July 15, 2016

Home Inspection Issues: Wood boring insects.

Filed under: Property Inspection — Chuck @ 11:05 am

You may have hired an inspector to give you an evaluation of your home prior to putting it on the market to sell, and this kind of proactive seller strategy is increasingly popular – especially when sellers want a competitive edge over other listing for sale. Of course the most common type of home inspection is ordered by a buyer, prior to closing, to ensure that they know as much as possible about the condition of the home and can make an informed purchase and insightful purchase offer that is accordingly prices.

In either case, if your home inspector sees visible evidence that could potentially indicate the presence of pests such as wood-boring insects, the inspector will note this in your report with photos, a written description, or both.

Keep in mind that some general home inspectors may also be trained as pest inspectors or have a pest inspector on their team, but pest inspection is a separate and distinct specialty. Even if you have had a general inspection, you will also want to do a separate termite inspection. Pest inspectors charge a reasonable fee to conduct their inspections, and it well worth it to find out whether or not you have a wood-boring insect problem.
There are numerous species of insects that will feast on the wood in your home if they have the opportunity. For that reason you can expect that a home inspector will pay attention to any obvious symptoms of insect infestation or damage, and these observations will show up in the inspection report.

Red Flags and Visible Symptoms
Signs of infestation – either active or prior – include pencil-width round holes in wooden structures, such as porch railings and supports, wooden siding, or structural rafters, beams, or piers. These may have been caused by carpenter bees, which look similar to bumblebees but drill into wood that has not been properly sealed, painted, or treated to make it resistant to insects.

If a wooden surface such as the siding on a home is rotting, dry, and crumbly – and has voids in it that resemble the tunnels that ants make in an anthill like those that children often watch during their science classes – that could be from carpenter ants. These look like most other ants, but devour wood for their sustenance and can cause considerable damage to a home.

The other very common pest is the termite, and most homeowners are fully aware that these little insects can completely decimate a home if they are given a chance to infest it and chew away at the wood without being controlled. Sometimes evidence of past infestation can include dead termites, and when termites live in the soil and travel up across the foundation of a house to nibble at the wood, they leave behind telltale tracks. These look like thin trails made of dried mud that branch out across the foundation stones.

What to Do Next
If your inspection report highlights suspicion of such pest presence, just take note of it and then hire a qualified pest inspector or termite inspector to have a closer look and make a more specific determination.
After the pest professional does an inspection they will either give the home a clean bill of health or will recommend that you treat infested areas that are found. The treatment may be simple and easy, or in the case of a severe infestation it may even necessitate that you have a full-day treatment or even vacate the house so that it can be fumigated. If you have wood-boring insect problems the pest professional will typically advise that a general pest control treatment be done about once a year, as a follow-up, to prevent re-infestation.

A contractor will also be needed to repair or replace any pest-damaged wood, and that project could be minor or extensive, depending upon how much or how little damage has been done by the insects. Call around and get bids from at least three pest inspection companies and repair contractors, select professional and schedule the work, and let them do whatever is necessary to resolve the issue.

Final Steps
If repairs are warranted, the buyer and seller need to decide whether they need to be done prior to closing or whether they can be postponed. They will also need to negotiate regarding any costs related to treatment of infestation and repair of any damaged wood to return it to a condition of proper structural integrity. Normally either the buyer will pay these professional services, or they will give a discount to the seller to offset that expense. A third common option is that both parties agree to split the costs.

If the mortgage company is involved and requires an updated termite certificate that validates that the home has a clean bill of health regarding wood-boring pests, that needs to be taken of by a termite inspector. They will issue a dated certificate to give the mortgage company so you can proceed with closing on the home purchase transaction.

Real Estate Advice: Capitalize on social media.

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 11:03 am

While teens spend an average of eight hours per day on social media, don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are the only consumers of digital media for social interaction. Adults in North American now find ways to devote around two hours a day to platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and that offers a great opportunity for real estate professionals to find them, engage with them, and convert them into steady clients. Here are some strategies and tips for things you can do to leverage your real estate brand and exposure on those three social media platforms, which account for the majority of online social networking and connectivity.

One of the biggest mistakes that real estate agents make when using Facebook to generate leads and gain more clients is that they get bogged-down in social interactions that do not push that agenda forward. To avoid that misstep, relegate your personal Facebook activity to a personal account that can feed into and link back to your business Facebook page. Then focus your energy on that business page or account to highlighting the successes of your clients, versus simply tooting your horn for your own success – which is what all your competitors probably do.

Share stories of clients who struggled to buy or sell until they worked with you, for instance, or of first-time buyers who talk about how great it feels to own their own home. Highlight your partnerships with local charities and small businesses, and use your site to promote them – which will win you fans from their own sites. The more you let the voices of your partners or happy clients provide the messages on Facebook, the more it will add to your credibility. Keep in mind that Facebook posts that are most effective include visuals like photos or videos. Keep the writing to a minimum and let pictures, which each tell a thousand words, dominate the page.

The place where those compelling visuals really shine, of course, is Instagram. You should post photos on a daily basis, to keep the account exciting and fun to view. You can use photos of clients in their new homes or sellers smiling at the closing table, or post favorite quotes or affirmations that convey positivity and a winning attitude. Whenever you or your brokerage participate in a community event, post a photo. Did you find a new restaurant, bike path, or hiking trail in the area where you focus your business? Post a photo of it to show your support and also give your clients a head’s up about a new neighborhood amenity or asset. Of course you should also post photos of your listings, but if listing photos are all you post, most people won’t follow you until they go house shopping. By using this other picture-a-day approach, more people will follow you – and when you do post photos that directly promote your business they will see them and tell their friends, which is the goal of social marketing.

LinkedIn is a great way to keep tab with business partners and clients, and the majority of people on the platform basically just use it as a kind of address book. That’s fine, but it certainly is not why Microsoft just bought LinkedIn for an historically high price. The great value for you if you want to maximize it for real estate purposes is that LinkedIn can position you as the go-to expert in your field, in your city, and in your social network. So to take full advantage of this platform, start sharing your knowledge and expertise in one or more of the widely-read forums related to real estate. Many LinkedIn users rely on those expert posts to keep them in the loop and educated, and the more valuable the insight is that you share, the more valued you will be as a LinkedIn connection. Then, when those readers or people in their network need a real pro to help them with a real estate issue, you’ll get the call.

Home Maintenance Tips: Take care of your home while away on vacation.

Filed under: Home Maintenance — Chuck @ 11:01 am

Home maintenance is relatively easy if you stay on top it and do it at regular intervals, but it becomes a bit more difficult to do if you are not anywhere near your home. That’s the situation for many homeowners in July, because they are traveling out of town for family vacations. That calls for unique home maintenance strategies, and these same approaches can be used throughout the year anytime you need to be out of town and cannot be physically present to take care of your property.

An App for That
App developers have been working overtime to raise the IQ of our mobile phones from smart to smarter. There are many examples of apps that are a great solution for homeowners who aren’t always home. To give you an idea of their capability, here is an overview of one of the most popular, named Canary. Rather than categorizing it as an app, it is more accurate to describe Canary as a full-featured home security and monitoring device or system that is also conveniently app-connected. The Canary replaces bulky home security systems with a small, inexpensive device that monitors motion, temperature, sound, and even air quality within your home, and you can view it from your phone.

How it Works
While you’re away you can watch live streams of your home, or recorded HD videos, and you can archive them if you want. Canary monitors such things as movement inside your home when you aren’t there, and if the system identifies something out of the ordinary, you’ll get a notification with recorded HD video of the event, as well as the option to watch it live. It is not a security system, per se, and no home security company or police are going to be notified by the app. That can be a good thing, because you can review your instant alerts on your app and then if it is a false alarm you didn’t trigger a response that is going to cost you money or embarrassment.

But if there is a problem there is the ability built into the app to respond to incidents directly from the Canary app. You can trigger a 90 decibel siren, or be connected directly to your home’s local emergency responders. Canary changes modes as you come and go, too, so you never have to remember a key code or set and reset or disarm anything. If you are home, you set notification preferences. When you are leaving for vacation, you set the system to monitor activity and send notifications.

Old Fashioned Strategies Are Still Relevant
As always, it is a good idea to enlist the help of a friend or neighbor who can be your eyes and ears while you are away. They can notify you of any problems that come up, and they can make sure that routine tasks like trash collection or mail delivery are monitored. That has a twofold purpose. On the one hand it ensures that everything runs smoothly in your absence, and it also gives your home the appearance of being occupied, which is a strong deterrent to thieves. If the person watching your house can turn the lights on at night and off in the morning that helps create the illusion that you are home, and if a vehicle can be parked at your house and then moved from time to time, that is also a good idea.

Don’t Forget the Yard
Homeowners often focus so much on taking care of pets and having someone check on the inside of their home while they are gone that they forget exterior maintenance. Even if you are only gone for several days, if a heat wave arrives it can scorch your gardens, flower beds, and lawn. So make sure that you either set up watering systems on a timer or have someone like a lawn maintenance professional keep an eye on those valuable features of your home.