How To Choose a Home Inspector

I would never recommend that you purchase a home without first getting that home inspected. You’re making a huge investment and not just a financial one. You’re also going to move your family into this home and you want to make sure that home is dependable and safe for the people that you care about to live in. But what should you look for when choosing the right person to inspect your potential investment? In this episode, Episode #19 of “Real Estate, Real Answers,” I’m going to share with you what makes a good inspector and, at the end, I’ll show you how to find the right inspector for you.

The first thing I think of when I think of a good home inspector is someone who is trustworthy and thorough. You’re making a big investment, probably thousands of dollars into this home that you’re buying. You want to make sure that it’s a good financial decision and that it’s a safe and dependable home for you to move your family into. For that reason, a good home inspector is first trustworthy and thorough. But how do you know if he’s trustworthy or thorough in his work? Well, you can ask for recommendations and look at reviews but I’ll go into more depth and share with you how to pick the right inspector in the end.

The second thing that makes a really good home inspector is someone who can help you understand the difference between a major issue and a minor issue. A good home inspector will do more than just email you his or her report when that inspection is done. He might meet you at the property or another location or maybe have a phone conference with you and explain that report to you, answer any questions and help you understand what are those major and those minor issues. Some issues can be insignificant like maybe a small building code change that happened since the home was built (he has to report all of those) or an issue could be a significant issue that you really want to have addressed and taken care of if you’re gonna move forward and purchase that home. Knowing the difference in major and minor issues is really important because when you’re negotiating for repairs with a seller you want to focus on the items that really matter and not waste time on insignificant or small items that will distract and probably prevent you from getting those major issues taken care of.

A third thing that can make a really good home inspector is someone who can do multiple types of home inspections. When you’re purchasing a home and getting inspected there are a lot of different reports and inspections that you can have done. Some you might want to have a specialist for but others are fine to have one inspector do all of those different reports. The inspector who can do multiple types of home inspections might have a broader base of experience and understand how the different systems in a home all work together. Also, you can save time and money by having one company do multiple inspections. Usually, they will give you a slight discount when you order more than one inspection and you also save time and stress by not having to coordinate with different inspectors to get each one into the home and inspect it at different times and to get them access to the home.

Those are the three things that I think make a really good home inspector, but I told you at the end that I would share with you how to find the right home inspector for you.  First I would suggest asking your real estate agent for recommendations. They’ve usually worked with a lot of different inspectors, seen a lot of different reports and developed a level of trust and dependability with certain home inspectors. They or maybe friends or family who have also gotten home inspections can usually give you a recommendation of a good home inspector.

The second thing to do to find the right home inspector for you is to ask WHY. When someone gives you a recommendation for a home inspector ask them why they’re recommending that person. It could be something simple like they’re a friend or a family member (that’s not really important) but it could be something significant like the reports or the way that they interacted with that inspector that was extremely valuable to them. Knowing why will really help you to pick the right home inspector and sometimes the reason that an inspector is good for someone else will help you know that that person might not be the right person for you. People value different things and what someone else might value in a home inspector might not match what’s important to you.

The third thing to do to find a good home inspector is to look at online reviews. Online reviews can be helpful but should be taken with a grain of salt. Usually, the people that do online reviews are people who are either really happy or know a home inspector or maybe had a terrible experience. When you look at online reviews, often you’re getting people on both ends of the spectrum and not hearing from all the people in the middle who had just a normal everyday experience with that inspector. So just understand that when you’re looking at those reviews you might not be getting a full picture of the work that inspector does.

Anyways, I hope this Real Answers been helpful for you! I’m Kyle Pfaffe, local Austin-area REALTOR and certified Texas First Time Homebuyer Specialist. Through professional and exceptional service, I focus on helping homeowners sell their homes for the most money they can net and helping home buyers purchase the “most house” for the least amount of money!

If you have a question, concern or need that I can help with, contact me and I’d be happy to help any way I can!

By your Texas REALTOR, Kyle Pfaffe


The Holidays…The Worst Time to Sell Your Home?

The Holidays are the WORST time to sell your home! This is something I’ve heard many people say and is a common belief for two reason. First, people do not want to deal with the hassle of showing their home during the holidays. With parties, meals and family visiting, having your home ready for buyers to look at seems daunting. Second, since it is the holidays, no one is looking to move right now so you’re wasting your time listing your house anyways! So that’s the question for today – are the holidays really the worst time to sell your home? True or False.
I don’t have the time to share with you right now when is the WORST time to sell your house, but it is NOT over the holidays. Here are a few reasons that selling your home during the holidays could be perfect for you.
  • First, there is less competition for buyers than any other times. Most people don’t want to list their home during the holidays, which means if you do, you won’t have the same competition from other homes for sale that you would in the summernumber-of-homes-for-sale. Thinking about supply and demand is important. There are less buyers (demand) during the holidays but there are also a lot less homes for sale (supply). As a result, the supply and demand ratios are very similar to the summer when most people think is the BEST time to sell. See the chart for the trends of how many homes are for sale each month. If you live in a desirable neighborhood, this could have more of an impact than you realize – you might be one of the ONLY options for someone who wants to live in your subdivision – that’s a great position to be in!
  • Second… Go to for the rest…
 … Anyways, I hope this REAL ANSWER has been helpful for you. If you have a question that you would like the REAL ANSWER to, click here to ask a question or go here to see the real answer to other real estate questions.

Do I Really Need a Home Inspection?

A common question I have people ask me is whether or not they really need a home inspection when they buy a home in the Austin area. I have had clients say, “The home looks like it is in really great condition and the owners look like they have taken good care of the home. I’m sure everything is fine. Besides, an inspection costs around $400 and I really could use the money for something else.”

You will not be required by your lender to have an inspection on your home before you purchase it (unless you are using a VA loan – that requires a Wood Destroying Insect [WDI] Inspection). That being said, I always recommend that my clients have a home inspection prior to purchasing a house.

Why You Need a Home Inspection When Buying a Home in the Austin Area

  1. No matter how good the home looks on the surface, you never really know the condition of a home without an inspection by a professional. What you overlook can cost you huge in the future.
  2. Spending $300-$400 now can save you a lot of money it the future. The inspection is usually performed during your option period so you can back out of the contract if the home has major issues. You can also negotiate for some repairs to be performed by the sellers prior to closing
  3. With an inspection, you get a lot of good information and reports on the home. Most inspections will include an energy audit of the home for free. You can also get a termite inspection or a foundation inspection (usually free as well).
  4. You know what you have to fix. Even if there are no major issues, an inspection will tell you what maintenance items you need to address when you move in to prevent future issues.

What reports are included with a home inspection?

Most home inspections are just a “general home inspection.” They inspect almost every area of the home and give you a general report. Some inspectors provide more detailed reports for different areas and you can always order more detailed reports in certain areas. Those would include foundation inspections, WDI or termite inspections, septic inspections and energy audits.

I’ll be writing another blog post soon that you’ll probably be interested in… What makes a good home inspector?

If you have any questions about getting an inspection, when to get an inspection or any other issues concerning the sale or purchase of a home in Austin, drop me a note or text/call me at 512-636-9707 and I’d be happy to help.

Kyle PfaffeREALTOR® e:

m: 512-636-9707 w:

Common Mistakes of First-Time Homebuyers, Part 3 – Making Low Offers

Part 3 – Making Low Offers on Homes in the Greater Austin Area

As a first time home buyer in the Greater Austin area, you may be reluctant to offer full price, or above asking price, on a home that you want to purchase. You may also think that your real estate agent does not have your best interests in mind if they suggest that offer a higher amount than you might think is necessary. you may think they are looking for a quick sale or to make a higher commission.

While you may have these doubts and reservations, you should know that the Austin area real estate market is very hot right now. Homes are selling more quickly and for a higher percentage of list price than they were just a short time ago. For example, in 2011, the average (median) home for sale in Austin sold in 45 days. By the end of 2012, that time period had shrunk to only 24 days! One of my listings recently sold within 24 hours of being put on the market! Also, the average home sold in Austin for 97% of the listed price but that number had climbed to 98% in 2012 (a $2000 difference on a $200,000 home).

If you are willing to miss out on a property by trying to save a few thousand dollars in our asking price, then you can afford to wait for the best “deal.” However, for most buyers, My advice would be for you to move quickly and decisively when you find a property you love. It could be the difference between heartache or wasting your time and moving into the home of your dreams!

If you are interested in buying a home and have more questions about the entire process or how I can help you, drop me a note or give me a call at 512-636-9707.

by Kyle PfaffeREALTOR®      e:      m: 512-636-9707      w:

The Kyle Pfaffe Real Estate Team

The “Surprise” Costs of Buying a Home

UPDATED 9/6/2016. Buying a home in the Greater Austin Area is a tremendous time in your life and is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. While this event comes with a lot of excitement, it also comes with some mystery and a lot of questions as well. Can I afford to buy right now? How much is it going to cost me? How much cash do I need up front to buy a home in Austin?

Personally, I hate surprises. That hate is motivating me to make sure you have this information. I do my very best to make sure that everyone I work with or potentially work with fully understands the home-buying process and how much it will cost them. The information below represents that most accurate and up-to-date information I know on how much you will likely spend to buy a home. If you have any questions about buying a home or how you can best be prepared to buy your next home, drop me a note or give me a call.

  • Option Money – $100 – Due 48 hrs after your offer has been accepted > paid to the seller and usually buys you 7-10 days of an “option period,” a period that begins when your offer has been accepted and gives a buyer the unrestricted right to cancel the contract for the specified time period. This amount is usually applied toward the money you must pay at closing.
  • Earnest Money – $$$ (usually 1% of sales price – i.e. $2500 for a $250,000 house) – Due when the contract has been accepted > paid in certified funds (cashiers check) to the title company and is a “deposit” on your purchase. If you chose to cancel your contract anytime after the option period, you usually will not get this money back. This amount is also applied to the money you must pay at closing.
  • Inspection Fee – $300-500 – Due before you receive your inspection report, usually performed during the option period > While an inspection is not required, I would advise any client to inspect any home they are purchasing. There a many potential issues with a home that are invisible to the naked eye and require a professional inspector.
  • Termite Inspection – $100 – Due before you receive your termite inspection report > A termite inspection is required any time you are using a VA Home Mortgage, but is not required for other loan programs. It can usually be bundled with a home inspection for a better deal and is also usually performed during the option period.
  • Survey – $425 – Usually due when your lender orders the survey > Often, a survey is provided by the seller and a new one is not required. If there have been changes since the last survey was made or if there is no survey is available, a new one will have to be ordered. Who pays for the new survey is something that is negotiated as part of the contract so try to get your agent to get the seller to pay if a new one is required.
  • Appraisal – $400-$500 – Usually due when you lender orders the appraisal once the option period is over > The lender will require an appraisal for any loan they fund. This is an item the buyer always pays for and is usually not ordered until after the option period is over to avoid having you pay for an appraisal if you cancel the contract during that period. The lender uses the appraisal to determine if the property is worth the price you are paying for it.

Other Possible Costs

  • Repairs – Amount varies depending on repairs > most often, repairs performed on the home before closing are paid for by the seller, but if a seller is unwilling to pay for a repair, they may agree to do the repair if the buyer pays for a portion of the work. In that case, you might have to help pay for this upfront.
  • Termite Treatments – Amount varies depending on treatment area > like basic repairs, you might have to help pay for this treatment if you want it performed prior to closing

Keep in mind, the costs above are the costs you should expect prior to closing. You will certainly have to have money for a down payment on probably closing costs as well. If you have questions about buying a home or how much you should be prepared to spend, drop me a note or give me a call at 512.636.9707.

By Kyle PfaffeREALTOR® e:

m: 512-636-9707 w:

Common Mistakes of First-Time Homebuyers, Part 2 – Buying the Most Expensive Home You Qualify For

Part 2 – Buying the Most Expensive Home You Qualify For in the Great Austin Area

In Part 1 of this series on the common mistakes of first-time homebuyers, we discussed the pitfall of Taking Advice From Friend and Family on your real estate transaction. In Part 2, we will look at the danger of buying the most expensive home you qualify for in the Greater Austin area.

Becoming a homeowner in the Greater Austin area is very exciting for a first time buyer, but it can also be a costly experience. If you are not prepared for the additional costs of home ownership, it can become a huge financial burden and rob you of some of the joy and excitement of purchasing your first home. but it can become a financial burden, if you’re not prepared for the additional costs of home-ownership  While, as we learned in Part 1 of Common Mistakes of First-Time Homebuyers, getting advice from friends and family on your real estate transaction can be dangerous, this is an area where their first-hand experience on buying a home and handling the costs of maintaining it can be very helpful to you.

When buying your first home in the Greater Austin area, make sure you consider all of the expenses that you will incur. Some people will make the mistake of buying the most expensive home their lender says that they will qualify for and do not properly account for the additional costs they will have as part of owning a home. Be realistic about how you will have left over after your mortgage payment for the rest of your expenses. Your first home might be the home of your dreams, but if your mortgage payments are too much to have money left to enjoy the rest of life, you will feel prisoner in your own home. Consider buying a less expensive home that will allow you to live comfortably and even build equity more quickly that you can then use towards the purchase of a home when you decide to move up.

I hope that this information has been helpful as you consider buying a home. If you would like more information about buying or selling real estate in the Greater Austin area, please Contact Me today and I will be happy to help you however I can! Be sure to check back here for Part 3, Making Low Offers on Homes in the Greater Austin Area.

Kyle Pfaffe, REALTOR®      e:      m: 512-636-9707      w:

Common Mistakes When Buying a Home, Part 1 – Taking Advice from Friends and Family

These are five common mistakes made by all kinds of home buyers, but most frequently by first-time home buyers. Not all of these mistakes are huge, but they all can make your purchase much more difficult and stressful if you do not avoid them. This is part one of a five part series the the most common mistakes. If you have any questions about buying a home and your specific situation, contact me! In this first installment, we will talk about the danger of taking advice on your real estate purchase from friends and family. Friends and family can be a valuable resource in many situations, but there are two major reasons why taking advice from friends and family can be dangerous when buying a home.

First, a number of factors make every single real estate transaction unique and complex and should be handled by someone with knowledge and experience of a professional. The unique factors include the personalities, income, credit scores , debt ratios, savings and preferences of both the buyer and the seller. Throw in the complexities of real estate law, changing home prices and market conditions and a fluid lending climate and you can start to see why it might be important to have a professional on your side. Your local real estate agents and loan officers are working in the real estate field on a daily basis and have an in-depth knowledge and real-time experience in dealing with home values, appraisals, negotiations, lender requirements, inspections and much, much more. While your friends and family almost assuredly have good intentions, they do not have the knowledge and experience you need to make informed decisions and to protect you. Also, with the real estate market constantly changing, what was true when your friend or relative bought a home, or what was true a year ago or even yesterday, might not be true today. While it is prudent to get a second opinion in most situations, you should seek that advice from another industry professional who has all the details of your situation.

Second, taking advice from friends and family when buying a home should be avoided because they do not have the same perspective as you on your home purchase. While your friends and family will undoubtedly be entertained in your house and might even stay the night on a holiday, they will not be living in your home, YOU WILL! They will not have their name on the deed, be paying the mortgage, driving your daily commute to work or maintaining your home. I am sure that while your friends and family also have excellent taste and a impeccable sense of style, when their tastes and styles are imposed into your home search and buying decision, it will make things much more complicated and cloud your ability to know what is best for YOU! If you invite a friend or family member along with you to see homes with your real estate agent, you might get more than you bargained for – a third decision maker on which home you should or shouldn’t buy!

Friends and family care about you very deeply and only what the best for you! That being said, their desire to “help” can add stress and be a hindrance when buying a home, especially when buying your first home. I hope this advice will help you when buying your home – if I can help you, let me know! When part 2 is posted, check out another common mistake, Buying the Most Expensive Home You Can Afford!

Kyle Pfaffe, REALTOR®      e:      m: 512-636-9707      w: