Mold Information & EPA Links

Recently, I had an agent email me that there was mold in one of my homes listed for sale.

Being a blue cheese loving, scientific, germ-a-phobic, hypochondriac, and having several clients with severe mold and respiratory issues, I have spent considerable time studying “mold issue”. But I forget that other people are not as diligent when they say “THERE IS MOLD!”

Two recent experiences, opened my eyes to the lack of facts that most professionals have when they make these statements and what to do about them. So I began compiling research from the EPA Environmental Protection Agency.

Here is a link to the the epa mold document with the facts on mold and cleanup they give the recommendations on how and who can do mold cleanup.

here is the EPA link concerning mold cleanup
http://www.epa.gov/iedmold1/moldresources.html#Basics

here is another epa link concerning mold cleanup –
http://www.epa.gov/mold/cleanupguidelines.html

here is another epa link concerning mold cleanup and testing
http://iaq.supportportal.com/ics/support/default.asp?deptID=23007

These are just a few guidelines to what the epa says about mold.

The EPA says “Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.”

Also according to the EPA, “There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. ”

Mold is complicated, the best resource I have found is the EPA website –
http://www.epa.gov/iedmold1/moldresources.html

If mold is concern, I strongly advise any buyer to have it tested by an expert. Especially if they has asthma or allergic reactions to mold or any other indoor air pollutants.

According to the EPA – “Molds can trigger asthma episodes in sensitive individuals with asthma. People with asthma should avoid contact with or exposure to molds.”

What to Expect at a Home Staging Appointment

HOME STAGING APPOINTMENT: WHAT TO EXPECT AND HOW YOU CAN HELP!

Our goal is to create an emotional trigger for your buyer while they walk through your house, creating an interior that feels beautiful, inviting and spacious without too many distractions.

Top Ten

1. Stager walkthrough targets 5 key areas: curb appeal, entry, living spaces, kitchen & master suite.

2. Remove all personal, political, religious and sports related items including photos.

3. Trim bushes, edge lawn and remove leaves/clutter on front yard.

4. Be prepared to rearrange some furniture to highlight your home’s key features and focal points.

5. Place extra accessories in one area for stager to utilize including pillows and placesettings for dining room and/or kitchen. Think romantic (not formal) dinner and cheerful breakfast.

6. Edit down closets 50% or more if full, leaving floors empty.

7. Clear kitchen countertops except for a couple of large accessories and refrigerator fronts.

8. Clean all windows, glass surfaces and hardware fixtures, plus remove window screens. (Screens block light)

9. Edit down book shelves or china cabinets 50% or more if full. Think about replacing some books with large accessories.

10.Ensure main walkways through home are clear (4 ft wide min.).

“You only have one chance to make a great first impression! Within seconds after entering a house, potential homebuyers make an emotional decision whether or not to buy. So why not stage before listing it?” Karen Mills –interior designer and host of Living Largeon News Radio 980 KMBZ.

K.C.s Top Home Stager”(Cort/Berkshire Hathaway), keynote KCRAR, KMBC TV9 Concept Home designer
& nominated Small Business of Year 2009, 2008 & 2007.
Secrets to Home Staging at http://karenmills.net/pdf/secretstostaging.pdf
Karen Mills 913.764.5915
Interiors by Design, Inc.
karen@karenmills.net
www.karenmills.net
livinglargeshow.com (Design Blog)

Home Upgrades With Appeal for Retirees

Home Upgrades With Appeal for Retirees

If you plan to live out your retirement years in your own home, adding universal design features will make aging in place safer and more comfortable. And if you should later sell the house, you’ll find that buyers appreciate how these upgrades anticipate their future needs.

Unlike home improvements designed to make an immediate impression, universal design additions with the most sales appeal are those that go unnoticed until you point them out.

“The beauty of universal design is when you’re able to incorporate something that looks great and doesn’t jump out at you,” says Paul Sullivan, a remodeling contractor in Newton, Mass.

In other words, says Armand Christopher, a Realtor who is designated a Seniors Real Estate Specialist: “You don’t put in hospital-grade grab bars in a bathroom when you are remodeling.”

Fortunately, you don’t have to settle for the institutional look. From ergonomically designed faucet handles to skid-free flooring, today’s universal design products are stylish and subtle. Financing options include home equity loans and reverse mortgages.

The best time to add aging-in-place upgrades to your home is before you need them, says Pat Rowen, an interior designer and Certified Aging in Place Specialist in Hillsdale, Mich. Rowen had to tackle a rush job when a client in his 80s fell and broke his hip just before Christmas, and she scrambled to track down materials and workers to do the needed remodel. She says the experience underscored the importance of planning ahead.

“If you have to do it under the gun at Christmastime, and you know that your husband is coming home in two weeks and you have a bathtub that he can’t get into — that’s not the time to do the remodeling,” Rowen says.

Here are nine ideas that can boost the value of your home and the quality of life you enjoy while you’re living in it.

Make It Easier to Get Around

Create zero-step entries. If your home has a basement, Rowen suggests grading the landscape to create a new entry at the lower level. If you’re thinking of building a ramp to an existing entry, consider placing it inside your garage instead of at the front door.

Make your doors easier to open. Sullivan recently installed several doors with levers instead of knobs for one of his clients. “It’s for a young, single woman, but she loves it because if she’s coming in with groceries in her arms, she can elbow the door handle and get through the door,” he says.

Create clear 3-foot passageways to make it easier to accommodate a wheelchair or walker. This might mean widening your interior doorways as well as rearranging and de-cluttering rooms. “As people get older, they have a lot of stuff,” Rowen says. “They need to think in terms of ‘How can I get to and from everything I do without any furniture or clutter?'”

Improve safety and comfort

Swap out your old stove and faucet to reduce the risk of burns. An accidental scalding is less likely with a single-lever faucet than with one that has separate handles for hot and cold, Sullivan says. Therese Crahan, executive director of NAHB Remodelers, a division of the National Association of Home Builders, recommends buying a stove that has the controls in the front, so you won’t have to reach over the heating elements.

Fall-proof your floors. Look for products such as nonslip vinyl and nonglossy tile in small patterns (the extra grout lines provide more slip resistance), Rowen says. It’s also a good idea to eliminate variances in floor height from room to room, she says.

Add features that lessen the need for reaching up and bending over. Christopher suggests shopping for items such as kitchen cabinets with pull-down shelves, refrigerators with middle drawers and washers and dryers with raised platforms.

Upgrade the Bathroom

Prep your bathroom for grab bars, even if you’re not ready to install them yet.“You can either put plywood on the wall before you put the drywall up or put blocking between the studs,” Rowen says. Without that preparation, you are limited to installing the grab bars at the location of existing studs, or tearing out drywallto fit them in.

Put in an easy-to-use shower. Rowen likes the ones from Best Bath Systems, which offers a model with grab bars, a folding seat and hand-held sprayer for about $3,100. Curbless showers are another option. They are wheelchair-accessible and eliminate the need to step over a threshold. “The bathroom floor just rollsseamlessly into the shower,” Sullivan says.

Sullivan adds that for experienced contractors, installing a curbless shower costs no more than doing a conventional one. “The one thing we have to do is waterproof the floor underneath,” he says. “You’re talking maybe 15 (additional) minutes of labor and $50 worth of materials. And you’re not building and tiling the curb, so it’s pretty much a wash.”

Get a comfort-height toilet, which will raise you up about 17 inches off the floor and set you back $200 to $300, Rowen says. Those seat booster rings aren’t nearly as efficient, according to Rowen, because they slip easily and are difficult to clean

Short Sale Links and Information

A short sale is when a borrower is forced to sell their home for less than they owe on it. Typically, it is the result of some kind of hardship. Sellers are forced to ask the lender to take less than the full amount owed. Considering a Short Sale is a stressful and overwhelming process. Finding the facts and reliable information is even harder. Part of that is caused by the fact that there are many different loans, lenders and real estate agents all with their own requirements and experiences. Below is a list of links for information and sources that we trust.

Disclaimer – The rules and regulations change frequently as the government and lenders work to develop better processes.

What are the best sites to advertise Homes for Sale on the internet?

Where should an agents home listings be adverstised on the internet? Everywhere! Realtor.com, a broker website and the local MLS are not enough.

Statistics from Hitwise, the web research firm shows that Realtor.com has 5.49% of the visitors and Zillow had 3.63% of the visitors for the week of 7/17/2010.

What is really interesting is [Read more…]

Radon Info – EPA Links

If your radon level is 4.0 pC/L or greater, you can call your state radon office to obtain more information, including a list of EPA or State-approved radon contractors who can fix or can help you develop a plan for fixing a radon problem. Reduction methods can be as simple as sealing cracks in floors and walls or as complex as installing systems that use pipes and fans to draw radon out of the building.

EPA maintains a comprehensive web site on radon at: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/radon/ where you can find internet versions of all of EPA’s documents, brochures and publications relating to radon.

Below are descriptions of three of the more common EPA publications on radon, copied from site http://www.epa.gov /iaq/radon/pubs/index.html

A Citizen’s Guide To Radon (second edtition) The Guide To Protecting Yourself And Your Family From Radon.
This booklet was developed by the EPA, the U.S. Department of Health, Human Services and the U.S. Public Health Service.  This is a complete guide to taking action to lower the radon level in your home. It offers strategies for testing and discussions of what steps to take after you have tested, discussions of the risk of radon and radon myths.
EPA Document Number 402-K-92-001. September 1994. (www .epa.gov/iaq/radon/pubs/citguide.html)

Consumer’s Guide To Radon Protection How To Reduce Radon Levels In Your Home …
This booklet is for people who have tested their home for radon and confirmed that they have elevated radon levels. EPA Document Number 402-K-*93-003.  (www.epa.gov/iaq/radon/pubs/consguid.html)

Home Buyer’s And Seller’s Guide To Radon
This guide has been developed for anyone buying or selling a home who wants to learn about radon. For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop: SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-9328. Order Number – ISBN: 0-16-041680-9. EPA Document Number: 402-R-93-003, March 1993. (www.epa.gov/radon/pubslhmbyguid.html)

Some Typical Home Inspections

Typical Home Inspections

Buyers are encouraged to conduct any and all inspections by qualified experts to verify the condition of a property. This list summarizes many types of inspections, but you should investigate anything that concerns you. Be careful to watch the dates and other requirements about inspections in your sales contract. [Read more…]

Home Inspection Process

Now it is time to begin the inspection process. It is CRITICAL that we watch the dates. We must complete ALL inspections and respond before the deadline. Otherwise the seller does not have to fix a thing and you own the home “as-is”. Relax it is not quite as bad as that, if something does come up we can ask (in writing) to extend the inspection period.

INSPECTIONS – We begin with the whole house inspector. You may use anyone you like for this process. In KS inspectors are now required to be licensed, and carry insurance.

A top professional will have at least $250,000 worth of insurance, be a member of a association with educational requirements, and take continuing education on a regular basis. [Read more…]

Staging Intro

Here is a short 4 minute video showing some before and after staging photos and tips.

Moving Checklist

Here are some things to consider as you prepare to move:

4 weeks before your move

2 weeks before your move

Week of your move

Contact and contract with a reputable moving company

Have school records transferred

If you are moving out of town, arrange to transfer (or take with you) medical,

dental and other important records

Prepare to transfer your homeowners and auto insurance to be sure you will be

covered for unforeseen disasters

Hold a garage sale to get rid of unneeded items and/or arrange to place excess

items in storage

Obtain and mail change-of-address cards to the post office, subscriptions, credit

card companies and important contacts

Cancel and order utilities (gas, electric, water, telephone, cable).

If you are moving out of town, close or transfer bank accounts

Terminate newspaper delivery service

Arrange for transfer of vehicle and driver licenses

Keep money, valuable jewelry and important records/documents with you; do not

pack them with the rest of your household goods

On closing day, the home purchase documents will be recorded

Review preliminary settlement documents with agent

Clean property for buyers

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