The Art of the Walk Through

magnifyingglassOne of the last crucial steps to take before you go to the closing table to sign your mortgage documents should be the walk through of your new home. This gives you the opportunity to see that everything is in good working order, and get an opportunity to deal with any last minute problems that might arise.

The walk through should be scheduled within 24 hours of your closing. It will take about 30 minutes to compete.

Now, what are you actually doing when you do the walk through?

Check that the appliances and plumbing are working- you can turn on the dishwasher, turn on light switches, run the faucets to see that everything is operational.

You can also ask for owner manuals for appliances and warranties on any items that may exist.

Double check that any repairs that were supposed to been done have actually happened.

Make sure personal belongings have been removed, or items that should be left behind per your contract are still in place.

Make sure mother nature hasn’t done any damage to the property since the purchase and sale has been signed.

If you do identify some problems, let your real estate agent get involved. They can negotiate a repair that hasn’t happened, get items removed that are still in place, or arrange for funds to be held back until the situation is corrected. Don’t panic if something is out of place. There is always a solution, whether it is a postponement of the document signing or a renegotiation of an item. You have legal recourse as protections and most often times, a mutual agreement can be reached.

We have had situations where flooding has occurred due to a storm, or Sellers have refused to remove their belongings. In each case, a short negotiation remedied the repairs. It is also not uncommon to find that Sellers will ask to leave items that may be useful to you, such as gardening tools that they no longer need, at no additional charges.

The walk through can give you that additional sense of confidence that you have made a great decision with your home purchase.

Once the walk through is complete, you are on your way to signing your documents and receiving the keys to your new home.

What’s the biggest surprise you have come across while doing a walk through?

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What to do about Asbestos

Asbestos Magnified

When you are purchasing a home or getting ready to sell your home, the topic of Asbestos can pop up during a home inspection. Here are some common questions and answers that can arise.

What is Asbestos? Asbestos is a natural occurring fibrous mineral that may contain silicates. It is resistant to heat, fire and many chemicals and has been used for fireproofing, insulation and also as a decorative element.

Unfortunately, the very qualities that make asbestos great for use can cause adverse effects on people. Asbestos can break into microscopic fibers when disturbed which remain in the air for long periods of time and easily penetrate the human body when inhaled. The fibers can remain in the body tissues for many years and have been known to cause lung cancer and asbestosis.

When does it need to be removed? If asbestos is in good condition and has not been disturbed, there are no laws of regulations that require its removal. However, building owners are required to keep the asbestos in good shape to prevent the release of asbestos particulates. If a renovation or a demolition is going to cause damage to material containing asbestos, then it must be removed before the project begins.

Where is asbestos found? Asbestos is most commonly found in heating system insulation, floor tiles [typically 9”x9” squares] and vinyl sheet flooring, wallboard, mastics, joint compound, decorative plasters, and some siding and roofing products.

What is the removal process?  Choose a licensed DOS certified asbestos abatement contractor to do the removal. They will come in and test the items and can also do an air monitoring test to see if there are particulates in the air. For more specific information on Massachusetts regulations, visit the  MassDEPwebsite.Not all asbestos needs to be removed. If the material is in good shape, it can also be encapsulated, which is less costly than removal.

The abatement contractor will obtain the proper permits, encapsulate the area they will be working in, wear protective gear to do the removal, remove the asbestos, than test the area to make sure all asbestos particulates have been removed.  A large portion of the costs are related to permitting and preparing the area for asbestos removal. A small area can be similar in price to a larger area that needs to be taken care of since it is the preparation and removal costs that are costly, as opposed to the removal of square footage.

Your home inspector will be able to point out if there is a potential for asbestos in your home. The inspector will recommend whether you should call in an inspector for further testing.

Information obtained from the Mass DEP asbestos guide

Sensory Solutions- Using Your Senses to Locate Problem Areas

When preparing your home for the real estate market, one needs a fresh and honest perspective about the total effect of the house – and not just your own.  Prospective buyers notice everything because walking through your house is a totally new experience for them.  They feel the air temperature, notice cleanliness and colors, hear noises and smell odors.  As a seller, you need to create a similar experience for yourself in order to locate all problem areas that need to be corrected.  So, you think your home is ready to show?

Give your house a sensory test by changing your perspective.  Walk through and analyze your house twice – once during the day and once at night.  You’ll notice those dirty windows more during the day but may miss the debris clouding the overhead kitchen light that’s more noticeable at night.  Also, try crawling across a room on your hands and knees – you’re more likely to come across those grimy baseboards or unsightly bare electrical outlets when you’re closer to the ground.  Lying on your back will provide a better look at ceiling fans, lighting, spots on the ceiling, cobwebs in corners or cracks at the top of walls.  Fix what you find and then give the home one more test:  Recruit a trusted friend to put it through the same scrutiny.  Be sure that you and your friend each use your senses to analyze the house – sight, smell, hearing, and touch.

Sight is the most obvious sense to use when searching for problem areas.  Before analyzing each room, make sure light bulbs are the appropriate wattage and work properly.  Then, look closely at the walls for scratches, marks, cobwebs, missing or broken light switch plates, and mold or mildew.  Are wall clocks dusted and set properly?  Check ceilings for brown spots, water stains, dirt, cob webs and dusty fans.  Analyzing the floor may seem ridiculous since you walk on it all the time, but often defects are overlooked during the course of the day.  Search for uneven floors, worn or soiled carpet, and water stains.  Do area rugs need to be cleaned or replaced?  Does the wood floor need refinishing?  In the kitchen and bathrooms, test faucets for leaks and replace if necessary.  Also check the walls, shower, tub and sink for mold.  Scrub with a mixture of bleach and water to eliminate mold and mildew.  Everything should look clean and sparkling.

Often odor is a more accurate indicator of a problem than sight.  A carpet may look clean but after crawling across it you might detect odors from pets, smoke and ground-in food.  A peculiar smell is often caused by mold especially in bathrooms, though unnoticed water damage my cause this problem in other areas of the house, too.  Like other odor sources, mold can usually be removed but will return if the cause is not addressed.  Do you need better ventilation in the bathroom?

Is there a leak in the bedroom ceiling or windows causing mold and mildew?  Often banishing odors takes little more than identifying the cause – cigarette smoke and butts, old tennis shoes, pets, dead critters in the attic or basement, dirty litter boxes – then cleaning and freshening the area.  Ban smoking in the house while it’s on the market, send pets to live elsewhere, clean drapes and carpets, and empty ashes from the fireplace.  Open windows and doors to allow fresh air to come in, and replace odors with lightly scented candles or potpourri.

Just as one gets used to looking at certain problems – such as the stain your son made on the carpet when he spilled his barbecue chicken last summer – it’s natural to stop hearing minor sounds after awhile.  Be certain, though, that the buyer will hear them.  Most likely your trusted friend will point them out, too.  Is there a chorus of squeaks throughout the house?

Perhaps it’s time to have the air conditioner and heater checked for dirty filters or loose fan belts.  Or is one of the squeaks coming from a lose door hinge?  Squeaky doors and windows can be silenced with a good spray of WD-40 applied to their tracks.  Does it sound like an intruder is trying to break a window?  It could be the tree that scrapes the dining room window when the wind blows.  A quick trim would alleviate the problem.

Bathrooms have their own set of noises – does the toilet keep running after it’s been flushed?  Does the tub faucet drip when not in use?  These are often silenced inexpensively by replacing the float mechanism in the toilet tank and washers in the faucet.  Often taking care of noises will also reduce costs in electricity and water.

How does one experience the sense of touch – or feeling – in a house? Certainly the temperature plays a part.  You don’t want a buyer to shiver while walking through your house, nor do you want her sweating bullets, either

If you prefer extreme temperatures in your home, look to your trusted friend for guidance in the temperature department.  Buyers will also touch doorknobs and mini-blind levers, so make sure they all turn easily.  The same goes for knobs and levers on any appliances and cabinets.  Repair or replace those that require extra pressure to turn or open.  And don’t forget that fingers also find hidden dirt, so while the white glove test may seem a bit trite, this may be a good time to use it.  Buyers don’t want to feel dust and grime on their hands after using the banister, opening a cabinet or leaning across a window sill.

Now you know what you should experience during your sensory home tour.  Take a few moments to prepare your mind for the experience:  Go outside for a few minutes, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths – a home selling equivalent to cleansing your palate between dinner courses.  Enter your home, close the door and tour your home the sensory way.

an exerpt from by referral only