BuyingReal Estate TipsUncategorized May 3, 2022

What exactly is a Home Inspection?

Home Inspections

Atop the long list of items to do when buying or selling a house is the home inspection. But what is involved? How much does it cost? Why is it done in the first place? It’s important to understand what a home inspection entails and how it affects the sale of your home or the purchase of a new one. The more you know, the less likely you are to get ripped off or taken by surprise.

What is a Home Inspection?

First of all, let’s clear up a commonly misunderstood point: a home inspection is not the same as an appraisal. An appraisal is an estimate of a property’s overall market value. A home inspection is much more detailed and practical. It is also not a code inspection and therefore does not report on building code compliance or give a “passing” or “failing” grade. It is defined as an objective visual examination of the structure and systems of a home by an impartial, neutral third party not related to the buyer or seller. In layman’s terms, it shows you what’s wrong with the property you want to buy or sell and if it is serious enough to prevent a sale.

The three main points of the inspection are to evaluate the physical condition of the home, including structure, construction and mechanical systems; identify items that need to be repaired or replaced; and estimate the remaining useful life of the major systems, equipment, structure, and finishes. Bottom line: a home inspection is to inform the buyer of any readily visible major defects in the mechanical and structural components, and to disclose any significant health or safety issues.

 What Does a Home Inspection Cover?

A home inspection includes a visual examination of the house from top to bottom. There are hundred of items a home inspection covers, including general structure, flashings, basement or lower level, framing, central cooling and heating, chimneys, plumbing and electrical systems, drainage, bathrooms and laundry facilities, foundation, common safety devices, fireplaces and wood stoves, kitchen and kitchen appliances, general interior, attic, insulation. ventilation, roof, and exterior.

An inspector cannot report on defects that are not visible. For instance, defects hidden behind finished walls, beneath carpeting, behind storage items and in inaccessible areas, and even those that have been intentionally concealed. Systems that are seasonally inoperable (swamp coolers, air conditioning, furnaces) will not be turned on during the inspection.

Information on home inspections and more are in

How Do I Find an Inspector?

I can always help you find a trusted Home Inspector that I have worked with in the past. You can also get recommendations from your  friends and family. If you don’t know anyone who has hired a home inspector, you can find home inspectors by google-ing “Home Inspection Services.” When interviewing inspectors, be sure to ask for references and any memberships in professional associations. Find out about the inspector’s professional training, length of time in the business, and experience.

It’s a good idea to be present during the inspection for a couple of reasons: First, you can ask the inspector questions during the inspection. Also, the inspector will have the opportunity to point out areas of potential trouble, which will mean more to you if you see it with your own eyes than read it in the inspector’s report later. Many inspectors also will offer maintenance tips as the inspection progresses.

Is the Seller Obligated to Make Suggested Repairs?

The seller is not required to make any repairs, replacements or maintenance since this is not a code inspection. However, the buyer can use the inspection report as a negotiating tool. For instance, if certain repairs or replacements are made, the buyer might offer to pay more, or if they’re not, the buyer can bid lower.

Also, never allow an inspector to contract with you to make repairs he/she has suggested — this is a major conflict of interest, not to mention unethical. However, some inspectors do offer a guarantee or warranty on their service for an additional fee, although it is not a standard practice and not required.

How Much Does it Cost and How Long Will it Take?

Remember that a thorough, accurate home inspection takes time. The last thing you want to do is to try to hurry the inspector along. The inspector’s most important priority is accuracy, and accuracy takes time. The chances of mistakes and missed conditions are much more likely the more the inspector rushes through. Expect your home inspection to take anywhere between two and five hours (allowing about one hour for each 1,500 square feet of living space over 3,500 square feet). Of course, older homes will take longer than newer ones.

Expect your inspection to cost anywhere from $200-$500 depending on size. The cost is worth it and may be one of the most important investments you make when buying a home.

 I highly encourage all of my clients to perform a home inspection! If you have questions about the home inspection process, please feel free to reach out to me at any time!

Leah Smith Signature

Tips and Tricks to Homeownership May 2, 2022

May Home Maintenance Checklist

You know what time it is!

My favorite day of the Month. The beginning of a new month – which means a new maintenance checklist! WOO.

Before we can enjoy lazy days in the yard, there are a few outdoor maintenance tasks we should want to go ahead and tackle. With me? Roll up those sleeves, pop in your ear buds, and let’s get going!⁣

Wash away winter’s dirt and grime from your windows so you can actually enjoy your beautiful yard as things bloom.⁣

Winter weather can take a toll on hard surfaces. Check for new or widening cracks on your patios and sidewalks, replace damaged pavers, and fire up the pressure washer.⁣

Don’t wait for temps to climb before double-checking that your air-conditioning unit is in good working order. A typical AC service check will cost anywhere from $75 to $200—and it’s totally worth every penny.⁣

Just because your lawn is green today doesn’t mean it’s ready for summer. Your grass needs nutrients, and May is a great time to add fertilizer to keep those weeds at bay all summer long.⁣
Long before you fire up the grill, make sure the grills are clean, the connections are secure, and your propane tanks are full.⁣

Cold temps can cause wood to warp so check for loose boards and broken gate latches to keep kids and pets where they should be.⁣

Fresh mulch is like a new paint job for your outdoors. Aim to spread mulch 2 to 4 inches across all your beds. ⁣

What backyard activity are you getting ready for this May? Nap in the hammock, gardening, game of bocce ball, or cannonball into the pool? All I know is – I’m ready.

Leah Smith Signature
BuyingFeaturedFeatured Listings April 29, 2022

UNDER CONTRACT – Cinnaminson, New Jersey

It has been a long, stressful, and down right HARD journey for these particular buyers. We’ve been working together since December. Seeing homes on beautiful days, rainy days, hot and cold days, snow storms and hail storms — we’ve trecked through it all…

Just to see…

  • The good one (32x)
  • the badly flipped one
  • the awesome flipped one!
  • the open house one
  • the “why did we see this” one (hi, mayo jar!)
  • the maybeeee one
  • the office exclusive one

Which lead us to write up 16 offers… and win

But when the Buyers Momma gives it a 9.5/10 you know it’s the BEST ONE.

Their journey isn’t over yet, and I can’t wait to tell you even more, but we’re almost there!

I’m pretty sure we’ll all be in tears at that signing table. For now, it’s time to put in the work to get them there.

Cheers to you M&R!

Leah Smith Signature

Featured Listings April 12, 2022

SOLD – 5 Cedar Ave, Westville, NJ 08093

SOLD! Congratulations to my buyers Mike and Matt on the successful purchase of their first investment property.

Mike and Matt have talked for years of purchasing an investment property together. With construction and electrical backgrounds between them, it was a no brainer. They have incredible plans to make these two units gorgeous, clean and updated!

My first conversation with Mike was about another property that had already gone under contract (hiiii, crazy market!) I had noticed Cedar had come on the market – but we had to move quickly because they had already called best and final! Mike and I quickly toured the property that afternoon and he knew right away this was the property he wanted. Shoutout to Matt for having a lot of trust in his partner!

With a relatively smooth transaction, (but a long weekend) I’m happy to announce we’ve officially closed on Cedar! Be on the look out for these gorgeous rental units to come on the market!

Leah Smith Signature
Real Estate TipsTips and Tricks to Homeownership March 24, 2022

Tax Prep for New Homebuyers

This information was supplied from Patrick McConney. Reach out today for all of your lending questions.

Buying a home means a place to call your own. It also has other advantages, like potentially big tax benefits for you that you may not know about.

There are multiple deductions available to lower your tax bills:

  • Mortgage Interests
  • Property Taxes
  • Mortgage points paid to reduce your interest rate
  • Home office space- you can deduct the square footage of the area where you conduct business. Get all the details about what qualifies here.
  • Energy-effeciency upgrades

You can be prepared by:

  • Keep a checklist for all mortgage-related payments
  • Save receipts from home improvements
  • File early

Happy filing!

Leah Smith Signature
BuyingFeaturedReal Estate Tips March 22, 2022

A Guide to Buying your First Home in 2022

Ready to buy your first home in 2022? I specialize in helping first-time home buyers like you find their dream property in South Jersey.

Before you start searching for homes online, it’s important to take the first step to house shopping: Getting pre-approved for a mortgage.

Your pre-approval will tell you what you can afford and what your monthly payment will be, so it’s important to determine this before you start searching for your new home.

Pre-approval is good for about 30-90 days, so once you’re ready, take these first 3 steps to get it done.

  1.  Contact me, and I’ll send over a list of lenders I know and trust.
  2.  Look over the list, check out online reviews, and ask friends and family for referrals.
  3.  Email 2-3 lenders you like or let me introduce you over email.

Once you’ve got your pre-approval letter in hand, it’s time to start the search!

Before we hop into the home search, I like to advise my clients to create a “Needs” list and a “Wants” list. (I have a great booklet to help you with this!) This will help us to really focus on the things that are most important in your future home.

Needs are the non-negotiable features; the features you simply must have in your next home. Wants are the ones you’d like to have, but you can add or change down the road. Remember, you can’t change the lot or the location so make sure you love both.

Once you’ve established what you’re looking for, I will set you up on a search so you can receive an email the second a home that fits your criteria goes live. If you have any questions about a property, send me the information and I will find out for you. Send me listings you like and I can get more information and set up showings on your behalf.

After touring houses and choosing the one you love, it’s time to make an offer. To do this, you’ll need your pre-approval letter or proof of funds. You’ll also need to make an escrow deposit of at least 1-2% of the purchase price. This will go towards your closing costs at closing.

Have more questions about buying a home or what happens after making an offer? Reach out to me today!

Leah Smith Signature
FeaturedReal Estate TipsSelling March 22, 2022

Your Questions about Selling your home: Answered!

If you have a home to sell, you’re probably excited to get the process started. There are many things you need to consider when selling your property, and it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the task.

Local Happenings March 19, 2022

Merchantville Community Round Up

March 23rd, 2022 from 5:00-7:00PM at the Merchantville Community Center

It’s time to get involved and help Merchantville’s community grow!

This event is perfect for you if you’re looking to lend a hand in our wonderful community. The borough is bringing together wonderful organizations throughout town for one large volunteer roundup. It’s the perfect chance for you to gather together, ask questions, and learn more about becoming an active member in Merchantville’s community.

This is a free event and refreshments will be served.

Merchantville Community Center, 212 Somerset Ave.

Leah Smith Signature

FeaturedTips and Tricks to Homeownership March 2, 2022

March Home Maintenance Checklist

No need to get overwhelmed by March spring cleaning — take it room by room in manageable groups of threes. After all, three’s a charm!⁣

In your living room:
Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures⁣
Vacuum or dry clean curtains and clean window blinds⁣
Wipe down baseboards and clear corners of dust bunnies and cobwebs⁣

In your bedrooms:⁣
Clean out drawers and closets (and donate gently used items)⁣
Wash comforters, shams, and blankets⁣
Rotate and/or flip your mattress⁣

In your kitchen:⁣
Empty the fridge and wipe down all the shelves (or stick them in the DW if they’ll fit)⁣
Defrost the freezer and toss any freezer-burned food⁣
Wipe down your microwave, stovetop, coffeemaker, and any other small appliances⁣

In your bathrooms:⁣
Toss out expired makeup, toiletries, and OTC medicines⁣
Wash the shower curtain and floor mats⁣
Clean grout (or regrout if needed).⁣

It’s definitely not my favorite thing to do, but I love how I feel and how my home looks after a serious cleaning session!

Leah Smith Signature

Featured Listings February 2, 2022

SOLD – 100 W Woodcrest Ave, Maple Shade, NJ 08052

I could not be more honored to welcome Colette and Casey and their family home! ⁠

Group photo

I first introduced myself to Colette while trying to find a photographer for some personal marketing photos. She was so kind and easy to speak with! Turns out her family was starting to consider moving & they were in need of a Realtor.⁠

After a few weeks of searching, we finally toured a property … that had signed contracts and was in attorney review. We submitted an offer anyway. Then we got the call that the sellers decided to ACCEPT their offer! I absolutely lost my mind on that phone call 😅 It is always worth it to take a chance!⁠

Review from Colette S. on the purchase of her home.

I have to give a huge shout-out to Kelly Nyikita and her whole team at GRA for working hard and closing a VA loan seamlessly in our time frame. Big thank you to the wonderful Lisa Miller from Core Title for always providing a smooth transaction and thank you to Lindsey Binks for being a pleasure to work with! 

Having a great team is imperative for a smooth transaction and we had an amazing team for this transaction!

Leah Smith Signature