What you need to know about radon.

Once a home is under contract, the inspection process begins.  A typical set of inspections include the home inspection, septic, water, termite,  and radon.  Over the years I have found that most people get a blank look on their face when we start talking about radon.  They’ve never heard of it, they don’t know what it is or where it comes from,  and they don’t understand the health risks. So let’s go over the basics.

Radon Element SymbolRadon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that comes from igneous rock and it is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer.  Radon levels can vary greatly depending on where you live, but in North Carolina we recognize the Surgeon General’s recommendation that a test reading should not exceed 4 pCi/l.  In most cases, if the reading is over 4 pCi/l buyers will go back to the seller to request a mitigation system.  Depending on the size of the home, access to a crawlspace, and other factors, a mitigation system runs about $2,000.  While a reading of 4 pCi/l or less is the accepted level, it’s not uncommon to see readings much higher than that but those readings can be affected by several factors, including the weather.  If a radon test result comes back unusually high, we recommend a second test. The tests are inexpensive and worth your peace of mind.

When a radon test kit is placed in your home, it’s extremely important that windows and doors remain closed during the testing period, which is usually 48-72 hours. If you are living in the home, it’s perfectly fine to come and go as you normally would but leaving windows and doors open will compromise the test results.

Radon mitigation is something any buyer should consider whether you are buying an existing home or building a new one.  In our area most new home builders automatically include one in the building process, but not always, so be sure to ask.

Even if you aren’t in the market to buy or sell a home, it’s a good idea to understand radon and the risks associated with it. There are a number of good resources for in-depth information about radon, but this article from the Transylvania Times here in Brevard, North Carolina sums it up nicely.

(source: Transylvania Times, Brevard, NC)

January is National Radon Action Month and the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) encourages Americans around the country to test their homes for radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Each year about 21,000 Americans die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon. Testing is the only way to know if your home has an elevated level of radon. The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend taking action to fix your home if the radon level is 4 picocuries per Liter of air or more. “Testing your home for radon is one of the easiest ways to help keep your family safe and healthy,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Radon exposure is preventable. Test kits are inexpensive and readily available. Reducing exposure protects families, saves lives and avoids the health care costs of radon-caused lung cancer. Everyone who takes action helps to make America’s homes and schools safer for future generations.”

Affordable do-it-yourself radon test kits are available online, at many home improvement and hardware stores and are easy to use. You can also hire a qualified radon professional. If your home is found to have a high radon level, a professionally installed radon reduction system, using a vent pipe and exhaust fan, will remove the radon from beneath your home and discharge it outside. These systems are affordable, especially compared to the risk of lung cancer.

Taking action to reduce your exposure to radon is a long-term investment in your health and your home.

A working mitigation system is a positive selling point for homes on the market ; in many areas a radon test is a standard part of real estate transactions. If you’re building a new home, work with your builder to include radon-resistant construction techniques.

Radon reduction strategies are included in the National Radon Action Plan, which was launched in November 2015 by EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Health and Human Services and nine national non-governmental organizations. This partnership will help coordinate radon reduction efforts and resources with the goal of preventing 3,200 lung cancer deaths annually by 2020, through increased collaboration and consumer awareness strategies.

For more information on testing and obtaining a radon test kit, contact the state radon office at 1-800-SOS-RADON.

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If you are buying or selling a home in western North Carolina, call the Clay Team today at 828-551-6290 or visit us online at BrevardNCProperty.com.

Five Things You Can Do To Help Sell Your Home This Year.

Winter is just about over and most people I know are looking forward to the color and warmer temperatures of spring.  It’s also about the time of year that people start thinking about putting their homes on the market.  Typically, our peak season runs from Memorial Day through Thanksgiving.  So, for anyone thinking about selling a home this year, now is the time to get serious about it. There are things that you can be doing now to maximize your chances of selling so when the season starts, you’ll be at the head of the class.screwdriver

So where do you start?  

What needs repair? Fix anything that drips, squeaks, or doesn’t work the way it should.  It could be something simple like tightening up a loose door knob, repairing some screening, or figuring out why that one door always sticks.   Other things like electrical and plumbing may require a professional.  If you don’t think you can be objective enough, ask a friend to go around your home with you to help you see things as a potential buyer would.  Take a walk around the outside of your home as well to see what may have been damaged during the winter months. Look for things like damaged siding, cracks in the driveway, loose or missing shingles on the roof, and peeling paint.

Are all systems a go?  Make certain that your HVAC system has been serviced and in good working order. Check your water heater to make sure there are no leaks.  Replace all filters.

Freshen up a bit.  In most areas it may be too cold to paint outside, but if the inside of your home needs freshening up, this is a good time of year to do it. If you decide you want to repaint, Rustic_Flower_Pots_zpsc9258b10keep it neutral. You may be mad for magenta, but your potential buyer probably isn’t.  Clean your carpets and give your hardwood floors some love. Don’t forget the outside of your home. When temperatures are right, take a hard look at your decks and see if they could use a fresh stain or a coat of paint.  Give your front door some extra attention too.  A great many of us enter our homes through our garage and rarely do we enter through the front door so it’s an area that be easily overlooked. If it’s been a while, give it a fresh coat of paint or stain. Consider adding a seasonal wreath or fun door knocker for some interest. Replace that worn out door mat while you’re at it. Then when all those gorgeous spring flowers start showing up in your favorite garden center, create a pot or two to put by your freshly painted front door.

One thing I can’t say enough about is how important it is to have clean windows. I know. Cleaning windows isn’t my favorite thing to do either. But trust me when I tell you that cleaning your windows will make an enormous difference.  While you’re at it, be sure to get rid of cob webs, dead bugs, leaves or anything else that has found a home on your sills, and don’t forget the screens.  If you can’t reach your windows or simply don’t have the time, hire someone to do it for you. It will be money well spent.

Clear out the clutter.  Face it, most of us just have too much stuff.  As winter winds down, take stock of your closets and storage areas.  Consider donating or disposing of anything you no longer need or haven’t used in the last year.  Clutter is something that can stop a buyer in their tracks because they struggle to see the unique character of your home when there is “stuff” everywhere.  Clutter is also a signal that there may not be sufficient storage….something most buyers covet.

Consider a pre-emptive approach.  In North Carolina, once you enter into a contract with a buyer, they are given a period of time to do their “due diligence”. This is when they perform any and all inspections on your home.  If there are lots of things that need repair it’s likely they will come back and ask you to make those repairs or provide them with a credit.  One approach that some sellers take is to have a home inspection done prior to putting their home on the market so that any issues can be identified and taken care of ahead of time.  The cost is typically $350-$500 or more depending on the size of your home. A licensed home inspector will identify issues with plumbing, electrical, HVAC, water leaks, termite damage, faulty construction and a whole lot more.

For more helpful tips on getting your home ready to sell this year, call the Clay Team at Looking Glass Realty in beautiful Brevard, North Carolina.  Visit us online at BrevardNCProperty.com, or give us a call at 828-551-6290 or 828-551-6291.

 

 

Sellers Corner – The Power of Marketing

About a month ago, we got a call from some folks who had been trying to sell their home. Evidently, it had not been going well with their existing agents and they wanted to talk to us about making a change. So we met them at their property and immediately fell in love with the entire package. It was an attractive, well maintained home in a great (actually fabulous) setting. The home was priced a little lower than we thought it could be, but otherwise their current listing sheet had a sufficient number of photos, room measurements were there, and there was an adequate, though not particularly compelling, description of the property.  So why hadn’t such a great property sold? The piece of the puzzle that was missing and the reason it hadn’t sold was marketing.

When we list properties we look for a “perk” –  something that screams for attention and makes buyers sit up and take notice. Not every property has a perk and sometimes it’s hard to find something special to hang your marketing hat on.  But that wasn’t the case here. This was a great home with wide river frontage, 15 minutes from some the best fly fishing and kayaking in the area, in a nice country setting, with views of the mountains. Any one of those things would be enough to work with but this home had it all and we recognized the potential and more importantly, we knew how to capitalize on it.

Several days later, we got another call from the sellers letting us know that the other agents had agreed to let them out of their listing agreement and they were ready to get started with us.

IMG_9636B&W_peSMRobert and I, along with Ace our real estate dog,  spent the better part of a day shooting new pictures and a video. The location was off a dirt road, along the river, and in the country, so we decided to do an “Andy of Mayberry” sort of opening.  The approach we took was to focus on the lifestyle. The house had a lot going for it, but it was the setting that was going to sell this property.  Finding a home in this price range (even after we raised the listing price $15,000) with this much river frontage isn’t something that comes along every day and that was the hook. We carried that theme into the description of the property on the listing sheet and in various print ads. When it was all said and done, the video went out on You Tube, onto our listing, and out to the world.

Fast forward 22 days after signing the listing papers with us.  The sellers have entertained 2 offers and are now under contract with one of them.  Plus, by using our pricing strategy they not only sold quickly, they sold for more money than they would have at the lower listing price.  They will close in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, our phone continues to ring with inquiries from other agents and buyers who have seen the video and have an interest in the property.

There is a reason why companies large and small spend so much money on marketing….because it works. Real estate is no different. The minute you sign the listing papers, your home becomes a consumer product and just like the car you drive, the clothes you wear, or the ketchup you put on your french fries, your home will stand a better chance of selling if it is marketed properly.  Just ask these sellers!

 

 

 

We’ve been working with some out of state buyers for a good long while now. And even though they are stil in the process of putting the pieces together so they can move here, we’ve become fast friends. When they come to town, we look at homes, but the real fun begins when we get together for dinner. They’re just good folks.Sometimes clients do the nicest things!

They are also dog lovers, like us. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we get along so well. The other day, we picked up a package at the office that these folks had sent us, and in it was a scarf for our dog!  They even went so far as to have his name embroidered on it.

Sometimes you meet people, you sell them a home and then you never see them again. But with these folks, I know that once they do get around to moving here, not only will we sell them a home, it will mean we will get to spend a lot more time with them…and enjoying their company.

Plus, they’d get to see their “adopted son” Ace more often!

Sometimes, clients do the nicest things!

Telephone Etiquette 101

A bazillion years ago when I was working in retail we were taught that if you have a customer standing in front of you and the phone rings, your telephoneobligation is to take care of the customer in front of you first. If you absolutely have to answer the phone, you take their number and ask to call them back, then return as quickly as possible to the customer standing at the counter.

That small lesson has stayed with me all these years and it still irks me when I’m in a store and I’m “bumped” while a clerk answers a phone call and proceeds to provide the caller with “excellent service” while I wait…even though I was there first.

For me, the same theory applies to phone calls. Call waiting and Caller ID are great, but some people abuse the idea.  If I’m on the phone with someone, and the important call they’ve been waiting for all day comes in…..no problem. Go take that call and get back to me when you can. But when I hear the words “hang on…I have another call coming in” that sends a clear signal that I’m no longer important and whatever it is we’re talking about isn’t important.

It’s even worse if I’m standing face to face with someone and in the middle of a conversation and they put me on “hold” while they answer their phone. I have no choice but to stand there awkwardly while they carry on another conversation.  Again..if it’s important and something that requires immediate attention. No problem. A simple “Excuse me, but I really have to deal with this….I won’t be long”  will suffice.

There is no law that requires we answer a phone just because it’s ringing. That’s why we have voice mail. If my phone rings and I choose not to answer, it’s because I’m on the other line, or talking to someone else in person, and giving that person my undivided attention. It is rare that a caller doesn’t leave a message if I don’t answer…and if they don’t leave a message, then I guess it wasn’t very important anyway. Besides, my phone saves the number and I often will call back to acknowledge the missed call just in case I did miss something important.

If you ever call me (828-551-6290) and I don’t answer, it’s because I’m being courteous and attentive to someone else at that moment, but I will be happy to return your call promptly. And when I do, you can trust that I am giving YOU my undivided attention.