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.

Hiring a Home Inspector – Don’t Settle for a Checklist!

Your dream home might have a yard that is big enough for your dog, a LGBT-friendly neighborhood full of gourmet coffee houses and antique shops or be within steps of where you work. However, before you sign on the dotted line it is important to determine whether or not the home literally has a good enough foundation to support your lifestyle by hiring a home inspector who can provide you with a detailed narrative report about the property’s physical condition of the building.

Is The Home a Bargain for A Reason?

Pictured: severe termite damage.  Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons
Pictured: severe termite damage.
Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

A home inspector can also provide you with answers as to why a home-for-sale might be offered at what appears to be a much lower bargain asking price than other homes in the area. For instance, the house could have a failing foundation, asbestos in the walls or termites. You may be buying a house in the summer, not realizing that your heating bills are going to cost you almost as much as your mortgage in the winter. A home inspector can help you determine whether or not purchasing that “fixer-upper” is going to be worth its ROI (Return on Investment).

This is especially a “must-do” if the house is older, or an architectural gem because those are the home at most risk of having a leaky roof or quirky heating system that could become an inconvenience or expensive problem.

Hiring A Qualified Home Inspector

Certification and licensing qualifications for home inspectors vary from state to state so it is a very good idea to be quite sure that you are hiring a legitimate inspector by checking with a banking expert or on your state’s website. Often your real estate agent can recommend one but it is best for you to find one on your own. Look for a certified professional that has a degree in architecture or engineering as well as home inspection certification. You can find out quite a bit of information about home inspectors in general on the National Association of Home Inspectors website at http://www.nahi.org/.

Avoid Settling for the Checklist

Keep in mind that when you sign a contract with an inspector that they are designed to limit any liability that they might have should a problem that was missed be discovered after the inspection of the dwelling. Be sure to read the fine print so that you know exactly what will be inspected and how the features of the home will be “graded” by the inspector. Find out the exact definitions of words such as “serviceable” or “satisfactory” and find out if either implies damage or dysfunction. In short, make sure that the inspection report that you are provided with is written in a way that you can understand.

It is also best to hire an inspector who is willing to write you a report that is in written narrative form. Avoid inspectors that simply provide you with a checklist and nothing else, as these types of assessments usually do not have enough detail to support any arguments about the integrity of a property.

It is also a very good idea to talk to your real estate agent and make sure that a home inspection is a condition of the sale. Do not buy a home that does not pass an inspection unless the problem is able to be redeemed by a lower sale and is an affordable repair. In fact, asking the seller to fix the problem found by the inspector can be a condition that must be fulfilled before the deal is closed. If at all possible it is important to have the seller or a representative of the vendor present during the inspection so that questions about the condition of the building can be answered immediately.