8 Things You Should Never Do To Your Home

The list for things you should do to your home is endless—change furnace filter, clean gutters, leave a faucet running when it’s freezing out—but there are likewise many things you shouldn’t do. Of course, “set it on fire”, “paint it all black”, and “take off the roof” are gimmes, but we’ve come up with the top 8 items to be avoided that many people already do. Our apologies if you’ve already done one of these (or several).

1. Don’t do your own plumbing. If you already know how to do it, then this is just a list of the top 7 things you shouldn’t do. But even if you are an ambitious and skilled DIYer, just leave this one to the pros. It’s not so much that homeowners can’t do this or can’t learn, but most homeowners are not familiar with the safety requirements laid out in the Uniform Building Code (UBC). Plus, if you mess something up, water gets everywhere and might ruin a great many things. The risk versus reward of this does not play to your favor.

2. Don’t park in the yard. Now we know what you’re saying, anyone who cares enough about their home to read an article about things you shouldn’t do to them already knows not to do this. But you’d be surprised. Plus we just wanted to let you know that we didn’t miss this one.

3. Don’t remove walls between rooms without knowing if it is a load-bearing wall. Certainly, if you are working with a quality contractor, this professional will know which walls can come down and which can’t. However, if you are doing it yourself, you need to ask an engineer or a solid contractor.

4. Don’t do bump-outs. Bump-outs are when you move a wall out a few feet just for a little extra space (like a bay window, but to a greater degree). The reason not to do this is simple: the cost per square foot of this improvement is so high that you might as well opt for a more sizable addition at a much lower cost per square foot. Of course, if you like the texture of pocketed space, more power to you, but also more cost to you.

5. Don’t do your own electrical. Same as with #1, except that you have the added danger of getting electrocuted. Not a good idea.

6. Don’t remodel too much. Now you might have so much money that you just need to get rid of it, and if so, might we recommend a few charities that do some good work. However, you need to keep your remodeling within the general costs of your neighborhood. You’ve got to keep the money you put into your home realistic compared to the average price of houses that are similarly sized in your immediate area; otherwise it is extremely difficult to get the return on your investment.

7. Don’t be the person who doesn’t take care of your yard. Every street or every neighborhood has one, but don’t be that guy! You’ll get the whole neighborhood quietly hating you, making passive aggressive comments, and then one morning you wake up to find the whole block cleaning up your yard, as you stand on the porch in your robe with bed head. Bad yards make the neighborhood look bad and bring property values down, plus they’re an eyesore. If you’re really that busy, hire a lawn service or a kid from the block.

8. Never fool yourself into thinking your pets don’t stink. Because they do. This goes for you, too, small dog people. You might be used to the smell and the shedded hair, but it’s new to your guests. Pets, while lovable, get their smell on everything. If you have pets, you need to clean your carpets and furniture more often than usual (like every 6 months), make sure that you open the windows as often as the weather permits, and vacuum as often as time allows. If you are looking to sell, you might need to repaint inside to help with the odor.

Matt Myers is a freelance writer for the home maintenance and remodeling industry. Formerly a contractor specializing in deck building and casework, Matt has written over 500 articles for both homeowners and contractors.

from ServiceMagic Newsletter

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Creating a Positive Professional Image

According to Harvard Business School professor Laura Roberts, your professional image is the set of qualities and characteristics that represent perceptions of your competence and character as judged by your key constituents (i.e., clients, superiors, subordinates and colleagues).

You must take a strategic, proactive approach to managing your professional image. “If you aren’t managing your own professional image, then someone else is,” says Roberts. Since your constituents are constantly observing you, sizing you up as a professional, Roberts says, “It’s only wise to add your voice in framing others’ theories about who you are and what you can accomplish.”

The first thing you need to do is determine how you want to be regarded. Most working professionals list things such as highly committed to work, competent and dependable. These are fine attributes, but keep in mind research shows that some of the most valuable traits are broader, such as trustworthiness, caring and humility.

As you make out your list of attributes, it might help to distinguish between a desired and undesired professional image. The desired image is what you want your constituents to say about you. The undesired image is what you don’t want them to say.

The next step is a dedicated campaign that incorporates and exemplifies your values in an authentic and credible manner. One tactic: Identify values that you and your constituents share in common. If one participates in fundraising walks, do more than donate — join them. This is a great way to communicate common values and create a positive professional image.

While working on your professional image, be careful to avoid any false steps — literally the meaning of a “faux pas” — that undermine the image you are seeking to project.

from Prospect Mortgage “Big Idea” by Jeremy Daugherty

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What you should know about backup real estate offers

Buyers who lose out in a multiple-offer competition or who make an offer a little too late may be offered the opportunity to be in a backup position. A backup offer is one that’s accepted subject to the collapse of an already accepted offer.

The seller can accept multiple backup offers, in which case they are ranked: backup offer No. 1, backup offer No. 2, and so forth. It’s rare in the current market for there to be more than one backup offer.

If you’re offered backup position, should you accept it? Buyers are often reluctant to accept a backup offer because they feel it will strengthen the resolve of the buyers in primary position to move forward with the deal if they hit a rough patch, such as a previously unknown inspection issue. And, in fact, this can happen.

Recently, buyers went into contract to buy a home in Oakland, Calif. The sellers provided many reports and disclosures on the condition of the property. However, someone inspecting for the buyers had a different opinion about the condition of the roof, gutters and downspouts, and said it would cost an extra $13,000 to fix.

Two days after the first contract was accepted, another buyer made an offer that was accepted in backup position. The backup offer was for a higher price than the primary offer. Rather than lose the house to the backup buyers, the first buyers removed their inspection contingency despite the new information they received about the condition of the roof.

Some buyers fear that if they accept backup position they will halt their search effort until they know for sure that they can’t have the home they want. This is a factor you can control. If you accept backup position, don’t slow down your quest to find a home to buy.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Make sure there is a provision in the backup position clause in the contract that says the buyers can withdraw at any time up until they are notified that the primary offer has collapsed and their offer has been elevated to the primary position.

It’s usually worthwhile to accept a backup position because there is a high fallout rate in the current market. Just don’t sit around waiting for the first deal to fall apart.

From the sellers’ perspective, it’s usually a good idea to counter an offer for backup position if there is more than one offer. Keep in mind that most buyers would rather be in primary position. Some won’t accept backup for the reasons mentioned above, or they may have another house in mind if they don’t get yours.

To entice a buyer to accept backup position, you may have to accept an offer with a lower price than the primary offer. Don’t expect a buyer to accept a counteroffer from you for backup position that also includes a price increase. Make sure you tidy up the offer as if it were a primary offer. There won’t be a chance to change the terms if the primary deal falls apart.

Don’t accept any offer just to have a backup offer. If you have a backup offer and the first contract fails, your home goes to the backup buyer without going back on the market. This can be a benefit to both buyers and sellers. The backup buyer doesn’t have to face multiple offers again, and the sellers don’t have to go through the hassle of finding another buyer.

Sellers who don’t like a potential backup offer because of a very low price might be better off not countering the offer for backup position.

THE CLOSING: Sellers should feel comfortable with a prospective backup offer; they may have to live with it.

By Dian Hymer, Monday, October 31, 2011.

Inman News™

Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of “House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide.”

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