WELCOME TO THE FALL ISSUE OF FROM THE RAFTERS
As we look ahead to cooler temperatures and weekend tailgating, we’ve put together information you can use to better understand the home inspection process, build relationships with your customers, keep your listings in top shape, and sell more homes. Fall can be a time of breathtaking beauty, but keep your eyes on the prize. There’s work to be done! We’ve also included some fun autumn facts to kick start the season. How many acorns will a mature oak tree drop? Scroll to the last page to find out. As always, your partners at A-Pro are ready to provide you and your clients with fair and balanced inspections, added services such as lifesaving radon testing (see article on next page), and a host of benefits that has made us a preferred choice among real estate professionals since 1994.
All the best,
Morgan M. Wood, CHI, PHI, MBA
A-Pro Home Inspection
Eight Home Inspection Terms Every Real Estate Agent Should Know
There are thousands of specialized terms that A-Pro’s home inspectors use. We’ve compiled a few basic ones you can pass on to help your buyers and sellers better understand the home inspection process.
- HOME INSPECTION: Let’s start from the beginning. What is a home inspection? Sounds simple, but it’s critical that your clients know what they’ll be getting for their investment. A home inspection is a documented, visual, non-invasive inspection of a property from top to bottom. Through observation and operational testing of accessible features, a certified home inspector determines the current condition of the home’s major systems. Cosmetic, design, and code issues, as well as assessing specialty systems, are not part of a home inspection.
- CURRENT CONDITION: The home inspection is not a prediction of what will happen to the home in the future. The inspector’s professional opinion only applies to the home at the point in time it was examined. As you’re aware, a homebuyer may encounter a problem after moving in that couldn’t have been anticipated by a home inspector.
- ACCESSIBLE FEATURES: A home inspector only reports on what can be seen and accessed. The home inspection does not include digging in the yard to check underground pipes and septic, punching holes in walls to examine wiring and insulation, or taking apart HVAC equipment and appliances. Some elements of a home, such as a steeply pitched roof, may be considered unsafe to be accessed by the inspector.
- MAJOR SYSTEMS: The inspector checks a home’s major systems: structural components; exterior features; roof; electrical; plumbing; heating and cooling; interior features; insulation and ventilation; fireplaces, and appliances. For a more extensive list of components checked, click here (add link from “home inspection checklist” page from your website).
- SPECIALTY SYSTEMS: Specialty systems include hot tubs and swimming pools; lawn sprinkler systems; TV antennas, cable and satellite dishes; burglar alarms and smoke detection systems; some detached buildings; and well systems. These systems are not included in a standard home inspection.
- REMAINING USEFUL LIFE: Home inspectors identify components that are significantly deficient, unsafe, present imminent danger, or are near the end of their life. The “remaining useful life” of a component is defined as the number of remaining years that a component will be functional before needing replacement. This is a subjective estimate based on the inspector’s observations and experience.
- PHYSICAL DEFICIENCY: This is defined as a major defect, deterioration, or damaged item in a building system, such as a cracked foundation or severely compromised roof. This term also describes items that are nearing the end of their useful life or pose safety risks. These problems most often call for expensive repairs.
- DEFERRED MAINTENANCE ITEM: Failure to address problems over a period of time can lead to what is known as “deferred maintenance items.” These deficiencies range from leaky faucets to weathered roofs.
Squirrels, Chipmunks, Raccoons…Oh My!
Protect Your Listings This Fall from Critter Invasion!
If you have vacant listings, be on your guard this fall. Cooler temperatures can bring unwanted pests inside. Basements, attics, and crawlspaces make cozy confines for squirrels, skunks, rodents, possums, and other
four-legged intruders and insects that can wreak havoc on a property you’re trying to sell.
Here are some tips to keep the critters where they belong – outside!
- Check the building’s exterior: Remember that mice and other pests are flexible. While we may struggle to squeeze into a pair of pants after Thanksgiving, a mouse needs only a dime-sized hole to find safe passage into a house. A raccoon
can do the same with only a six-inch opening. A bug only needs a crack. So plug up the holes, no matter how small.
- Not every hole should be filled in. For vents, simply cover with screens to keep pests out.
- Home repairs and upgrades, such as washer and dishwasher installations, electrical and plumbing work, should be inspected to ensure that all openings have been sealed.
- Make sure doors and windows have screens with no tears. Use caulk or foam to seal cracks around windows and doors. Check weatherstripping and door sweeps to see if they’re fully functional.
- Pests can be relentless. Even the best efforts to block entry may go for naught. Make periodic visits to look inside for visible evidence of pests, such as chewed baseboards or droppings. While some problems can be handled with commercial treatments, it’s never a bad idea to call in a professional, especially if you’re dealing with squirrels, raccoons, bed bugs, termites, carpenter ants, and other nuisances that demand expert assessment and removal/elimination services.
When Cooler Weather Comes, Don’t Let Your Guard Down about Termites
The fall season means fewer concerns about wood-damaging insects, right? Wrong! Termites don’t have a dormant season. While they may be less active in the fall and winter in areas where temperatures plummet and the ground freezes, they never actually die out. They dig down into warmer soil and wait until spring to swarm, move inside, and feast on wood. If they’re already inside a heated home regardless of the conditions outside, they can cause damage throughout the fall and winter. In warmer climates like California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, termites can be active year round. The problem is that unless you’re a trained professional, termites are extremely difficult to detect, especially in the fall and winter. So when autumn’s chill is in the air, don’t ignore the risk.
Here are some facts to consider:
- Termites can be found throughout the United States.
- Termite repairs and treatments cost U.S. homeowners about $5 billion annually.
- More than half a billion U.S. homes are damaged by termites every year.
- The average amount of structural damage termites inflict before being discovered is around $8,000.00.
- A certified and experienced termite inspector knows the clear signs of termite infestation and where to look for them – particularly areas where there is wood-to-ground contact, excessive moisture, and poor ventilation.
- During a termite inspection, the structure’s exterior, interior, attic, and crawlspaces receive a thorough examination for evidence such as mud tubes, mud between construction joints, wood powder near pinholes, sunken wood surfaces, discarded wings, termite feces, exit holes, and other indicators.
- Experts say that inspecting for and treating an outside termite infestation in the fall may help prevent more severe swarming in the spring.
- Further, fall is an ideal time to inspect for termites because vegetation is not as full, making it more conducive to finding mud tubes around the foundation of a home.
Termite inspections are beyond the scope of a standard home inspection. However, most A-Pro home inspectors are certified or can arrange to check for termites as well as other wood-destroying insects (WDIs). A-Pro WDI reports…
- Provide evidence of possible infestation by wood-destroying insects or visible damage accessible at the time of the inspection
- Identify possible infestations and previous treatment
- Alert a lender or buyer to potential problems within the home
To schedule this additional service, please call A-Pro of New Orleans at 1-504-533-8890.
REAL ESTATE QUESTION CORNER
Should the seller be present at a home inspection paid for by the home buyer? This is a widely debated question in the real estate community. In the vast majority of cases the seller does not attend the inspection, but it does happen from time to time. Most agents agree that homeowners have every right to be at the inspection, unless otherwise specified in the Agreement of Sale. Why would they want to attend? The truth is that sellers may simply be uncomfortable having an individual they don’t know examine and comment on their house without them being there. It’s perfectly understandable for individuals to be protective of their home and belongings. But is it helpful or harmful to the sales process?
Some agents say the presence of the seller can be intimidating to the buyer, who may feel awkward asking the inspector probing questions or freely discussing problem areas. They argue that the seller can create unnecessary tension, become defensive or even combative when concerns are pointed out, get in the way of the inspection, and even undermine the sale. To mitigate this issue, many agents attend the inspection in lieu of their clients, addressing any issues that may arise and then relaying the details. Other agents argue that there are times when the seller can provide the inspector with useful information and special instructions about features of the house (note: some say this can also be handled remotely by phone). Agents have said they’ve had instances in which an eager buyer and motivated seller were able to work out final stipulations directly following the inspection.
So the final answer? Every situation is unique. The truth is that each seller, buyer, agent, and transaction is different. In a deal as complex as selling a home, strong emotions can be part of the equation, so it’s important for the home inspector to remain flexible and respectful of all parties to help move the process along rather than hinder it. Whether the seller attends or not, we strongly encourage all parties to allow the home inspector to perform his job without interference. Everyone benefits when this standard of practice is maintained.
Gutter Cleanup…6 Reasons Why It Belongs at the Top of Your Fall To-do List
It’s one of the easiest autumn tasks to forget –ridding gutters of debris that can block water flow. If you think it’s no big deal, here are six reasons you should make it a priority for your listings this season.
- Wall, Ceiling, and Fascia Damage: A properly functioning gutter system will drain water down from the roof and away from the home and its foundation. Water trying to run through gutters clogged with dirt, leaves, and twigs can find its way into walls and ceilings. The result is rotting wood and compromised structural integrity. Further, wood fascia boards that hold up gutters are prone to rotting when rainwater is not able to flow freely.
- Foundation Problems: Over time, water pooling at the foundation can cause cracks due to freezing and thawing. This can lead to
basement and crawlspace flooding, and other issues. Even if no cracks form, the presence of water increases the risk of dangerous mold growth.
- Gutter System Failure: Wet leaves and other materials weigh gutters down, causing them to pull away from the house or come crashing down. Save yourself the expense of costly gutter repairs and any collateral damage to the home by inexpensive cleaning in the fall and spring.
- Siding or Paint Damage: Water cascading out of clogged gutters can run down the exterior of a home, causing unsightly water marks. While less significant than structural deterioration, an unpleasant-looking exterior can definitely leave potential home buyers with a bad first impression.
- Roofing Problems: When blocked water in a gutter freezes (known as ice damming), it can push up against the roof and work its way under shingles.
- Landscape Issues: Excessive water pouring out of a clogged gutter system can harm flowerbeds, shrubs, and small trees.
Fun Fall Facts
Oaks produce more than 2,000 acorns every year, but only one in 10,000 acorns will manage to develop into an oak tree. According to superstition, catching autumn leaves brings good luck. Every leaf you pluck from the sky equals a lucky month next year. Looking for even better luck? Make sure those leaves don’t clog your gutters.
It’s football time! And that means one thing…lots of food and drink for all. Wrap your head around these gridiron gastronomic tidbits:
- Cases of beer sold on Super Bowl Sunday…49.2 Million
- Chicken wings sold on Super Bowl week…125 Million
- Pounds of avocados used for guacamole during Super Bowl…71 Million
So your team didn’t do so well this week? It could have been worse. In 1916, Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland by a score of 222 to 0 – the most crushing defeat in college football history. Ouch!
Looking for a winning team this fall?
Call A-Pro of New Orleans at 1-504-533-8890 to schedule a 500-point home inspection for yourself or your clients.