John Colby
Colby Realty | 978-249-5871 | [email protected]


Posted by John Colby on 1/10/2021

Image by Andy Dean Photography from Shutterstock

In past housing markets, it was common for investors to flip houses. Unfortunately, when the housing bubble burst, many buyers couldn't update and sell the homes they'd bought. After a bit of a downturn, the trend has picked back up. However, savvy investors know that the housing market has much tighter margins than it has in the past. If you’re thinking about getting into the house-flipping game, consider the following tips as you get started.

Here are some tips to protect your potential investment:

  • Not every housing market is profitable: Many homes can be purchased, renovated, and potentially sold in every part of the country. But some locations do not have the sort of economic growth that makes property flipping viable. Know your market and local property values. Keep in touch with what’s happening in the community and be prepared with a plan B in case the home doesn’t sell.

  • Do your homework. There are fewer deeply discounted homes available to investors. Plan to pay the full price in cash but arrange a contingency to have the home inspected. If the inspection reveals issues, especially with primary systems such as electrical and plumbing, walk away. Or, offer the seller a lower price to account for needed repairs, and potentially get a better deal. Anything revealed during the inspection that the seller did not fix your responsibility to repair or replace before you can flip the property.

  • Respect your margins. Unlike in reality shows the profit made from buying and selling a home is not as large as it appears. When you find undervalued homes, you need a cushion built-in for the rehab. If the difference between what you paid and the new selling price is insignificant, it’s not a sound investment. Avoid purchasing property that requires thousands of dollars of repairs or upgrades. You'll end up with a lovely home, but little to no income to show from it.

  • Constantly monitor the inventory. Fewer homes on the market mean finding one with flip potential is more difficult. 

Seek help from a professional

Maintain a close relationship with your real estate professional so that when potential homes come on the market, you’re the first to hear. Your real estate professionals know the local market. They watch the trends and know who is buying, who is selling, and who is holding. They also know which repairs and upgrades are essential to make a quick sale. Let them guide you.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by John Colby on 12/20/2020

Image by Sue Smith from Shutterstock

House owners frequently remodel, upgrade, or otherwise make changes in their homes for which they do not secure a permit. While some changes do not require permitting, others do. The challenge comes when you attempt to sell the home. You may run into a problem when a buyer makes an offer on such a property, and their inspector discovers unpermitted changes. Their mortgage lender may be unwilling to give them a loan until you remedy the permit issue.

Additionally, since building codes often change from year to year and certainly from decade to decade, and the property may have changed hands more than once before it came to you. Even if the upgrade occurred before you purchased it, you might be the one responsible for fixing it with your municipality.

What can you do? When you believe your home has unpermitted construction, learn as much as you can about it:

  • When did installation take place? Before you took ownership of the house? After? 

  • What is the construction? A pergola? A sunroom? That necessary second bathroom?

  • In the year or era of construction, was a permit required? Is there a permit in place of which you're not aware?

  • Can it be grandfathered?

What is “Grandfathering”?

The term “grandfather clause” refers to an exception to a code, restriction, or legal requirement. It allows anything already done legally “at the time” to continue even if a new limitation would not allow it. Regarding unpermitted home upgrades, if the construction was before the change in the code, check to see if the code requires retroactive compliance. In that case, exceptions typically pose a danger to anyone living in the home or on the property and need remediation. When code changes do not require retroactive compliance, knowing the date of the construction puts you in the clear.

Retroactive Permitting

When you discover retrofits, additions, upgrades, or renovations in your home, search city or county records for a permit. Ask for help to see if that type of work in the year(s) of its completion required one. If it needed a permit, and you do not find one in place, either request a retroactive authorization or plan to sell your home "as is" to a willing buyer. Municipalities often have methods in place to offer retroactive permits. Check to determine the total cost of the permitting process. In addition to the permit fee, you may have to pay fines, inspections, and other fees. Any modifications required because of the permitting process become your responsibility. When the total cost of obtaining retroactive permits and related fees and construction costs is higher than the return on your investment, consider the “as is” process.

Selling Your Home "As Is"

When you choose to sell your property "as is," you no longer need to disclose to the municipal building department that you may have unpermitted construction. Until you are sure you want to request a retroactive permit, do not disclose information when you communicate with building code offices that might trigger an inspection. 

In the selling process, however, fully disclose to your real estate agent all items you know about for certain. That is, tell them about additions or upgrades you installed while in ownership. Make sure a sale is not delayed or falls through because a lender requires a permit. Have an appropriate "as is" clause written into the sales contract. 

Confer with your real estate agent to determine if seeking a permit is in your best interested when selling with unpermitted additions.





Posted by John Colby on 2/4/2018

The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in a home. Not just a place to cook meals it’s also often the entrance to a home and where families gather together at the end of the day. Arguably, it’s also the most important room in the home and the one home buyers should be most astute of.

The kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms to remodel ranging between $20,000 and $50,000. Whether you’re eager for some renovation projects or looking for a move-in ready home, you’ll want to assess the level of work this room will need as your shop potential houses.

Start with perhaps the most obvious - is the room large enough for your daily needs? Is there plenty of counter space or room to expand cabinetry? Do you have a lot of kitchen tools that call for plenty of storage space or perhaps prefer an island to prep dinner at? Know what your ideal kitchen space ahead of time, especially if it is a priority, so your realtor can help you find the perfect fit.

Check that all appliances to ensure they are in working order as per the disclosure statement claims. Appliances are a big expense and you’ll want to have a good idea of what will need replacing or to be installed. Consider if they are an easy color to match when it comes time for replacement and if any are under warranty.

You’ll also want to examine the cabinetry. Check to ensure all drawers and cabinets are properly aligned and open smoothly. If they are wooden cabinets you can easily swap out hardware or change the color if you’re not a fan of the current style. However, other materials are not as convenient so consider replacement costs if you’re unhappy with the current installation.

Countertops can be another major expense. Have the granite countertops been properly taken care of? If they are laminate are they scratched or chipped? If this isn’t an upgrade you’re looking to make, be sure to look closely at what each home already has in place.

Kitchens are one of the busiest rooms in your home, especially if you love to cook. Check flooring for loose tiles, discoloration or poorly maintained wood flooring. This tells you a few things. Firstly, the quality of the materials used to build the home. And secondly, how well the house has been maintained over time.

Remodeling isn’t on everyone's list when house shopping. And with kitchen’s being one of the most expensive to renovate, this is one room you want to pay extra attention to as you view each potential home. Happy house hunting!




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by John Colby on 4/9/2017

Even if you’ve only lived at your address for several months, it’s likely that you’ve developed an emotional connection to your home. Despite a few hiccups like a pipe leaking, sink clogging or a kitchen cabinet drawer sticking, you might not be ready to sell your house and move into a new home. Renovating your house might prove a better choice. Consider the following factors before you make a final decision on whether to sell or renovate. Neighborhood – Is the neighborhood where you live starting to decline? Is crime increasing, causing property values to drop? It may be time to start house hunting and move into a better neighborhood. Renovating won’t change your entire neighborhood, so this decision is fairly straightforward. Family Needs – If your family is growing, you may need to move in order to give your children sleeping and entertaining room, especially if your children are getting older and want their own private space. You could also renovate and add one to two bedrooms onto your existing home. Age of House – An aging house often means that wiring, pipes and flooring are experiencing wear and tear. If your home has ever flooded or endured hard weather conditions, renovating may call for a roof replacement, new sidewalks, new floor tiles and painting. As part of your renovations, you may also need to replace utility equipment like your water heater or furnace. Job Situation – Think about why you’re considering moving. The chance to work a job that you’re passionate about or the chance to continue working with your current employer who may be relocating to a different town may make it easy to decide to move. If jobs are drying up where you live, you could open up to new job opportunities if you move. However, the chance to get promoted or take on a higher paying role may only come if you stay where you are. Should this be the case, renovating may be the way to go. Disposable Income – Renovating a house can get pricey, especially if your home requires a lot of structural work. Ask a home inspector to tell you how much and what types of work would improve your house. Count up the cost to have these repairs completed. Factor in any cosmetic work that you’d like done on your home. Be honest in determining whether you have enough disposable income to renovate. Compare the cost to renovate your home against the cost of taking on a new mortgage. Remember when relatives and friends visited after you bought your home, helping you to celebrate this new independent step? It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that you felt proud of your decision, a home choice that you made after weeks, perhaps months, of house hunting. Add in years of memories, children growing up in the house and huge family celebrations and moving might be the last thing that you want to do. On the other hand, moving could prove to be the best choice. Before you make a decision, consider the above factors. Doing so could help you to avoid entering the realm of regret.







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