Monday, May 16, 2011

May is Deck Safety Month, have you checked your deck lately?

May has officially(or maybe unofficially) become deck safety month.  With the winter thaw, and the spring bloom of flowers, many homeowners with decks begin to clean off the winter residue in preparation of outdoor living for the spring/summer.  However, a unsafe deck can lead to accidents and perhaps fatalities.

The North American Deck and Railing Association is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the necessity for regular inspection and maintenance of existing decks and proper installation of new decks, and we would like to help pass along this safety message.  To an untrained eye, simply looking at a deck, it may appear that everything looks fine.  However, over time, components of the deck such as the deckboards, railings, banisters, or stairs may decay, split, rot, or simply become loose.  Look for missing or loose connections as well.  These are all warning signs.  Furthermore, many older decks may not be in compliance with newer building codes.  All these are potential safety concerns.

To begin with, take a look at this deck safety checklist.  How does your deck stack up? Does it seem that your deck may have potential issues? How about annual maintenance? Has your deck been kept up? If it seems that maybe you have more than a few issues going on, maybe a professional deck inspection may be needed.

Deck failures can be avoided. It's a matter of making the consumer aware of the necessity of choosing a professional deck contractor, regular maintenance and inspection, and knowing the limits of the deck structure.

If you haven't check your deck lately, join deck safety month, and do it this May.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Avoiding Shortsale and Foreclosure pitfalls

According to, roughly forty percent of homes on the market today are either shortsales or foreclosures.  While this may be a buying opportunity to the savvy and patient buyer, purchasing these type of distressed properties usually come with one headache or another.  If these are the type of properties you are looking at, the best defense to becoming stressed, is to educate yourself of the common pitfalls that come along with these transaction.

So what are the common issues.  To begin with, buying a shortsale of foreclosure can take a long time to close.  The banks usually require more paperwork and approvals than a typical home sale.  Then there is the belief that banks will take almost any low ball offer.  Usually not true.  Banks still have a responsibility to getting the best price they can for the shareholders.  Most are not giving away their property.  It's important to sit with your broker and present and reasonable offer that move the sale along.

Another major complaint, the last minute cancellations or postponments of the deal.  You may think that everything is done, but at the last minute the bank needs more information.  Staying flexible is key to not being stressed.  And that leads to what Trulia calls the "Banks Black box."  Trying to get answers on an offer, or what documents are needed can take not only tremendous effort, but can also take days or weeks to get your answer. And finally, the Banks double standard.  They can generally take as long as they want with their process, however, when they are ready, they are ready to get the deal done and you the buyer, need to be ready to sign the documents and hand over your funds.

These are the top five complaints of dealing with Shortsales and Foreclosures, and you can read more about these, and how to handle the stress here.

And, as for every home you buy, whether it is a distressed property or not, a home inspection is always recommended to avoid getting more than you bargained for.