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Posted by St. Martin Team on 9/17/2020

Photo by Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock

Is your house leaky? According to the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency), household water leaks account for up to a trillion gallons of water wasted each year. According to their calculations, the average home leaks about ten thousand gallons annually or more than 90 gallons every single day. So how do you tell if your home is leaking?

First, pull out your water bills from the past year. Organize them by the months of colder weather when youíll use less water for landscaping purposes and hotter weather when youíll use more. In the winter months, December through February, the monthly average for a family of four should be under 12,000 gallons. If itís more than that, you may have a leak.

Where does the leak come from?

The most common source of leaks is a worn toilet flapper or a dripping faucet. When you hear a hissing sound from the toilet tank, or it flushes randomly, you need to update the flapper. Dripping faucets start slowly, but unless you correct the problem, the leak only gets stronger. In fact, homeowners can save around ten percent on their water bills by merely fixing a few leaking fixtures.

How do you find them?

Turn off all the running water in your home, then read your water meter. Wait for two hours with no water use and then reread the meter. If the meter changes, itís likely that you have a leak. Note that some water utilities have electronic meters with smartphone apps so you can track water leaks while youíre away from your home.

To determine if your toilet leaks, youíll need some food coloring. Add one to two drops to your toiletís tank. Wait for about 10 minutes to see if any of the colored water appears in the bowl. If you see it, that means your flapper does not seal properly and needs replacing. Once youíve determined if itís leaking, you should make sure to flush your toilet right away to completely expel the colored water from the tank to avoid staining your toilet bowl. A leaky faucet or showerhead is more straightforward. Often, youíll see the drip coming from the fixture. Other times youíll see a rust stain on the sink bowl or tub from the slowly dripping water. Other leaks can come from the connectors under sinks and behind toilets. If the valves are damp it could merely be condensation, so wipe them dry and leave them exposed to the air (leave cabinet doors open). Recheck them in an hour or two. Also, check for mold or mildew build-up since damp, leaky areas promote their growth.

Another area to find a hidden leak is in your landscaping. If your grass is greener in one area, or the ground sinks in when you step on it, you may have a broken sprinkler pipe. Landscaping and sprinkler professionals can trace the leak for you so that you can have it dug up and repaired.

How do you fix them?

If youíre handy, you can purchase a new flapper seal at your local hardware or DIY store. Youíll find instructions on YouTube, other websites or you can inquire about it while in the store. Leaky showerheads and sinks might need new gaskets, so start there. If your faucetís fittings are inside walls, or itís a complex system such as a touchless fixture, seek professional help in tracking down the leak and replacing seals and gaskets. Some leaks in valves and pipe joints only need plumberís tape or pipe glue, but others might require replacing. To avoid flooding your home, let a professional handle the more complicated repairs.

For a referral to a plumbing or landscaping professional near you, ask your knowledgeable real estate agent.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by St. Martin Team on 9/10/2020

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

A neighborhood is a neighborhood. And a business district is a business district, right? Unfortunately, it's not so cut and dry. There are actually nine major zoning types in most areas. And these can impact things like home use, home value, and property taxes. Zoning can change over time.

Let's explore the five you're most likely to encounter. 

1. Commercial

Generally, this property is intended exclusively for money-making purposes.

Commercial zoning has several sub-categories that may define how the land can be used. This varies by city but may include:

  • Office space
  • Shopping 
  • Night club
  • Hotel
  • Apartments
  • Certain commercial buildings may have added restrictions such as distance from a school or residential area. As a home-buyer, it's important to consider how commercial property near you is zoned. For example, if an apartment complex may go up in that vacant lot down the street someday, this may impact whether you want to move here now.

    2. Residential

    Residential zoning can include a wide variety of housing types:

  • Single-family
  • Duplexes
  • In-law units
  • Garage apartment rentals
  • Trailer parks
  • Condos
  • Tiny homes
  • Home-based businesses
  • Whether these are allowed depends on local and community codes. For example, many city ordinances may state that mobile homes are not permitted in city limits. This may impact tiny houses as well.

    Residential zoning typically prohibits "farm animals". So building a barn or keeping a cow in the back yard may be against the law. What is permitted may impact the community and home values change over time. So it's vital to consider.

    3. Rural

    Rural zones cover land outside a metropolitan area or in between towns. People of this property often have more control over what they do with their land. They'll typically pay less for land in these areas as well as fewer taxes. That also means that homes may appreciate less in these areas.

    But keep in mind, if rural land is close to city limits, it may become residential at some point. This may increase your home value because you now have access to city services. But you'll also see property taxes rise.

    4. Historic

    When cities want to maintain the charm of an older part of town, they may classify it as historic. If you move here, you will have to comply with rules intended to keep an original style. But as a trade-off, you may be entitled to grants and federal tax credits. If well-maintained, a historic home can be an exciting place to live.

    5. Aesthetic 

    Aesthetic districts are designed to maintain a unified aesthetic throughout the neighborhood. This makes the community more desirable. In theory, this keeps house values on the rise. They are often run by HOAs who may dictate for example:

  • Outside paint colors
  • Types of shrubs
  • Fencing
  • Mailbox style
  • Real Estate Zoning & Buying a Home

    Zoning is a crucial part of the home buying decision. It influences both what you can do with the property and how well the property holds its value. For more home buying tips, follow our blog.




    Tags: buyer tips   Zoning   Buying  
    Categories: Uncategorized  


    Posted by St. Martin Team on 9/3/2020

    Once you decide to buy a home, you need to buckle in because youíre in for an emotional roller coaster. You need to be prepared for any type of situation. Youíll need to hunker down and save a significant amount of money for a downpayment. Securing the financing for your home will be at the top of your list. You just donít want to find the home of your dreams only to find out that your offer is rejected, leaving you in a giant puddle of letdown. 


    If you have already experienced the pain of having your offer rejected on a home, fear not. Below, youíll find some of the most common reasons why offers get rejected and what you can do about it. 


    You Canít Afford The Home


    If you try and get a house that you canít afford, chances are that your offer will be rejected. You need to find a reasonable price point to shop for a home. Make sure that your real estate agent understands your budget and wonít show you homes that are above your budget. If you know you wonít be able to resist, you definitely shouldnít risk finding a home that you love and is above your budget. 


    There Was A Better Offer


    Especially in highly competitive markets, itís easy for bidding wars to arise. A ďwarĒ may be avoided if buyers offer an amount far above the asking price. You always want to keep your offer as close to the asking price as possible. Never assume that other buyers will bid lower than the asking price. If you think like a seller, youíll have a better shot at getting the home of your dreams.     

     

    Donít Ask For Too Much


    Nothing annoys a seller more than too many contingencies. Many buyers can get carried away here. Itís a good idea to speak with your realtor about the reality of what you hope to get in return for purchasing the home. Your agent can help you to figure out whatís a necessity to ask to be done in the home and what isnít. 


    You Didnít Get Pre-approved


    Getting that pre-approval letter is oh so crucial to finding the right home. The seller wants the process to go as smoothly as you do. That means you need to get pre-approved before you even head into the field to search for a home. Some sellers may also only consider bids made by buyers who have been pre-approved. 


    If you do your research, youíll be able to compete in any type of housing market. All you have to do is be prepared!  

      


    To get your offer accepted on a home you love, you need to do your homework. As a buyer, you want to keep the needs of the seller in mind. Although you want the best deal for yourself, you're more likely to get a property that you want if you compromise a bit. 





    Categories: Uncategorized  


    Posted by St. Martin Team on 8/27/2020

    Buying a home is an extensive process that comes with a bit of a learning curve. For first time buyers, this process involves making mistakes and learning from them.

    While we can never be 100% sure of our home buying decisions, there is a way to increase your chances of making the best choices when it comes to buying and maintaining your first home.

    In todayís post, weíre going to do just that. Weíll take a look at some of the biggest things that homeowners wish they knew before buying their first house.

    1. Forgetting to research the neighborhood

    Itís easy to become so enamored with your dream home that you barely look beyond its fence. However, the neighborhood your home is in can have a huge effect on your daily life. Having local parks, safe sidewalks to walk on, and road infrastructure that doesnít drive you crazy on your daily commute are all important aspects of choosing the right home.

    2. Getting pressured into making a decision

    Many times, a seller will want to portray their home as being highly sought after to encourage higher and more frequent offers. Similarly, you may find that your own family has time constraints and want to make a quick decision to buy a home.

    Itís when weíre under pressure that we can make choices that we arenít happy with in the long run. So, in these situations, make sure you donít make any snap judgments on a home. If it seems like youíre being pressured into making a decision without enough time to consider all of the possibilities, thereís a good chance you should pass on this opportunity.

    3. Forgetting that you might someday have to sell this home

    Sometimes homes can be difficult to sell due to things like their location and surroundings. For instance, a home that is remote or one that is located in low-scoring school districts may not matter to you if you donít plan on having children. But, they likely will be important to a lot of your potential buyers when it comes time to sell the home.

    This lesson also holds true for what you do with your home once you buy it. Making renovations or design choices that wonít appeal to the average buyer can make your home more difficult to sell and harder to get top dollar for.

    4. Didnít consider all financing options

    There are several steps and several options when it comes to financing a home. Not only are the several mortgage lenders to choose from, but there are also many different types of loans available.

    While there may not be one ďrightĒ decision when it comes to financing your home, itís a good idea to do your homework and browse carefully all of the lenders and mortgage types.

    Consider ways to increase your credit score or save for a higher down payment before buying if possible, so that you can secure the lowest interest rate possible.




    Categories: Uncategorized  


    Posted by St. Martin Team on 8/20/2020

    Selling a home may seem exceedingly difficult, particularly for a first-time property seller. However, if you receive an offer on your residence that falls just short of your initial expectations, you may be able to negotiate with a homebuyer.

    How you handle a negotiation with a homebuyer may dictate how quickly you sell your residence.

    If you're unwilling to understand a homebuyer's point of view, you risk missing out on an opportunity to get the best results from your home sale.

    On the other hand, if you stay calm throughout a home selling negotiation, you may be better equipped to understand a homebuyer's perspective. This may help you find common ground with a homebuyer and ensure you can speed up the home selling cycle.

    What does it take to remain calm during a home selling negotiation? Here are three tips to help home sellers maintain their composure throughout a negotiation.

    1. Keep Your Emotions in Check

    A home selling negotiation can be stressful. But home sellers who manage to keep their emotions in check can boost their chances of a quick home sale.

    If you feel stressed during a home selling negotiation, don't hesitate to take a step back and look at the big picture.

    Remember, your ultimate goal is to sell your residence. With the lines of communication open, you and a homebuyer can work together to ensure all parties involved in a negotiation are satisfied with the end results.

    2. Look at All of the Options at Your Disposal

    If a home selling negotiation goes south, there is no need to panic. Instead, consider all of the options at your disposal, and you'll be able to determine how to proceed from here.

    For home sellers, it is essential to note that many homebuyers are on the lookout for high-quality residences in cities and towns around the country. Thus, if a negotiation with a homebuyer fails to work out, you can continue to promote your house on the real estate market.

    3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

    A real estate agent is a must-have for many home sellers, and for good reason. This housing market professional will handle a home selling negotiation and ensure you can seamlessly navigate the entire home selling journey.

    Typically, a real estate agent can negotiate with a homebuyer on your behalf. He or she will keep you up to date about any homebuyer requests and offer honest, unbiased home selling suggestions. As a result, you can receive expert home selling guidance and make informed decisions at each stage of a home selling negotiation.

    A real estate agent also will respond to your home selling concerns and questions at any time. That way, this housing market professional will make it simple for you to alleviate stress in a high-pressure home selling negotiation.

    When it comes to handling a home selling negotiation, there is no need to worry. Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble remaining calm, cool and collected during a negotiation with a homebuyer.







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