Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc



Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 4/9/2017

If you have a list of home contractors that you use and are satisfied with, consider your yourself lucky!

Many homeowners find themselves in the unenviable position of having to blindly search online for reputable contractors, sort their way through dozens of miscellaneous reviews, and then hopefully find a handful of promising candidates to interview.

Even after all that, there's no guarantee you'll be 100% satisfied with your choice!

Although picking a contractor may sometimes feel like a gamble, there are strategies for lowering your risk factor.

A personal recommendation from someone you know and trust is usually the most reliable method of finding the right person for the job. If a relative or friend has had a positive experience with a roofer, bathroom remodeler, or plumber, then there's a good chance, you'll be satisfied with them, too. It's still a good idea to get two or three contractor estimates, but a good starting point is to have at least one recommendation from someone who has your best interest at heart.

Do Online Reviews Help?

Online review sites can also provide helpful information and feedback, but they're not always the "unvarnished truth". In spite of efforts by review sites to discourage biased reviews, some are probably going to slip through. For example: Have you ever read a review that sounded like it was an advertisement for the contractor? Sometimes when the praise sounds just a little too glowing and over the top, you can't help but wonder if those reviews are genuine and unbiased. Although the majority of online reviews are probably legit, the best way to view them is with a healthy dose of skepticism.

When it comes to the occasional scathing review by a disgruntled customer, one has to put it in context and look at "the big picture." There are some customers who are literally impossible to satisfy and will always find something to complain about. However, if a contractor has more than one or two negative reviews online, and they're not offset by a couple dozen positive ones, then that could be a potential red flag. Since you don't know the reviewers personally, and the reviews are often posted anonymously, the credibility factor is much lower than if you got a recommendation from one of your parents, a close friend, a next-door neighbor, a sibling, business associate, or your real estate agent.

The point at which you should be able to separate the "wheat from the chaff" is during your face-to-face meetings. If a contractor gives every you indication of being professional, honest, knowledgeable, experienced, ethical, and customer-service oriented, then they're probably a good prospect for the job. Other factors include the price they quote, their Better Business Bureau rating, and their willingness to provide references, proof of insurance coverage (such as general liability and Workers' Comp, if applicable) and direct answers to all your questions





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 9/18/2016

If you're in the process of trying to find a dependable contractor for a home improvement project, there are several steps you can take to ensure a positive outcome. Since clear and frequent communication is the foundation of any successful relationship with a contractor, knowing what questions to ask can make all the difference. Here are some general guidelines for screening potential contractors and determining which one would be the best match for your budget, your home improvement needs, and your personality. Not only is it important that the contractor be experienced, dependable, and conscientious, but it's also crucial that they're easy to work with and customer service oriented. If they're too abrasive or don't seem genuinely interested in ensuring your satisfaction, then you'd probably be better off looking elsewhere. Being competitively priced is also very important. Questions to Ask Contractors Although each situation is different when dealing with home builders, handymen, or home improvement contractors, here's a list of questions that would apply to most companies:

  1. "How long have you been in business?" One of your top priorities is to avoid fly-by-night operations that are in business today, and nowhere to be found, next week. Longevity in business is usually a sign that the contractor is conscientious about customer satisfaction, that they care about doing good quality work, and that they're in compliance with the legal requirements of running a contracting business. It's certainly not a guarantee of any of those things, but it's a good starting point in evaluating their qualifications.
  2. "Would you provide me with some recent customer references -- preferably ones who had the same type of work done as what I'm planning." If the contractor balks at this, then they may have something to hide -- like a trail of dissatisfied customers or a just a lack of customers. The ideal scenario, of course, is to get a contractor recommendation from a trusted family member, a friend, or a neighbor. When that isn't possible, a brief telephone conversation with a couple current or past customers of a contractor you're considering can provide a lot of insights into key factors like timeliness, professionalism, the quality of their work, whether they leave their work site clean, and their level of customer service and communication. By the way, one online source for neighbor recommendations is a social networking site called Nextdoor.com.
  3. "What type of insurance do you have?" If they're not current on their personal liability insurance, Workers' Compensation, and property damage insurance coverage, then you could potentially be liable for any injuries and damage that take place on your property during the project. However, reputable contracting companies recognize the importance of carrying the necessary types of contractor insurance, and they make it their business to keep those policies current and up to date. As a side note, it's also wise to find out if there will be any subcontractors working on the job, and if they also have the required licenses and insurance coverage. Asking for copies of insurance certificates is generally the only way to make sure the needed coverage is in place.
While many home improvement or construction projects come with their share of frustrations, setbacks, and minor headaches, if you take the time to screen and compare potential home contractors, your chances of getting the best value for your money and the highest possible quality will be greatly increased.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 7/31/2016

Your home's driveway represents more than just an open space where you park your car day after day. In fact, your driveway could become a major selling point for your residence, one that could put your home over the top in the eyes of prospective homebuyers. So what does it take to enhance the quality of your home's driveway quickly and efficiently? Here are three factors that you should consider before you dedicate time and money to complete driveway renovations: 1. The Quality of Your Home A driveway improvement project should be considered in relation to other home improvement tasks throughout your residence. For example, is revamping your driveway more important than replacing your residence's hot water heater? This rarely, if ever, is the case, which means you may be better off dedicating your resources to other home improvement tasks before you commit time and money to enhance your driveway. Remember, your driveway is important but should not take precedence over various homebuyer must-haves. And for home sellers who are on the fence about driveway repairs, considering a homebuyer's perspective may help these sellers determine which home improvement projects should become top priorities. 2. Return on Investment (ROI) Ideally, you'll want to improve your home's driveway to enhance your residence's curb appeal and value as well as boost your chances of a quick home sale. To accomplish these feats, you'll need to ensure that the time and money you commit to driveway renovations delivers a significant return on investment (ROI); in other words, you'll want to guarantee that you'll get back what you put in to your driveway modifications. Consulting with a real estate agent can help you find the best way to maximize the ROI of driveway improvements, along with any other home repair tasks. This real estate professional is happy to provide tips to empower you with the skills and insights you need to bolster the quality of your home and optimize your residence's value. 3. The Real Estate Market Does your driveway already sparkle? If so, you may be able to use your driveway as a selling point to differentiate your residence from others on the real estate market. On the other hand, a subpar driveway that is loaded with cracks and holes may need to be repaired to the point where it won't detract from your home's curb appeal and value. When it comes to driveway improvements, it is important to note that major overhauls aren't always necessary. Instead, you may be able to fill in various cracks and holes to ensure your home's driveway offers plenty of parking and serves its purpose consistently. Take a look at some of the rival homes in your area to see the quality and condition of their driveways. By doing so, you'll be able to get a better idea about how your residence's driveway appears to homebuyers and act accordingly. Examine your driveway as you prepare to list your home on the real estate market, and you'll be ready to make any necessary improvements to help your residence generate interest from homebuyers.