Archive for the ‘Miami commercial inspections’ Category

Challenging Buyer? How To Manage Buyer’s Repair Request When Selling Your South Florida Property

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

One of the most anticipated moments for any residential or commercial South Florida real estate seller is the inspection process.  This is when a professional inspector looks over most every aspect of your property’s appearance and condition, such as plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning, roofing issues, termite infestation to even your kitchen appliances.

The vast majority of all South Florida homebuyers will pay to have an inspection, whether the property is new construction or several years old.  Depending on the size of the home or commercial property, the appointment can take several hours.  A detailed report is provided to the buyer and his or her agent a few days later, in which they will carefully go over the inspection findings.

In the meantime, you, the seller, are probably sitting on pins and needles waiting to discover what repairs the buyer will want, and how much it’s going to cost you. 

Important tip: Before you submit your signature on any offer or paperwork, understand completely what the contract states.  Like everywhere else, South Florida real estate contracts are negotiable.  When an offer comes through, read it backwards and forwards, especially on the subject of repairs.  Most contracts state the following:

 “Purchase is contingent upon home inspection.”

In other words, if you and the buyer cannot agree on what repairs to make, the buyer can be released from the purchase agreement, and walk away and the deposit returned.  Of course, contracts can vary.  These can include an “as is” or “information only,” for your South Florida property.  This releases you from the obligation of being required to make any repairs, however you can still elect to make repairs or renegotiate the purchase price if both parties agree. 

Don’t assume your contract states any of the above.  Read before you sign, ask questions, and consult your real estate attorney.

Here are guidelines on what you may encounter once the inspection report is submitted to your South Florida real estate agent.

1.  Expect A Repair List:

It is rare when a buyer’s agent reports to the seller’s agent that “All is well! The property is perfect and no repairs are necessary!”  Even a newly built home will usually have some issues that must be corrected before the sale can proceed.  Chances are, your home is no different.  While some of the repairs may seem petty, or completely over the top, be prepared for the unexpected.

2.  Don’t Panic!  Keep Your Emotions In Check!

When selling your South Florida home, keep in mind that no property is perfect despite what you may believe or what your real estate agent has said.  It’s important to separate yourself from the emotional ties you have to the residence, as it takes stress off of you and makes it easier to negotiate.  While you may think the antique light fixtures add character, the inspector may have discovered faulty or out-of-date wiring. 

Consult your real estate contract for information on what repairs may be required. Most real estate contracts do not require the seller to repair cosmetic conditions, unless the cosmetic condition resulted from a defect in a warranted item. So if your buyer is requesting you to remove and replace the existing carpeting, this is not typically covered in the seller’s contractual obligations. However, although you may not be required to do so, you may decide to negotiate with your buyer.

3.  Which Brings Us To:  Negotiating

Of course, most sellers and buyers are reasonable, and are anxious to make allowances for the sale to go through.  Chances are, you already know that you have some repairs that will be responsible for, and the buyer usually knows when they won’t get an expensive, though not “reasonable” repair on a questionable item.  While you may not want to make any repairs, or find it unnecessary, don’t be too stubborn because these issues will continue to come up with future buyers as it is the duty of the sellers to disclose all known defects from this point on.

  • Split the difference:  This can vary, but usually agents get together and hammer out a solution where both parties share the cost of a repair. 
  • Issue credit:  A buyer will often hire a contractor to give a quote for a needed repair.  Once this value is determined, and the sellers agree, this amount can be credited to the buyers at closing.  This figure can also be split or divided in any way between both parties. This is usually the most satisfactory for both parties as the buyer can hire the contractor they want while ensuring the work is done satisfactorily.
  •  Just say no:  Naturally, if the buyer refuses to budge, insists on costly repairs that even makes both agents cringe, consult with your real estate agent or attorney and see if it’s best to walk away.

4.  One Last Piece Of Advice For Your South Florida Property

Before putting your home or commercial building on the market, get a professional inspection first.  Yes, you will pay for it (normally buyers pay, but chances are they will still get one as well through their own inspector), yet this will determine if there are any significant repairs that need your attention.  You may then fix what is necessary, show receipts to prospective buyers, and let them know you have made repairs, or you are willing to negotiate if you find you are not financially or logistically able to make them. You also have the option to make the sale “as is” or negotiate the price in accordance with the known necessary repairs.

 

Buying A Renovated Home Or Commercial Property? Check Building Permits!

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

It’s a scenario that happens all too often for professional residential and building inspectors: buyers discover building permits were not issued on their home when the sellers did remodeling. For the new owner, this can be a serious financial and safety issue if they did not confirm that a permit was granted for any remodeling or home improvements on the property.

Before escrow closes, buyers must ensure building permits were pulled and finalized, especially if an inspector discovers any work that is not to code. While a seller must disclose this information, often times, work was done before they owned the building in question. As a prudent buyer, it is necessary to wait and close the deal until this issue is resolved.

When a building permit is required and when it isn’t can be confusing to most anyone attempting to make home improvements or repairs. For example, permits are mandatory for most construction work, yet for various home repairs it may not be necessary. Permits in Florida are needed for the following:

  • Additions, including patio covers, swimming pools, room additions
  • Alterations, including garage conversions, exterior stucco, re-roofs
  • Repairs – including replacement of water heaters, other plumbing fixtures, irrigations systems, air conditioning units, electrical service, rewiring.
  • Heating equipment, including installing wood stoves, central heat, wall heaters and wood or gas burning fireplaces.

Keep in mind, this is not an all-inclusive list for South Florida residents, but rather its intent is to make you ask questions when touring prospective homes and/or commercial properties if you suspect work was done after the original construction. To anyone considering a property that may have had improvements, you need to ask the seller:

1. Was there any construction done to the property after originally constructed?

2. Was a permit required?

3. Was a permit received?

New buyers should be aware, that issues regarding a lack of a permit would not go away when the property is sold. In fact, that problem is transferred to the new owner who will be held liable and required to pay any penalties and liens on the property, if necessary. And it doesn’t end there. As the new property owner, you will be required to correct the problem in order to comply with the rules and regulations for your local building department should the issue be discovered.

If you suspect that construction was done yet unsure if a permit was issued after the property is sold, contact your local building department to determine if the work in question actually required a permit. Again, not every improvement or remodeling project requires approval. However, if you find a permit was needed, and the permit was not included in your paperwork from the seller, you may very well search online or contact them directly. Also, keep in mind Florida does have uniform building codes, yet every municipality can exempt particular projects from permits. Rules vary from city to city.

Construction not built to code is something Florida building inspectors encounter every day on the job. The three top reasons owners don’t get a permit:

  • Many property owners, particularly homeowners, use friends or non-licensed contractors to perform work.
  • Property owners are unaware that permits are needed for what seems like a simple job, or they can’t afford to make additional repairs or upgrades that the planning department will require.
  • Property owners do not want to pay additional property taxes based on the increased value of their property.

What happens in Florida if you try and obtain a permit after the work is completed? Permits could double in price from the original cost. If you ignore, and are caught, you could be fined among other penalties.

Overall, it is the buyer who has the responsibility to check to see if permits have been issued. A home inspection by a qualified professional can also reveal that certain work was not performed in compliance with local building codes. Your agent should ask the seller about any permits, however, if they were not the owners when the work was done, then they may be unaware of any problems. Therefore it is up to the buyer to do the legwork and delay escrow until the matter is resolved.

This is just another reason why buyers should never turn down a professional home inspection when considering residential or commercial property. The undiscovered issues that can arise, such as lack of building permits, may not only be a financial disaster, but a safety liability as well.

Friday, February 7th, 2014

How To Hire A Building Contractor For Your South Florida Commercial Or Residential Property

If you are considering building or remodeling your South Florida commercial or residential property, you will start your project on the right foot by taking your time to find the best contractor suited for the job.  With countless of contractors in our area, this could be an overwhelming task for those property owners new to the industry.

When hiring a contractor, it is important to diligently research while relying on strong recommendations from family, friends and business associates.  Interview the top three professionals and don’t be shy in asking lots of questions.  Remember, no question is too obvious or impractical when seeking out a contractor who is trustworthy, ethical and has ample experience.

Here are some of the more important questions to ask when interviewing possible candidates:

 

1.  How long have you been a contractor?  What is your background?

If possible, hire a local contractor, as it is much easier to gather information on their credentials and reputation if they work within your community.  Not only that, you want someone who will visit your project frequently and be able to address any problem quickly and efficiently.  Always select a builder that has a close relationship with other local subcontractors and don’t hesitate to request references and follow through with contacting previous clients for their thoughts and opinions.  Don’t neglect to check their background and contact the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed. You can also verify their license by visiting: www.myfloridalicense.com

 

2.  Who are your suppliers?

Are you considering a contractor that changes suppliers frequently or one that has used the same businesses over and over?  There could be a reason why a contractor moves from one company to another, so be sure and contact suppliers and ask for their opinion regarding your contractor.

  •  Does he or she pay their bills on time?
  •  Have any clients filed complaints?
  •  Is work on time or constant delays?

If at any time a contractor is reluctant to give you any information on their subcontractors, then it’s time to continue your search.

 

3.  Who will be in charge of the job?  How often will you visit?

It’s necessary to find out if a job foreman will be handling the day-to-day operations or if the contractor will be the daily contact.  If it is the former, then this calls for a little research as well.  Visit the current job where the foreman is working and look over the project and see how well it is moving along.  Ask the current client if workers arrive on time each day and if there are many delays.  Also inquire if the project is staying on budget and if they are tidy and clean up at the end of each day.  Finally, ask the client if they are satisfied with the communication and if they are being kept apprised when a problem arises.

 

4.  What is the scope of the work being performed?

Do not use a contractor based on a verbal agreement. Make sure you have your agreement and scope of work in writing and read it carefully. The written contract should be as detailed as possible, including exactly what the contractor is going to be doing and how it’s going to be done. If there is something in the contract you don’t agree with, ask for it to be removed or find a new contractor.

 

5.  How will invoices and bills be handled?

Whether your project is big or small, getting a detailed bill in a timely manner that is not full of surprises should always be the rule and not the exception. With an itemized bill, it is easier to determine where you can cut costs in other areas should an unexpected repair come up and threaten your budget.  No professional contractor will ever balk at this and it should be a standard procedure.

Also, determine when a contractor is paid and that this information is well documented in the contract.  Never hire a contractor that demands full payment up front.

Finally, stay clear of any contractor uses intimidation or bully tactics in order to secure your business.  Other big warning signs:

  • Insists their verbal word is good enough
  • Prefers under the table deals
  • No identification or proof of current license or insurance

Without the proper documentation, you have no guarantee, paper trail or receipt of the work you have had done and little to no recourse.

 

6.  Are permits required?

Permits are very important and are often overlooked or ignored. Some contractors may even tell people they don’t need permits for work that requires one. You should call your local municipality building/permitting department and as if the work they are doing requires a permit. A building official will inspect the work to ensure it is completed safely and properly.

 

 

Why You Need A Comprehensive Mold Inspection

Monday, January 13th, 2014

If you live in Florida, then chances are, you know that mold is a common concern among homeowners and buyers.  Even new construction that has been vacant for some time is not immune to this unwelcome guest.  And as much we enjoy the enviable Florida lifestyle, the combination of moisture and warm temperatures provide excellent conditions for mold growth.  So it’s understandable why our state has persistent problems with mold.

 

Unfortunately, mold is a significant threat to property and buildings. If not caught early, it can spread quickly, providing damage and significant health issues.  Simply touching mold or breathing air that has mold spores can cause a variety of reactions.  For some, it may include coughing, runny nose or skin and eye issues.  For others, the effects can be more dangerous.

 

A brief rundown:  Mold occurs when you have moisture, nutrients and warmer temperatures.  Once mold spores find their way into a home or property, mold can settle and grow quickly.  The question is not how to get rid of mold spores from entering a home as they are not visible to the naked eye and exist virtually everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.  Rather, the issue is how to discover and remove mold once it has been discovered.

 

1.  Maintain moisture control in air: 

 

Moisture can come into our homes or commercial property in a variety of ways.  Whether it be through damp air or water, it can arrive through windows, doors, cracks, as well as through dishwashing, showering, laundry or cooking.  Leaks and plumbing problems are also popular ways for water to get inside.  In fact, likely culprits are washing machine hoses and water heaters as being the top two sources of expensive water damage, which can then result in mold issues.

 

2.  Eliminating Nutrients:

 

Mold will quickly settle and spread when it has a food source.  Natural fibers, found in furnishings, clothing, paper products, books and other materials are popular feeding grounds.  Mold also grows on walls, closets, clothing and showers.  In fact, soap scum found in shower stalls provides nutrients for mold growth.  The best way to eliminate this pest is to keep a clean home, which will discourage mold from spreading.

 

3.  Temperature Control:

 

Again, with warm summer months just ahead, its good to remember that hot weather encourage mold growth.  Mold makes itself right at home in temperatures between 75 – 87 degrees.  While air conditioning certainly helps, if the air is more humid, then it is unable to prevent mold from growing.  Pay particular attention to areas where the air doesn’t flow, such as inside cabinets, closets and under kitchen or bathroom sinks, as these areas are usually the warmest in a home.

 

So again, the best way to eliminate mold growth is to do the following:

 

  • Regularly clean and sanitize your home.

 

  • Clean shower stalls to remove soap scum as well as moisture.

 

  • Keep fans on, as it will circulate the air.

 

  • Keep an eye out for any wet areas, standing water or condensation.

 

  • Don’t ignore any leaky faucets or plumbing problems.

 

  • Don’t allow foundations to stay wet.  Make sure there is drainage and the area is properly sloped away from foundation.

 

  • Make sure air conditioning is properly maintained and HVAC drip pans are thoroughly cleaned, flowing correctly and unobstructed.

 

Despite all best preventions, it is not surprising when owners are unaware they have a mold problem with their home or commercial property.  In fact, most are genuinely shocked to hear that their home is infested with mold.  Often, mold is hidden, may be covered or the leak is behind walls, or other locations that are not clearly visible. That is why it is necessary to inspect any property for mold, especially if:

 

  • Owners or tenants have allergic reactions, such as itch eyes, sneezing, runny nose with being in a certain area or room of house or building.

 

  • To determine that source of moisture has been stopped with no mold growth.

 

  • To verify there is not a mold issue or moisture that is often associated with new construction, building or property that will be rented or purchased.

 

 

Finally, there are some important things everyone should know in regards to mold inspections.  The most important facts are:

 

  • It is necessary to hire a professional, qualified and experienced mold inspector.

 

  • A mold inspection should include looking for current and past mold problems.

 

  • Mold is not often known or visible, so good inspectors utilize specialized equipment such as moisture meters and infrared cameras.  This equipment can often detect moisture which is not visible to the naked eye.

 

  • Mold inspections should always be on the look out for moisture.

 

It is recommended that anyone who suspects a mold problem, to have a complete and comprehensive inspection.  Mold related illness, particularly in our area of Florida, is not uncommon and should be treated immediately.

 

Are You A First Time South Florida Commercial Real Estate Buyer?

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

If life were perfect, then investing in home or commercial real estate would be worry-free and painless. However, like anything else, without the proper resources, good contacts and research, it may be difficult to know if a property is a good investment or poor one, which can end up being a nightmare for a buyer venturing into the commercial real estate industry for the first time.

Of course, we live in the real world and things can often go wrong when buying South Florida property despite every good intention. Commercial real estate can be broad and diverse, so it’s important to make sure you have researched and evaluated thoroughly the best properties in the areas you can afford. After all, the whole point is to generate a positive cash flow while watching the value of the property grow over time.

But how do you find these best properties? How do you know that what you want isn’t a huge mistake or cash cow?

1. Think Like A Professional:

With tighter credit issues in force, commercial property investors will need cash for a larger down payment, as it is not unheard of that banks or loan companies today require 30 percent. Keep in mind that income on commercial real estate properties is related to usable square footage, so a buyer will see a bigger cash flow than with residential properties.

2. Create A Solid Plan Of Action:

Ask these all-important questions:

  • What is your budget?
  • How much can you afford for improvements?
  • What are your goals for the deal?
  • How much rental space do you need to fill?
  • Do you have tenants already?
  • How much rent will they pay?
  • Any ongoing repair issues?

As you can tell, and probably already know, an investor must have a very clear plan along with a firm and practical budget. Prepare to spend more than you think you will, as it is rare that any improvements or repairs that are made come under budget. If you are unsure of your financial status, or have partners that have not fully committed, don’t move forward until this is resolved.

3. Have An Exit Strategy:

The most successful real estate investors may know a great deal when they see one, but they have an exit strategy where they can walk away if necessary. As an investor, you need to be aware of the repairs that are needed, potential title issues and other factors that will create issues with your budget. If you don’t have a way out when the deal starts turning sour, then you may be at financial and legal risk.

4. Find Motivated Sellers:

Like residential properties, the goal when buying commercial real estate is to find motivated sellers. The best deals come from those who are eager to sell at below market value. Here, you have a seller who will negotiate quickly and aggressively. Quite frankly, the buyer in these situations has the upper hand and can potentially save thousands of dollars, if not more. If you have a seller that isn’t all that eager to sell, or plans to hold out until they find a buyer who will pay close to their asking price, they won’t negotiate as much.

5. Research! Research! Research!

Of course, if you find a great deal, there may be a reason why. Walk around with your real estate professional and find out everything you can about the neighborhood. Is it an up-and-coming area, which at times may be a risky deal? Will renters want to live or work there? Is safety an issue? Is parking readily available? Is the property located next to thriving businesses or too many “For Sale” signs? Talk to other business owners in the area and get their opinions. Contact the local police department to see if crime is a major concern. Finally, don’t ignore other professionals and investors for their opinions. If a deal seems too good to be true, you may need to wonder why.

6. Leave No Stone Unturned When Looking For Commercial Properties:

In other words, and this may seem obvious but needs to be reiterated, check the Internet and real estate listings in the newspapers for properties. Hire a well-respected real estate agent who has numerous contacts within the commercial real estate industry. Ask friends, visit the Chamber of Commerce or other business organizations and contact any person that you know will be helpful to aid you in your search. Take their recommendations but again, always follow up with research once you locate a possible property.

Finally, it takes more than the above. At the heart of the matter, you want to make sure that you communicate and build professional relationships with business owners who can become valuable resources as you start a commercial real estate career. You want a circle of advisors that feel comfortable sharing ideas and passing along good information and advice. Establishing contacts early is a great way to ensure success so never hesitate in asking questions.

Why Home And Commercial Fall Maintenance Can Save You Money And Time

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

The calendar says it’s “September,” which means milder weather is approaching. However, as any resident of South Florida knows, the tropical temperatures in our area make the next several months very busy and inviting for those escaping the colder and harsher climate the rest of the nation experiences.

While cold spells do occur here during the winter, there is no doubt about it, this is one of the best times of the year to live in Florida. With popular beaches, serene and comfortable weather, it’s no wonder our population increases each year. Becoming a homeowner in Florida is a dream for many. However, if you are one of the lucky ones, maintaining your property can be challenging. Now is a good time to take the necessary steps to protect your home this fall.

Did you know that in July of this year South Florida had record rainfall? Reports say that during this month, we had the wettest start to the rainy season in 45 years! Regular home maintenance is necessary to ensuring the value of your home while avoiding costly repairs. It’s natural that during the summer, when our temperatures are at their warmest and most humid, the very last thing you want to do is make home repairs. But now is the time to walk around your property and make necessary changes before colder weather arrives.

Here are some valuable tips for South Florida homeowners. Commercial building owner? These will help you as well:

1. Protect the outside of your home by checking and repairing weather stripping around windows and doors. Often, the hot, sticky and humid weather will damage the seals protecting these critical areas. Look for holes and wear and tear around light fixtures, outlets, plumbing and of course, doors and windows.

2. Check the roof of your home. Do you see any cracked or broken shingles or tiles? If your roof calls for closer inspection, make an appointment with a professional and well-respected roofing company. Ask friends or neighbors for their recommendations.

3. With cooler weather arriving, check your fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Examine and test each device thoroughly and replace the batteries if it has been a while.

4. September is a great time to clean your gutters. While our rainfall is usually limited now through May, we have had a wetter summer so make sure your gutters are draining properly. As South Florida professional property inspectors, we have seen our share of water damage to homes and basements simply from gutters that are full of leaves and other debris.

5. Don’t forget to inspect your window screens. We all like fresh, cooler air to flow through our homes, but make sure your window screens don’t have any holes or rips, which allow insects to find their way into your home.

6. Now that the higher temperatures will soon subside, you may be using your air conditioner less frequently. So be sure and change, replace or clean filters that are dirty. Why is this important? Because clean filters increase the airflow and prevent damage to your cooling and heating equipment. Also, prune any overgrown bushes or shrubs near your air conditioning unit as that can restrict the circulation of air.

7. Check your swimming pool to see if any repairs are needed. Chances are, you have used it quite a bit this summer, so look to see if there are any cracks, clogged pump baskets, a faulty heater, dirty filters or other issues that perhaps may need professional attention. Because a pool is such a huge investment, and a much added value for your South Florida home, staying on top of maintenance is a must.

8. Summer isn’t summer without wasps and bees nests. All too often as inspectors we see large nests that can create havoc for a homeowner. If you haven’t already, now is the time to take care for those pesky nests. Depending on the size, you may need to call a professional exterminator.

9. Now may be a good time to paint the outside of your house. Walk around your property and look for any peeling or blistered paint thanks to our hot, Florida sun. Exposed wood can create problems if you neglect painting your home for too long. If you have a home with a stucco finish, look for cracks or other damage as delaying until a crack widens can damage the underlying wall.

10. Last, but certainly not least, now is a great time to review your homeowner’s insurance policy. Believe it or not, too many homeowners are unsure what is covered and what is not. What happens if a pipe bursts? Will temporary housing be covered should you lose your home to fire? What are your deductibles? Have you added anything to your home, like expensive jewelry, computers or a swimming pool to your home recently? It’s time to get a full understanding of your policy if you are unsure.

Are You Considering Investing In South Florida’s Hot Commercial Real Estate Industry?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

If you are considering investing in commercial real estate, make sure that you not only have plenty of patience but that your goals are in sync and in perspective.  This is the advice from commercial real estate experts in South Florida who also strongly suggest that potential investors understand fully the amount of quality time, research, the value of establishing important relationships and targeting the appropriate type of investment, is all part of the overall game plan.

Here are some well thought out suggestions from successful investors for those who are seriously considering jumping into the commercial real estate market.

1.  Don’t limit yourself.  Successful real estate investors think big.  However, they also don’t exceed their budget unless they can.

2.  Don’t rush:  Buying residential real estate is a lot different than buying commercial properties, as it is a much longer process.  From purchasing to renovating, to finding tenants and a million things in between, patience is required.  Don’t rush through the course, skip steps or ignore the advice of professionals, as this is when bad decisions are made and can turn into a financial or legal nightmare.

3.  Do your research:  Don’t panic and get discouraged if your first attempts at securing a real estate property fall through. It takes time to look for the right commercial property, such as viewing various locations, making offers and negotiating, meeting with inspectors and loan officials.  The list goes on but it’s safe to say, even the easiest of transitions often take longer than you would expect.  It’s just the nature of the real estate industry.

4.  Cultivate relationships:  Creating a large network with other investors as well as professionals in the real estate industry are critical for getting the latest in listings, business openings and closings, referrals the latest deals as well as trends in South Florida.  The more people you add to your list of contacts, the more informed you are.

5.  Be prepared to spend money:  Once an offer is accepted, it’s time to bring out the checkbook.  You will have many expenses, such as an appraisal, property inspection and other procedures required by law.  This is not to mention the updating, repairing, taxes, fees and such.  The list does go on so buying commercial property is not for those who are willing to skip steps or constantly cut corners.

6.  Look into funding prior to viewing properties:  Financing a commercial property is different than buying a home.  It’s like comparing apples to oranges in many aspects. Find the best lenders in your area who are highly recommended, as again, the process does take longer than other loan types.  Also, using highly knowledgeable resources can often make the difference of whether you will qualify for a loan or not.

7.  Don’t hesitate to ask the pros.  Certain situations or issues come up every day when buying commercial property in South Florida.  There are days you just don’t know what will come across your desk.  Therefore, never shy away from meeting an experienced commercial investor for their advice and suggestions.  Make sure that you are clearly educated on a matter before proceeding.  Often newer investors hesitate to research issues, such as estimating insurance costs, to understanding various county codes.  It’s a shame when this happens especially since the information is often so readily available.  Yet deals have been lost because of this.

No one can promise a smooth and carefree commercial real estate transaction.  If they could, then we have yet to meet them.  But whether you are investing in a small property or a large shopping complex, the bottom line is that you are investing to make money.  And while making quick cash may not be in the cards right away, the potential is great as long as one knows what they are doing from day one.

So again:

  • Think big
  • Take your time and do the research
  • Create valuable relationships
  • Be prepared to write checks
  • Find the best loan companies
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions
  • Don’t skip steps and ignore regulations

How To Prepare For Property Inspection

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

For many South Florida property owners, a building inspection can be a nerve wrecking time.  What issues will be found?  How expensive will it be to make the needed repairs?  Will the sale be compromised if too many problems are discovered? And with the rainy season upon us, where we traditionally receive 27 inches on average, other concerns worry owners as well, such as window and drainage matters.

Let’s start by offering one word of advice:  If you are considering selling your south Florida property but think your property needs some work, or if it is an older structure, hire an inspector BEFORE you list your home or commercial building.  This will give you a good heads up about what repairs are needed.  Once these problems are corrected, you can show the realtor your receipts to confirm work has been completed.  This is also encouraging news to prospective buyers that your property is in good shape and will certainly give you an edge when listing, as the vast majority of buyers want to purchase a move-in ready property.

 As a professional inspection company, we are often asked:  How can I prepare for an inspection?  Is there anything that I should do?  Here are some of our recommendations:

 1.  Clean:

 If you are living in a home or selling a building, make sure the property is clean. Make it easy for an inspector to walk through your house or building without worrying about stepping over objects or maneuvering through hurdles.  This keeps the inspection on time.

 2.  Check The Simple Things:

 It’s amazing how just fixing the easy repairs can make a huge difference.  Not only is it inexpensive, but also takes little or no time.

  • Light bulbs.  Walk around and replace any burnt out bulbs.  Make sure all receptacles are in good working order.  A common problem faced every day is where the electrical panel is blocked, which makes access difficult. So make sure this area is clear.
  • Filters:  Replace any dirty and old heating/air conditioning filters.
  •  Leaky faucets:  If you have a faucet that is leaking, a drain that is slow or any other plumbing issues, now is the time to contact a plumber to repair.  When a buyer sees something as simple as a dripping faucet or pipe, it raises a red flag and gives them reason to wonder if this is perhaps the result of a bigger, more costly, problem.

 3. Clear Outside Walkways:

 Inspectors look at a home inside and out, from top to bottom.  We look at hundreds of items, some of which are big, and others quite small.  It is important that an inspector be permitted to move around easily outside the property as well as inside. Prior to your appointment, take away any obstacles that would prevent an inspector from easily going from one area to another.

 4.  Clear Access To Attics, Closets And Doorways.

 Wherever the hatch or opening is located, make sure your inspector can reach without any obstruction.  This also includes making sure there is workspace near air conditioners, water heaters, etc.

 5. Trim overgrown bushes or shrubs if blocking any exterior inspection areas. 

 Inspectors will need to inspect the walls, foundation, siding and other points.  This can make it difficult if a home is covered with over-run landscaping.

 6.  Leave Utilities Connected:

 If a home or property is vacant, make sure the pilot lights are ignited, water, gas and utilities are still connected.  Without this, an inspector will need to reschedule and this could delay closing.

 7.  Show Receipts:

 If you have had repairs made, leave a folder out for the inspector to review.  This is extremely helpful and will allow the inspector to confirm that previous issues have been resolved.  Be sure to include permits and product approvals.

 8.  Pets:

 We all love our pets, but an inspector’s job is much easier when pets are removed or at least properly secured for the duration of the appointment.

 9. Be On Time:

 Finally, be prepared and on time for the inspection.  These appointments can take several hours, so it’s necessary to get started when the appointment is scheduled.  Chances are, your inspector will have a busy schedule, so in order not to keep other planned appointments waiting, starting on time is essential.

 When sellers prepare for an inspection, it can allow the entire process to operate more smoothly and keep your real estate transaction on schedule.

Questions to Ask Your South Florida Home Inspector

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

For many real estate buyers and investors, hiring a South Florida home inspector can be a daunting experience.  For some who have never hired an inspector before, they are not exactly sure what to expect nor how to go about finding a professional they can trust.  But as mentioned on this site previously, a home or commercial inspection should never be ignored.  And hiring an unqualified inspector is the same as not having an inspection at all.  Why risk your investment?

For those that are looking for a south Florida inspector, there are some questions that any professional inspection company should be happy to answer:

1.  How long have you been in business?  How many inspections has your company completed?

A professional inspector must be able to offer their experience and qualifications for you to review as well as referrals for you to contact if necessary.  This also brings up the point if new inspectors are worth hiring?  Many new to the industry work with other professionals or have access to experienced inspectors, so if you are considering someone that is relatively new, determine if they will have assistance.

2.  How long will the inspection take?

Shy away from anyone that claims they can inspect your home or commercial property in an hour or less.  Of course, it depends on the size and age of the building, but a thorough and proper investigation should take several hours.

3.  What can I expect with your inspection?

It is mandatory that your inspection meets all Florida requirements while complying with a strict code of ethics.  Inspectors should provide copies of recently completed property inspections for a client’s review and confirm what areas of the home or commercial building are covered.  Because in South Florida many home issues are weather related, special attention should always be focused on areas where water can pose a problem.

4.  When will my report be ready to review?

Professional inspectors understand that those buying a property need an inspection report in a reasonable amount of time due to the nature of contracts and negotiations with a seller.  Although some reports may take longer than others, typical home inspection reports should be made available within 24 to 48 hours.

5.  I would like to attend the inspection so will I be able to?

Any professional inspector would not only agree to this, but they should welcome it as well.  This is an excellent opportunity for a buyer to ask questions and learn more about the building itself.  For example, if you are looking a home, you will want to know where to turn off the water in case of an emergency. This is true with gas and breaker units as well.  If you have specific questions about a repair and the cost to fix or replace, an inspector can be helpful in this area as well.  Should an inspector decline your request to attend an inspection, this would be a major concern and an excellent reason not to hire this particular company.

6.  May I see your license?  What other professional organizations do you belong to?

Of course, you want to make sure your inspector is licensed in the state of Florida and belongs to any appropriate associations.  Three of the best inspector associations are F.A.B.I (Florida Association of Building Inspectors), InterNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors) and A.S.H.I. (American Society of Home Inspectors).  This is also a good time to check to see if any complaints have been issued or a license has been revoked for any reason.  Florida Home Inspector licensing can be verified at www.myfloridalicense.com. Another common problem in Florida is inspectors performing termite inspections without the proper wood destroying organism license.

7.  What are the most common problems one finds when inspecting homes in South Florida?

Again, weather plays a huge role with home repairs so careful attention is always paid where water may be of a concern.  Also, as we all know, the hot, humid temperatures of this region mean you want a home that has a properly working air conditioning system.  Mold is another issue that requires serious attention.  Regardless, you want to make sure that your home inspector pays careful attention to all areas of your home, as each property is different.

8.  Is your home inspection guaranteed?

Keep in mind that no home inspection is a guarantee but rather a professional inspection.  Nor does a home inspection estimate your home or property value.  It simply is a valuable resource for a buyer where the homes external and internal systems are evaluated. However, some companies do stand behind their work with limited warranty programs.

Doing the research before hiring an inspector and then asking the tough questions means that chances are, you will end up with a property that will pose no unwelcome surprises.

Why You Need A Comprehensive Mold Inspection

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

If you live in Florida, then chances are, you know that mold is a common concern among homeowners and buyers.  Even new construction that has been vacant for some time is not immune to this unwelcome guest.  And as much we enjoy the enviable Florida lifestyle, the combination of moisture and warm temperatures provide excellent conditions for mold growth.  So it’s understandable why our state has persistent problems with mold. 

Unfortunately, mold is a significant threat to property and buildings. If not caught early, it can spread quickly, providing damage and significant health issues.  Simply touching mold or breathing air that has mold spores can cause a variety of reactions.  For some, it may include coughing, runny nose or skin and eye issues.  For others, the effects can be more dangerous.  

A brief rundown:  Mold occurs when you have moisture, nutrients and warmer temperatures.  Once mold spores find their way into a home or property, mold can settle and grow quickly.  The question is not how to get rid of mold spores from entering a home as they are not visible to the naked eye and exist virtually everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.  Rather, the issue is how to discover and remove mold once it has been discovered. 

1.  Maintain moisture control in air:  

Moisture can come into our homes or commercial property in a variety of ways.  Whether it be through damp air or water, it can arrive through windows, doors, cracks, as well as through dishwashing, showering, laundry or cooking.  Leaks and plumbing problems are also popular ways for water to get inside.  In fact, likely culprits are washing machine hoses and water heaters as being the top two sources of expensive water damage, which can then result in mold issues. 

2.  Eliminating Nutrients: 

Mold will quickly settle and spread when it has a food source.  Natural fibers, found in furnishings, clothing, paper products, books and other materials are popular feeding grounds.  Mold also grows on walls, closets, clothing and showers.  In fact, soap scum found in shower stalls provides nutrients for mold growth.  The best way to eliminate this pest is to keep a clean home, which will discourage mold from spreading.  

3.  Temperature Control: 

Again, with warm summer months just ahead, its good to remember that hot weather encourage mold growth.  Mold makes itself right at home in temperatures between 75 – 87 degrees.  While air conditioning certainly helps, if the air is more humid, then it is unable to prevent mold from growing.  Pay particular attention to areas where the air doesn’t flow, such as inside cabinets, closets and under kitchen or bathroom sinks, as these areas are usually the warmest in a home.  

So again, the best way to eliminate mold growth is to do the following: 

  • Regularly clean and sanitize your home. 
  • Clean shower stalls to remove soap scum as well as moisture. 
  • Keep fans on, as it will circulate the air. 
  • Keep an eye out for any wet areas, standing water or condensation. 
  • Don’t ignore any leaky faucets or plumbing problems. 
  • Don’t allow foundations to stay wet.  Make sure there is drainage and the area is properly sloped away from foundation. 
  • Make sure air conditioning is properly maintained and HVAC drip pans are thoroughly cleaned, flowing correctly and unobstructed. 

Despite all best preventions, it is not surprising when owners are unaware they have a mold problem with their home or commercial property.  In fact, most are genuinely shocked to hear that their home is infested with mold.  Often, mold is hidden, may be covered or the leak is behind walls, or other locations that are not clearly visible. That is why it is necessary to inspect any property for mold, especially if: 

  • Owners or tenants have allergic reactions, such as itch eyes, sneezing, runny nose with being in a certain area or room of house or building. 
  • To determine that source of moisture has been stopped with no mold growth. 
  • To verify there is not a mold issue or moisture that is often associated with new construction, building or property that will be rented or purchased. 

Finally, there are some important things everyone should know in regards to mold inspections.  The most important facts are: 

  • It is necessary to hire a professional, qualified and experienced mold inspector. 
  • A mold inspection should include looking for current and past mold problems. 
  • Mold is not often known or visible, so good inspectors utilize specialized equipment such as moisture meters and infrared cameras.  This equipment can often detect moisture which is not visible to the naked eye. 
  • Mold inspections should always be on the look out for moisture.

It is recommended that anyone who suspects a mold problem, to have a complete and comprehensive inspection.  Mold related illness, particularly in our area of Florida, is not uncommon and should be treated immediately.