Tag Archives: berkshirehathawayhomeservices

Tree Trimming Basics

If you’ve got dead limbs, branches growing into power lines, branches overhanging your house, or tree growth that obstruct visibility for vehicles and pedestrians, it’s time to do some tree trimming.

Home insurer Allstate.com says there are three basic reasons for trimming your trees. In order of importance, they are:

1.    Safety. Falling tree branches are dangerous for anyone on your property and can cause damage to your home.

2.    Tree health. Dead or diseased branches harm the tree. Pruning helps the tree develop core strength.

3.    Aesthetics. Trimmed trees are more attractive and grow healthier fruit, flowers and leaves.

You can trim trees yourself with the proper tools, such as loppers, 12-14-and 16 foot tree pruners, hand pruners, etc., as long as you don’t need to get on a tall ladder, but trees taller than your extension pole are best left to professionals.

According to Homeserve.com, you can expect to pay an average of $460 but up to $1,500 for professional pruning of a tall tree such as an oak or pine. Tree removal begins at $750, but make sure that any quote you receive includes stump grinding, clean up and hauling away debris. 

If you choose to trim your trees by yourself, an excellent resource is the  USDA

publication How to Prune Trees. It provides a safe size guide for cutting branches no larger than four inches in diameter. Anything larger, contact an arborist. A good rule is that if you wonder whether to cut a branch, don’t. 

Buying Land to Build a Luxury Home

A primary or second home by the ocean, lake, mountains, or desert could be heavenly, but hard to obtain in today’s warp-speed real estate climate. So why not build the home of your dreams on your own land?

You may already have a favorite vacation spot or a location in mind. Your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional can help you acquire the lot or acreage you want or refer you to a qualified rural specialist. This is important because experts know what you can and can’t do on your land. They research easements, deed restrictions, zoning laws, pre-construction permits, floodplains and appropriate building sites, among other services.

According to Rliland.com, the main difference between buying land for building a home and buying a house is financing. Terms are brief compared to fixed-rate mortgages for existing homes, down payment requirements are much higher (as much as 50%), interest rates are higher, and types of loans available aren’t as plentiful. Buying land with cash is a good idea because the land can then be used as a down payment towards your construction loan.

Finding a builder could be tricky, too. If you want to build a luxury log cabin, for example, you’ll need a builder who is familiar with not only building with logs but with permits, fees and running utilities to the site.

Become familiar with nearby towns and what services they offer, including medical and educational facilities and opportunities for culture, entertainment and philanthropical participation.  

Eliminating Appraisal Bias

Appraisals establish the value of a given home, making them extremely important to lenders, tax authorities, the housing industry, the economy, builders, buyers, and sellers. They’re integral to building home equity and wealth, giving advantages to some homeowners and disadvantages to others.

Many lenders use automated valuation models to save time and money more so than to limit human bias, but historical data submitted by appraisers with conscious or unconscious bias, particularly in majority black and ethnic areas, may be subject to decades of undervaluation.

Appraisers limit competition by requiring candidates to undergo apprenticeships to become licensed, yet  Octoberresearch.com found that 77% of appraisers said they have no apprentice trainee and have no intentions to train anyone – effectively “closing the gate behind them.” The AppraisalInstitute.org found just over 78,000 active licensed appraisers in 2019 in the U.S.

New innovations in software could make a difference, notes Housingwire.com. Algorithms could search for patterns of neighborhood bias and focus on more relevant data. Artificial intelligence can assess a home visually, like a human appraiser, but with absolute objectivity. The appraisal industry could also overhaul itself to better compete with automated valuation software.

Meanwhile, there are ways you can fight appraisal bias. Make sure the appraiser has geographical knowledge of the area. Insist on a thorough on-site appraisal, not a drive-by. Check the comparables used in the appraisal for relevance and proximity. Draw the appraiser’s attention to improvements made in the home and ask for an adjustment if the appraisal seems too low.