From The Desk of
What has happened to radon testing during real estate purchases
in our area? Ten years ago, Alban performed radon tests during 35%
of our home inspections. During the last two years we averaged about
12%. Radon is not a large profit center for Alban, so this is not a
financial issue to us. However, it is a real concern because radon
is a killer. Radon is the second most significant cause of lung
cancer, behind smoking. 21,000 people are estimated to die from
radon caused lung cancer every year. Estimates are that 10 million
homes and 38 million people are affected by radon. Radon has been
found in ever state in the U.S. and every county in Maryland.
A negative radon test is obviously beneficial and reassuring to all
parties in a transaction. A radon test finding of elevated radon
levels is beneficial to the future occupants and warns the previous
occupants to be radon safe in the future. This triggers the need for
remediation, which in our area costs between $750-$900 for the
typical home. The system in place does not affect the value of the
home and operating costs are about $75.00 per year. No deal killer
there. Installing a radon remediation is usually simple and
permanently reduces radon concentrations below the EPA action level.
There are other benefits. The system acts to depressurize the
subsoil areas under the home in relationship to the pressures in the
home. This prevents moist soil air from being drawn into the home,
eliminating mold and mildew transmission and reducing humidity
levels. The system can prevent other soil contaminates, such as
methane gas, pesticides and herbicides, from entering the home.
Do not shy away from radon testing as a Realtor. Keeping your
clients radon safe is the right thing to do!
Preparing For a Home Inspection
Face it: if your client is selling a home, chances are he will be
subjected to a home inspection. But that’s nothing to get worked up
about. Tell your client that almost every buyer will hire a
professional set of eyes to take a close look at the home before
going to closing. No big deal!
Of course, the seller may feel more confident about the inspection
if he has prepared his home for it. The best preparation is to take
care of the house’s maintenance and upkeep all along. But here’s
some spot checking tips you can share before the inspection — just
for the seller’s peace of mind: Mold and Mildew Spots — these
are red flags that might spell the end to a potential purchase.
Toxic black mold has been making headlines — and that makes buyers
even more wary of homes that show evidence of mold or mildew.
Homeowners should take care of any mold – even the nontoxic variety
— as soon as possible, killing it, fixing the source and totally
cleaning the area. Plumbing Problems — Leaks and clogs are an
easy fix, and one that should be completed long before an inspection
appointment has been made. The inspector will check water pressure
by turning on a variety of faucets and flushing toilets
simultaneously. He’ll also check the washers and dishwashers for
leaks or clogs, as well as inspect the septic system for drainage
problems. And speaking of water…Wet
Basements and Crawlspaces — Tell the homeowner to take a deep
breath — in his basement. If he smells mildew, the basement is too
moist. He should check the walls and floors for mildew patches and
other signs of dampness. Moisture can deteriorate building materials
and attract unwanted pests, so an inspector will be monitoring
dampness closely. The homeowner should alleviate the problem by
covering exposed earth in these areas to keep the moisture level
down. He should also repair leaking basement walls or lower the
price of the house to reflect the problem.
The Stuff On Top — Problems may also occur in the roof,
gutters and chimneys. The homeowner should check the shingles or
roof covering and replace and repair as necessary. The gutters
should be clean and downspouts are positioned so water flows away
from the home. The flashing around the chimney should be watertight,
and all mortar and bricks should be in good condition.
Electrical Systems — The electrical panel and circuit break
configuration will be inspected to assure they meet the needs of the
house. For the most part, a 125 amp electrical panel should be
sufficient. The homeowner should make sure the individual circuits
aren’t overloaded, and that receptacles in the bathroom and kitchen
are complete with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFI). The
inspector will probably test the receptacles to assure they
continued to page 2