8 Home Inspection Fails That May Require a Specialist

Home inspectors have the expertise and knowledge of home building to make sure that a house is going to be safe, livable, and worth the investment.

But even home inspectors have their limits. Some don’t have the qualifications to inspect certain aspects of the home, like the sewer drains and chimney, which is why homebuyers may want to call in specialists to review trouble zones.

Here are eight instances when Trulia recommends using a specialist if the general inspector indicates there’s a problem:

  1. Roofs:  Since roof repairs are costly and can cause major problems if put off, home sellers and homeowners may want to prioritize roof repairs. For homes that have shingle roofs, a roof inspector will look for shingles that are cracked, loose, or curling, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a nonprofit supported by property insurers and reinsurers. Inspectors will also look at off-ridge vents to see if they are loose and for roof leaks, which they can spot if there are water stains around the chimney and pipes. Also they will check for indications inside of leaks (such as ceiling stains or peeling wall paper).
  2. Chimneys:  If the roof inspection reveals signs of damage around the chimney, a chimney specialist should give it a closer examination. This is done with the aid of a chimney inspection camera. Inspectors will also look at the exterior, interior, and accessible parts of the chimney, giving special attention to the strength of the chimney structure and the condition of the flue, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
  3. Geology:  A geological inspection of a property on a hill or in a flood zone will help catch issues like drainage problems or ground shifts. There are often two reports that come from these kinds of inspections: a natural hazard disclosure and a geologic environmental site assessment. The natural hazard disclosure includes a closer look at the maps of the area to hone in on areas that are vulnerable to earthquakes and landslides, according to George Dunfield of the California Board for Geologists and Geophysicists, in a 2005 interview with The Los Angeles Times. A geologic environmental site assessment (which can cost more than $1,000) looks at the soil quality of the property and assesses whether the site is susceptible to contaminants like fuels and solvents.
  4. Sewers:  A sewer line is a heavily used piece of equipment in any home and can go as far down as 16 feet underneath a property to connect to a public sewer system. Home inspectors sometimes call on plumbers and specialty contractors to do a “sewer scoping” with a specialized camera. “A lot of clogging comes from bad installation of sewer pipes, even with brand-new homes,” Bob Ansel, owner of Drain Solvers in Longmont, CO, told The Denver Post. Plumbers can unclog the sewer pipe to get it operational again. But if a sewer pipe needs to be replaced, the price to do so can go upwards of $20,000.
  5. Termite Damage:  Sellers often pay for termite inspection since many lenders require a full report on any termite-related issues before approving a loan.
  6. Moisture, Mold, and Toxins:  Every last inch of a house needs to be checked for these potential deal killers. Inspectors will look for physical signs of mold and moisture and take temperature and moisture readings. Inspectors may also look at the property’s history to see if any previously reported problems may be an indication of mold, according to ABC News.
  7. Asbestos:  If a house dates to 1975 or earlier, there’s a chance asbestos insulation was used around air ducts, water heaters, and pipes. This Old House recommends that homeowners who find asbestos that’s been significantly damaged should avoid touching the material. An industrial hygiene firm and an asbestos abatement contractor may be called in to assess, repair, and clean the property. If this can be easily done, Trulia suggests homebuyers ask the seller to pay for the inspection.
  8. Proper Use:  Homeowners may not need to hire an extra inspector to manage this, but Trulia suggests that they may need to work with the real estate agent. Any major additions or alterations to a home need to have been properly permitted for the sale to be legal. The garage that was converted into a home office might be beautiful, but if the inspector finds out that the proper permits weren’t obtained it could negate the deal.

Home inspectors provide you with important information that can have a major impact on a sale, but they’re not the only ones who may need to get involved in the process.

Often paying the up-front costs for a full inspection today, or before you list your home for sale, can save future expenses and headaches further down the line.

courtesy of:  http://www.thehomestory.com/…

8 Surprising Predictors of Housing Prices

It’s no surprise that home buyers and owners like to know which way prices are heading. But when it comes to nailing the best deal in real estate, there are eight surprising indicators of change in home prices, according to realtor.com®. For instance, a study found that for every $1 decrease in gas prices, home prices increase by roughly $4,000 and the average time to sell a property decreases by 25 days. And it’s not just gas prices that are worth monitoring. Homes near a Trader Joe’s are worth 5 percent more than homes near a Whole Foods, according to RealtyTrac. Also, moving a residential housing unit one mile closer to a professional sports facility increases its value by $793. Other indicators include marijuana laws, casinos, temperature changes, trees on a street, and proximity to highways … read more —>  http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/

Filling An Empty HOA Board of Directors Position In CA

QUESTION:  If a board member resigns one full year before the end of her term, is her empty seat automatically open for election or does the board appoint her replacement?

RESPONSE:  I know Clint Eastwood had trouble filling an empty chair three years ago but it’s fairly routine for boards of directors. The mechanism depends on two things: (i) how the vacancy was created and (ii) the language in your governing documents.

Recall. Vacancies caused by the membership’s removal of a director (a recall) cannot be filled by the board. It must be filled by the membership at a special election (Corp. Code §7224(a)). That should be done on the same ballot as the recall.

Death & Resignation. Vacancies created by death or resignation of a director are filled by approval of a majority of the remaining directors, unless the governing documents expressly provide otherwise. (Corp. Code §7224(a), Robert’s Rules, 11th ed., p. 467.) Most bylaws follow the Corporations Code and give the board the authority to fill the seat.

Failure to Appoint. If the board fails or refuses to fill an empty position, the membership can call for a special election. (Corp. Code §7224(b).) The process is initiated by filing a petition with the board for a special meeting to fill the seat.

RECOMMENDATION: Check your articles of incorporation and bylaws to see if they address the subject. If they are silent, then follow the Corporations Code as described above.

courtesy of:  http://www.davis-stirling.com/Newsletters/

Understanding Smart Home Technology

The Internet of Things is quickly becoming a reality, and there’s no place where this is more obvious than in our homes. According to predictions from market researcher MarketsandMarkets, the global smart home market will grow to about $58.7 billion by 2020, fueling a 17 percent compound annual growth rate and creating a significant consumer market for smart homes. Buyers know the benefits that come with these systems, and they want them in their homes …

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are one of the quickest and cheapest ways to upgrade a home. A smart thermostat like Nest learns from the homeowner’s habits and preferences and adjusts its settings accordingly. It can also pull the weather forecast from the Internet to set the optimal temperature and create monthly reports, all of which help the home be energy-efficient and save the homeowner money.

Homeowners who use a smart thermometer can save between 10 and 12 percent on heating and 15 percent on cooling bills, according to the company website. Show potential buyers an example of the monthly report that Nest generates to demonstrate how much money they can save with this smart device …

Smart Lighting

Being able to control your lights with your mobile device is a wonderful smart home feature. Philips Hue is probably the most popular example of this type of smart lighting. Homeowners can use a smartphone app to turn the lights on and off as well as change the colors and brightness of the lights. If you have a potential buyer with young children, you could light up one of the bedrooms with a bright pink light to make it feel fun and youthful. If you’re trying to show off a home theater experience in the living room, put LED light strips behind the TV and sync them to music or a video for an immersive experience. This is especially great for highlighting a movie or entertainment room …

Smart Appliances

While getting a new appliance is a good way to increase the value of a home, going one step further with smart appliances makes it a selling point. Whirlpool has developed washers, dryers and kitchen appliances that monitor energy costs and delay or start their cycles when it is most energy-efficient time. Users control these appliances with an app, which enables alerts and remote commands from anywhere there is a data connection …

courtesy of:  http://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/

Condos Outpacing Single-Family Homes in Appreciation

Condos are appreciating faster than single-family homes in markets across the U.S., especially where job markets are thriving or urban renewal is underway, according to the third quarter Zillow September Real Estate Market Report. Condos in the U.S. are appreciating at a rate of 5.1 percent, compared to the 3.7 percent appreciation among single-family homes.

Condo values crashed hard during the housing bust that kicked off the Great Recession. From the pre-recession peak to the lowest value, the median U.S. single-family home lost 20 percent of its value; from peak to bottom, the typical U.S. condo lost 33.2 percent of its value.

The housing market has since bounced back, and condos have finally caught up to other homes. In September, according to Zillow’s data, they are appreciating faster than single-family homes in nearly two-thirds of the top 35 most populated housing markets … read more —> http://zillow.mediaroom.com/

Does It Make Sense to Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances?

4 Tips for Replacing Appliances With Energy-Efficient Models

Buying appliances that use less power can be a smart thing to do, but figuring out when to swap an existing model for what’s often a more expensive version can be tough. The payback for new, energy-saving appliances can vary greatly depending on the age of existing models and your usage habits, as well as the cost of electricity in your area.
The National Resources Defense Council suggests you consider a more efficient model for any appliance that’s more than 12 years old. Here are some shopping guidelines to help you do that:
Choose certified appliances. If you remember only one thing when you shop, make it this: Look for the government-backed Energy Star label. This blue and white logo indicates models that have been certified as using less energy.
Go beyond purchase price. Price shouldn’t be the only factor you consider. Find the EnergyGuide label — a yellow and black tag required on most appliances — and look for the estimated annual cost of operating the appliance. Use both figures to make your decision.
Buy only as big as you need. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. Extra-large appliances require more energy, and they run at reduced efficiency when they’re not operating at full capacity.
Look for energy-saving features. Some models or features can save you more money. For instance, a top freezer refrigerator will use 10 to 25 percent less energy than a side-by-side or bottom-mount model, and a natural gas-powered water heater will typically cost less to operate than an electric model.
New appliances are not only more efficient, but they’ve also been proven to perform the same as or better than older appliances, so you won’t have to sacrifice performance to gain energy savings.
courtesy of:  BrettMills@CFSonline.biz
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