiceFull Spectrum Solar in Madison, WI Full Spectrum Solar

    Lincoln has worked for Full Spectrum Solar for more than three years, beginning his career in renewable energy after graduating from the UW with a Biology major in 2008.  He has installed over a hundred Solar Electric (photovoltaic a.k.a. PV) systems, as well as many Solar Water Heating systems, and learned a lot about what makes for a good solar site.  Lincoln's specialty is designing the array for optimal energy production, long-term durability and strength, and an aesthetically beautiful solar installation that is economical.

  • Energy Raters: Laura Paprocki

    Trinity Enviormental Logo Environmental Engineer & Energy Consultant Trinity Enviromental, LLC

    Laura has worked in numerous areas of environmental services - including an environmental health and safety manager in manufacturing facilities, an environmental engineer on site during demolition and remediation, and home performance consultant working with both new construction and existing home improvements.  She is the owner of Trinity Environmental - an engineering firm whose residential focus is helping....

    o Homeowners understand how to achieve the best return on their investment regarding home improvements o And also helping builders construct high performance homes that co-exist with their natural surroundings

    She is an infield verifier for numerous green building programs both local and national - helping homeowners and builders achieve green and energy efficient building certifications.

    Steve PipsonHome Performance Specialists in Madison, WI RESNET Certified Energy Rater & BPI Building Analyst Professional Home Performance Specialists

    Steve Pipson knows homes from the inside out. Having worked as a journeyman carpenter, project manager, architectural technician and college instructor, he brings over 25 years of experience in the trade to his energy evaluation work. Friendly, knowledgeable and a bit of a "house detective," Steve is passionate about conserving resources and helping clients make improvements to their homes that ultimately improves their bottom line and lessens their impact on the environment.

 

 Please R.S.V.P.. for this event so we know how much pizza we need! We hope you can come.

 

 

Top 5 Tips for your Home Improvement Projects

As homeowners we must be ready and willing to take on home-improvement projects to keep our homes well maintained and in the best condition possible for our own benefit and for re-sale value when we go to sell. In today's Madison WI real estate market you may not be getting your money back on home improvements that you've done in the past couple of years but those updates will help your home sell faster in a market that is best described as a "Price War and Beauty Contest." I have access to many great home-improvement resources. Here are some of my favorite tips from HGTV's Carter Oosterhouse: 

Focus on projects that will pay you back

For example, if you're dealing with hot or cold weather, try to lower heating and cooling bills by properly sealing your home. Look for drafts around windows, doors, and vents,and then use caulk or weather stripping to seal them. It may not be glamorous, but it will pay you back down the road.

Know where to start

If you have never taken on a major project, start with spaces such as the living room, spare bedroom, or the garage -- rooms that won't limit your ability to function, says Oosterhouse. I also recommend working one room at a time so you don't feel overwhelmed with the whole house.

Closet reorganization

Many times, people have maxed out their closet and have no more room to add, let alone organize. That's when it's time to evaluate. Donate clothes you no longer wear to a charity, store seasonal attire in a separate location, and try living by the rule for kid's toys that when a new one comes in the home, an old one has to go out (meaning donate not trash).

Break down a big project

Planning is essential. As Oosterhouse says, if you think you can just start up any big job without a plan, then you are in for a world of frustration. Know your capabilities and limitations. It helps to have a notebook or a binder dedicated for your home where you can keep lists of what you want to do, what you've done (include dates), receipts and warranty paperwork along with contact info for your favorite contractors (or check our list here). This is a great asset when you are ready to sell your home too! It will make it easier for your Realtor to properly market the updates and features of your home to potential buyers.

Know where the biggest ROI is

The improvements that will most add to the value of your home include: the kitchen, the master bedroom and bathroom. These can boost your resale value and attract buyers who want a space that's move-in ready.

These are just some of many great suggestions for tackling home improvement projects. Feel free to contact me for more ideas and please forward this email on to your neighbors and friends that are homeowners too.

Source: Lowe's Creative Ideas magazine, 2010

Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor for your Madison WI Home

It is the end of March in Madison WI and we still have our heat on. Waking up to 15 degrees outside at the end of March? Not fair. We all know that living in Madison can be cold and bitter during the winter months. So what happens when your heating and/or cooling system breaks down? It can be an overwhelming experience to find a local heating contractor if you don't have someone you already trust. You need to find someone quickly but don't want to make the wrong choice or end up paying way more than necessary.

With many years in the Madison real estate market and loads of connections with contractors, we have access to the most trusted people, tips and information that can help you find a contractor you are comfortable with. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, be prepared by following these tips from EnergyStar.gov:

Study up

Find out about license and insurance requirements for contractors in your state. And before you call a contractor, know the model of your current system and its maintenance history. Also, make note of any uncomfortable rooms. This will help potential contractors better understand your heating needs.

Get a referral

Ask your favorite Madison Realtor, friends, neighbors, and co-workers for contractor referrals. You can also contact local trade organizations for names of members in your area. Take it another step and call for references.

Find special offers

A heating and cooling system is one of the largest purchases you'll make as a homeowner. Keep your costs down by checking around for available rebates on energy-efficient ENERGY STAR-qualified heating and cooling equipment. Begin your search at www.energystar.gov.

Look for ENERGY STAR

ENERGY STAR-qualified products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offer significant long-term energy savings. Contractors should be able to show you calculations of savings for ENERGY STAR heating and cooling equipment.

Expect a home evaluation

The contractor should spend significant time inspecting your current system and home to assess your needs. A bigger system isn't always better; a contractor should size the heating and cooling system based on the size of your house, level of insulation, and windows. A good contractor will inspect your duct system (if applicable) for air leaks and insulation and measure airflow to make sure it meets manufacturers' specifications.

Get written, itemized estimates

When comparing contractors' proposals (bids), be sure to compare cost, energy efficiency and warranties. A low price may not be the best deal if it's not the most efficient because your energy costs will be higher.

Check City of Madison guidelines

The City of Madison requires a permit for the installation of a new furnace. And then they need to come back to inspect it after the furnace has been installed. Make sure your contractor arranges for this and cooperates with the City. If you don't live in the City of Madison, call your building inspector at your village, town or city hall.

Sign first 

Sign a written proposal with a contractor before work gets started. It'll protect you by specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule and warranty information.

Pass it on

Tell friends and family about your experience with your heating and cooling contractor. Another great tip is to gather two or more of your neighbors and see if you can get a group discount for your annual furnace check up by all hiring and scheduling together.  And of course tell your friends about ENERGY STAR. Almost one-quarter of households knowingly purchased at least one qualified product last year, and 71% of those consumers say they would recommend ENERGY STAR to a friend. Spread the word, and we can all make a big difference.

For more tips on taking care of your home, stay in touch with us on facebook! And please be sure to share the love and pass our contact info on to your friends and family when they talk about moving.

10 Maintenance Tips for New Madison WI Homeowners

Moving into a new home is indeed one of the most exciting times of your life. That's why it's important to start out on the right foot and start caring for your home - and protecting your investment - right away. Living in Madison, WI - the greatest city ever - we get the benefit of four seasons! Which means some extra maintenance and a watchful eye as you care for your home. If you are still searching for the perfect house, we have a great search tool for you: search Madison homes here.

Our clients often ask us what are the most important areas of a home to consistently maintain so our team at the Alvarado Real Estate Group has come up with 10 key trouble spots to watch for. If you regularly check on these areas you might be avoiding larger, more expensive, problems down the road:

  1. Windows and doors - Be sure to regularly check seals around all your doors and windows to keep drafts out. This simple measure can result in big savings when it comes to your heating and cooling bills. We highly recommend an energy audit with a Focus on Energy contractor.
  2. Safety devices - Check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries twice a year. Also, keep small fire extinguishers in appropriate places. A great tip is to make sure you change your smoke alarm batteries at daylight savings!
  3. Roof - In early fall, check around vents, skylights and chimneys for cracks or leaks and repair or replace tiles as necessary.
  4. Gutters - Keep gutters clear of leaves and debris to prevent clogging, and always make sure they drain away from the house.
  5. Fireplace - Have a chimney sweep assess any fireplaces to check for cracks and creosote build-up that can cause chimney fires.
  6. Filters - Clean or replace furnace filters once every month or as needed. Check and clean the dryer vent, air conditioner, stove hood and room fans regularly.
  7. Air conditioner - When you cover your outdoor furniture for inclement weather, be sure to cover your air conditioning unit as well.
  8. Refrigerator - Test door seals to ensure they are airtight. If you have a coil-back fridge, the coils should be vacuumed twice a year.
  9. Faucets - Check for leaks in kitchens and bathrooms and replace washers as necessary.
  10. Siding and paint - Look for cracks or peeling areas. Repaint or replace caulk as necessary.

These are just a few home maintenance tips to be aware of. For more information, feel free to contact one of our team members and feel free to pass these tips along to your fellow new homeowners or make comments if you have more tips to share!

Appraisals - Real life in Madison WI Real Estate

We had a listing with an accepted offer of $157,000. One week prior to closing we had to amend the price to $155,000 because that is what the appraisal came in at. Result: a successful closing. Sellers were prepared for potential issues with appraisals and accepted the position they were in to adjust the price. Buyer was happy. Sellers were happy that it didn't kill the deal.

We worked with a buyer on a foreclosure that had an accepted offer of $155,000 - the appraisal came in at $172,000. Result: a successful closing. Happy buyers. I'm not sure the bank cared.

One of our listings got an accepted offer for $274,000. It was appraised at $258,000. Result: that appraisal killed the deal. Unhappy Buyers. Unhappy Sellers.  

We are in a different market. Prepare yourself and your home properly!

Madison WI fixer upper

Not a good candidate for an FHA loan

10 Ways to Prepare Your Home for an Appraisal:

 1.  You only get ONE chance with the appraiser. Make sure your home is ready because not only are first impressions important, but the appraisal can affect the outcome of your sale. Take this part of the home selling process very seriously. 2.  Get your home in good condition. Be sure to trim the lawn, clean out and garage, repair cracked windows or torn screens, check for leaky faucets and secure gutters and down spouts before your appraisal. Basically get your home in the best showing condition you can. No longer are the days of drive by appraisals. FHA appraisers have to complete a different set of inspection forms and if there is chipping paint, missing handrails or evidence of pests (for example), the lender may require repairs done to comply with the FHA lending regulations. Not all repair items are part of inspections - some items come up as part of financing requirements with FHA loans. Talk to your agent about what to expect. 3.  Get organized. Put together a checklist that will help you get ready for your appraisal. 4.  Be flexible when scheduling the appointment. Don't delay it. Work with their schedule. 5. The appraiser will need approximately 30 minutes to one hour to complete the inspection phase of the appraisal process, which includes: exterior photos of the front and rear of the home and a photo of the street in front of the property; measurements of the exterior of the home, garage and any outbuildings; a walk-through inspection of all rooms and levels of the interior of the home, including the basement. 6.  Provide marketing materials and list of improvements. If your Real Estate Agent has a booklet with information about ages and dates of mechanicals, appliances and any features that add value to the home, please leave that information out for the appraiser to review. Don't make them guess how old the roof is. 7.  Point out any amenities that may not be obvious to the appraiser: sprinkler systems, radiant floor heating, security systems, built-in vacuum, energy efficient and green features. 8.  Allow your appraiser access to the entire property, including access to any crawl space or attic areas. This is specifically important for FHA appraisals. 9.  Provide a copy of last year's tax assessment information. 10.  The first thing appraisers look for is comparables, so be prepared and have a list of recent sales of similar properties in the immediate neighborhood. You shouldn't have to provide this to the appraiser, that is their job. However, you can prepare yourself by asking your real estate agent to show you at least 4 or 5 comparables that are similar in style, proximity, square footage, age and number of bedrooms. Finding comparables is a balance in science and art.   

Following these steps will go a long way toward making the home appraisal process a bit easier. For more information on the appraisal process and preparing your home for sale, please contact Sara and feel free to forward these tips to your family and friends.

 

Saving Water in Madison WI - Toilet Rebate up to $100!

Alvarado Real Estate Group is committed to setting ourselves apart from the rest in a way that means something to us, in a way that not only helps our clients, but helps our planet Earth too. The homes we live in create a sacred place for our families...and that takes energy and resources. There are many ways we can make changes in our homes and lives that will not only increase our enjoyment but can also be less stressful on the planet.

One of the reasons we love Madison WI is the dedication the city has to sustainability at the city level. Madison has a Water Conservation and Sustainability Plan to reduce per capita water usage 20% by the year 2020. How amazing is that? And they can't do it by themselves...the city needs us all to participate so they've created a wonderful program to help homeowners (and apartment building owners) to replace water wasting toilets (which can use up to 3 gallons of water with each flush) with an EPA WaterSense rated high efficiency toilet that only uses an average of 1.28 gallons of water per flush and they'll send you an rebate up to $100!

How can Madison Homeowners save more water?

1)      Purchase a new toilet (anytime after January 1, 2009). The toilet model must be on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) WaterSense list {click here for the list}.

2)      Submit the original receipt of the toilet and the application {click here for the application form}. Please remember to keep a copy of your receipt for your records. Send your receipt and application to: Madison Water Utility, Toilet Rebate Program, 119 East Olin Avenue, Madison, WI 53713.

3)      The City of Madison will send you a rebate of up to $100 for residential customers!

The City of Madison Toilet Rebate Program:

-You must be residential customers of the Madison Water Utility, and the installation address must be in the customer service area of the utility.

-You must live in single-family homes, condos, or apartments in buildings no larger than four units.

-Rebates are for replacement of existing larger-capacity toilets, and are not for new construction.  -The program is for only one rebate per household.

More details about installation, rebate details and disposal of old toilets can be found on the Madison Water Utility website[youtube] [/youtube].

Remodeling your Madison Home? New Lead Regulations You Need to Know About

Painting your Madison HomeWhile we're all aware of the health risks posed by lead, you might not realize that even common renovation projects can be hazardous in terms of lead. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), activities like sanding, cutting and demolition can create dangerous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, which can be harmful to both adults and children.

As Madison WI Realtors, we are committed to keeping our clients informed on current regulations pertaining to home safety issues and ways to keep your home healthy. To protect against the lead risk, on April 22, 2008, EPA issued a rule requiring the use of lead-safe practices and other actions aimed at preventing lead poisoning. Under the rule, as of April 22, 2010, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child-care facilities and schools built before 1978 must be EPA certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. That means that when you are checking out our list of preferred vendors in the Madison area, it is important to ask the right questions.

Home Remodeling Tips

If you are embarking on a home-improvement project, be sure to use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers to follow lead-safe work practices. Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum, sweep or walk through it.

Make sure that your renovators employ the following practices - and you, too, if you're a do-it-yourselfer:

  • Contain the work area
  • Minimize dust
  • Clean up thoroughly

According to the EPA, to permanently remove lead hazards, you must hire a certified lead "abatement" contractor. Abatement (or permanent hazard elimination) methods include removing, sealing or enclosing lead-based paint with special materials. Just painting over the hazard with regular paint is not enough. For other tips on painting the interior of your home read this great article from This Old House website (who we can also thank for the photo!).

For more information on the dangers of lead and the new regulations regarding remodeling, please visit www.epa.gov, or email us directly at info@thealvaradogroup.com. I encourage you to pass this important information along to anyone you know who might be renovating their home soon.

Selling your Madison WI Home in 10 Steps

We Sold It!Everyone talks about staging your home to get it ready to sell...but there is much more to the process than preparing your home for showings in the Madison WI real estate market. What happens after you've removed everything from the front of your refrigerator? And what is expected of Sellers throughout the process? Here is a basic overview from beginning to end.

1.  Define your goals, wants, needs and expectations.  A good place to begin is by exploring your short and long term goals in life and how selling your home fits in. 

2.  Determine the best price for what's going on in the market right now.  Assess the current state of the market and what comparable homes are actually selling for by reviewing a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) on your home. That way, you can objectively determine its fair market value and price it right. In any market, a Buyer's or a Seller's market, it is important to price your house ahead of the market. Positioning your home correctly in the market will get you top dollar. Contact Alvarado Group to help get you started.

3.  Prepare your property so that it is in top-selling condition.  Most of us don't keep our homes in top-selling condition. Think about your home from a buyer's point of view. Repair, replace or remove items in your home so that it makes a GREAT first impression.

4.  Implement time-proven, research-based marketing strategies.  Market your home to as many people as possible using for sale signs, internet, open houses, feedback tracking, Realtor connections and relationships, neighborhood mailings, and web listings. Hiring the right Realtor will help get your home the best exposure and detailed reports that will interpret the market's response to your home.

5.  Show your property.  Ensure that your home is always in top-selling condition. When you leave for work, make sure that your home remains in top-selling condition; you never know when the phone will ring and an agent will be requesting a showing. You know what they say about a first impression!

6.  Receive an offer.  When a buyer decides to buy your home, an offer will be presented and you'll most likely have 24-48 hours to respond.

7.  Negotiate to sell.  Most offers require a certain level of negotiation. Decide your parameters and be prepared to negotiate towards a win-win situation. There are many different negotiating strategies to consider. And there are different areas in the selling process to negotiate. Don't get stuck on price when there might be inspection issues or closing dates that could be deal makers too. Negotiation is a skill and if you are too emotionally invested in what you are negotiating, work with your agent to make sure that this part of the process is handled professionally and focus on the end results.

8.  Have your home appraised and inspected.  Once you have accepted an offer, you'll work with you agent and your transaction coordinator to arrange an appraisal, inspections and a survey (if required). If the buyer requires that certain repairs be made on your home, negotiate or make the necessary repairs to move successfully from contract to closing.

9.  Prepare for closing.  A few days before closing (also known as settlement), your transaction coordinator will be in contact with the title company and the buyer or buyer's agent to ensure that all the necessary forms and documents have been prepared.

10.  Close!  At the closing, ownership of your property is legally transferred to the buyer. Don't forget to bring all keys and garage door openers! Congratulations!

How much time does all of this take? It depends on your market, your situation and your motivation. I've seen some sales happen within 30-40 days from the time of the first conversation to the cutting of the checks. And in other situations it may take a family two months to prepare their home for sale, get new appliances, and clear out the clutter before it is ready for showings. If your first question is how many days will my home be on the market, contact Sara Alvarado for a phone consult and you'll be on the right track, 608.438.5005.