What Exactly is a Home Inspector?

Chances are you’re familiar with the concept of inspecting a home before sale. Seller’s agents are required to list observable defects, but sometimes problems aren’t as easily noticed, which is why seller’s agents will frequently recommend that a qualified home inspector take a look. A good home inspector will always look for defects that affect the property’s value, desirability, habitability, and safety, and they are required to provide the seller’s agent with a home inspection report (HIR). But it may surprise you to know that who can be considered a home inspector is actually rather broad.

A home inspector is really anyone whose business is conducting home inspections and preparing an HIR. The State of California has no home inspection licensing. That doesn’t mean they are necessarily unlicensed, however, as many home inspectors have general contracting licenses or are pest control operators, architects, or engineers. You will occasionally find home inspectors without a license of any kind, which is why seller’s agents always want to be cautious about which home inspector they choose. There are some rules that even unlicensed home inspectors must follow, such as that the inspection be non-invasive and non-damaging to the structure, and that they provide an HIR to the seller’s agent.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/brokerage-reminder-home-inspectors-the-buyers-choice/27766/

Stop Water Damage Before It Happens

As we’re approaching the winter months, we’re likely to see an increase in precipitation. Most areas of California don’t get snow, but rain could be an issue if it’s able to cause water damage. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prevent water damage from the rain. Preventative maintenance does cost money, but it’s usually a worthwhile investment, since repairing damage after the fact can often cost even more.

One thing you can do yourself if you don’t want an extra expense is to clear gutters and drains of debris that could prevent the rainwater from draining, though you can also hire a professional to do this for you. The same is true of tree trimming in wind-prone areas. You can hire a contractor to inspect your windows, doors, skylight, and roof to ensure tight seals and detect any potential issues. Something you’ll definitely want a trained professional for is inspecting the foundation, retaining walls, and concrete sloping for defects.

Photo by Danielle Dolson on Unsplash

[UPDATED] What Will Halloween Look Like During COVID-19?

[UPDATE] As of Oct 18, there is some additional guidance regarding holiday activities. Buying and carving of pumpkins is allowed, as long as the pumpkin patches follow safety guidelines. Some outside gatherings are now permitted, a change from the prior guidelines. These gatherings can have a maximum of 2 other households, can last no more than 2 hours, and require face coverings and social distancing across households. There are also new recommendations for Dia de los Muertos. These include displaying your altar outside or in a front window, utilizing virtual spaces such as email or social media, and limit cemetery visits to your own household with masks and social distancing.

LA County has issued its regulations regarding Halloween activities, if restrictions continue through October 31. Many traditional activities won’t be permitted, and others are allowed but not recommended. The activities not permitted include carnivals, festivals, haunted houses, live entertainment, gatherings, and parties with non-household members, whether or not it is outside. Of note, trick-or-treating is not listed as a non-permitted activity, but LA County Public Health does not recommend it.

The guidelines also provide a list of suggested activities that are safer. Drive-in movie theaters, outdoor dining, outdoor museums, and car parades are still allowed, subject to the normal regulations. Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer is hopeful that no more COVID-related regulations will be necessary by Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Photo by Benedikt Geyer on Unsplash

More: https://www.laweekly.com/trick-or-treating-discouraged-in-l-a-county-this-year/

How to protect yourself from extreme heat

California is seeing a rise in heat waves. It’s important to know how to keep safe in extreme weather conditions. Here are some suggested precautions from Senator Steven Bradford.

  1. Avoid the sun– stay indoors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when the burning rays are strongest.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids– 2 to 4 glasses of water every hour during times of extreme heat.
  3. Replace salt and minerals– sweating removes salt and minerals from your body, so replenish these nutrients with low sugar fruit juices or sports drinks during exercise or when working outside.
  4. Avoid alcohol.
  5. Pace yourself– reduce physical activity and avoid exercising outdoors during peak heat hours.
  6. Wear appropriate clothing– wear a wide-brimmed hat and light-colored lightweight, loose-fitting clothes when you are outdoors.
  7. Stay cool indoors during peak hours – set your air conditioner between 75° to 80°. If you don’t have air conditioning, take a cool shower twice a day and/or visit a County Emergency Cooling Center. Find a local emergency cooling center at lacounty.gov/heat.
  8. Monitor those at high risk– check on elderly neighbors, family members and friends who do not have air conditioning. Infants and children up to 4 years old, people who overexert during work (e.g. construction workers) and people 65 years and older are at the highest risk of heat-related illnesses.
  9. Use sunscreen – with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 if you need to be in the sun.
  10. Keep pets indoors– heat also affects your pets, so please keep them indoors. If they will be outside, make sure they have plenty of water and a shaded area to help them keep cool.

It is also recommended to reduce electricity usage to avoid shortages and service interruptions. If you are experiencing difficulties from extreme heat, Los Angeles County has designated Cooling Centers with air conditioning. A list of the Cooling Centers can be found in the full article.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

More: https://sd35.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd35.senate.ca.gov/files/e_alert/20200820_SD35_newsletter_410.htm

How to safely list your home during COVID-19

If you’re worried about listing your home during the pandemic, or if you want to take advantage of the increased inventory and buy a new home, there is a protocol for doing so safely, even in heavily impacted areas of California.

You should discuss with your agent the things that can be done to curb the spread of COVID-19. Some things you can do while others your agent will be better able to do. You can leave interior doors open prior to a showing to ensure visitors don’t need to open doors. Also, you can open windows before and after showings to let in fresh air.

In addition to opening windows for a showing, use disinfecting wipes or spray to clean surfaces that you expect may have been touched frequently, such as countertops, cabinets, light switches, and door knobs.

You and your visitors should wash hands or use hand sanitizer, wear masks or other protective face covering, and practice social distancing. Any disposable protective gear should be discarded when leaving.

The listing agent can discuss the precautions with the buyer and/or buyers’ agent. They can discuss taking care to avoid touching surfaces as much as possible and other safety measures, as well as check to make sure everyone is symptom-free.

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) provides a poster guiding the actions of visitors to minimize risk, which should be posted near the entry. CAR also provides a form called the Coronavirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration (PEAD) which requires all involved to certify that they are aware of the safety requirements. That form should be signed by the agents, seller, and any visitors.

Be sure to call or email us for more information about safely showing property during the pandemic or regarding other aspects of buying and selling in difficult times. We each have over 25 years of experience in good times and in bad.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

More: https://journal.firsttuesday.us/farm-health-precautions-when-listing-your-home/72565/

New LEED guidelines established for COVID-19

In order to help combat COVID-19, the U.S. Green Building Council has established new LEED safety guidelines. The new recommendations cover layout, materials, air quality, and smart technology, and are focused on senior care facilities.

The guidelines suggest that facilities renovate to create more single-occupancy rooms. Flexible layouts and multipurpose rooms can help to address both current and future concerns without needing additional space. Uncoated copper alloys are best for knobs and rails, as the copper alloys have an antimicrobial factor. Curtains should be replaced with glass or plexiglass. Countertops and floors should use nonporous or less porous materials such as quartz and Corian for countertops and porcelain, vinyl, or wood for floors. Ventilation is of utmost importance, particularly in bathrooms, and should be maintained regularly. Touchless features go a long way, such as automatic doors, touchless faucets, and voice activated lights.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

More: https://magazine.realtor/home-and-design/feature/article/2020/07/elder-care-updates-to-counter-viral-spread

Scams are an increasing threat to online real estate


Don Sabatini, a real estate agent in Willow Glen, CA, relates his true story of his client becoming the victim of a digital real estate scam. The COVID-19 outbreak meant that Sabatini had to conduct much of his business via email, though he and his client agreed to present the cashier’s check in person, while following social distancing guidelines. Despite this agreement, a scammer had been looking in on the email exchange. The client received several emails posing as the title agent, lender, and even Sabatini himself, increasingly threatening in tone. The scammer told the client that the offices will likely be closed, so she should simply wire the money. Feeling pressured by the barrage of threatening emails, she did so. The client and Sabatini realized she’d been scammed the next afternoon, but by then some of the money was irreparably lost. Fortunately, she was able to recover most of it, losing only $2000, and complete the transaction.

This story isn’t an isolated incident. The most recent data is from 2018, with the FBI estimating 11,300 people became victims of an online real estate scam in that year alone. It was an increase of 17% from 2017. Even without data from this year, you can imagine that with current pandemic increasing the rate of online real estate transactions, the rate of scam attempts is also increasing.

We are still conducting business, so don’t hesitate to call or email us if you are looking to buy or sell, but do be careful of scams.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

More: https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/15/new-pandemic-concern-digital-real-estate-scams/

Is Your Balcony Safe?

Balconies provide the outdoor space and fresh air so desired in residences and offices alike. They can be deadly, though, if not properly built and maintained. Even if no one gets hurt, preventing safety hazards can cost less in the long run than repairing damages. California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills in September aimed at inspection, repair, and accountability in multifamily dwellings.

One very common problem found in balconies is water intrusion. Even though it’s well known that water can lead to dry rot and structural damage, most balconies don’t have adequate drainage or ability to repel moisture. Balconies should be sloped, and redundant drainage allows for repairs when one drain is not working properly. Waterproofing can also help.

Inspections usually don’t miss much in the interior of the building, but outside areas can frequently be overlooked. The architecture consulting firm Marx|Okubo suggests a flood test of balconies before the occupants move in. After the residents or tenants move in, property owners in California may be required to inspect their balconies every three to six years, and probably should more frequently. Landlords and property management companies should also respond to tenant concerns as quickly as possible.

More: https://www.bisnow.com/san-francisco/news/construction-development/new-legislation-invigorates-talks-about-healthy-balcony-design-among-property-owners-94061