February 15, 2016

Home Inspection Issues: Potential plumbing problems.

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 3:42 pm

February means a deep freeze across most of North America, and that typically leads to plumbing-related problems that may get red-flagged by a home inspector. There may be outdated pipe, inadequate water pressure, clogging, or a water heater without enough capacity. Or the issue mentioned in the report could be as minor as a leaking faucet or a toilet that needs a new flushing mechanism installed.

Keep in mind that the inspector’s job is to observe what could potentially be problems, and then convey those professional observations to the client through the written inspection report. When an inspection report discloses an issue it will usually be accompanied by a recommendation to have it further evaluated by a qualified plumber. Only after this kind of more intensive investigation will you know the extent of the problem, if indeed there is one, so don’t worry or jump to conclusions until you’ve had an opportunity to consult a plumber.

Common Plumbing Issues
The particular issues are noted in your report will depend on unique circumstances, but some of the most common plumbing symptoms that show up on inspection reports are related to pipe materials, the integrity of the plumbing, and equipment that works with plumbing to provide services to your household.

• This time of year, a pipe may have burst or sprung a leak that is relatively minor but could lead to bigger problems down the road. Sometimes that is a minor repair and you will want to also wrap insulation around the pipe to prevent freezing and cracking in the future. In other cases the damage could be extensive and require replacement of a section of plumbing plus repair from any water damage that resulted from the leak.

• Oftentimes inspectors find that home, especially ones that are older and have had additions and improvements that expand their size or increase demand for water, have outdated capacity. You may need to update the plumbing to restore water pressure, for instance, or replace a small water heater with a larger one or augment that appliance with an additional water heater.

• Homes that are heated with water – such as boilers that produce steam released through radiators – may be in need of repairs or updates to the boiler system, which has some plumbing components.

• Toilets that don’t stop running may need simple DIY repairs, and the same goes for dripping faucets. If drains are not working as intended, they may simply need a good cleaning. Then again, poor drainage may be a symptom that roots or other obstacles are blocking main plumbing arteries – and that is more substantial issue to solve.

• Oftentimes the materials that plumbing pipes are made out of are out of date, and that could require minor or major replacement of pipes. When iron pipes in older homes begin to corrode, for instance, they can rust and fall apart. Similarly, copper pipes and connectors popular in the 1960s sometimes corrode and need to be replaced.

What to Do Next
The next thing to do is to ask any questions you may have of the inspector, and then contact any plumbers other experts that your inspector may have recommended who should have a closer look. They can do a deeper investigation and diagnosis the source of whatever symptoms the inspector noticed. Study bids from at least three qualified professionals, pick the one that seems the most reasonable for the value delivered, and then schedule the repairs – unless you are in the process of selling your home and the buyer wants to handle any necessary repairs themselves. Have the Realtor negotiate with the other party to decide who will pay for the repairs and when they will be completed.

Negotiating Repairs
Sometimes the seller will not do the repair, for instance, but will offer a sales price discount or give cash at closing to the buyer to cover the repair cost. In other situations the buyer may want the repair done before closing, and the buyer and seller will need to reach a fair agreement regarding how soon they will be finished. Traditionally the seller pays for the repairs in that case, but that is also a point that can be negotiated. In the case of an “as-is” sale, for example, the buyer agrees to buy the home in its present condition, without any modifications or repairs.

Following Up Afterward
If you do order repairs done, it is always a good idea to have your inspector return for a follow-up visit after the plumbing contractors have finished their work. Your inspector can then recheck the plumbing system and ensure that the repair work that was properly executed.

Real Estate Tips: Create a Listing Client Checklist

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 3:40 pm

In previous generations, real estate agents and brokers were the only people who knew the critical information and marketing data to facilitate a home purchase or sale. Those days are long gone, though, thanks to the advent of the Information Age and digital communication. Anyone, anywhere, with very little technical know-how or knowledge of mortgage finance, real estate, or home values can access reams of information in an instant, via the Internet. That includes coveted MLS data that used to be the proprietary treasure trove of the Realtor community. To succeed in this kind of environment and still distinguish your value as a real estate pro who is worthy of fair compensation, you have to become an active partner for your clients – the person they turn to for knowledge, education, and strategy they won’t find by doing a Google search late at night.

The Spring Selling Season Starts Now
One thing that most home sellers fail to understand, for example, is that the springtime selling season that all sellers look forward to does not being in spring. Yes, spring is still the traditionally busy season for home sales, that time when buyers historically come out of the woodwork and start snapping up listings. But if a seller wants to participate in that first wave of the year and they wait until the daffodils bloom to call a Realtor, they run the risk of missing the boat. By the time their home is actually market-ready and in its best showing condition, springtime buyers will already be at the closing table and unloading their furniture from moving vans.

Successful Marketing Requires Lead-Time
Do your clients a favor, and use the few remaining weeks of winter to school them about how to prepare to seize the moment as soon as weather warms. You’ll also be doing yourself a favor, because your listings will go live already prepped to sell at the highest possible price – while your competitors and their homeowner clients are still scrambling around to do cosmetic improvements, last-minute repairs, and critical curb appeal makeovers. They need to have a pre-listing inspection done ASAP, for example, so that they can contact contractors, handymen, and landscape crews and get any needed projects scheduled on the calendars of those professionals before the end of the month. If they procrastinate until mid-March or early April they may not be able to locate a quality contractor who charges a reasonable rate who is available before mid-May or June.

Make an Attractive Debut
That means their home cannot be ready to sell with an optimum marketing plan before summer, and they’ll totally miss out on the brisk spring sales momentum. Have you ever toured a new listing and noticed that the house did not show well, simply because the homeowner and real estate agent had not yet taken the time to get it completely ready for prime time? You probably walked away less than impressed, and weren’t surprised if you saw the listing languish on the market and go through a round of cuts to the asking price. When a home debuts on the market and does not look its best, buyers don’t put their plans on hold and then come back a month or two later to see it dressed to the nines. You don’t get a second chance at a good first impression. Help your clients get ahead of the curve, and the competition. They’ll reward you by telling all their friends and colleagues that you are the kind of real estate professional who truly earns your commission.

Homeowner Maintenance: New home maintenance gadgets & tools.

Filed under: Home Maintenance — Chuck @ 3:38 pm

Residential home improvement spending was in decline for the past few years, partly because of a constricted economy and high levels of unemployment. Now economists predict that in 2016 that trend will be reversed. According to a report just published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, home improvement activity will nearly double during the first half of the year, and both recent home buyers and owners who have been in their homes for a long time will fuel this change. One of the indicators the researchers noticed was an uptick in spending on home improvement products. So here is an overview of a few of the newer, more innovative home maintenance gadgets that are now on the market, to help you shop for smart tools to make home maintenance easier and more efficient.

The Right Drill for the Job
The pros at the home improvement TV show This Old House suggest that you forget about using an 18-volt cordless drill, and instead go with a lightweight 12-volt model. Not only is it smaller, it lets you work a lot longer before your hand and arm tire out. But you don’t have to sacrifice power because today’s lithium-ion drills are more efficient, and have all the power you need for most home maintenance projects.

• The Ryobi company also has a new cordless screwdriver, dubbed the Quick Turn, which instantly converts from a traditional pistol grip into a horizontally aligned inline screwdriver. That makes it much more flexible for working in tight or odd-shaped spaces.

• If you are frustrated with losing your hand tools while working in dimly light and dark spaces like closets, basements, or under the sink, invest in some of the pliers, screwdrivers, and other basic tools made by Klein – from its Glow in the Dark collection. They have handles that glow in the dark – a simple innovation that can make a pleasantly big difference if you’re working under lightless conditions such as during an electrical power failure this winter.

• Meanwhile Hammerhead has come out with a handheld cordless rechargeable screwdriver with built-in LED work lights, a wire-bending hole and wire stripper, a magnetic bit holder, and a unique safety feature to prevent accidentally shocks or electrocution. The screwdriver has a non-contact voltage detector, that can detect current in live wires from up to an inch away, with both a warning buzzer sound and LED lights.

Smarter and More Secure
• Belkin now offers window and door sensors that monitor whether they are opened or closed, and these can be configured to work with other Belkin products that can shut off your cooling system if windows are open. The company that makes popular Nest electronic thermostats has also come out a product called Ecovent, a thermostat system that individually sets the temperature in every room. Everything can be controlled from your smartphone.

• Where home security is concerned, there is a facial-recognition security camera system now on the market, the Netatmo Welcome. While an old-fashioned deadbolt lock on every door and other proven security measures are still the recommended way to secure and protect your home, this particular product could be very helpful for times when you are traveling or otherwise away from home. The system works via a smartphone app, which also tracks the time that people arrived on your property. If the facial recognition technology does not recognize someone it will give you a “ping” on your phone.

• You can also use the app to view video live-streaming in real time, and the video is recorded to a local SD card – which means you do not have to pay for a monthly subscription service. You could install the system but only activate it at those times, for instance, like when you go on vacation. Then, if unknown persons are lurking around your home you’ll be notified, and you also have the advantage of seeing via video exactly what’s going on at home while you are not there.

Laundry Machines for the Digital Age
For those who are updating their laundry room or building a new home, modern interpretations of the old washer and dryer workhorses are finally here, engineered for the digital age. The LG company, for instance, recently debuted a new mega-capacity top loading washer-dryer pair, which includes a 5.7 cu. ft. capacity washer and a 9.0 cu. ft. capacity dryer. They utilize a new system that enables them to hold more laundry that similar-sized models, too, plus these units are more efficient for reduced washing times.
Some new washer-dryer models also offer wireless technology so you can troubleshoot problems with your machines using a smartphone-connected diagnostic feature. Similarly, you can start your laundry via smartphone when you are away from home or in a different part of the house and also receive notifications by phone when your clothes are ready to be transferred to the dryer.