Home Inspection
Information From
Alban Home
Inspection Service

November  '05

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From The Desk of Arthur Lazerow
As early as July or August of this year, the cold wind of a slower real estate market appeared to be blowing from the north, but there was insufficient hard data to declare the end of the Seller’s Market. September data put the final nail in the coffin of the seller’s advantage over buyers.
The current sales picture is astounding! The District of Columbia has a 2- 1/2 month inventory and Loudon County, Virginia has over a 5- month unsold inventory. Montgomery County had more homes on the market October 1,2005 than anytime since July 1999. At the end of September, there were 1,033 open listings of single family homes in Frederick County, but September’s sales counted only 337, which equates to a three-month inventory of listed homes on the market. August showed a two month inventory, whereas at the end of April 2005, there was only a one-month inventory available. Other jurisdictions are experiencing the same conditions. From the buyers’ prospective, there is a wider selection of homes in every price range than has been available for several years. Secondly, although interest rates inched up a bit into the low 6% area for fixed-rate loans, interest rates remain low, so the affordability factor still works to the benefit of homebuyers. Creativity in mortgage instruments will also serve buyers well, with five-year adjustable loans still popular with buyers who expect to be in the home from only 4-5 years. Interest only loans are also getting attention.
Are we in a buyer’s market? We do not know yet. One thing is for sure, non- contingent contracts should be rare. As a result, there will be better balance between the negotiating position of buyer and seller. Home inspectors can get back to inspecting and Realtors will sleep more soundly at night.

Tricks of the Trade
What does an inspector look for? That’s the key question in making sure a house is up to snuff. Clue the homeowner into the following areas of concern:

Floor Coverings – if the floors are wood (hardwood or softwood), the homeowner should look at the quality of the finish and the workmanship. If carpeted, the carpeting will be checked for stains or excessive wear. An inspector will also look for wear in tiling. Surface scratches, cracks, mortar or grout deterioration and other imperfections will all be red flags to the inspector.
Windows – The sash joints at the top and bottom should not be separated. Tight or secure joints are signs of an acceptable sash. The counterbalance should be operating smoothly, so the window closes properly. The paint and glazing should be smooth. Windows with operating mechanisms, such as awnings, will be inspected to assure the mechanisms are operating properly. The inspector will take special note of windows with southern exposure, which often causes weathering and paint wear, and windows with northern exposure, which are susceptible to rotted sills and excess moisture. Fireplaces – The chimney must be high enough for the building. Generally, it should be two feet above the roof or any other structure within ten feet. The damper door should operate properly, and the flue should be at least one- twelfth the size of the firebox. The inspector will check the inside of the chimney for indications of deterioration.

Walls and Ceilings – Believe it or not, there’s a “schedule” for the normal cracking that occurs in a plaster ceiling. Cracks typically occur in one direction in approximately 30 to 40 years, while perpendicular cracks appear at approximately 50 to 60 years. If a plaster ceiling has cracks before schedule, it is cause for concern. Tile walls, such as those in bathrooms, usually fail at the faucet first, then down the side wall toward the front. The inspector will look for repairs that include a waterproof material.
Stairways – An inspector will be looking for consistent risers, proper hand rails and adequate tread depth. Hardware – All appliance springs and locks should be in proper working order. The kitchen appliances need to be operable. The inspection will include checking the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, drawers (yes, even the sticky silverware drawer!) and countertops. The inspector will be looking for workmanship, age, quality and functionality.

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Alban is proud to offer FREE Continuing Education Courses in Real Estate Offices! Call Tina to schedule one of our educational seminars, for additional information, or to schedule our services at 800-822-7200 or 301-662-6565.

ALBAN ANNOUNCES RADIO SHOW! Check out Arthur Lazerow, President of Alban Home Inspection Service, the co-host on WMET 1160 AM Intelligent Radio Real Estate Today! Saturdays 10 to 11 AM!


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