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Articles by Real Estate Professionals

In addition to their Articles dealing generally with the nature of their services, the real estate professionals will discuss different specific "Topics" of interest to buyers and sellers from time to time.  The current "Topic" is included below.  Prior "Topics" from these and other Authors are indexed in the Topics Library for your review.

The content of these articles and topics is not edited by 2BuyHolmes.net and reflects solely the thoughts and opinions of the authors.

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Licensed Appraiser's Article

Author, Jay Westrick is Manager of the Residential Appraisal Department at O’Connor & Associates. He is a Texas State Certified real estate appraiser. (Lic. #Tx 1327601-R). You may contact the O’Connor & Associates Residential Appraisal Department at (713) 686-9955.

 Introduction

The real estate appraiser provides many functions in a real estate transaction. The principal function is to be an impartial third party to the transaction. While other professionals in this industry also assist the buyer and seller, such as real estate agents and mortgage companies, only the appraiser is not paid depending on the transaction. Real estate agents and mortgage brokers receive a commission only if the real estate transaction takes place. As a result, the buyer or seller may feel rushed or even pushed into a transaction. The appraiser provides an unbiased, independent assessment of the subject property and is paid for his or her service whether or not the loan closes.

The appraiser is the "eyes and ears" for his or her client. The purpose of the appraisal report is to communicate to its reader the condition of the property, the current market conditions and to determine an estimate of fair market value of the subject property. Along with individual homeowners, a few examples of businesses that frequently need the services of real estate appraisers are mortgage companies and lenders.

Although real estate agents and mortgage companies perform essential roles in a real estate transaction, appraisers are your safeguard to ensure that you don’t pay too much or receive too little for your home.

Description of Typical Services

There are basically two types of residential appraisals: (1) the full appraisal and (2) the limited scope appraisal. The full appraisal is typically required for residential mortgages. The limited scope appraisal or "drive-by" is used predominantly for home equity loans or home improvement loans. The difference between the two appraisals is that the full appraisal inspects the subject property and uses the cost, income and market approach to valuing the subject property. The drive-by assumes the county records are correct and proceeds with only the market approach to value. The major difference is the level of verification of data. A full appraisal is more accurate than a drive-by appraisal.

What does it take to be an Appraiser?

There are three classifications of appraisers:

  • The State Certified General Appraiser is certified to appraise commercial, industrial, multi-family and residential property
  • The State Certified Residential Appraiser is certified to appraise light commercial, multi-family and residential property
  • The Licensed Appraiser is licensed to appraise 1-4 unit multi-family and residential property

Qualifications to Perform Real Estate Appraisals in Texas

To perform appraisals for federally regulated transactions one must be licensed by the State of Texas. The qualifications vary for each license.

Typical Fees

A full appraisal typically costs $325.00. For a drive-by appraisal, appraisers typically charge $190.00.


Licensed Appraiser's February 2000 Topic:

Author, Jay Westrick is Manager of the Residential Appraisal Department at O’Connor & Associates. He is a Texas State Certified real estate appraiser. (Lic. #Tx 1327601-R). You may contact the O’Connor & Associates Residential Appraisal Department at (713) 686-9955.

Selling Your Home: An Appraiser’s Perspective

There are many steps that a homeowner can take in order to obtain a higher value when selling a home. From a real estate appraiser’s perspective, there are several items a potential buyer looks at when he negotiates for the purchase of a home. As a seller, you should tailor your home to the buyer’s market to enhance its selling potential.

Foremost, the seller must realize that he is not selling a home. What he is selling are the rights to a property, along with its improvements. The buyer does not consider sentimental values, nor should the seller consider them. The attitude of "it’s only business" should be taken. Once a homeowner makes a decision to sell a home, there are important factors to consider, such as when to sell, what to sell and, more importantly, what to change and repair.

When to sell is an important factor in many geographical areas. Galveston and Lake Conroe are the classic seasonal areas in the Greater Houston Market. In those areas there are a significantly larger number of sales during, and just after, the summer months. However, in most of Houston, the largest number of sales occurs during the months of June, July and August. Depending on the location, you should consider marketing your property when, historically, the highest number of sales has occurred.

What to sell is not considered as often as it should be. Re-think your home and what its potential could be. For example, you may own a typical colonial-style home, built around 1977, with four bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a family room and formal dining and living rooms. Sounds pretty nice, right? Maybe not to the younger buyer. Few people today use formal living rooms; however, there is an increasing demand for home offices. Look into some inexpensive ways to increase the potential of your home by remodeling and being creative with interior space.

Don’t forget about the exterior of your home. The first thing a seller should do is take a good look at the exterior. Paint and repair all visible nicks and fertilize the landscaping, as a buyer will look for visible defects. A favorable "curb appeal" will help get prospective buyers in the door!


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Licensed Attorney's Article

Article Pending


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Licensed Inspector's Article

Author, Edward Robinson is vice president of Professional Engineering Inspections, Inc. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston and is a TREC licensed real estate inspector in the Houston area. You may contact Professional Engineering Inspections's at (713) 664-1264.

Introduction

Home inspection services are normally contracted by a potential purchaser of a residential property with the purpose of determining the current condition of that property. Inspections on homes is a relatively new service that has become standard practice in only the last 8 to 10 years. Prior to the existence and use of home inspectors, most home inspection services were provided in a minimal way by contractors in specific fields, such as air conditioning contractors, plumbers, electricians, and general contractors. The problem with having inspections performed by such contractors was that they were not in the normal business of providing documentation as to the condition of an asset. In many cases, a foundation, roof, or mechanical system may, in fact, function and may not require significant repair but may be in a poor condition or display a need for increased maintenance that is not reflected in the information provided by a specific trade inspection. In addition, there is a significant benefit to hiring a single individual who can provide information on many different systems. As a result of this need, property inspection professionals began providing inspection services. In the state of Texas, home inspection services are primarily performed by real estate inspectors licensed under the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and licensed professional engineers, with most of the home inspections performed in Texas by licensed real estate inspectors.

Description Of Typical Services

TREC licensed inspectors are required to follow a minimum scope in their inspection. Although this scope can be increased by the inspector, most inspection services provide inspections of a similar scope. The significant systems considered in a typical inspection are the foundation, roof, structure, maintenance items, mechanical systems, plumbing systems, and electrical systems. A client will most often find the differences between inspection services in the level of detail, the quality of the written report, and the quality of the customer service.

Services provided by most home inspection companies licensed by the TREC are limited to pre-purchase inspections. Items required to be included in a typical inspection report include information and an opinion regarding the condition of the foundation, structure, roof, general maintenance items, built-in appliances, air conditioning and heating, and electrical systems. The scope of a typical home inspection includes items which are readily visible without moving items or performing significant disassembly of equipment or structure inspected. In some cases, inspectors are not allowed to significantly disassemble equipment due to the lack of state licenses, such is the case with electrical or air conditioning equipment. This also prevents the possibility of damage to the property being inspected. The purpose of such an inspection is to provide information as to the overall condition of the property being evaluated. It should be understood by clients that this does not necessarily include recommendations for any repairs to a property unless that was specifically contracted for.

Engineering firms which provide home inspection services are not necessarily required to follow the TREC standards of practice, although in most cases they do. Such firms often have a very wide variety of additional inspection services in addition to standard pre-purchase home inspections. These include: water penetration inspections, soils testing, foundation performance evaluations and testing, legal investigation and documentation, new construction evaluations, site drainage evaluations, structural evaluation and testing, and other special consulting. In most cases, these additional services provide more in-depth evaluations which allow for more specific recommendations and, in some cases, provide repair design or recommendations for repair.

The services provided by real estate inspectors are priceless and, in a significant number of cases, provide information on the condition of property that more than justify even the highest of inspection fees.

What Does it Take to Be an Inspector

To be a good home inspector, one needs to have an understanding of basic construction practices and mechanical systems and basic solid mechanics. In addition to understanding how buildings are constructed and how the systems work, an inspector must have a talent for making observations which provide indications of problems or potential problems. It is not required that one have an engineering degree or have been a contractor for twenty years to be a good inspector, although the principles learned from such education and experience are valuable. These skills are of little value if an inspector does not have the skills necessary to issue an inspection report The final presentation of information to the clients is, after all, the purpose for the client hiring an inspector to begin with.

Qualifications to Perform Real Estate Inspections in Texas

To perform home inspections in Texas, you must either be a licensed professional engineer or a licensed home inspector under the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). Home inspectors licensed under the TREC are licensed at three different levels, depending upon their qualifications. The following describes the significant requirements to obtain a license at each level:

Apprentice Inspector:

    • At least 18 years of age or older.

Real Estate Inspector:

    • Minimum of 90 days licensed as an apprentice inspector.
    • Performed a minimum of 25 inspections as an apprentice inspector under the direct supervision of a sponsoring professional inspector.
    • Completed 90 classroom hours of TREC approved education.

Professional Real Estate Inspector:

    • Minimum of 12 months licensed as a real estate inspector.
    • Performed a minimum of 175 inspections as a real estate inspector under the indirect supervision of a sponsoring professional inspector.
    • Completed 38 additional classroom hours of TREC approved education.

Typical Fees

The cost of inspection services is highly variable. The cost depends upon the level of experience of the inspector and the level of services they generally provide. One should expect that an inspector with a degree in engineering is going to be more costly than an inspector who does not and that a two thousand square foot house will cost less to inspect than an eight thousand square foot house. Fees for having an inspection in a two thousand square foot house generally start in a range from $150.00-$400.00, depending upon the inspector you contact, and will increase in price, depending on the size and value of the property inspected. It is generally recommended that a person obtain the greatest level of detail they can afford since the purchase of a home is the largest single purchase most homeowners will ever make.


Licensed Inspector's April 2000 Topic:

Author, Edward Robinson is vice president of Professional Engineering Inspections, Inc. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston and is a TREC licensed real estate inspector in the Houston area.  You may contact Professional Engineering Inspections's at (713) 664-1264.

Pre Marketing Inspections:

The summer is just around the corner, which is normally accompanied by a plethora of people buying and selling homes who will no doubt have them inspected as a part of the transaction. Many times these inspections result in information which is unexpected or significant and must be dealt with before closing on a home can occur. With the short-term contracts and busy atmosphere of the summer marketing season, a red flag as a result of an inspection which requires repair of a significant item or further investigation to determine the scope of a potential problem can cause a seller to loose a sale and a potential purchaser to possibly loose a good deal.

One possible and realistic alternative to help reduce the potential for such a problem is for sellers to have their homes inspected prior to placing them on the market. In this way, a seller can determine what items might be included in a typical cursory home inspection, and this allows the seller to determine if any significant defects exist which might affect the salability of the house. Many times inspectors find problems such as evidence of structural damage or water penetration which cannot be properly evaluated during a cursory inspection. If known by a seller prior to listing the home for sale, any such concerns can be further investigated for proper repair or at least disclosed to a potential purchaser to reduce the potential for a delay during the sale process. This information also provides great insight during considerations regarding the market value of a home.

Pre marketing inspections can also be a plus for a potential purchaser of a home. As a purchaser of a home, it is always wise to request copies of old reports on a home being considered for purchase. If pre sale inspections are available and are sufficiently recent, they can provide good information as to the condition and performance of the building’s foundation, roof, structure, and mechanical equipment. Having this information available before the start of negotiations help the potential purchaser to properly assess whether the condition of the home is acceptable and what sort of offer is reasonable. This saves time and aggravation which might be caused by surprises during the purchaser’s inspections.

I recommend that pre marketing inspections not take the place of the purchasers having their own inspection performed. Consider just a few reasons:

    • The seller has a very different scope and purpose than a prospective purchaser.
    • The seller is trying to improve the condition of the house to make it most attractive for sale.
    • It is also a good idea to have areas of concern reviewed by a purchaser’s inspector even if repairs are made to determine the quality and adequacy of repairs.
    • No relationship exists between the purchaser and the inspector who performed the pre marketing inspection who could not be aware of the needs of all prospective purchasers.
    • The prospective purchaser should select an inspector who meets their needs with respect to the inspector’s qualifications and experience.
    • How current is the information provided by a seller? Foundation performance information and information regarding some mechanical equipment may change drastically in a short period of time.

A pre marketing inspection can be of value to both the buyer and seller of a property if represented and used properly. The information provides a significant deterrent to problems which could derail a contract due to unknown and unforeseen problems; however, even though this information can be useful to a purchaser, it should never be considered a substitute for a pre purchase inspection provided by a licensed home inspector or engineer.


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