Helpful Seller Info

Do You Really Need a Home Inspection? … Absolutely!!

Do You Really Need a Home Inspection? … Absolutely!!

It may seem simple, but there are a lot of buyers/sellers who don’t know what rights they have as consumers regarding the types of home inspections they can conduct. Below are explanations of the various types of home inspections and their implications to you.

What is involved in a Home Inspection, and why is it done?

Once you have found a house you like and have agreed on a price with the seller, you have the right to have the house inspected by a licensed home inspector.

Your offer to purchase will specify the time period in which you can have the inspection done, called the “home inspection contingency clause”. In all cases, you pay the inspector and the inspection report is your property, not the sellers’.

The purpose of a home inspection is to identify major problem areas and significant defects or safety issues in the house that are not obvious to you during your showings with your realtor, such as with the roof or heating system.

It should not be used as a “laundry list” for the seller to address every item that comes up – every house that is not new and has been lived in will have minor items of note.

If there are areas of concern to you, you have to notify the seller in writing prior to the expiration of your “home inspection contingency clause” in the offer. Once this is done, your agent will help you negotiate with the seller to address them. Most sellers are willing to work with you on this.

The results of this negotiation may be: a change in the house price; the seller having repairs made prior to closing; or a credit to you at closing for you to have the repairs made with your own vendors. In extreme cases, you may decide to cancel your offer and withdraw from the contract to purchase the home.

How do I find a good home inspector?

The Massachusetts Board of Registration maintains a website of Home Inspectors whose qualifications have been evaluated and granted licensure. The board publishes the list of licensed home inspectors on their website.

This link should take you there. If not, copy and paste it into your browser and hit enter.

Click Here for Information About Home Inspectors

You should contact friends and relatives for personal references and check them against the list.

Can you recommend a good home inspector?

If I’m representing you as a seller’s or buyer’s agent you can call me for recommendations.

I have several with whom I have no business affiliation but from personal experience would recommend for their proven commitment to excellence.

Call me at 978-580-1069

Lead Paint Testing & Certification

Especially important if the property was built before 1978

How do I know if a house has lead paint?

Lead paint disclosures are required to be provided to all buyers and sellers of property constructed prior to 1978. The property transfer notification certification form discloses property condition regarding lead poisoning hazards; requires signatures of the seller, agents and prospective buyers before signing a purchase and sale agreement.

Where can I find out about lead paint inspectors?

The lists of Massachusetts lead paint inspectors and private risk assessors are published by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

This link should take you there. If not, copy and paste it into your browser and hit enter.

Click here for Info on the Lead Paint Law

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Massachusetts Licensed Lead Inspectors (PDF)

Mold and Real Estate

Common in the environment but it can harm you

What is mold (fungi)?

Molds, yeasts and other certain related forms constitute the organisms known as fungi. We have all seen fungi growing on rotten fruit, bread and damp leather. They may by green, black or white and may appear to be fuzzy or sooty.

Fungi are plant-like & many consist of two parts – hyphae, which are fungal filaments that form the body – and spores, which are seed-like structures than can be used for reproduction. Some spores contain mycotoxins and have been termed “toxic mold”.

Fungi must subsist on organic matter such as wood or paper products. In order for fungi to thrive, the following conditions are necessary: An ambient temperature range of 40-100 degrees F; a humid rich environment, generally greater than 60% humidity though usually greater than 70%.

Mold is ubiquitous in nature, making up approximately 25% of the earth’s biomass, and thrives in many outdoor environments.

Why is mold in real estate a potential concern?

Mold (microbial agents) may cause four main types of illnesses in humans: allergies; irritation; infectious disease; & toxic effects. Microbial agents may serve as irritants to the respiratory tract causing an increase in mucus flow and other types of symptoms. These agents may cause infections in two manners: pathogenic infection – this can develop in a relatively healthy individual with a normally functioning immune system; and opportunistic infection – this can develop in an individual with a compromised immune system or those with or on chemotherapy, diabetics, asthma or antibiotics, HIV or AIDS, physical or mental conditions affecting the immune system. Some factors responsible for the concerns are the ability of the agent becoming airborne in sufficient concentrations and the ability of the agent to be respired by the susceptible host.

Are there any buildings more vulnerable to mold growth?

Any dwelling with a history of current water infiltration problems as well as those structures with consistently high indoor humidity levels or those with poorly designed components such as inadequately vented attics and crawl spaces, as well as poorly designed or maintained HVAC systems.

How do I know if mold is present within a dwelling?

Mold growth should be suspected when surfaces are discolored i.e. “mildew” or if damp mildew odor is present which can represent mold by-products such as – microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC’s). This is especially true on organic surfaces.

If mold growth is suspected what should be done?

A trained indoor environmentalist or certified industrial hygienist should be consulted to determine the presence of mold, its cause and cure.

Are there any threshold limits in which mold is a concern?

Because all individuals have varying degrees of sensitivity to mold there are currently no threshold limit values.

What is toxic mold?

Toxic mold refers to certain mold species that have spores that contain mycotoxins such as stachybotrys. Mycotoxins are opportunistic pathogens and may be a greater health concern for certain individuals.

If mold growth is confirmed within the indoor environment what should be done?

Depending on the amount and depth of the mold growth, the solutions may range from removing surface mold via HEPA vacuuming and washing. To the extreme of removing and replacing all effected material, it is strongly suggested that only those with specific training and experience conduct any mold remediation work.

How can mold growth be prevented?

Mold requires several conditions to thrive. An organic material (wood or paper), oxygen, appropriate ambient temperature, a high moisture content and/or a high ambient relative humidity of 60% or greater. The most controllable factor of these conditions is the moisture content, which is usually controlled by removing moisture sources (water infiltration) and reducing and maintaining the indoor ambient humidity level to below 60%. Long story short … ventilation, ventilation and ventilation.

Need an expert?

Call me, I can recommend several.

Radon Testing & Certification

Common in the environment but it can harm you

What do I need to know about radon in the air in my basement?

Radon gas in the air is of concern to any homeowner. It tends to collect in basement areas, and if you have a finished basement where you spend a lot of time you should have the air tested.

Should your house test at or above 4.0 picoCuries per Liter there are excellent, relatively inexpensive mitigation systems that can be installed to permanently keep the level below that threshold.

The link below takes you to one of the most comprehensive sites I’ve found and should answer all your questions.

Click Here for Info on Radon in Air

What do I need to know about radon in my well?

Radon gas in the water is of concern only to homeowners with drinking water supplied by on-site (i.e. private) wells.

The threshold varies widely from state to state, and the EPA has proposed (for community water supplies only) a “Maximum Contaminant Level” of 300 picoCuries per Liter, and a more achievable “Alternate Maximum Contaminant level” of 4,000 picoCuries per Liter.

Should your well test at or above 20,000 picoCuries per Liter (the standards are vague, but this is a commonly suggested threshold) there are excellent mitigation systems that can be installed to permanently keep the level below that threshold. The systems are quite expensive and noisy.

The link below takes you to one of the most comprehensive sites I’ve found and should answer all your questions.

Click Here for Info on Radon in Water

Certificate of Compliance, Massachusetts Title 5  Private Sewerage Systems

Protecting our water supplies when properties are sold, modified or change uses

What is Title 5 and what does it mean to me?

On-site disposal systems, including septic tanks and cesspools, provide an effective means of treating household sewage. However, older, poorly designed systems, inadequate maintenance and many other conditions can affect the performance of such systems. Ineffective treatment of sewage can threaten the environment by polluting local wetlands and groundwater supplies; moreover, failing systems can harm public health by exposing residents to harmful microorganisms carried in wastewater.

For these reasons the Commonwealth of Massachusetts health division implemented a comprehensive septic management program known as Title 5.

Whenever a home is sold, or if there is a change in use, (i.e., a single family residence is converted to a multi-family or to a business) or a building is added onto or substantially modified, an inspection is necessary to ensure that the system is adequate for the new use and that that no part of the system will be covered by a change in the building’s footprint.

If the house has public sewers do I need Title 5?

Title 5 is only of concern to buyers and sellers of property serviced by private sewage disposal systems.

Does the Board of Health do Title 5 Inspections for homeowners?

No. All subsurface disposal systems must be inspected by a State-licensed inspector whenever real estate is sold to ensure that the system is functioning properly. Individual homeowners must hire their own inspector.

What happens if my waste disposal system fails inspection?

If the subsurface disposal system fails an inspection, the owner normally has up to two years in which to correct the problem.

However, the Board of Health may require that the owner address the problem within a shorter period should the failing system present a threat to the public health and the environment.

If the property is sold within this time period without correcting the problem, the new owner assumes responsibility for the failed septic system.

If my system fails, am I required to connect to sewers or replace it?

Title 5 requires that owners of septic systems meet the standard of “maximum feasible compliance” with the requirements of the State Code. The level of compliance that may be met–that is, whether the system is simply repaired, replaced, or the home connected to the sewer–will depend on the characteristics of the property involved. If town sewer is not available near the home, the homeowner must apply to the Board of Health for approval of a design for a new system that meets the requirements of Title 5.

How do I know the system has passed?

The inspection reports are submitted to the town Board of Health where they are reviewed, approved & filed and a Certificate of Compliance is issued. You should request a copy of this from the sellers via their agent after your offer has been accepted.

Does the system have to be pumped in order to pass a Title 5 inspection?

The law does not require that the system be pumped for inspection. However, unless the inspection is conducted by the company that regularly services the system and checks it annually during standard pumping, any results that do not include pumping may be suspect. As part of your home inspection rights, you can have your own title 5 inspection at your cost during the inspection period if you are concerned about the seller’s inspection.

Where can I find more information on Title 5?

The best source for information on this topic is the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. They have available on their website certain informational materials explaining Title V regulations.

This link should take you there. If not, copy and paste it into your browser and hit enter.

Click Here for Information about Title 5

Your Sudbury Market in 2013 Was Awesome!

Every year I take a little time and analyze the Sudbury real estate market data for trends, changes, and other useful information … for your update click on the YouTube link.  To make a long story short, many trends are up and the market is currently favoring sellers over buyers.

What does “AS IS” mean in real estate?

What does “AS IS” mean in real estate?

The real estate industry has its own unique language that can sometimes be confusing. One term that comes up a lot, especially in these times of bank-owned properties, short sales, and foreclosures, is “as is” and its variations “where is”, and “in its present condition”. There are some agents who feel that part of the reason we see “as is” cropping up more and more is because more buyers are being coached to use the home inspection as a reason to reopen negotiations (sometimes justified, sometimes not) and that sellers and their agents, who may have already lowered the price several times, are using it as a tactic to close the door on this practice.

This is not a term to be used lightly by sellers, because there are costs as well as benefits, and if you don’t know what it really means, you shouldn’t use it. Sellers commonly mistake “as is” as a way to avoid making any repairs, rationalizing that a lower asking price will reflect the condition and eliminate expectations. Buyers, however, tend to interpret “as is” differently.  There are two common negative reactions that have serious consequences to a seller’s ability to sell: first, buyers sometimes take it as a sign of blood in the water and think that they can bargain way down from the asking price because they are now suspicious that many things are wrong with the house; and second, they will be very wary of “as is” houses and even avoid viewing them or putting in any offer for fear of hidden defects that will require a lot of time or money. You might be better off without using that clause and instead having your agent stress that at the agreed selling price the home inspection will probably not result in repairs or a price reduction on the part of the sellers.

“As is” is actually a legal term and concept used to disclaim liability for the condition of the house being sold. It says that the seller is selling and the buyer is buying the house in whatever condition it presently exists, and that the buyer is accepting the house “with all faults”, whether or not immediately apparent. It is most commonly (and correctly) used in estate situations, selling rental properties or when banks or relocation companies own the property … the sellers have never/not recently lived in the house and have no first-hand knowledge of any issues/defects. In Massachusetts, the seller and their agent must disclose any known defects in the property in an “as is” purchase, but they don’t have to disclose what they don’t know. Seller’s gents are generally very good at disclosing known defects, but buyers should know that agents are required by law to answer direct questions honestly and to the best of their knowledge, so when in doubt – ASK THE QUESTION.

And last, when buying any home the buyer must take the time to thoroughly examine the home before accepting it, but buying a home in “as is” status is the ultimate “buyer beware” situation. That means obtaining expert home inspection(s) and legal advice and doing what their experts recommend. It also means checking with your mortgage broker to make sure their institution will finance an “as is” purchase – many won’t.

In closing, buyers should clearly understand that their contract to purchase any “as is” home is contingent upon acceptable inspection(s) and that they can take the house or walk-away but the seller is under no obligation to re-negotiate or correct any inspection issues no matter how severe.

I have represented many sellers and buyers with “as is” homes and done right the transaction can work out amicably for both parties.

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