The Ins and Outs of Home Inspections

You’ve searched all over for the right home. The winner is the perfect combination of location and convenience, in your budget, and even boasts a couple of amenities you weren’t looking for.

Before you race to the closing table, your REALTOR® suggests a home inspection.  No matter how much you love your soon-to-be home, its important to let a professional check things out to ensure you’re not in love with a lemon. The last thing you want is to be hit with a five-figure home repair bill going into your purchase.

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspector looks at the physical structure and systems of your house to be sure everything is in working condition from the roof to the foundation.

What makes a home inspector different than having a friend or construction professional look at my home prior to purchase?

A construction professional will be able to look at your home for possible damage in their area of expertise, which is usually only limited to one area (plumbing, drywall, electrical). A home inspector is also trained in how systems work together, so they may catch things a construction professional doesn’t.

For more about home inspectors, check out the American Society of Home Inspectors.

What should I look for in a home inspector?

Many times your REALTOR® will recommend a home inspector. It’s wise to trust their recommendation. This usually means the REALTOR® already has a working relationship with the inspector and values their judgment.

Since you’re likely to be paying for the home inspection, you may want to shop around. Here are some things to look for:

  • Cost
  • Certification/training
  • How many years of experience they have
  • Will the inspection meet Virginia requirements

For more information about interviewing home inspectors, download our handout
10 Questions to Ask Home Inspectors

What should I do if my home inspector finds something wrong?

What you do with what your inspector finds is entirely your decision. Keep in mind that inspectors are trained to look for problems, so their report will not highlight the good features of the home.

Many common problems found during inspection depend on the age of your home. Some of the ones home inspectors regularly see:

  • roofing issues
  • electrical wiring
  • water damage
  • poor ventilation
  • drainage issues
  • insufficient home maintenance
  • structural damage

The severity of the repairs needed may make you change your mind. If your contract includes a home inspection contingency, you can cancel your contract and begin looking again.

If you still want the home even though it needs work, you can also try to renegotiate with the seller to have them make repairs.

Still have questions?

Check out these home inspection resources:

Make the Most of Your Home Inspection
Homebuyer’s Red Flags Checklist
The Home Inspector’s File
Learn About the Home Inspection Process with Our Virtual Home Inspection
House of Horrors: 6 Things a Home Inspector Might Not Catch
7 Things Your Home Inspector Wishes You Knew

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6 ways to increase your home value

selling a home? 6 ways to increase your home valuePreparing to sell your home? Before you go out spending a truckload of cash to make your home attractive to potential buyers, check out the following tips to get the most money for the least cost:

1. Front door. According to Kristen Willens of ERA, potential home buyers make up their minds within seven seconds of entering a home, so it’s important to pay some attention to what they see before they set foot in the house. Make sure the door is attractive and sturdy.

2. Outdoor spaces. There’s a reason why people emphasize curb appeal. An ugly exterior provides a negative first impression. A survey of over 2,000 real estate brokers by HomeGain revealed that spending as little as $400-500 on landscaping could bring in four times as much money.

But beware! Elaborate landscaping that requires extensive maintenance can turn off buyers.

3. More space. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), every 1,000 square feet of additional living space increases your home’s sale price by roughly 30 percent. Knocking out unnecessary walls and even removing kitchen islands are easy places to start opening up your home’s floor plan. Another NAR study states that home buyers desire more closets and storage space.

4. Basic repairs. No matter how fancy your kitchen is, no one wants to have to invest in replacing a leaky roof or repairing an air conditioning system shortly after shelling out a significant amount of money to purchase a home. Before starting any cosmetic repairs, be sure your plumbing, HVAC system, roof and water heater are in excellent working condition.

5. Bathrooms. Though the bathroom is one of the most expensive remodeling projects you take on, but NAR says that each bathroom in a home may add up to 24% to your house’s selling price.  If you live in an older home with lots of bedrooms but few bathrooms, you may want to consider adding additional full baths.

6. Paint. You may love your pink bathroom, but not everyone will see things your way. Experts recommend painting your home in neutral colors and removing wallpaper to avoid scaring away qualified buyers who just can’t see past the purple polka dots in the dining room!

Whatever repairs you decide to invest in to help sell your home, consult with your Realtor or other real estate professional to avoid wasting money.

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How to sell your home in the fall

Summer vacations are over and school is in.  The holidays are not yet on the horizon, making fall an ideal time to put your home on the market.

Because the number of listings tend to dwindle in the fall, it will be easier for your home to stand out.

Who you should I target with a fall home sale?

According to Joanne Cleaver at the Bob Vila website, there are two types of people you should target when selling your home in the fall:

Millenials: Because of the economic fallout over the last 10 years, millenials are more likely to be skipping renting altogether. They might be moving straight from their parents’ house, which means a couple of things:

  • Loans will be harder for them to come by without landlord verification.
  • They are more likely to be using a combination of FHA loans and/or down payment assistance, which means a longer time to the closing table.
  • If the market is strong, their parents might provide cash for down payment.

When marketing a property to millenials, make sure they are aware of all the financing options available to them. Also be sure to highlight points of interest, such as built-in wireless and media, as well as convenience to area attractions.

Empty Nesters: Many times empty nesters are looking to downsize. They appreciate quality and convenience. Credit is probably not an issue, but they may not be willing to buy until their home is sold, so be sure to review any offer from them carefully with your Realtor and ask plenty of questions.

How do you get your home ready for the fall market?

Clean up: Make sure trees are trimmed, lawns are mowed and leaves are raked. Even if the weather doesn’t permit spending time outdoors, be sure patios and decks are in good condition. also suggests providing a durable mat for the porch for people to wipe their feet on during bad weather.

Keep it cozy: A cold and drafty home will keep buyers away. Lamacchia Realty suggests keeping the heat on to avoid freezing out potential homebuyers.

Start a fire: If you or your Realtor plan on being present when buyers are looking, nothing is more inviting than a fireplace.

Make the air inviting: Simmer apple cider on the stove or some spicy potpourri to get home buyers in the mood to make an offer.

Stage your home appropriately with seasonal accents: Nothing says fall like pumpkins on the porch and mums on the table. Use an appropriate color palette and decorating scheme to make your home irresistible.

For more great tips on home staging, check out these fall home staging galleries from HGTV.

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Be careful before you invest in costly home improvements

be careful when investing in costly home improvements

When selling a home, one naturally thinks that the best way to get top dollar is to invest in major repairs. However, many improvements don’t provide the return on investment that you think they will.

For instance, many motivated sellers think a swimming pool will make a home more attractive to potential buyers.


According to this Forbes article, there a quite a few improvements that drain your wallet and actually make your home less desirable.

Realty Times suggests paying close attention to these five areas:

  1. Incomplete renovations. If you choose to update a room, do not skimp on the details. This includes fixtures like ceiling fans, as well as trivial features like light switch covers and electrical outlets.
  2. Strange Spaces. Sometimes it’s a good idea to open up cramped spaces, but don’t do it at the expense of other rooms. Make sure you consider the house as a whole before making changes to one room that will affect another.
  3. Repurposing a room. Though your family may have never eaten in a dining room, others still do.  Don’t change the purpose of a room.
  4. Adding on space that doesn’t complement the existing home. Additions need to match the rest of the house in style and substance.
  5. Finishing touches that are expensive to maintain. Even though you always wanted a fountain in your driveway, potential homebuyers may not like the idea and pass on your house before they ever set foot inside. Stay away from home improvements with high monthly or yearly maintenance costs.

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Want to work with award-winning Charlottesville real estate agents?

Look no further than Montague, Miller & Company Realtors.  Check out our latest award winners!

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What does it take to get a mortgage?

get a mortgage montague miller blog title pictureYou’ve saved for your down payment, got your credit in order, and are ready to take the plunge and buy your first home.  But with all the rules involved, getting a mortgage can be an overwhelming experience.

What does it take to get a mortgage?

In order to get a mortgage, you need to have a couple of things in place:

  • A good credit score: Shoot for a minimum score of 620-650.
  • Down payment: You will need to have a percentage of the sales price in the bank at the time of closing. If you don’t have enough cash, you may be able to qualify for downpayment assistance. Check with the county and state housing or economic development offices.
  • Pre-qualification: You can’t even look at a house without getting pre-qualified. And there’s good reason: it would be unfortunate for you to put a contract on a house you’re not even qualified to buy, wasting everyone’s time in the process.

What do I need to get approved for a mortgage?

What you need to get a mortgage will vary based on your lender and financial situation. At a minimum, make sure you have two years worth of tax returns, income statements and proper identification.

These tips will help you get approved for a mortgage.

How long will it take to get approved for a mortgage?

The path to getting a mortgage can be longer than most people realize. There are several steps from application to closing, each with their own timeframes.

Paula Pant of Trulia does a great job of explaining the process here.

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July Market Report: Montague Miller & Company Realtors

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Use your wedding registry to finance a down payment

If you’re getting married, skip the traditional wedding registry and ask your guests to contribute towards a down payment for a home instead.  The folks at the National Association of Realtors teach you all you need to know about the process here.

Looking for an online wedding registry to fund your down payment?

Here are the most popular:

Hatch My House

Down Payment Dreams

However, be careful when choosing any of these options as some charge hefty service fees to use their service.

A better resource for this type of creative home financing comes from the FHA Bridal Registry Program. This program, created in the late nineties by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), allows you to receive wedding gifts to pay for your home purchase, provided you use an FHA loan instead of conventional mortgage.

Before choosing an online registry or government program, be sure to consult a qualified mortgage professional to learn about the pros and cons of each one.

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The VA Loan Process Demystified

VA Loan Process Montague Miller RealtorsVA loans are popular with military families because of their great benefits like no down payment or mortgage insurance, as well as closing cost limits and flexible requirements. But there are a lot of questions and myths surrounding them.  Learn about the VA financing process from start to finish here.

This video by Veterans United gives an in-depth overview and explanation of the VA loan program from a number of experts in the areas of finance and real estate in order to provide you with the best information possible.

Are you eligible to apply for a VA Loan? The Veteran’s Administration publishes their eligibility requirements on their website to eliminate guesswork.

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