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Buyer Self-Representation

by The Jana Caudill Team

Can I represent myself when buying a Crown Point, Munster, or Chesterton home?  What most people who ask this question really mean to say is, “Won’t I save money (translated commission) by doing it myself instead of using a Realtor?”  The answer to the first question is, Yes.  You absolutely can, and you have every right to represent yourself when buying a home.  You can find homes for sale by owner in the newspaper, call to set up showing appointments for yourself, negotiate on your own behalf, etc.  You can hire the appraiser and an inspector.  If you’re going it alone you will probably at a minimum need to hire an attorney to draw up the contract to purchase, but beyond that you can do it all for yourself, drawing on your own life experience to help guide you through every decision until closing.

The answer to the second question, “Will I save money by doing it myself?” is NO.  As a homebuyer, doing it yourself, you will not save money by not using a Realtor, and you may in fact spend more.  There are many reasons for this, primarily including who pays commissions in a Real Estate transaction, and higher average sales prices for homes for sale by owner.

In a Real Estate transaction the seller generally pays all commissions, both to the listing agent representing the seller, and to the buyer agent representing the buyer.  If this is your first Real Estate purchase this may not make sense on the surface (click here for a lengthier discussion on agency).  However, all commissions are paid out at closing by the seller, NOT by the buyer.  The bottom line is the buyer does not pay commissions.  Just like at the car lot, the buyer does not come in and have to pay a commission to the sales person who sold them their brand new car.  That commission is paid by the dealer (seller).

In addition, homes listed for sale by owner tend to be advertised for a higher price than like homes listed with a Realtor.  This is because a Realtor will show sellers how much homes are going for in their market at that time by providing a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis), and will use that information to price their home competitively with other homes on the market.  And again, if you’re looking to purchase a home that is listed for sale through a Realtor you need to keep in mind two things.  First, the seller pays all Realtor commissions, and second, and just as importantly, that Realtor is professionally representing that seller only.  They will use all their skills to negotiate and secure the highest sales price possible for their sellers – treating the buyers fairly through the entire process – but representing the seller’s interests above all others.

So, the question, will you save money by representing yourself ?  No, you’ll probably end up paying more for the house you ultimately purchase, and since commissions are paid by the seller, AND the seller has professional representation with their Realtor shouldn’t you have professional representation too?

Troubleshooting the Hot Water Heater - Part 2

by The Jana Caudill Team

(continued from last blog…) 

Last time we dealt with stinky and discolored water from your Crown Point, Munster, or Cedar Lake hot water heater.  Today we’ll cover little hot water and no hot water at all.

Little hot water:  The first question is, does your water heater have a large enough capacity for the demand in your household?  Remember as a teenager when Dad complained about not having any hot water when he took his shower after the rest of the family had already taken theirs?  Use this handy hot flow rate calculator to find out if you have an undersized unit for your family’s needs.  Also check that you don’t have hot and cold water lines crossed somewhere in the house.  If you have a crossed line from the water heater to the washing machine, for example, you’re unintentionally using hot water where you don’t need it.

No hot water:  You’ve got either a faulty gas pilot, thermocouple, or pilot control valve.  First off, is the pilot light off?  If so, follow these directions to safely light.  If you’re unable to light the pilot light it might need replacing.  The thermocouple’s job is to sense when the pilot is on and hot enough to ignite natural gas.  If the pilot’s out the thermocouple will not open, as may also be the case if the thermocouple is defective.  Again replacement the defective part.  Same goes for the pilot control valve.

If you have water appearing externally around the base of the heater it’s more than likely one of three things.  One, you have a faulty temperature and pressure control valve which you can flush clean, re-check, and replace if leaking persists.  Two, with tank corrosion you should be able to see the area where corrosion has begun to eat through the tank in which case the tank will need to be replaced.  Three, leaking connective plumbing.  Again, easy to locate.

You’ll have to decide if you’re going to do any of these repairs yourself or call in a plumber.  Just because you know how to identify the problem doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the best person to fix it.  BE SAFE.

Attic and Basement Storage

by The Jana Caudill Team

I was thinking about storage solutions for your Crown Point, Dyer, or Munster home.  I’m not talking about color coded, stackable bins, or any of that.  What I had on my mind was how to make effective use of underutilized space.  After the garage the two most likely candidates for family storage are the basement and the attic.  Here are a couple pros and cons for storage both above your head and below your feet, and a thought or two on how to do it right.

As a rule basements are cooler than the rest of the house, and by comparison with the attic, much more accessible.  Generally if a large item like a couch or an exercise machine can fit through the front door and into the house it can also fit down the stairwell and into the basement.  But accessibility can have its drawbacks as well.  Anything you store in the basement will be seen every time you venture down there, and if there’s enough stuff down there it can easily get cluttered.  Not such a great strategy if you also use the basement as a family common area.  Take into account children and pets, particularly cats.  Nosy fingers and paws can accidentally overturn Great Granny’s antique china, or disturb Great Grandpa’s military medals and ribbons.  So anything you store in the basement should be clearly labeled in secure boxes.  Plastic containers are good, especially if there’s even the most remote threat of flooding.  Another drawback of storage in the basement is the simple convenience, and by that I mean anytime you have extra space life generally expands to fill it, which can inadvertently steal away usable living space.  It’s often easier to “take it downstairs” and deal with clutter later than to properly dispose of expendable items right away.  Basement storage in itself is a great argument for a garage sale.  So if you’re going to use the basement consider one or more of those standing, folding screens to store (hide) you stuff behind and out of site.  And don’t forget the space under the stairs.  It’s great for hiding more than childhood monsters.

Attics are difficult to access, and their entry points are significantly narrower than the hallway downstairs.  However, attics are great out of the way, forgotten spaces in the house, and anything you are able to haul up a ladder can be easily put out of site and out of mind.  That means no nosy children or pets accidentally breaking priceless family keepsakes.  A word of caution though.  Attics are warm, and can get downright miserable during the summer.  Be careful not to store Grandpa’s old letterman jacket up there.  Painted leather, like the sleeves on many of those coats can sweat natural oils in the heat and ruin the finish.  So it’s safer to keep delicate materials and fabrics elsewhere if possible.  This includes old family reel to reel movies, video tapes, and music cassettes.  All of these can suffer in the heat.  Here’s the hot tip for using your attic for storage: install a folding ladder and some flooring for safety, and easier accessibility.

Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3