Category: PostNotes

Pillar To Post Newsletter Volume 21, No. 5

Realtor Safety Month


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

Top 10 Tips for Personal Safety


Summer will be here before you know it! Here are a few suggestions for homeowners to get their home in shape and help protect their investment.

  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.


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 or just outside your office rather than at properties 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

Showing Empty Properties


When you are showing an empty property, take these simple steps to protect and empower yourself against attack or theft.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Try and call the office once an hour to let people know where you are.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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


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 work- ing 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

Experience the Pillar To Post difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

Pillar To Post Newsletter Volume 21, No. 4

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postnotes

NEWS AND INFORMATION

VOLUME 21, NO. 4

HOUSE WISE

Don’t Skip The Home Inspection!


With so many homes selling “as-is” these days, a home inspection is truly a must-have. There is simply no better way to get to know a home, learn about any issues and understand its features. The inspector will objectively evaluate the home’s major systems and components and note their findings in your inspection report. Accompanying the inspector during the process is strongly encouraged so you have the opportunity to ask questions along the way.

Already settled into your new home? Even after the sale has closed, a home inspection will provide peace of mind about the home’s condition and safety. Know what you’re buying by getting a complete, professional home inspection!

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

5 Tips For Your Summer Garden


Your garden is established and growing great. Keep it going strong by staying on top of these summer garden tasks:

  1. Water thoroughly where needed. Container plants normally dry out faster than plants in the ground, so you may need to water them daily when the weather is very hot and/or dry.

  2. Practice smart pest control. Some offending insects, like aphids, can be washed off with a blast from your garden hose. Familiarize yourself with both harmful and beneficial insects and worms in your area so you know who to target and who to leave alone.

  3. Deadhead faded blooms and trim dead or wayward growth. Removing dried flowers keeps your plants looking good and can help certain types reflower.


  4. Mulch for maximum benefit. A 3”-4” layer of mulch helps keep weeds down, promotes moisture retention in the soil and makes your garden look clean and neat. Keep mulch at least a few inches away from the base of the plant to allow for good air circulation.

  5. Fill in bare spots in beds with summer annuals or mulch to keep things looking fresh

COLOR YOUR WORLD

Pick Your Palette: Choosing Exterior Paint Colors


You’ve decided to update your home with fresh paint in a new color. Here are some guidelines that will help you find colors you’ll love now and in the years to come.

  1. Look around. Take photos of homes with colors that catch your eye, and check out design websites for inspiration. This is the easiest and most direct way to start narrowing down your options.

  2. Take a good look at your home. If it has existing brick, stone or other surfaces that won’t be painted, you’ll need to take their tones into account when selecting your new colors. Avoid clashing tones by painting sample swatches next to these materials. The color of your roof may need to be considered as well.
  1. Get outside. Be sure to look at color swatches outdoors before you decide on paint samples. Outdoor light is much brighter than inside your home and has a significant effect on how colors look.

  2. Test, and test some more. Paint colors will appear very different depending on the time of day, direction of exposure, and in full sun vs. shade. Be sure to view painted samples under all of these conditions tomake sure you’re happy with what you see.

A fresh, new color palette will make you fall in love with your home all over again.

SEASONAL SENSE

Beat The Heat!


House heating up? Try these practical ideas to cool off
in comfort.

  1. Close window coverings on south- and west-facing sides of the house until dusk.

  2. Switching ceiling fans to the summer rotation setting (usually counterclockwise) creates a downward breeze and makes the room feel cooler.

  3. Give the stove a rest and opt for the microwave and outdoor grill instead.

  4. Use a programmable or smart thermostat to raise the AC temperature when you’re away from home. Be sure to raise the temperature overnight, too.

  5. Take a break for an ice-cold drink or a frozen treat. Enjoy!

HEALTHY AT HOME

Lead-based Paint – Should You Worry?


If your home was built before 1960, it probably has some lead-based paint. If built between 1960 and 1990, there is likely to be lead-based paint on the exterior. A home built after 1990 is unlikely to have lead paint because household paints in the U.S. and Canada were no longer manufactured using lead.

How can I learn if my home has lead-based paint?

An approved testing kit provides instant results, or you can sent a sample to a lab for testing. The most common areas where lead-based paint is found is on walls and interior trim, door jambs and window frames.

If my house has lead-based paint, should I worry?

Lead poisoning doesn’t happen overnight, so there’s no need to panic. But living with lead should not be an option, especially if there are very young children in the home. You can have your children tested for lead poisoning with a simple blood test by your family physician.

What can be done about it?

Painted surfaces that are in good condition with no flaking or chipping can be painted over with two coats of high-quality paint to encapsulate the underlying paint. Wear surfaces can be replaced rather than encapsulated. For example, you can remove and replace door jambs with new wood.

When encapsulation or wood replacement is not practical, the paint can be removed using chemical strippers. This should only be done by a professional contractor since proper containment of the lead material is essential.

Experience the Pillar To Post difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

Pillar To Post Newsletter Volume 21, No. 3

HEALTH & SAFETY UPDATE


As North America moves closer to
turning the corner on the pandemic,
Pillar To Post remains committed to
providing the highest quality home
inspection while adhering to the
safety and cleanliness guidelines
provided by the CDC and local
governments. We are taking the
following measures with the health
and well-being of our clients in
mind

  • Inspectors are prepared with PPE to keep everyone safe
  • Home Inspection Reports can be presented virtually or printed
  • Your clients can choose not to attend or only attend the last hour of the home inspection
  • Online and/or contactless payment options are available on request

While our processes may have changed, our commitment to ensuring confident home ownership has not. Our job is not complete until you no longer have questions concerning the home you have asked Pillar To Post to inspect.

outdoor patio

MAINTENANCE 101

Your Summer Place


Summer will be here before you know it! Here are a few suggestions for homeowners to get their home in shape and help protect their investment.

  1. Service the air conditioning system to ensure good operation.

  2. Pressure wash decks and patios (carefully!) to remove dirt and grime.

  3. Close the chimney flue to keep insects out and cool air in.

  4. Remove window screens and clean with a soft brush and soapy water, then reinstall.

  5. Make sure downspouts direct water away from the foundation.

Do a couple of these tasks each weekend and you’ll be ready for summer in no time!


SUMMER SMARTS

Get Splashing!


It’s almost pool season, so use these tips to splash into a safe and fun summer:

  1. Anyone using the pool should know how to swim. An experienced swimmer should always be present if anyone is still learning to swim.

  2. For younger children, an adult should be at the immediate poolside at all times. It is not enough to simply look out a window or door to check on them. Tragically, injuries and drownings can happen within moments.

  3. Enclose the pool with fencing a minimum of 4’ high. Gates should self-close and self-latch, with the latch inaccessible to small children. Local requirements for pool enclosures may be stricter or have additional specifications.

  4. To avoid possible injury, keep children away from pool filters and drains. Walk, don’t run, near the pool to avoid slips and falls.

  5. Keep rescue equipment nearby and easily accessible. For added peace of mind, consider having family members learn CPR skills.

From all of us at Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, enjoy your summer!

pool
fire pit

HOME IMPROVEMENT

Backyard Fire Pits


Thinking of adding a fire pit to enhance your backyard setup? Keep these recommendations in mind if you decide to make the move.

Portable or Permanent?
Portable fire pits are made of metal and should be set on a stable base of pavers, concrete, brick or gravel. Fire pits can be built from a kit, or custom designed to complement your house and landscaping.

Gas or Wood?
Natural gas, propane or wood are the most common fuels for fire pits. Gas fire pits are easy to light and extinguish, but lack the classic crackle and smoke of a wood fire. Before deciding on a wood-fueled fire pit, check to see if your community allows them.

If a fire pit is in your future, keep these safety tips in mind:

  1. Place seating areas a safe distance from the flames, and keep children and pets away
  2. Have a hose or fire extinguisher close by
  3. Avoid wearing loose-fitting sleeves
  4. Never use lighter fluid to light a wood fire
  5. Be sure firewood is seasoned and dry
  6. Periodically check gas connections for leaks or damage

A fire pit can make a great addition to almost any backyard. Enjoy!


HOME SENSE

Don’t Throw Money Out The Window


Heating and cooling typically use almost half of the energy in the home. So it makes sense to look at one of the leading causes of energy inefficiency in the home: the windows.

Old and/or poorly constructed windows can mean heat loss in the winter, overheating in the summer, and higher energy bills. The average home may lose up to 30% of its heat or cooling through the windows. Properly installed energy-efficient windows can go a long way toward improving this situation.

Many factors affect a window’s energy efficiency. Whether they are single- or multiple-paned, gas filled, Low-Emittance (Low-E) coated, and even the material of the window frame all contribute to a window’s performance. One excellent resource is efficientwindows.org, which provides detailed information on these specifications and how to select windows appropriate for various climates. An experienced window contractor can also be a good source of information and recommendations.

Homeowners should check with their local utility provider to find out about possible rebates and other incentives for the purchase of new, energy-efficient windows.

Of course, replacing windows is not always a viable option. Making sure existing windows are properly caulked, keeping weather stripping in good repair, and using storm windows will help. Window coverings are another good way to reduce heat loss in winter and avoid overheating in summer.

Improving window energy efficiency means greater comfort as well as cost savings for homeowners in any climate.

Experience the Pillar To Post difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

Pillar To Post Newsletter Volume 21, No. 1

postnotes

Volume 21, No. 1


OUR COMMITMENT

During this time of Covid-19, Pillar To Post remains committed to providing the highest quality home inspection while adhering to the safety and cleanliness guidelines provided by the CDC and local governments. We are taking the following measures with the health and well-being of our clients in mind:

  • Inspectors are prepared with PPE to keep everyone safe Home Inspection Reports can be presented virtually or printed on-site
  • Your clients can choose not to attend or only attend the last hour of the home inspection
  • online and/or contactless payment options available on request

While our processes may have chanced, our commitment to ensuring confident home ownership has not. Our job is not complete until you no longer have questions concerning the home you have asked Pillar To Post to inspect.

man by truck
Middle-aged man setting up his radon equipment

Safe at home

Is Radon On Your Radar?

Colorless and odorless, naturally occuring radon gas seeps into homes from underground. Elevated levels of radon can build up inside the home, endangering your family’s health. Here are the facts.

  • Radon is the #2 cause of lung cancer after smoking
  • Radon can cause cancers in pets, too
  • An estimated 1 in 15 homes in the US and Canada has an elevated level of radon
  • Any home can have a radon problem – old or new, drafty or snug, with or without a basement

Testing is the only way to know if a home has excessive levels of radon.

Your Pillar To Post Home Inspector conducts radon testing using continuous monitoring technology, then reports on the results and recommends steps to reduce excessive radon levels if found.

For peace of mind, schedule a radon inspection for your home today.

winter blues

Personal Best

Banish The Winter Blues


Many of us are spending much more time at home these days. Here are some ideas on how to help you and your home look and feel cheerful during these winter months:

1. Have each family member create a personal playlist of their favorite music and ask everyone to take turns as digital DJs

2. Potted flowering plants will brighten up your coffee table or dining area

3. Set up a hot chocolate bar for the family. Don’t forget the marshmallows, peppermint bits, whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles and anything else you like!

4. Use pillow covers in bold patterns or colors to change up the look of the sofas and beds

5. Don your brightest sweaters and coats for an instant pick-me-up

Inspection Insights

Are You In The Know??

Take Our Quiz!


1. A pre-listing home inspection:

A. Helps sellers decide about making specific repairs and improvements

B. Can help with setting the asking price

C. Helps agents with marketing the home

D. All of the above

2. TRUE or FALSE?

Radon gas doesn’t affect homes built after 2001.

3. You’ve just learned that your home contains lead-based paint. You should:

A. Scrape off as much as possible and paint over it

B. Use a chemical paint stripper to remove it

C. Call a qualified professional to assess the conditions and advise about removal

D. Regularly wipe down affected surfaces with a micro-fiber cloth

4. The Pillar To Post Premium Home Inspection includes:

A. Infrared Scanning to detect signs of moisture and electrical overheating

B. Appliance Recall Safety Check to help keep your family and property safe

C. Lifetime Maintenance Advisory Service to help you care for your home

D. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction Commitment to ensure your complete satisfaction

E. All of the above


Answers

1. D. A pre-listing can do all this and more. Be sure to ask your Pillar To Post Home Inspector about getting a home inspection before the home goes on the market.

2. False. Radon can affect homes of any age or construction type. You can learn more about radon right here in this newsletter!

3. C. A qualified professional will be able to determine how to address lead-based paint. If removal is recommended, trying to do this yourself can create a much bigger problem by spreading lead dust around your home. Leave it to the pros!

4. E. These are just some of the reasons our Premium Home Inspection is our most popular offering. Ask about it when requesting your next home inspection!

Home Sense

Improving Indoor Air Quality


Our homes harbor more than just our families and posessions. Home is also where pollutants, allergens, and other irritants accumulate and thrive, with possible harmful effects on our health. Here are some ways to improve indoor air quality while increasing your comfort and well-being.

HANDLE HIGH HUMIDITY

High Humidity is one of the main contributors to mold and dust mite growth, both of which adversely affect indoor air quality. Keeping indoor humidity below 50% will help prevent further infestation, although once mold gets established it can continue to grow even at lower humidity levels. Use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms, make sure the dryer is properly vented to the outdoors, and address any leaks or condensation issues. A dehumidifier can help in especially humid locations such as basements.

COLLECT THE DUST

Dust is more than just dirt! It can contain pollen, mold spores, lint, animal dander, bacteria and more. While it’s impossible to completely rid a home of dust, there are ways to help control it. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter that traps small particulate matter. Change or clean the furnace filter regularly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. High quality furnace filters are more expensive than ordinary types, but are more effective at filtering dust, pet hair, and other particles.

GO AHEAD AND VENT

Open doors and windows whenever possible. Your home will have better air circulation and “breathe” more easily, and of course it’s great to enjoy fresh air on a nice day.

mother and her baby

CHEMICAL REACTION

Choose cleaning products with environmentally friendly formulations. Many of these cleaners and detergents do an equal or better job than their conventional counterparts. Dispose of old paint, pesticides, solvents and other products so they aren’t leaking fumes into your home. Check local requirements on how to properly dispose of such items.

Discover the Pillar To Post difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!