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Pillar To Post Newsletter September 2019

Special Realtor Safety Issue!

Realtor ready to show a home

Inside This Special Issue

September is Realtor Safety Month. The safety of Realtors is paramount to all of us at Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, so this special issue of PostNotes is dedicated to actions and strategies brokers, agents and their teams can use to stay safe in their day-to-day business activities.

Additional resources:

Please visit these websites for additional safety information, tools and resources:

www.nar.realtor/safety

www.beverlycarterfoundation.org



Realtor showing kitchen

Tips for Holding a Safe Open House

Safety during open houses is a concern for all real estate agents and their teams. Use these tips to stay safe:

  1. Always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  2. Check your cell phone’s signal strength on the premises before the open house. Program emergency numbers on speed dial.
  3. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  4. Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Yards with swimming pools or hot tubs often have high fences.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in with their full name, address, phone number and e-mail.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. Notify someone in your office, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  9. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Don’t assume that everyone has left at the end of an open house. Check all rooms and the backyard before locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

Sources: Washington Real Estate Safety Council; City of Mesa, Arizona; Nevada County Board of REALTORS®; Georgia Real Estate Commission



Woman on phone

Office Safety Action Plan

Personal safety in the office is important to everyone. Here are some elements to include in your office safety action plan.

Initial meeting with clients

Hold the first in-person client meeting in the office rather than at properties, out of doors, or at home. It’s also a good idea to introduce them to a colleague on-site.

Client ID

All first-time clients must provide a driver’s license, state ID or other official photo ID. The office will retain a copy of the ID for security purposes. You can download a Client Profile Form at www.beverlycarterfoundation.org.

Distress code

Implement a verbal distress code—a secret word or phrase that can be casually worked into conversation if you feel threatened and the person you are with can overhear your conversation.

Buddy system

If you’re uncomfortable meeting with clients alone or hosting open houses alone request another agent or employee to accompany you.

Privacy first

Keep personal information private. Don’t discuss where you live, after-work or vacation plans in front of prospective clients, new colleagues or anyone with whom you’re not comfortable.

Limit access

Make sure all doors other than the main entrance are secured, and have a clear exit route from the front desk to the door.

Solo security

If you encounter a stranger while working late or alone, say something like “My supervisor will be right with you.” to give the impression you’re not there alone.

Be aware of surroundings

Get to recognize the staff of other nearby businesses and be aware of their schedules. This will benefit everyone.

Sources: NAR; Beverly Carter Foundation



Realtor shaking hands outside a home

Showing Empty Properties

When you are showing an empty property, take these simple steps to protect and empower yourself against attack or theft.

  • Be sure to use the lockbox property-key procedure that has been established to improve real estate agent safety so that keys don’t fall into the wrong hands.
  • Show properties before dark. If you must show a property after dark, alert an associate, turn on all lights as you go through, and don’t lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds.
  • Try and call the office once an hour to let people know where you are.
  • If you think it may be some time before a property sells (and you may, therefore, be showing it often), get acquainted with a few of the immediate neighbors. You will feel better knowing they know your vehicle, and they will feel better about the stranger (you) who frequently visits their neighborhood.
  • Prepare a scenario so that you can leave or encourage someone who makes you uncomfortable to leave. Examples: Your cell phone went off and you have to call your office; you left some important information in your car; another agent with buyers is on his way.
  • When showing a property, always leave the front door unlocked for a quick exit while you and the client are inside. As you enter each room, stand near the door.
  • Lock your purse in the car trunk before you arrive. Carry only non-valuable business items (except for your cell phone), and do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, or appear to be carrying large sums of money.
  • Park at the curb in front of the property rather than in the driveway. It is much easier to escape in your vehicle if you don’t have to back out of a driveway. And while parked in a driveway another vehicle could purposefully or accidentally trap you.

Sources: Louisiana REALTORS® Association; Washington Real Estate, Safety Council; City of Albuquerque, NM; Nevada County Association of REALTORS®; City of Mesa, AZ



Two people standing in a kitchen

Top 10 Tips for Personal Safety

  1. Touch base. Always let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll return. Arrange for your office to call you to check in.
  2. Don’t get lost. Always know the exact address of where you’re going. If you use a navigation app, pull over and stop in a safe place if you’ve made a wrong turn.
  3. Sense your surroundings. Is there questionable activity in the area of a property you’re showing? Is anyone loitering? Follow your instincts if you feel you should leave. Leave!
  4. Don’t go it alone. Have an associate or other colleague host open houses with you.
  5. Limit the view. If you’re working late, use window coverings so that you’re not visible to passersby or a potential attacker.
  6. Go on the defense. Learn some self-defense skills. Many health clubs, martial arts studios and community colleges offer basic classes.
  7. Choose flight over fight. Self defense is a good idea, but the primary goal in any threatening situation is to escape from immediate danger and call for help.
  8. Park for protection. Always park in a well-lit, visible location whether you’re parking at your office, an open house, or an empty property.
  9. Make calling for help easy. Program important numbers into your cell phone, including your office, roadside assistance and 911.
  10. Know who you’re dealing with. Ask for ID, take a photo of a client’s license plate. A criminal won’t be comfortable with this and may be thwarted.

Source: NAR Realtor Safety Resource Kit.


Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is pleased to provide this information for the safety and well being of Realtors. We hope you find this Special Issue useful for yourself and your team. Please stay safe.

6 Essential Fall Maintenance Tasks

With autumn just around the corner, now is the perfect time for homeowners to get their property in shape and help avoid problems in the months ahead. Here are six key jobs to tackle before cold weather sets in.

  1. Caulk around exterior door and window frames for a tight seal. Look for gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home and caulk those as well. Not only does heat escape from these openings, but water can enter and damage underlying materials, and even cause structural damage.
  2. Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Water, wind, ice and snow can cause serious damage to a vulnerable roof, leading to a greater chance of further damage inside the home. Always have a qualified professional inspect and repair the roof, but binoculars can be used to do a preliminary survey from the ground.
  3. Clear gutters of leaves, sticks, and other debris. If the home gets heavy leaf fall, this may need to be done more than once during the season. If the gutters can accommodate them, leaf guards can be real time-savers and prevent clogging. Check the joints between sections of the gutter, as well as between the gutter and downspouts, and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Make sure downspouts direct water away from the house.
  4. In cold-weather climates, garden hoses should be drained and stored indoors to protect them from the harsh winter elements. Shut off outdoor faucets and make sure exterior pipes are drained of water. Faucets and pipes can easily freeze and burst, causing leaks and increasing the potential for serious water damage.
  5. Have the furnace inspected to ensure that it’s safe and in good working order. Most utility companies will provide basic, no-cost furnace inspections to their customers, but schedule early as there can often be a long waiting list as the weather cools down. Replace disposable furnace air filters or clean the permanent type according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Using a clean filter not only helps with interior air quality, it will help the furnace run more efficiently, saving money and energy.
  6. A wood-burning fireplace can be a real pleasure on a chilly fall evening. For safety, have the firebox and chimney professionally cleaned before use this season. Creosote, a byproduct of wood burning, can build up to dangerous levels and cause a chimney fire that can spread to the rest of the house.

With these easy steps, your clients will enjoy the comforts of home all season long and know that they’re protecting their investment, too.

Water Quality in The Home

Municipal water systems are required to test and monitor drinking water supplies to ensure safe and good-tasting water. But what happens once that water has been piped into towns, neighborhoods, and homes? Older homes may still have service lines made of lead going into the home, which can cause lead to leach into the water. The local water supplier should be able to confirm the presence of lead service lines for homeowners. Older fixtures that contain lead, or lead that was used on pipe joints, can also cause elevated lead levels. Whenever possible, pipes and fixtures containing lead should be replaced with new materials.

Many homes built before the 1960s have galvanized steel pipes. While galvanized pipes do not create chemical contaminants on their own, they are susceptible to severe corrosion which can flake off and clog taps and faucets. In some instances, lead can build up inside galvanized pipes, especially if the service line into the home is or was made of lead. To be on the safe side, it is best to have all galvanized piping replaced.

Another water quality concern is what are known as emerging contaminants, which, if present in a home, usually occur in very low level amounts. These fall into two general categories: health effects and aesthetic effects. Emerging contaminants affecting health include detergents, pesticides, and medications. Other contaminants that don’t affect health may adversely alter water taste, odor, and/or color. Home filtration systems are the most common means of reducing emerging contaminants. Options include faucet or pitcher filters, plumbed, and reverse-osmosis filters that treat the entire home’s water supply. Any filtration system installed should be listed as meeting national standards for reducing multiple contaminants.

Well Water Quality

While most people in North America get their water from municipal water systems, there are also millions who rely on well water at home. Water sourced from a well should be tested on a regular basis for contaminants such as bacteria and metals. If well water coming from the tap tests high for lead, it could be that the water in the well is too acidic, which causes lead to leach from pipes and fixtures. An acid neutralizing system can usually alleviate this problem without the need to replace pipes and fixtures. Other possible well water quality problems can be avoided by making sure wells are located away from septic tanks, livestock, and pooling water runoff. Well maintenance should be on a regular schedule so that any issues can be addressed before they cause health problems for the home’s occupants.

Water quality can easily be tested for metals, bacteria and other contaminants. Contact your local Pillar To Post Home Inspector for more information about this and other added services available.

Pillar To Post Newsletter July 2019

HOME SENSE

Exterior Upkeep To Do Now

Try these essential tips to keep your home’s exterior in good shape and to help preserve its value.

ROOF AND SIDING

  • Use binoculars to check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Flashing should be tight and secured to prevent leaks. Have any problem areas repaired by a licensed, qualified roofing contractor.
  • Repair any cracks or gaps in the siding and around windows. Make sure these are repaired before you decide to paint.
  • No need to paint? Power washing makes quick work of removing built up dirt and mildew and will brighten your home immediately. You can hire a professional to do this, or rent the equipment by the day or half day.

GUTTERS AND DRAINAGE

  • Clean debris from gutters and evestroughs, then flush with a garden hose.
  • Check all downspouts to make sure they direct water away from the house.
  • Clear basement window wells of debris, weeds, and other materials. Don’t use window wells to store items such as garden hoses or tools. Obstructing the wells’ drainage system can cause water to leak into the house.

WALKWAYS AND DRIVEWAY

  • Repair gaps and cracks using materials appropriate for your specific surfaces, such as concrete, asphalt, etc.
  • On walkways and steps, repair uneven or heaved surfaces that can create a tripping hazard.

A well-maintained exterior not only looks good and can help prevent big problems down the road, it will make you feel good about coming home every day.



Child riding bike with her parents

HOME & FAMILY

5 Ideas For Summer Fun

While school’s out, try a few of these activities to fill your days (or nights!) with fun.

Head out to explore a local park that’s new to you. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!

Visit a museum on discounted or free admission days. You’re sure to learn something new.

Check out organized volunteer opportunities the family can do together, from trail cleanup to helping at the local food bank.

Take advantage if your town offers outdoor movie nights. A blanket and snacks are about all you need.

Play tourist without leaving town. Take in a local historic attraction, a theme park or another place you’d normally skip.



Question mark

HOME SMARTS

What Do You Know? Take Our Quiz!

  1. How can you help improve your indoor air quality?
    1. Keep indoor humidity below 50%.
    2. Use a HEPA filter vacuum.
    3. Open doors and windows whenever possible.
    4. Use less-toxic cleaning products.
    5. All of the above.
  2. True or False:

    A home either passes or fails a home inspection.

    • True
    • False
  3. Which statement is incorrect?
    1. It’s a great idea for buyers to be present at the home inspection.
    2. There’s no good reason to have heating and cooling serviced before the home inspection.
    3. Sellers should keep pets crated or out of the home during the inspection.
    4. It’s a good rule of thumb to allow 3 hours for the home inspection, more if the home is very large or old.
  4. True or False:

    Caulk and grout are different materials with different purposes.

    • True
    • False
question mark box dividerquestion mark box dividerquestion mark box divider

ANSWERS:

  1. E. These steps can help to limit pollutants, allergens and other irritants in the home.
  2. False. A professional home inspection provides an unbiased evaluation of a home’s systems and components to inform buyers and sellers about its condition. There is no scoring or grading involved.
  3. B. Heating and cooling that’s in good working order is important for a clean home inspection.
  4. True! In short, grout is used to fill spaces between tiles and to keep them in place. Caulk is used as a sealant, usually around where tile meets tub. Outdoors, caulk is used to prevent leaks around doors and windows.


Minimize your energy consumption

HOUSEWISE

Eco-smart The Easy Way

Try these simple tips around the house to minimize energy consumption, lower your utility bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

  • LED bulbs are big energy savers and can last many years. And LED light doesn’t have to be cold and harsh. LEDs are now available in warmer, more flattering tones that look great.
  • Connect computers, TVs and other electronics to power strips that can be turned off at night. Even when these items aren’t in use, standby mode can draw more power than you think. For the most flexibility, look for power strips that allow some outlets to stay on while others are shut off.
  • Use the dishwasher! Newer dishwashers typically use about one-sixth the water needed to wash the same amount of dishes by hand. Skip the heated dry cycle. The rinse cycle water will be hot enough to evaporate quickly if you open the door and let the dishes air dry instead. Always run full loads for the best cleaning results.
  • When you’re home, set the thermostat to 78°F/ 26°C or higher in the summer. Installing a programmable thermostat is inexpensive and can further your energy savings all year round.
  • Schedule your heating and cooling system for a checkup every two years. Be sure to clean the filter or coils monthly on your air conditioner and refrigerator. These appliances work more effectively and efficiently when they’re clean.


Backyard patio string lights

SEASONAL SENSE

“Summer-ize” Your Home!

Making your home feel and look like summer will reward you and your family with comfort, fun and ease. Here are some easy tips you can try right now.

  • Love cooking and eating outdoors? String up some fun patio lights to enjoy as evening settles in. There are hundreds of styles and colors available, so you’re bound to find something that will reflect your personal style.
  • Try an outdoor area rug for the patio or deck. Rugs made specifically for the outdoors resist fading and mildew, and can be hosed clean. They’re more comfortable underfoot than wood, concrete or pavers, too.
  • Plant easy-care annual flowering plants near the patio or in pots – it’ll put a smile on your face. Check with your local garden center to find out which plants will thrive in full sun and which ones will need some protection from strong summer rays.
  • Have some great flowers in your garden for cutting? Look around your home for forgotten pitchers, glassware and other unusual containers that can showcase your favorite blooms.
  • Change out throw pillows or pillow covers for bright stripes and patterns that complement your rooms. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to bring a colorful change in an instant.

Your home in summer is a great place to be. Make the most of it!



Sunroom

INSPECTION INSIGHT

Spotlight On Sunrooms

Sunrooms are all about connecting with the outdoors by bringing the sun in, and they can add value to a home. Here we take a look at some important factors to be aware of when considering adding a sunroom:

Heat Gain / Heat Loss

While heat gain and heat loss are real issues, high-quality sunrooms will be tightly sealed. High-quality glass will minimize unwanted heat transfer and should be selected according to your climate.

Condensation

Interior condensation is a common problem in full glass sunrooms. During cold weather, it forms on the inside of the glass and trickles down, and can look like a roof leak. A well-designed and constructed sunroom system will channel the condensation to the exterior.

Water Leakage

Water leakage tops the list of complaints about sunrooms. Water leaks can have several causes. The glass roof can leak as gasket materials break down. Roof and wall joints are susceptible to leaks due to improper flashing. If a sunroom is added to a house and the existing wall removed, that flashing may be a vulnerability.

Safety Glass

Tempered glass is the usual choice for overhead glass. Also used in auto glass, it’s safer than regular glass because it breaks into small, rounded pieces instead of shards. Some local codes may require laminated glass instead, which will hold together when shattered. It’s important to use an installer who is familiar with the local requirements for sunroom construction and materials.