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Category: Real Estate

5 Most Important Things Home Appraisers Look For

There are many reasons to get a home appraisal. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell your home, receive a loan from the bank, or even filing for divorce or bankruptcy, there will be a time when an appraiser comes out to take a look at your house. 

To make sure that you’re preparing your house to get the maximum amount appraised, here are the five key things that appraisers are looking for. Some, unfortunately, cannot be changed while others can be handled with some time and money.

5. Number of Rooms

You could have one of the largest houses in the world, but it won’t matter all that much if there aren’t many individual rooms. Homes that have more bathrooms and bedrooms are desirable for appraisers, especially if they’re full bathrooms.

Of course, most houses only have one kitchen, but adding a second one in a home that’s large enough to fit one will increase the value. Just remember that the more bedrooms, the better, but having more bathrooms is the best.

4. Size

One of the reasons that any of us are looking to move into a new place is to have more room. When it comes to appraisals, the size of a home plays a big role in the value. This includes the square footage and acreage, as a lot of space both inside and out are coveted by a lot of people.

It’s not just about the sheer amount of space in the house, too, but rather the amount of usable space. Having an unfinished basement that can’t be converted isn’t all that desirable and won’t increase the home’s value much. A garage that’s large enough to double as a barn, though? That’s an increase.

3. Age

It should probably go without saying that newer houses tend to be better for a home’s value (unless it’s a historic castle or something similar). It’s not the age of the house itself that appraisers are really looking for, though, but rather the age of some of the main components. A house that was built in 1910 can have a brand new foundation, roof, and HVAC units that bring its value up.

If those components are older, though, then they’re getting close to needing to be replaced. Some of these can cost tens of thousands at minimum to replace, too, hurting the overall home value. A brand new house will have brand new everything, increasing the appraisal.

2. Water Damage

You could have wallpaper tearing off and an incredibly dirty carpet, but appraisers likely won’t care about that one bit as they can be easily fixed in a matter of hours and not much money. However, if there is any sign of water damage on the inside or outside of the house, it can tank the appraisal value quickly.

Water damage is a much more costly and time-consuming fix, so appraisers suggest that anyone that may have damage get that issue taken care of before getting a valuation of their home. Pipes, ceilings, windows, you name it, if there’s water damage to any of those, they need to be taken care of right away.

1. Location

You’ve probably heard the old adage “location, location, location,” and there’s a good reason for that. Above anything else, the value of your home is tied to the surrounding area. Homes that receive a higher appraisal will be in areas where there are other houses that are spread further apart and feature low crime rates and great school options in the area.

If there are a lot of tall buildings and apartment complexes in the area, the home’s price will drop. Appraisers also give a bump to homes that aren’t near any major busy roads as the area will be much quieter and family-friendly. If there are bodies of water nearby like lakes or an ocean, you can count on the home’s value skyrocketing, as well. There’s a combination of accessibility and family neighborhood appeal that appraisers consider when coming up with a final number.

What To Know About Section 8 Housing Applications

In the early 1970s, federal assistance for housing was increased as part of the Housing and Urban Development Act. This allowed low-income people to more easily become tenants of apartment buildings thanks to the Section 8 program.

These days, around 3 million households are included in the Section 8 program, with tenants averaging around six years as Section 8 recipients. If you’re in need of rent assistance, you may be able to join the millions that are in Section 8 housing. Here’s what you need to know when applying for the monthly voucher.

Eligibility

Before applying for Section 8, you’ll want to ensure you’re eligible for the program. Section 8 recipients must be United States citizens or have an eligible immigration status. These statuses are:

  • Refugee
  • Permanent Legal Resident
  • Lawful Temporary Resident
  • Asylee

Income

If you meet these qualifications, you’ll have to be below a certain income level. Each metropolitan area of the United States has a median income, and Section 8 recipients must be below 50 percent of that median number. For example, if the median income in a city is $60,000 per year, your income would have to be below $30,000 per year to qualify.

Not every metropolitan area will be the same in terms of median income levels or to who Section 8 vouchers are given. There are many areas in which Section 8 recipients are making 30 percent or less of the median income.

Health and Age

Those that are young and healthy while also making around 50 percent of the median income level tend to be the last in line for Section 8 housing. Instead, a top priority is given to those that are older and have medical conditions that require shelter to be safe. Senior citizens are given first consideration, so if you do have a senior living with you, it’s vital that they’re listed on the application.

Also, no matter how minor, make sure to list any medical condition that you may have along with a doctor’s note in the application. Those with disabilities that include deafness, blindness, mental illness, and many others are more likely to be approved for a Section 8 housing voucher.

Stay In Touch With the PHA

When applying for Section 8, it’s important to become well acquainted with your local public housing agency, or PHA for short. It’s through your area’s agency that you’ll be applying for Section 8, as well as receiving updates and partaking in meetings. Those that are in emergency need (such as a previous home becoming unlivable) should contact their local PHA right away to get the process started.

The PHA will never ask you for money throughout the application process. If anyone saying that they’re with an agency asks for money, it is a scam. These scams should be reported to the PHA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development immediately. 

How Long Will You Wait?

Every metro area will be different in terms of how long a Section 8 applicant is waiting to hear their name called. In a perfect world, Section 8 applications would be sorted out within a week, but unfortunately, it can take years. Most people who are approved for Section 8 have been on the waiting list for one to two years.

During this time, it’s likely that a waiting applicant will get an opportunity to receive a project-based voucher (PBV). These are monthly subsidies where rent is fixed to a percentage of income, typically at 30 percent. Around a quarter-million Americans each year are entered into this program.

Finding Housing

After finally becoming approved and receiving a Section 8 voucher, an applicant will have to find qualified housing. Not all landlords will accept Section 8, so it can be difficult in some metro areas to find anything available. Once you do find the right spot, the local public housing agency will pay rent directly to the landlord so that it’s one less concern you’ll have to deal with.

5 Tips When Choosing a Home For Rent

Renting has become increasingly common as the years have gone by, especially with the younger demographics. Those that are under 35 are more likely to rent a home than they are to purchase one. Because of this, the rental market figures continue to grow over time. This gives renters a lot of options to pick from as they find the right home to temporarily make their own. If you find yourself looking to rent, here are five tips to consider before making a choice.

5. Know Your Budget

First and foremost, you have to know what you’ll be able to afford before you can even begin to get a little more selective. Also, remember that the rent cost per month isn’t the only thing that you’ll have to pay. There will be other fees that include the application, deposit (which can be multiple months’ worth of rent), and utilities. 

These additional charges that you face upfront and each month can add up quickly, so it’s important to have a lot of money saved up before moving into a rental. In fact, one of the biggest reasons why so many renters stay put where they are currently is due to the large costs associated with starting a new rental agreement.

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4. Location, Location, Location

If you have the ability to work from home and never have to come into the office, you may want to consider a more rural rental home. In almost all cases, living farther away from major metropolitan areas will be much cheaper. Not only is the rent cheaper, but you’re likely to spend much less on gas, insurance, food, etc.

However, if you have to be in the office at least once per week, try to get as close to your building as your budget allows, granted it’s in a neighborhood that will be a good fit for you. Just a few blocks in distance can make a huge difference in safety and rent costs, so try to combine these factors when looking for a location.

3. Amenities

Amenities are something more commonly associated with apartments, but rental homes can have these too. Some landlords sweeten the pot with their tenants by including some bonuses to their properties. This can include a finished basement, a fully furnished home, a swimming pool, or even gym equipment. While the price might be higher for homes with amenities, it could save you a lot of money elsewhere if you don’t need to purchase furniture or a gym membership.

2. Room Situation

If you’re living by yourself, the first thought is that you need a one-bedroom home since it’s cheaper. However, you may be regretting that decision a few weeks in when you get tired of working in your living room. If you can afford an extra bedroom, it’s not a bad idea to take advantage. You can use this extra bedroom as an office, gaming room, or spare bedroom for when a visitor comes over.

You also want to consider how many bathrooms there are in a rental home. If you’re living alone it will be fine to have just one full bathroom. When you add other people to the mix, especially when everyone has to get ready for work or school at the same time, you’ll need more full bathrooms.

1. Condition

One thing that renters tend to do when in a rush to move into a new rental home is not inspect the properly. Many think that since they aren’t paying for potential major repairs or buying the home themselves that they don’t need to inspect. However, poor insulation, windows that don’t work, broken locks, etc. can all cause a slew of problems throughout the rental agreement. Always mark down what can be fixed before signing anything so that you’re not on the hook for payment.