Environmental Issues Same Sex Couples Should Be Aware of When Buying a Home

There are environmental issues that you should be aware of before you purchase a home. If those issues arise after you purchase the home, it may be your responsibility to correct the problem rather than the sellers. Once you find a home that you are interested in, you should ask both your real estate agent and the seller if there are such issues. If the seller does not inform you of issues that he or she knew or should have known about, he could be charged with fraud. Following are some of the environmental issues same sex couples should be aware of when buying a home.

images (1)Asbestos

Asbestos is a strong and durable fibrous mineral that is found in the rocks and soil worldwide. In the past, this substance was used in building materials such as insulation until it was found that it caused cancer. If you plan to purchase a home that was built prior to the 1990s, this substance may be present. It is not a danger unless it has deteriorated or is crumbling or flaking. It can be expensive to correct the problem because the materials containing asbestos will have to be removed and, when that occurs, the fibers will be released into the air. For safety, a professional who specializes in asbestos cleanup should be hired.

Lead Paint

Lead Paint may be a problem in homes built before 1978. Generally, lead paint is not harmful if it is not cracked or peeling. If it is in bad repair, it will need to be removed or sealed to eliminate the danger it can pose. High levels of lead in the body can lead to permanent damage to red blood cells, the brain, kidneys and the central nervous system. Federal law requires that real estate agents obtain information from the seller and provide that information to a potential buyer in pre-1978 residential properties. A problem may arise if the seller chooses not to disclose this information or is not aware of its presence.

Mold

While mold generally occurs in homes in varying degrees and is generally not dangerous, certain types of molds can produce toxins that cause health problems, including  allergy and upper respiratory tract symptoms including runny nose, eye irritation, coughing and wheezing. Recent studies have indicated that the presence of toxic mold may cause asthma in children.

Removing mold on hard surfaces is as simple as cleaning using a specialized mold removal procedure. If the mold has infested porous surfaces such as carpets and drywall, the only way to get rid of it is to remove and replace the material involved. If the mold has gained access behind walls and other inaccessible places, extensive rebuilding may be required.

Radon

Radon is a tasteless and odorless gas that results from the natural decay of uranium and is present in the soil and the atmosphere worldwide. The problem arises when the radon levels become too high. Testing the inside of the home for the level of radon should be completed prior to purchase so that you are aware if there is a problem and can decide if you would like to go to the expense of installing a reduction or mitigation system in the home.

Water

Water quality should be a concern and should be tested before purchasing a home. Testing will reveal the presence of lead, arsenic and bacteria such as E-coli. The test will also reveal the levels of pH and water hardness as well as the presence of iron, manganese, fluoride and iron.

If you feel that the home that you would like to purchase may have an environmental issue, you can have an environmental inspection performed. The inspector will check water quality, test for radon and mold and test the soil and groundwater for contamination. If the home is old enough, testing for asbestos and lead paint can also be performed.

Before looking for a home to purchase, you should hire a professional LGBT real estate agent. He or she will be aware of any environmental issues in the neighborhoods where you are looking and will be aware of state laws that may require the seller to disclose any or all of the above environmental issues in a home you are interested in purchasing. To find the best LGBT agents available in your area, you should conduct a search on GayRealEstate.com.

What You Should Know About Home Inspection Problems

Real estate agents generally recommend that buyers have a home inspection completed before purchasing a home. The purpose is to protect the buyer from issues with the home that were either unknown or undisclosed by the seller. There are no laws that require home inspections in any state, it is completely up to the buyer.

images (1)What is Inspected?

A home inspector will, at a minimum, check for the following:

  • Roofing including shingles or tiles and flashing to make sure it is in good repair.
  • Foundation problems including cracks or water damage.
  • Electrical system to ensure that everything works, including electrical fixtures and light switches. He or she will also ensure the correct fuses are being used and that there are no bad connections or overloaded breakers.
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning, HVAC, system to ensure it is functioning properly.
  • Plumbing, both inside and out, to make sure it works and has no leaks.
  • Installed systems in the home, such as garbage disposals, to make sure they are working properly.
  • Water leakage that could damage or has damaged the homes. Leaks can be caused by faulty plumbing or outside drainage problems. He will check in areas including the basement, foundation, ceiling, floors, roof and windows and doors.

A home inspection does not include a pest inspection, although if he sees the obvious termite damage, he will mention it to you. If you are concerned about pests, you will need to have a termite inspection. An inspector also does not do a specialized mold inspection, but will alert you in his report if he notices mold or mildew. You will need to hire inspectors who specialize in those areas to conduct those types of inspections. Other areas that are generally not inspected include swimming pools, septic systems and appliances such as refrigerators and stoves.

What Happens After the Inspection

The home inspector will create a home inspector’s report and then review that document with you so that he can explain any problems that he found and what may be required to have it corrected. At that point, you can choose to accept the home with any problems that the inspector located or you may renegotiate with the seller. Your options may include asking the seller to correct the problems, asking for a lower selling price to offset your costs of repairing it, or decide that you do not want to purchase the home at all. If a home inspection was listed in your proposal as a condition for the purchase, you can get out of the contract without losing your good faith deposit. Your real estate agent will assist if you decide you would prefer to renegotiate.

How Do I Hire a Home Inspector

Your real estate agent will commonly give you a referral to an inspector that he knows is qualified and dependable. If you prefer not to hire his or her referral, you could ask friends and relatives for referrals or look in the local yellow pages under building or home inspectors. Note that, since not all states require inspectors to be licensed, you should be careful to choose someone who is qualified.

If you are in the market to purchase a home, it would be wise to hire an LGBT real estate agent. He or she will assist you with the entire process involved in finding and purchasing a home. To find a professional LGBT agent, conduct a search at GayRealEstate.com. The results will include only qualified LGBT real estate agents in your area.

6 Tips for Handling Undisclosed House Defects

If you purchased your perfect home with your partner and found out it had major flaws once you moved in, your recourse will depend on a variety of factors. Most states have laws that prohibit sellers from hiding major defects from buyers. Generally, major defects include plumbing and sewage, water leakage, termites, roofing, heating and air conditioning systems, property drainage, foundation, title problems and lead paint. Following are 6 tips for handling undisclosed house defects.

RE1011. The first step is to review the seller’s disclosure form and read your home inspection report if you have one. There have been instances where the buyer missed the disclosure in the excitement of the purchase. If you find that the problem was in fact disclosed, it will be up to you to pay for the repairs.

2. If the defect was not disclosed, document the problem, take pictures, and obtain estimates of the repair costs.

3. If you had a home inspection completed before purchasing the home, you should contact the inspector. If he or she missed problems that should have been found by an expert, he or she may be liable for the repairs.

4. Contact the real estate agent that assisted you with the purchase. He or she can review your evidence and let you know about some of the options that you may have. For example, he or she may be able to resolve the issue the seller, or refer you to an experienced LGBT attorney if needed.

5. Contact the seller and/or his agent and request that the defects be repaired at his or her expense. You may want to hire an attorney to send the seller a letter outlining the defects and the remedies that are being sought by you, the buyer. If the seller declares that he was not aware of the defects and refuses to pay for the repair, your only recourse is to file a lawsuit against him. In order to succeed, you will need to prove that the owner knew or should have known about the defect. For example, the seller patched over the problem or neighbors informed you of the difficulty that the seller had in dealing with the issue while he or she lived there.

6. Contact a real estate attorney for advice and assistance in filing a lawsuit in a court of law. If the court finds in your favor, you could recover the cost of repairing the defect and any other damages resulting from the defect, attorney fees and costs of filing the suit, and punitive damages if the court finds that the failure to disclose was fraudulent. The court may also rescind or invalidate the sale and return the property to the seller.

In order to avoid purchasing a home with undisclosed defects, it would be wise to hire a reputable LGBT real estate agent to assist you. He or she is a professional and is trained to spot any inconsistencies in the documentation and to let you know your options. Many times, issues with a home can be worked out prior to the sale to the satisfaction of both the seller and the buyer. A professional, trustworthy LGBT real estate agent located in your area can be found by conducting a search on GayRealEstate.com.

Trick or Treat ~ What to Look for in a Home Inspection

Buying a home isn’t as clean cut as you would like it to be, requiring that you take the time to inspect the home before you decide if it’s the right fit for you and those that will be living with you if you have a family.

Your inspection should involve several things, most importantly, electrical, roofing, pluming and foundation. In addition, whether or not the floors are stable, without drooping spots or sink holes, and whether or not the windows are updated or if there is going to be an efficiency problem. At the same time, you want to do your homework and determine the condition of any included appliances. 

When you are initially going through the home, you are of course tempted by the difference to overlook many things, but you should always take the time to hire a professional certified home inspector and complete a thorough home inspection. I’d recommend an inspector affiliated with: The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) North America’s oldest and most respected professional society of home inspectors.

This helps to assure no scares or surprises by the home or the inspector.

The very first thing you want to consider is the actual electrical service panel and proper wiring throughout the home.

As you continue through the home, you’ll want to check out the plumbing… everything secure, and lurking lead pipes? How old is that roof, and how many layers are currently on the home?

You’ll want to also check out the windows as these are very important to the comfort of the home. If the windows are out-dated, it is easy to deduce that they will leak out heat and air, causing issues with efficiency. Updated windows seal in the heat and air into the home much better, therefore can introduce much greater savings when it comes to electric and heating bills. Also, updated windows signify that other elements of the home may have also been updated.

Don’t forget to do your homework when it comes to the inspection of a home, as there are things in the past that can affect the home as it stands today.

You also want to find out the average heating and lighting bills in the home by simply calling the utility company and providing the property address to ensure you aren’t getting into a money pit that is going to make it difficult to maintain the cost of the home.

If there are any major issues, they should be addressed before considering the home so you are able to determine the steps that will be taken to prepare the home for you.

Your real estate contract will allow for a home inspection, and working together with your realtor, you can determine what are safety / security issues and need to be addressed, vs. cosmetic issues which you noticed when you wrote your initial offer.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of www.GayRealEstate.com ~ Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast-to-Coast.