Jason Bramblett Real Estate Show Podcast 

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Jason:  Good morning. You are listening to the Jason Bramblett Real Estate Show.  I hope everybody is having a great weekend. Are you ready?  Well, we have been getting you ready for the past couple weeks on our little series on getting the house ready, but today we are doing a deep dive, going deep. Making sure that you have got everything ready to go to get your house sold whether it be now or in the future.  We are going to dig through, give you some detailed, ready-to-go lists, so that way you know every single step of the way and what they need to do now. We are all about making the burden easy, making the burden light, and how you do that is by being prepared.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time, and that is what we are going to do. We are going to dig into today and take that step by step. Or you can do it the way you want.  Wait, do nothing, and then run around like a wild person, kicking the dog, beating the kids, the wife is screaming at you. That is not any kind of fun way to get the house ready to sell.  And here is the other thing. It is not necessary at all. So guys, do me a favor. Have your wives listen to the radio show today. That way we will take the first action plan which is getting you prepared for the honey-do list that we have got coming and what we are going to talk about.  Basically it is coming up with a plan, and we are gong to work our plan, and we are going to start with the end in mind. It is key to set those things in place. You can plan to do nothing.  Nothing is still a plan by the way. It is just not a really good one. So we are going to walk you through that step by step, and then we re going to talk about pricing. We are going to talk about where you should put the money and then prioritizing everything out for you. It is not for everyone what we are going to talk about. And if it is not for you, that is okay. We have a plan for the person that just does not, the I do not want to do anything seller out there. Hey, we have got you covered as well. We are going to dig into that.  But you have got to understand.  There are two different prices in real estate. You will get a different price by doing nothing.  Just like with everything. Convenience comes at a price. It always does. You pay at the convenience store, the gas station, the restaurant, on vacation, and even when you go to sell your house convenience has a price and we do have a plan for that.  So don’t you worry.  Joining me today, Mr. Keith in the studio, and he is here. We are going to be lighting up the board and making everything happen.  Good morning to you, sir.

Keith:  Good morning.  So let’s jump right in, Jason. All right. We talked about getting ready for the fall. We have got the leaves picked up. We have got the lawn looking good. The gutters are clean. Nobody fell off the house. We are good to go.

Jason:  Even better.

Keith: What is the next step?

Jason: Keyword do not fall off the house.  Definitely. So most everything we are going to talk about today is probably in an area of the house that you do not go to that often. We are going to talk about basements and crawl spaces and all that.  Here is what I want to do. I want to hit the big-ticket items.  And what I say by big ticket items, these are basically the deal killer.  These are the things in which when a buyer discovers these problems with your home, the likelihood of them moving through the process to closing is almost zero. The other thing I look at is I always approach repairs or things that come up in two ways. The first way is if you were not selling this home, if we just discovered this, is this something that you should get taken care of.  Meaning we found a little problem that is going to be an extremely big problem if we do not do something about it.  The second thing we look at is is this something that is going to come up again and again no matter who the buyer is? Buyer A finds the problem, doesn’t like it, walks away. You do not fix the problem. Buyer B knows about it, but Buyer B does a little further investigation and they say, you know what, I do not like it, and I am walking away as well. What I am looking for is the repetitive thing, and I am looking for the thing that is only going to do more damage to your home should you not sell.  Some of these items will prevent your house from selling at all. Therefore, you are still going to be stuck with the house, and if you do not fix it, well, you may be stuck with a bunch of repairs and or ashes if you do not do anything. Right? It could be nothing.

Keith: Yeah.

Jason:  Some of you that only repair that we can come up with is road flare and five gallons of diesel fuel.  I do not recommend that.  Everything can be fixed. The problem is everything costs money. The number one deal killer of all time, 100%, 22 years’ experience, thousands and thousands of transactions, the crawl space.  If there was an Achilles’ heel to a house, it is the crawl space.  Why?  Well, you typically do not have dinner there. Right?  It is not a place you visit often. It is dark, damp.  It is spidery. It is whatever it is, and most people just od not want to spend a lot of time there, but it is the place that we need to go look. It is the place that we need to go check out. It is certainly not the place that fun happens. That is for sure.  Just in the past two months, we have three major issues discovered on properties that really would have been deal killers had we not been able to discover them during our pre-inspection. Termites and then termite damage. Mold, mildew issues, all kinds of things. But between the three, it was just about $40,000 in damage. A lot of money.  Oh, and by the way, if it discovered as termite damage, guess what? Your homeowner’s insurance does not cover it.

Keith:  The instant when we bought the house, we were sweating.  We had no reason to think there were termites. We were sweating for the termite inspection because if we had heard the word termite one second, we were walking away that second.  We were not going to mess with it. We just would not.

Jason:  Right.  And there are a lot of folks out there just like Keith. It proves two points. One, that is just a non-negotiable for Keith.  The second is most people do not want to inherit your problems.  Why do insurance companies not cover termite? It is considered neglect. You have not maintained your home properly. Termites are not like ravenous dogs. They do not do the damage in 30 seconds. It takes years and years of time to do that much damage. So therefore, the insurance companies look at it look, if you have not cared to address this problem two, three, four, or ten years, we are not going to be the bearer of, we are not going to fix your neglect essentially.  Now, I am sure there is some insurance company out there that would sell you some type of policy, but it is going to be a policy before the problem happens.  There is not a retroactive.

Keith:  Right.

Jason:  That is called do it yourself.  Essentially what you are saying is I am self-insuring my home against termites when you do not have a termite contract. So you need to get into the crawl space and check it out thoroughly. Now, inspecting for termites is a licensed activity in the state of North Carolina. So you, the average homeowner, may not have clue what you are looking for. This is where you want to spend anywhere between $70-150, whatever those guys charge to come out and do a thorough investigation and inspection. Get in touch with them.  Hopefully, you have a contract, and therefore, that makes it easier. But if you do not, this is something you definitely want to check out before the house goes on the market. It is one of these non-negotiables. The other thing is that if a buyer is getting a loan, guess who else is going to have a problem with the termites?  The bank. They typically do not like to do loans on houses with extra guests in them.  Right? They want to loan the house to people and not to termites.  Therefore, they typically want to see a report. Certainly all your government-backed loans.  So your USDA, FHA, and VA, 100% of the time require this. They want to see that report.

So next in the crawl space, water. Here is the best rule of thumb.  There should not be a drop. Again, sometimes folks, well how much water is acceptable. None.  Nobody wants water in the crawl space of the home they are going to buy because it is only going to lead to problems down the road. I had a person one time that went to see their house, and there was like six inches of water in the cellar-style basement.  And I said, well, you have got a real problem down here. We are going to need to get this addressed.  She said, oh, no, no, no, that is a wet basement.  I was like a what? She goes well when we bought the house, they told us this was just a wet basement.  That is how it was designed that way. I was just like maybe somebody can educate me, but in all the years I have been doing real estate, I have never seen a house designed with a river flowing through it on purpose.

Keith:  That does not sound right.

Jason:  It does not sound right, and it was not right. Unfortunately, it was very, very expensive to convert her wet basement to a dry basement.  You should have a vapor barrier down. If you see dirt in your crawl space, you do not want to have that in today’s world. You want to go get some plastic. I think the code is a standard six mil or greater in thickness that you want to cover all the dirt.  Why?  It keeps the moisture down in the crawl space but also in the house.  How do you know you have a moisture problem? If you go into your crawl space and you have insulation under there, and it looks like a cave. So basically it is kind of stalagtited down, it looks like of creepy and eerie and weird. That is the moisture. It has gotten so heavy it is starting to shred the insulation, and it is making it fall because of the weight.  If you see that, you have a moisture problem. You may not have a very big one. You may have a horrendous one, but you definitely have one that needs to be taken care of.  But that water vapor collects weight over time, and it will make that insulation fall down. Sometimes the crawl space ends up being kind of the catchall for everything like extra little wood pieces and projects and stuff and storage.  It should not be. You want to make sure that when you are selling your home that there is no debris under the house, especially wood products.  Why? Termites. Again, they are attracted by those things, so you do not want to store extra firewood under the house. You do not want to chuck 2x4s and those type of things down there. An acceptable thing maybe in the crawl space may be if you had an extra bundle of shingles from the house. You wanted to keep them out of the sun and dry. You leave them in the crawl space. Most things do not eat shingles. Other than buzzards. I have found out over the years that buzzards have a partiality to landing people’s roofs and tearing the tar shingles off.

Keith:  If you have got a buzzard in your crawl space, you have got a much bigger problem.

Jason: This is true. We may need to check the house very thoroughly.

Keith: There are some issues there if there is a buzzard there.

Jason: But true story. I did go to a home one time, a vacant house, and there was an owl laying dead on the kitchen floor, which made no sense at all because all the doors were locked.  The only thing that we can guess is he came in through the dryer vent somehow. The vent of the dryer did not have a cover on the outside of it, and presumably maybe he was finding some prey or chasing something in the house, but he got in, but he never got out, and unfortunately, he had his last days on the kitchen floor there.  Perfect. Looked like he just stuffed out basically.  It was very interesting.

Keith:  That is odd.

Jason:  Not something you see in most homes. But I have seen a lot of things that you do not see in most homes as you can imagine after going in almost 3000 properties in the last 20 years.  I have seen some very interesting things.  Yeah, some great things. Things in which I do not ever want to see again, too.

Keith:  Even for the pre-inspection.

Jason: Very much so. Very much so. These things need to be corrected prior to selling. You want to get all these things out of there, and buyers are not looking for crawl spaces with swimming pools in them.  We want to make sure that there is not a water issue.  You may go down there and there is not water now, but if you know there is water from the past, and you can typically tell that because water will leave a line on the brick, on the block, and you will be able to tell that there was water there. A trained professional certainly will. Now, once you discover water, now we need to figure out where in the world it is coming from.  The two biggest culprits for sure are the downspouts and the vent wells. Check your downspouts. I cannot tell you how many times, think about brick and block. It is porous. If you take a cinderblock and you pour a cup of water on it, it will not run off.  That brick absorbs 100% of that water. If you ground is dumping hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water against your crawl space, which is probably blocked, all it is doing is absorbing that water until it cannot anymore. Where does it go? Path of least resistance. Right into your crawl space. So you think about a good rain storm. There is going to be hundreds of gallons of water coming off your roof, right down your downspouts, and this is where we see the issue.  The other thing is over time, your landscape builds up, which gets it above the level of the vent wells that are going into your crawl space, and now we basically we have, it is almost like taking buckets of water and just dumping them into your crawl space.

Keith:  It is amazing to me. Every single show we do goes back gutters and downspouts. You do not think about that off the top when you are in your house.  You look at all these other things. But so many things go into those two things.

Jason:  It does. Well, if you think about the common things we do in a home, most people do not like hey, it is raining cats and dogs. Let’s go outside.

Keith: Right.

Jason: When we are we outside.  When it is beautiful, sunny, dry, warm. It is not raining. Not raining, nothing going down the downspouts. So we walk around our home in dry conditions and we are like everything is great. Well, when we get 2 ½” of rain in an hour and a half, go outside and see what it looks like then. That is what we miss. That is the visual that we miss, and typically after a great rain storm, we are picking up whatever, leaves, sticks, whatever it is in the yard, and most people do not have the first thought in their head is I should look at my crawl space and see how much water got in there last night. It is not even on their radar. And it is just years of that just being out of sight, out of mind. Because we do not go outside when it is raining, we do not see those effects, but you need to look when it is not raining.  If there is 2” gap between your downspout and the piece that is going into the ground, gravity, yeah, the water will fall, but it will not all just make it in there. So you want to make sure everything is connected. You want to push the water a good ten feet away from the house to make sure that it is not flowing toward the crawl space.  Then, of course, the vent wells are notorious issues, and typically it is just because landscape over time, it breaks down, and most of us do not go strip all the pine needles and pine bark, and everything off. What do we do?  We just throw more on top. Right?

Keith: Yeah.

Jason:  Over time, it builds up and it builds up, and now our landscape, which was way below grade when the home was built, ten years later, now it is three feet above or three inches above, I should say. And now it is just pushing water right back into the crawl space. So those are simple things that we want to look at. We are going to go take a timeout. Go pay some bills.  When we come back, now we are going to dig into some other issues.  The top five list of problems when you sell your house.  You are listening to the Jason Bramblett Real Estate Show. We will be right back in just a minute.

And welcome back to the Jason Bramblett Real Estate Show. So we are digging into all things that could possibly go wrong with your house. The deal killers we call those. The things in which buyers typically cannot get over when they are buying a house, and that is why we take the time to do pre-inspections on all of our homes to make sure we get right. We have a philosophy within our company to be proactive and not reactive because well, proactive we have control. We not only control what is going on. We control how much things cost. And when you let the buyer find out, they control the costs, which costs you, as the owner, more money because you are in a reactionary state. Anytime you react to something, I will assure you it always costs more in the end. There are lot of emergency room trips that have been made because of reactions to situations. Right?

Keith: When it comes to the surprises, they are typically not going to benefit you.

Jason:  Most of the time for sure, no. That is for sure. We are going to dig into a few other things, but you are listening to the Jason Bramblett Real Estate Show. You can give us a call at the office any time you would like. It is 553-0796.

Keith: All right. So let’s run down.  We talked a little bit about the water in the crawl space, and those are huge, huge deals, termites and all of that. But there are a couple of other big, big things to look at when you are selling your house. What are those couple of, those four, five things that are really important?

Jason:  One of the things we look at are systems and things that have moving parts. Water, obviously is moving, but it does not have an engine.  The crawl space does not have a motor, an engine, and so the other big things are the things that wear out.  Heating and cooling systems definitely in the top five. We see that time and time again where owners, they just do not have these things checked and cleaned on a regular basis. You should have your heating and cooling system serviced on a service contract and have it checked out once per year. If you do not, you are either just shorting the life of that system, or you are delaying a major repair down the road typically. Because things can be fixed sometimes before they completely wear out to nothing.  Right?

Keith:  Right.

Jason: It is kind of like brakes on your car. You have to put new brakes on or you really, really should put new brakes. And this is why the government does not take your word for it, and you have to get your what, inspected. Now, your HVAC system would only hurt you more than likely should something go wrong, and that is why it is not mandatory. When you are in your car on your road endangering the lives of other people, they would like to make sure that the minimum standard is met, or you lose your license. Right?

Keith:  Right.

Jason:  Your license plate is revoked. Your car is on the road illegally. You need to turn in your plate and walk is essentially what the government is saying. Why did they have that standard? Because they know when citizens are left to their own, some citizens anyway, they will defer maintenance of their car forever.  And that is why we have minimum standards. If we had minimum standards for many systems on our homes, then we would not have near the issues that we have when we go to sell them.  If there was a regulation where every single year you had to have the crawl space, roof, windows, heating and cooling checked every single year or your taxes tripled, whatever. Make up some penalty. I will promise you we would have some of the best maintained awesome in the world.

Keith:  You would uncover 90% of the problems that come in inspections.

Jason:  Absolutely. Selling your house would simply be here are my keys. It is absolutely amazing. Have a great day. But we do not have that system, and therefore, just like your car, your home has systems that need to be checked out. Your water heater is another one. It is certainly in the top five. We typically see where water heaters are way past their expected life.  Yes, they are still heating the water kind of, sort of. But they are full of rust. They have corrosion. There is a TRP valve that we have on these things, which is basically a safety valve in which you are supposed to, it is supposed to keep the tank from exploding or causing harm.  But there is also supposed to be pipe that is extended off that. 99 times out of 100 we do not see that, and it is another safety precaution that was omitted.  That is something we see that comes up all the time that comes up in inspection reports. Just as you would have your water heater checked out, your heating and cooling, if you switch these things, you need to make sure you get a permit for the work that is being done. This is a top priority. Banks today are looking into these things to make sure if a system is changed out in the municipality where you live is a permit required.  You cannot say it is not acceptable to say well I hired a plumber. I thought he got a permit.  The responsibility of the permit falls on the property owner, not the person you hired. The person you hired can do all of that for you, 100%, absolutely, but it is the owner’s responsibility to make sure that it happens. So you need to check with your county and or city and see if you need a permit.  We have got an extensive list of things that we are going to continue to go through. But you can always call the office at 553-0796. Go to Jason Bramblett dot com. Shoot us an email if you have got a question or you need to get a jump start on that list. Everybody have a great weekend.  We will be right back here next week.