Category: postnotes

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



Realtor shaking hands outside a home

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



Woman on phone

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.

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.

Pillar To Post Newsletter May 2019

seasonal sense

SEASONAL SENSE

Top Tips for A Summer-Ready Home

Spread tasks over a few weeks to be set for a worry-free, enjoyable summer.

INDOORS

  • Close the chimney flue to prevent insects from entering and to help keep cool air in.
  • If possible, take area rugs outside and hang them over a deck or porch rail to air out.
  • Change the rotation of ceiling fans to the summer setting. Give the unit a good dusting to avoid blowing dust around the room.
  • Switch out heavy bedding for lightweight summer fabrics. Have your winter bedding cleaned before storing it away for the season.
  • Repot houseplants to give their roots a fresh start for the summer.

OUTDOORS

  • Power wash decks and patios and seal surfaces as appropriate.
  • If paint is peeling, cracking, or chipped, repair and repaint now to limit damage to the underlying materials.
  • Remove window screens and clean them with a soft brush and soapy water. Rinse well and allow them to dry in the sun before reinstalling.
  • Have the air conditioning unit serviced to ensure peak operation. Promote good air intake by keeping plants around the unit trimmed.
  • Clear dirt and debris from gutters and eaves.
  • Seal cracks in the driveway and keep walkways clear of debris and overgrown plants.
  • Test irrigation and sprinkler systems and replace any broken sprinkler heads or emitters. Check for proper water coverage and adjust if necessary.

Now, on to summer!


LIFE SMARTS

Moving?

life smarts

Be sure to pack these items in your car to make the first few days in your new home easier.

  • Medications that you will need right away.
  • A couple of pots, pans, cups and plates so you don’t have to rummage through those kitchen boxes when it’s breakfast time.
  • Clothes for the first few days, whether for work, school or just unpacking.
  • A few activities, toys, books, or games for the kids.
  • Pet food and medications, litter boxes, leashes and treats.
  • Towels, shampoo and soap, so you’re set for that first shower.
  • Sheets, pillows and blankets so you’re ready for the first night. Sleep tight!

inspection insights

INSPECTION INSIGHTS

Central Air:
Too Much or Too Little?

You want your home to be cool and comfortable when the temperatures soar. But an air conditioning system that’s oversized for the house isn’t the best way to go. “Oversized” doesn’t refer to the physical size, but rather the system capacity. An oversized system is sized to operate optimally on the hottest day of the season, but the rest of the time that capacity isn’t needed. Yes, it will cool the house very quickly, using short “on” cycles. However, this is inefficient and won’t dehumidify the house adequately, wasting energy and leaving the air feeling cold and clammy.

If you want peak efficiency and dehumidification without worry that your system can’t keep up in the hottest day, choose a system that will operate at two capacities. It’s like having two AC systems in one – an undersized mode that will have very long “on” cycles and a larger capacity mode to keep you comfortable even on the hottest days of the year.

If you’re considering a replacement air conditioning system, be sure to ask your installer about these two-stage compressor systems. You’ll be ready to beat the heat efficiently and comfortably.


paint3

CREATIVE HOME

How To Use That Extra Paint

Have some paint left over from a recent project? Don’t just store it away. Put it to good use with some of these creative ideas:

  1. Paint the inside of a linen or coat closet.
  2. Use it on shelves or cabinets in your garage or shed.
  3. Refresh a patio bench or table with leftover exterior paint.
  4. Paint picture frames to create a unified look for your photo gallery.
  5. Add a quick coat to the inside of a bookshelf for a pop of color.
  6. Paint the outsides of flower pots in a solid color, or get creative with a design.
  7. Transform a yard-sale table or chair into a one-of-a-kind find.
  8. Customize a canvas tote with water-thinned latex paint.

paint1 paint2


pet1 pet2

HOME & LIFE

Pet Project: Hot Weather and Your Furry Friends

Pets can overheat when the temperature and humidity climb. Some simple precautions to take include:

  • Have plenty of clean, fresh water available indoors and out.
  • Provide a shady spot so your pets can get out of the sun.
  • Avoid walking or running with your dog during the hottest part of the day. If you must walk, remember that paved surfaces can burn your dog’s paws.
  • Never leave your pets alone in the car, even with the windows open. Cars heat up very quickly, even if it’s not that hot outside.
  • Keep older or overweight cats and dogs indoors as much as possible.
  • Dog and cat breeds with flat faces are particularly susceptible to heat-related issues.
  • Know the warning signs of overheating. Your pet may pant excessively, have an increased heart rate or find breathing difficult. Check with your veterinarian for more information.

home sense

HOME SENSE

Treat Your Windows Right

Choosing window treatments can be a bewildering task. Here’s an overview of the most popular types of window coverings.

SHADES

Shades are available in many styles, including roller and Roman types. Room-darkening materials are great for bedrooms, while light-filtering fabrics afford privacy and sunlight. Solar shade material lets you enjoy the view while keeping out glare.

DRAPES

Drapes can go formal or casual, depending on the fabric and style. Hang drapes at ceiling height to make the window and room look taller, and make sure the fabric

extends all the way to the floor for a stylish look.

SHUTTERS & BLINDS

Crisp and clean, these give a polished look to any room while offering flexible light and privacy control. Either can be opened or closed completely, and the slats are adjustable for just the right amount of light and view.

Start by thinking about what you want the window treatment in a room to do, then you can narrow down the options that meet your needs and budget.

Pillar To Post Newsletter: March 2019

Spring cleaning

SEASONAL SENSE

Your Spring Cleaning Checklist!

Get your home ready for spring with these top tips. Tackle one space at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.

  • Declutter your kitchen drawers and cabinets. Give away or donate any unneeded items that are in good condition.
  • Check the pantry and discard expired items and stale spices.
  • Clean the shelves and install fresh shelf liner.
  • Vacuum nooks & crannies in upholstered furniture.
  • Air out throw pillows outside, weather permitting.
  • Dust or vacuum window blinds. Have drapes cleaned per the instructions.
  • Check outside your home for damaged or missing caulk around windows and doors and repair any problem areas.
  • Have the fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional.
  • Clean the windows inside and out for sparkle and shine.
  • Place a pot of bright spring flowers by the door to greet your guests and brighten the neighborhood.

Last but not least, pat yourself on the back for a job well done!


GETTING PERSONAL

Take a Time-Out Just For You

personal time

Need to create some space in your life for yourself? Check out some of our favorite tips for sneaking in some peace.

EARLY RISER:

Try getting up earlier than the rest of your family and use the quiet time for yourself, especially on the weekends.

TAKE TURNS:

If possible, designate another family member to prepare dinner at least once a week. They’ll learn a lot – and you’ll enjoy the results.

TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME:

Drive a different route home from work or errands. You’re bound to notice something interesting along the way.

TURN OFF:

Shut down your devices way before bedtime and avoid social media all night. You won’t miss a thing.


home air quality tips

HOUSEWISE

Indoor Air Quality

Improve your home’s air quality by limiting pollutants, allergens, and other irritants that can harm your family’s health.

HOLD THE HUMIDITY

High humidity promotes mold and dust mite growth. Keeping indoor humidity below 50% will help prevent further infestation. To reduce humidity, use ventilation fans in kitchens and bathrooms, make sure the dryer is properly vented to the outdoors and address any water leaks or condensation issues. Use a dehumidifier in any especially humid locations such as the basement.

COLLECT THE DUST

Reducing dust can also improve air quality. Dust can be composed of pollen, mold spores, lint, animal dander and even bacteria. It’s impossible to completely rid a home of dust, there are ways to control it. Regular use of a HEPA filter vacuum should help. Change or clean the furnace filter regularly. High-quality furnace filters are more expensive than ordinary types, but are more effective at filtering dust, pet hair, and other particles.

WIDE OPEN

Opening doors and windows whenever possible can also help with indoor air quality. Your home will have better air circulation and “breathe” more easily, and you’ll get to enjoy the fresh air on a nice day.

CHEMICAL SENSE

Use less-toxic and environmentally friendly cleaning products. Dispose of old paint, garden chemicals and other products that could leak fumes. Check with your trash collection provider on how to properly dispose of such items.

Taking these simple steps can help give your home a breath of fresh air


HOME SMARTS

Test Your Know-how: Take Our Quiz!

  1. True or False: It’s a good idea for home buyers to attend the home inspection.
  2. Which statement is correct about radon?
    1. Radon seeps into homes from underground.
    2. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.
    3. Radon is colorless and odorless.
    4. All of the above.
  3. True or False: GFCI and AFCI receptacles are different names for the same thing.
  4. True or False: Foundation cracks can only mean bad news.
  5. Which of these is NOT recommended for a home to be inspection ready?
    1. Updating faucets and fixtures.
    2. Putting fresh batteries in smoke detectors.
    3. Having the furnace and air conditioning serviced.
    4. Making sure there’s clear access to the water heater, electrical panel and main water shutoff.

home inspection quiz

ANSWERS:

  1. True! Attending the inspection is a great way to learn about the home and offers the opportunity to ask questions along the way.
  2. D. Request radon monitoring to determine if your home has an elevated level of radon.
  3. False. In short, GFCIs help prevent electrical shock. AFCIs help prevent electrical fires.
  4. False. Some types of cracks are common and aren’t always structurally significant. A professional evaluation can determine if cracking is a problem.
  5. A. For inspection purposes, outdated faucets and/or fixtures don’t matter as long as they work properly.

asbestos information

INSPECTION INSIGHTS

Asbestos: What You Need To Know

Maybe you’ve been told your home has asbestos. Do you need to worry? We’re here to educate and inform!

For years, asbestos was widely used in wall and ceiling insulation, vinyl flooring, insulation for heating ducts, pipe wrap for water heating systems, roof tiles, acoustic ceiling tiles and much more. Many of these materials are still present in thousands of homes. Breathing asbestos fibers over a long period of time can lead to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Is it always a problem? Asbestos poses a health risk when the fibers become airborne, which can happen if materials are crumbling or damaged. If there is minor localized damage, it can be professionally repaired by encapsulating the asbestos fibers with a specialized sealant. If the asbestos-containing material is in good condition, the best course of action may be to simply leave it alone.

The biggest risk is when homeowners and other non-professionals attempt asbestos removal themselves. Disturbing asbestos usually makes it dangerous. If it must be removed, it’s a job for an expert who will also properly dispose of it. In some cases, such as a home renovation, asbestos removal is the only option.


gardening season

HOME & GARDEN

Gear Up For Gardening

The start of the gardening season fills everyone with optimism and energy. Use these ideas to jump-start this year’s pride and joy:

  • As soon as weather allows, rake up winter debris and old mulch from planting areas.
  • Remove any plants that have died over the winter. But first make sure they aren’t just dormant!
  • Have pruners, loppers, hoes and other cutting tools sharpened.
  • Pulling weeds when they’re still small makes the job much easier.
  • Add compost to planting beds for better soil and healthy plants.
  • Check the irrigation system for leaks and broken sprinkler heads and emitters.
  • Sketch out your planting plan for summer crops and blooming plants.

Now you’ll be ready to plant, grow and enjoy the beauty and bounty of your garden!