Walking the Line: Talk, Talk and More Talk!

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This month we have two quick topics for you. One is a simple solution to communication issues in our real estate transactions and the other about a potentially important inspection that is often overlooked in our areas.

1) Talk, talk and more talk!

That is often what occurs in every transaction. We obviously have conversations with our clients. We have conversations with the other agent in the deal. Also we speak to a variety of third party people, inspectors, lenders and escrow companies, where we are expected to convey information to someone else, normally our client. Much of the information we “talk” about is important to the successful completion of the transaction but can be forgotten, misinterpreted, or challenged during the course of the deal or even worse, after the closing!

Simple solution…write it down! A quick email confirming the conversation or a contemporaneous conversation log documenting the conversation that becomes a part of the transaction file can save a lot of frustration and grief down the road.

An example – you attend a home inspection on behalf of an out of area buyer. The inspector recommends a further inspection of the roof by a roofer but the recommendation is not referenced in the report when you receive it. You talk to your buyer, let them know about the recommendation and he tells you he does not want to do a roof inspection. A quick email confirming the conversation followed by a waiver of the roof inspection is the best way to prevent future issues.

2) Does your buyer need to consider a radon inspection?

Radon was the fifth radioactive element to be discovered and is the second leading cause of lung cancer, which is a shocking fact among many. It is the No. 1 cause among non-smokers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. and Canada is estimated to have an elevated radon level. This is why it is great to be knowledgeable about radon and the effects it can cause to your clients.

As a real estate agent, you should know that radon is a dangerous gas; it is colorless, odorless, tasteless and radioactive. It is formed by the breakdown of uranium, a naturally radioactive material found in soil, rock and groundwater.

As radon decays, it produces new radioactive elements called radon daughters or decay products. Unlike the gaseous radon itself, radon daughters are solids that stick to surfaces, such as dust particles.

If such contaminated dust is inhaled, these particles can stick to the airways of the lungs and increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

While Radon is not present in many of our marketing areas it is present where the substructures are primarily granite and shale rock such as the Foothills and Sierras. We highly recommend a radon test for homes in those locations. Check with your local home inspectors for their recommendations regarding radon inspections.

How radon infiltrates a home

Radon mostly enters a building directly from the soil through the lowest level in the building that is in contact with the ground. High levels of radon in the water supply can also increase indoor radon air levels.

It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into the home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. The home traps radon inside, where it can build up. Any home might have a radon problem — this means new and older homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements because this secret killer comes from the ground, not from construction materials.

There are many different ways radon can get into a home. Cracks in the floorboards or walls, gaps between suspended floors or service pipes are the most common.

Other ways radon can penetrate the home is through the water supply, specifically wells that are drilled through rock known to contain radon, construction joints or cavities inside the walls. The greatest risks for radon exposure come from buildings that are airtight, insufficiently ventilated or have foundation leaks that allow air from the soil into basements or first-floor rooms.

The concentration in one room of a building might be significantly different from the concentration in an adjoining room.

Testing for radon

Radon testing is the only way to know if your clients are at risk from radon.

Testing takes approximately two to three days, results are provided and interpreted, and the report is sent directly to the client.

Recommendations will then be made for a mitigation system. Even owners of condominiums, houses built on slabs and other situations need to check on the air quality and the presence of radon in living quarters.

More information is available through the EPA in Washington D.C. and State Indoor Air Quality Boards. In California the Residential Environmental Hazards Booklet provides additional information for your clients.

Written by Linda Kaneko, General Sales Manager for Select Group Real Estate. For questions or further information, email Linda.Kaneko@selectgroupre.com.

  What would YOU like to see in the next edition of Risk Management? Let us know.

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