The Blog

Exquisitely Landscaped Backyard with Fire Pit

Categories: Featured Home of the Week | Posted: September 22, 2017

This is a rare sight! Homes by Chris builds a fantastic house. Their builds don’t come up for sale very often, so when they do, it’s usually something special. A beautiful 1.5 story plan in a desirable neighborhood with Liberty schools…what more could you want? How about an exquisitely landscaped backyard with a fire pit for you and your friends? Don’t wait on this one!

To sell all photos and information about this home, click http://www.kansascityagent.com/available_home_detail.php?mls=2069133

Let’s Talk About Lowball Offers

Categories: Buying a Home, Negotiating, Newsletter | Posted: September 22, 2017

Every home buyer wants a deal, right? The problem is, every home seller wants the most amount of money they can get. Those two parties are at odds with each other so it’s critical how you make your offer, and especially when you “lowball” the seller on their asking price.

First, let’s define what a lowball offer is. By strict definition, a lowball offer is one that is significantly below market value. In practice, an offer is considered lowball if it is significantly below a seller’s asking price. Let’s use some examples, and I’ll give you specific numbers for the Kansas City area.

Let’s begin with a home that is truly priced at market value, meaning other homes in the area have recently sold at that price of $250,000. Assuming the home just came on the market today and it’s in very good condition with moderate upgrades and no need of any repairs, the sellers are going to be very optimistic about that asking price of $250,000. As a matter of fact, in today’s strong seller’s market of 2017, they may even expect to receive multiple offers driving the sales price above $250,000. Within the first 48 hours, anything below their asking price would be considered a “low offer”, but any offers less than $5,000 would be considered a lowball offer.

Put yourself in the seller’s shoes for a minute. If your Realtor has shown you a detailed market analysis and you feel your home is priced right, then why in the world would you ever negotiate on your price in the first week, much less the first 48 hours? Buyers always picture in their mind that the seller is desperate to sell. Trust me, I’ve worked with hundreds of sellers and I have yet to find one that is truly “desperate” to sell. Almost every single home seller I’ve ever worked with has told me, “I don’t have to sell this home.” Why do they always feel the need to tell me that? It’s their way of telling me they are not going to accept any unreasonable offers. Not now, not ever! They know there are plenty of buyers out there and someone else will buy it.

Now, let’s take that same $250,000 priced home and assume that they’ve sat on the market for 30 days without receiving any offers. In our current seller’s market it’s safe to assume that home may have already had 10-15 showings during that time. If that many people have viewed the home in person and no one has written an offer, then the market is saying it’s clearly overpriced. This is the point where you can write a lower offer. Notice I said, “lower” not “low-ball”. A lower offer might be $5,000 to $10,000 lower. The theory here is that if the home is not selling, it’s clearly $5,000 to $10,000 overpriced.

Still, at this point you’re still not going to get away with lowballing a seller more than $10,000 below their asking price. Oh sure, you can make that lowball offer, but I guarantee you’re going to get a counter offer back from the sellers, and it’s probably going to be something really close to their asking price. “Why is that?” you say? Because you’ve insulted the sellers and now they don’t like you. “I don’t care if they’re insulted,” you say? Well you should, because now you’ve set up a scenario for the sellers to be very combative in their treatment towards you and your agent.

When you lowball a seller, whether it’s a home sale, car sale, or any other item of value, this behavior likely leads the seller to view you as aggressive or manipulative, thus weakening the overall trust in the negotiation. Consequently, relations between both parties deteriorate rapidly and the entire negotiation may be at risk. I’ve actually had a few sellers who got so mad they refused to sell to this buyer at any price! It happens more than you think because many homeowners take pride in their home and have emotions tied to it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a buyer say, “Well my friend said to lowball the crap out of them because he got a deal on a home several years ago by lowballing them.” When I look up this home their friend bought (keep in mind as a Realtor I have access to that information on the MLS), I typically see why the seller accepted his “lowball offer”. The home was a piece of junk that needed a lot of work and was way overpriced. Their friend shot a lowball offer to the sellers $20,000 under the seller’s asking price, but the home was probably $20,000 overpriced to begin with. Their friend thinks he got “a deal” but what he really got was “a project” with a lot of work.

At this point you may be thinking, “So it sounds to me like Ron is not much of a negotiator. He’s afraid to write my lowball offer”. Not at all and as a matter of fact, I consider myself, and my team members, expert negotiators with over 700 home negotiations under our belt.

There are times when writing a lowball offer is acceptable, and I’ve already eluded to one of them. Specifically, when the home is blatantly overpriced. Other examples might be when the seller is less emotional about the home, as in a bank repo (REO), short sale, or a home that is in desperate need of repairs/updating. In these cases, the home is likely sitting on the market for 100, 200, or even 300+ days with no offers. At that point, the seller just needs a reality check and it’s likely the seller’s agent will beg for any offers at all, just so he can take something to the sellers.

Now, it’s still not that easy. You can’t just write a lowball offer and draw a line in the sand saying, “That’s my final offer. Take it or leave it.” You (or specifically your agent) needs to build a case for the price you’re offering. Showing comparable homes that were in good shape with upgrades that sold at “X” price and explaining to the seller’s agent, “This home needs carpet, paint, repairs, new appliances, etcetera so that’s why we’re offering this price. We are willing to fix these issues ourselves but only if we can agree to this price.”

When I meet with a seller to put their home on the market, I always explain that I have to bring them all signed offers, whether they’re ridiculous or not. Even in this super hot seller’s market, I think it’s hilarious that I still receive the occasional lowball offer. What makes it even funnier is that it’s usually on a home in pristine condition, has only been on the market for 24 hours, and we’ve already had 15 people preview the home in person. No joke, I’ll have already spoken with three agents who say their buyers will be writing an offer, then out of nowhere, here comes a written and signed offer $10,000 to $20,000 below my seller’s asking price. It’s good for a laugh, but when I call the agent and tell him we have three other agents that are writing offers, they always say, “Well, my client wanted me to write this offer. I told them it’s ridiculous and this home will easily sell at the seller’s asking price. Just give me a counter offer and I’ll take it to them.”

What that agent is really saying is, “Help me train my clients that you can’t write lowball offers on a home like this.” Unfortunately for that agent, what I typically do is text my sellers to let them know the price, they laugh and say, “No thanks. We’re not interested in making a counter offer to these idiots,” then the buyers lose out on a great opportunity and have to go looking at more homes.

On a side note, HOME SELLERS please take note of this article. This is exactly why I ask you to make all necessary repairs, replace carpet, repaint some rooms, update a few light fixtures and faucets, and clean up the landscaping. I don’t ever want to give the buyers a reason to negotiate on my seller’s asking price.

 

Frequently Asked Questions from Home Buyers

Categories: Buyer's Resources, Buyers Agents, Buying a Home, First Time Home Buyers, Uncategorized | Posted: September 18, 2017

How far in advance should I begin my home search?

Our real estate team is certainly willing to meet with a potential client months in advance of their home purchase. We like to help you lay out a plan for buying a home. Generally though, you don’t want to start pre-viewing homes in person until you are ready to actually write an offer. Too many buyers think they need to start looking at homes months before they’re ready to buy. They’ll say, “Well we don’t know what we want” or “Can we just look at a few homes to get a feel for what’s out there?” What ends up happening though is they fall in love with a home and they’re not ready to buy, or they get fixated on that specific home and want to break their apartment lease. In both cases, it’s an emotional and financial mistake. That’s why I don’t go shopping for a new car before I’m ready to buy. I know I’ll see a beautiful new car with that new car smell and I’m hooked.

Should I get pre-approved for a home loan first?

Yes! and I cannot emphasize this enough. Many buyers want to begin looking at homes without a lenders pre-approval letter in hand. How would you know how much home you can afford and what all the associated costs are if you don’t talk to a lender first? Also, even if you find your dream home, the seller will demand to see a pre-approval letter with your signed offer. Otherwise, they won’t take you serious. Ask your Realtor to recommend a great lender. Trust me, all lenders are not created equal and it’s not about who will give you the lowest rate either.

How much money will I need to put down?

This depends on what loans you qualify for. Veterans can qualify for 100% financing through the Veteran’s Administration (VA loan). Not all lenders handle VA loans so be sure to ask. FHA loans allow you to only put down 3.5% of the total home price, while conventional loans range from 5% down to 50% down. Keep in mind there are additional costs associated with the loan. For example, a typical FHA loan for a $200,000 home may have loan costs of $3,000 to $4,500

I can find homes for sale on the internet. Why do I need a buyers agent?

Yes, it’s true that you can find many homes for sale on the internet. Unfortunately, many of the very best homes are already sold before you see them online. Websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com have a “feed delay” that causes them to sometimes show up 24-48 hours after they go live on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Other times the information on these websites is just plain wrong (like Zillow’s “zestimate”) or they don’t even show up at all. All these consumer websites feed directly from MLS so that means Realtors have the information first and can get you into the house quickly before hundreds of other consumers see it online.

How exactly does a buyers agent help me?

Most of our clients do see their dream home online first. If that’s all there was to it, then you probably wouldn’t need a buyer’s agent. In reality, finding the home is the easy part. A great buyer’s agent can route you to the very best lender (yes there is a huge difference), consult with you about specific schools or areas that fit your needs, save you time by not looking at the wrong homes, make suggests about what homes are the best value, even possibly find you a great deal. And that’s only the beginning. From there, the agent should be able to help you determine a good offer price, handle all the negotiations on your behalf, suggest an experienced home inspector, discuss the details of the home inspection with you and negotiate repairs with the sellers agent. They should even help you through the appraisal, closing, and moving process. There are many, many more specifics involved in making sure your home purchase is a very smooth transaction for you and your family. Trust me, a great buyer’s agent earns every penny!

Don’t agents get paid a base salary from their broker?

This is a very common misconception but couldn’t be further from the truth. Agents do not get paid any base salary. They work on commission and they don’t get paid until someone buys a home and closes the deal. That’s why it’s so tough to make a living in real estate. A new agent can sometimes go three to five months before receiving their first paycheck.

How does a buyer’s agent get paid?

When a seller signs a contract with a “listing agent” to help them sell their home, part of that contract includes compensation for the broker(s). Let’s say the listing contract states that the seller will pay 6% commission to the broker on the sale of their home. To entice all the other Realtors to show this home to their buyers, the listing agent agrees to offer 3% of that commission to any agent that shows, and ultimately writes an offer. So, when your buyer’s agent helps you purchase the home, that 6% total commission is split between the listing agent and your buyer’s agent (your agent gets 3% of the sales price). Your agent gets compensated through the transaction but only represents you and best of all, you don’t have to pay them out of your own pocket.

Couldn’t I get a better deal on the price without a buyers agent?

The short answer is “no”. Some inexperienced buyers may think this, but it’s simply not true. When a seller signs the “listing contract” they are agreeing to pay a 6% commission. Whether there is only one agent (listing agent) or two agents involved (listing agent and buyers agent) in the transaction, the seller has agreed to pay a total commission of 6%. Without a buyers agent on your side, the listing agent keeps the whole 6% commission and you get the opportunity to be completely unrepresented throughout the entire transaction.

If my buyer’s agent is paid on the total sales price, wouldn’t they have more incentive to want me to pay more for the home?

Let’s look at this for a moment. If you pay $5000 more for a home, your buyer’s agent will make an extra $150. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to risk losing the trust of my client over $150! Choose your Buyer’s Agent wisely and this will never be a concern. A great buyers agent understands their clients have the potential to refer all their friends and family to them when they’re ready to buy a home. They’d rather negotiate hard to win their buyers trust and get thousands of dollars in business in the future, than collect another $150 right now.

Will my buyer’s agent be able to show me any homes that are on the market, or just the ones his office has for sale?

It doesn’t matter whether the home is for sale with Keller Williams Realty, Remax, Reece Nichols, or anyone else. Your agent can show you any home that’s for sale, including For-Sale-By-Owner homes and bank repos (REO’s) too.

Should I look at foreclosures? I’ve heard they can be a good deal. 

Everyone always wants a good deal, but a good deal typically comes with a lot more work than you think. We are more than happy to show you foreclosures, but we rarely find them to be a good deal. We suggest you leave the foreclosures to someone like an investor that has a lot of time and cash on hand. You should also know foreclosures are “bank owned” so they typically don’t have any knowledge about the home and are sold “as is.”

How many homes should we look at before writing an offer?

That’s totally up to you. Some of our clients buy the first home they see in person. They’ve looked at so many homes online, they know exactly what they want. There’s nothing wrong with making a decisive move on the home you love, even if you’ve only looked at one or two homes in person. We also have some clients that feel they need to view 10-15 homes in person before making a decision and there’s nothing wrong with that either. Our average client looks at hundreds of homes online, then narrows their search by driving by their favorites, so by the time we schedule a time to preview them in person, they only need to see their top favorites (usually 8 on average). We will definitely be able to help you with this too. We don’t want to waste your valuable time looking at the wrong homes. We only want to show you the very best homes that fit your needs.

How will we know what price to offer?

Your agent can help you with this but here’s some things to think about. Talk to your agent about what type of market you’re in right now. If this is a strong buyers market (like in 2008-2012) then everything’s negotiable. In a strong sellers market (2016-2017) then the seller is holding most of the cards because there is a shortage of available inventory. If you don’t want to offer the sellers asking price (or very close) then the sellers have no problem finding another buyer that will. Now, having said that, there are many other factors like “days on market”, condition of the home, repairs that need to be made, upgrades the house has, etc that will determine the value of the home to a buyer.

How long does it take to write an offer and how long does it take for the seller to accept our offer?

It really only takes about 30-45 minutes to put an offer together and go through everything with the buyers. Once the offer is submitted to the sellers agent, we will typically hear something within 24 hours. It may also depend on how strong the offer is and whether the sellers are entertaining other offers at the same time. The sellers may choose to give you a “counter offer” so sometimes it takes a little time going back and forth. Your agent will keep you in the loop throughout the entire negotiations process.

What closing date should I put on the contract?

Again, your agent can help you with this. From the time you write the offer, you’ll need to allow for at least 30 days to complete the home inspections, appraisals, final loan approval, and closing. Most closings happen 30 to 60 days from the time the contract is excepted. The exceptions to this are short sales and new construction homes which can take much longer.

What kind of home inspections should I do and who do a call to set that up?

Typically, most Missouri and Kansas home buyers will do a whole home inspection, termite inspection, and a radon inspection (around $525-$600). There are a host of other specific inspections that can be done as well if the buyer has concerns including, but not limited to: septic inspection, structural engineers inspection, electrical, roof, heating and cooling, health and/or environmental concerns (lead based paint, mold, asbestos). Your agent can make suggests for all home inspections and recommend a great company to do the work. The job typically takes about 3 hours and you’ll receive a very detailed report within 24 hours.

What are my options after doing inspections? Can I back out of the contract?

Upon completion of all home inspections, the buyer has three options. 1) They can accept the property as is without asking for any repairs. 2) They can cancel the contract, get their earnest money back, and walk away with no repercussions. Typically when they find major issues. 3) They can negotiate repairs to be done by the seller or ask the seller to reduce the price in lieu of repairs. Your agent can certainly make suggestions based on his or her experience.

Who does the appraisal and how does that work?

Your lender is the one concerned about whether the home is worth the price on the contract, so they order an appraisal and set that up. A home appraisal protects the bank from getting stuck with a property that’s worth less than they’ve invested, should the buyer stop making their monthly payments.

How do we schedule the closing and what do I need to know?

Your agent can schedule the closing time for you. Our real estate team schedules our buyers closings in our office to make it convenient for them. Our closing agent from the title company will bring all the necessary documents and go through them with you together, explaining everything as you go.

 

Rare Six Bedroom Home in Liberty

Categories: Featured Home of the Week | Posted: September 15, 2017

 

Yes, you read that right, SIX bedrooms. For the family that expects to keep growing, this is a great home in Liberty to fit your needs! Great schools and a great neighborhood as well. Sick of all those family members? Send them to the pool; it’s only two blocks down the sidewalk. Need your alone time for a workout? Take a run on the trail that winds through your neighborhood. Don’t wait, this one is rare!

See all photos and information at http://www.kansascityagent.com/available_home_detail.php?mls=2068651

My Wife Says I Don’t Listen to Her

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: September 15, 2017

 

My wife is always telling me, “I told you that last week. You don’t listen to me.”

Several years ago in the middle of one of these arguments I blurted out, “Was I looking at you when you said that?” to which she replied, “Actually I don’t think you were.” I then said to my wife, “Well I probably didn’t hear you then.”

That one conversation in the heat of the moment could not have been more truthful about the way we interact with our spouses, our children, and even our business associates and clients. In an effort to help my readers of this blog, I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned about “listening”.

Make sure they are looking at you. After many years of marriage, my wife finally figured out that I get easily distracted or have many other things going on in my mind. If she has something important and wants me to “hear” her, she’d better make sure I’m actually looking at her when she’s talking. If I’m looking at her, then it’s more likely that I’m truly engaged in the conversation.

Put down the phone. Have you ever been trying to have a conversation with a friend or coworker while they’re looking at their phone? We like to think we can multi-task, but don’t believe the hype. New research shows that we humans aren’t as good as we think we are at doing several things at once. If someone is looking at their phone, that means they’re using at least a little brain power to focus on the phone and probably less brain power to focus on what you’re saying. In these cases, simply say to your friend, “I have something important to tell you so I’m going to wait until you’re finished there and then I’ll speak with you.”

Practice “Active Listening”. Several years ago, my good friend Ed Fenn who was a Christian counselor, told me about “active listening”. Active listening is a structured form of listening and responding that focuses the attention on the speaker. The listener must take great care to truly focus on the speaker fully (without speaking), and then repeats, in the listener’s own words, what he or she thinks the speaker has said. The listener does not have to agree with the speaker—he or she must simply state what they think the speaker just said. This enables the speaker to find out whether the listener really understood. If the listener did not, the speaker can explain some more.

My wife and I now use this all the time with each other and it saves us a lot of wasted time with misunderstanding. Recently while having a serious discussion, my wife said to me, “Ok, now repeat back to me what I just said.” I repeated back to her word for word what she just told me and then she replied, “OK, now you understand.” To be honest, I didn’t agree with what she told me, but at least she knew I heard her so we could move on with the conversation.
Don’t think ahead. A seller client I met with the other day just bought his house two years ago. He interviewed several agents and after telling me I got the job, I asked him a question. I said, “You just bought this house two years ago. Do you remember who your previous agent was?” He said, “Sure I do. He was a nice guy and seemed to be very experienced, but I’m not going to use him because he was a poor communicator; specifically he didn’t listen very well.”
After further probing it turns out this Realtor was constantly “talking over” his client. When the client would speak, the agent would immediately cut him off and tell his client “the answer”.  We’re all guilty of this. While someone is talking we are formulating a response in our head about what we’re going to say next. We don’t mean to do it, but it means we’re not listening to what the speaker is saying, or at least that’s how it’s perceived. Many businesses have lost millions of dollars because of poor listening skills.
In researching this article, I stumbled across an article in the Harvard Business Review. They were interviewing several top business executives and one of them made the statement, “It’s interesting to me that we have considered so many facets of communication in the company, but have inadvertently overlooked listening. I’ve about decided that it’s the most important link in the company’s communications, and it’s obviously also the weakest one.”

5415 Larson Ave, Kansas City, MO for sale

Categories: Listings | Posted: September 11, 2017

One-level living in a nice cul-de-sac! Convenience laundry room on the main level along with all three bedrooms. Open floor plan allows you to entertain with ease! Living room has vaulted ceiling and fireplace. Kitchen features an island with lots of extra storage. All appliances stay. The spacious master bedroom has a private bath with whirlpool tub and double vanity. Finish the walk-out basement as you please! Spend your evenings outside on the deck overlooking the backyard. Raytown schools.

  • Rolling Meadows Subdivision
  • 3 bedrooms
  • 2 full bathrooms
  • 1,328 square feet of finished living space
  • Ranch floor plan
  • 2-car garage
  • Whirlpool tub
  • Walk-in closet
  • Kitchen island
  • Unfinished walk-out basement

To learn more about this home, click 5415 Larson Ave Home for Sale or call Robert Girard at 913-205-5398.

A Home in the Downtown Area Near Everything You Love

Categories: Featured Home of the Week | Posted: September 8, 2017

So, you love downtown, the Crossroads area, and everything going on there, but you want the comfort of a home. No condo for you! Well, your home is ready. This home is tucked into one of the only streets of single family homes near the Liberty Memorial area downtown. You can bike or walk to Union Station, catch the streetcar and enjoy everything you love. Not only is the location great, but you can enjoy a full 3 stories and 5 bedrooms of history in this home. Let’s check it out!

See all photos and information at http://www.kansascityagent.com/available_home_detail.php?mls=2067257

Here’s Some Good News!

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: September 8, 2017

I love to read books (mostly business and biographies) and always have a stack of unread books that I can never seem to find enough time to read. Because my time to sit down and read a book is limited, I also listen to a lot of podcasts every day. Most mornings I go to the gym or for a long walk/jog in my neighborhood with my headphones on, and I always have a podcast playing.

In the last few years, I find myself growing very tired of all the negative news in America. I think the news media believes we are all stupid and that we just sit around craving more negative news from them. That’s exactly why I try not to listen to it and only fill my ears and head with positive stories. One of my favorite business podcasts is The Brian Buffini Show. This last week I was listening to a three part series that Brian has put together titled, “How To Make It Big In America.” I think it’s worth listening to even if you’re not a business owner.

Brian begins his three part series with a report from Harvard’s Institute of Politics that says, “50% of millennials no longer believe that the American dream is possible.” Another survey said that, “50% of baby boomers do not believe that their children will enjoy the same level of success that they have.” Brian states that he does not believe these statements to be true and actually believes that the American dream is far more attainable today than at any time in its history. He also professes that there will be far more fortunes made in next 50 years than there were in the last 50 years!
We live in a great country and I think most of you would agree with that statement, but I want to give you some information that will hopefully put it in perspective of how great this country really is. Did you know that Americans on welfare are in the top 20% of income earners in the world? The bottom 5% of the most poor people in America are richer that 68% of the world’s population. Now I realize there are real hardships and poverty in people’s lives today in the US, but when we lay down to sleep at night, we don’t have to worry that the government might be overthrown tomorrow. We are free to openly and publicly worship our God whenever, and however we choose. We have clean water and plenty of available food. We have access to medical help. We have access to shelter and many of us own our own homes. The unemployment rate today in America is 4.3% so we almost have full employment. Basically anyone that wants to work can find a job.
Although I jokingly call it the “United States of Anxiety,” we really do have it pretty good. Every single day I wake up grateful that I live in a country where a guy like me can start a business from scratch and 12 years later employ five other people. Five people that enjoy coming to work every day, make good money, and support their families. Aside from that, we are given the wonderful opportunity to help so many other families achieve the American dream of owning their own home.
Personally, I have to agree with Brian Buffini. America is great, because we have a “never give up” attitude. Right now their are literally thousands of Keller Williams real estate agents from all over the country, descending on the city of Houston to help out flood victims. Many of them simply decided to get in their cars and drive down there. They’re putting together food kits, hauling water soaked furniture out of homes, ripping out sheetrock, and trying to help any way they can. As I write this article on Friday morning, the entire state of Florida is preparing to get slammed by an even bigger storm, hurricane Irma. I’m 100% sure there will be total devastation in many parts of Miami, Ft Lauderdale, and cities all the way up the coast, but I also know there will be thousands of Americans up north ready to leave their homes and families to go down there and help. I’ll certainly be praying for the people in Florida.
I think success and tragedy go hand in hand in America. One of my favorite quotes probably says it best. “Hard work spotlights the character of people; some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses and some don’t turn up at all.”—Sam Ewing

You Won’t Want to Leave the House!

Categories: Featured Home of the Week | Posted: September 1, 2017

Occasionally, you’ll see a home come on the market that just has it all. This is one of them. Everything about this beauty was finished to perfection when it was built. Located in Embassy Park, you’re as close as you can get to all the amenities you want without feeling crowded in the city. Funny thing is, you won’t want to leave the house! I especially love that you have the option of an open deck or a screened in porch to relax over a peaceful back yard. It doesn’t get any better!

To see all photos and information, click the link: http://www.kansascityagent.com/available_home_detail.php?mls=2066434

Got Flooding? Here’s Some Helpful Suggestions

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: September 1, 2017

The recent record rainfall in Kansas City and Hurricane Harvey has brought to light questions of how to prevent or prepare our homes for flooding. Many homeowners in Kansas City with no past issues have recently had to deal with the unfortunate problem of how to get rid of standing water in their basement. There are a few ways that you can proactively prevent water entry into your home so I thought now might be a good time to cover a few of them.

Clean Out Your Gutters Most homeowners don’t give too much thought to their gutters, but a clogged gutter can be one of the main sources of water entry into the basement. The more large trees you have around your property, the more you need to be proactive in keeping the gutters cleaned out and making sure they are properly pushing water away from your foundation.

Close Foundation Cracks Use mortar and masonry caulk or hydraulic cement to close foundation cracks. These products expand to fill gaps completely and cost only a few dollars. Don’t patch solely with mortar or cement which may crack again.

Backfill Dirt Around Your House At least two times during the year, you should inspect the soil and landscaping around the exterior of your home. Over the course of several years, the excavated soil around the foundation will begin to settle. As it does, it will create a “dip” in the yard around the edge of the foundation that will collect water from rain and snow. This encourages water to collect around your foundation and will make your problem even worse. If your foundation soil is pitched towards your home, it’s recommended that you add dirt to the area until the slope moves away from the house (this is known as “grading”) and will help to move the rain water away from your foundation.

Install a French Drain This is especially necessary when you have a backyard that is sloped directly at the house. A French drain consists of buried perforated pipes slightly sloped to easily channel water flow, in this case, away from the house’s foundation. Start by digging a 2-foot-deep by 18-inch-wide trench 2 feet or so away from the foundation at the highest point where the rear yard meets the foundation. Continue the trench downhill around the house until it extends beyond the foundation at the front of the house and discharges away from the foundation where excess water will not cause a problem for yourself or a neighbor. The bottom of the trench should be sloped at least 1 inch for every 8 feet in the direction you want water to flow. Fill the bottom of the trench with about 2 inches of 1-inch washed rounded stones. Washed stone is necessary to prevent small pieces of stone called “fines” from plugging the holes in the drainpipes. If you’re not sure how to tackle this job yourself, I have contractors that can do this for you.

Install a Sump Pump These are fairly common in Kansas City, especially on non-walkout basements. Usually, sump pumps are installed in specially constructed sump pits below the foundation of the home. Water flows into the sump pit through drains or by natural water migration through the soil underneath the home. The sump pump’s job is to pump the water out of the pit and away from the building so the basement or crawlspace stays dry. One problem that I see with many sump pumps is they typically don’t have enough extension pipe on the outside of the home to make sure the water gets routed far away from the house. When the exterior pipe is too short (or damaged), the water will simply pour back under the foundation again. Another problem is that most people don’t think to have a battery backup on their pump. Many times, the sump pump is needed the most during a storm with heavy rainfall. Unfortunately, it’s during these times that the power may go out too. If the power goes out, then the electric pump won’t work and thereby allow water to seep up under the foundation and flood the basement. A simple battery back up system from Home Depot can solve this problem.

Aside from these items listed here, there are more expensive or extreme measures that can be taken if you have serious problems with water entry, but I’ve tried to list a few basic suggestions for the average home owner.

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