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Saturday, March 29, 2008

March 29,2008 Inspections and How Situations Change

March 29, 2008Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and CondoCanDo in Charlotte, NCInspections and How Situations Change…Real Estate is like the ocean…probably more volatile because our life forms are humans. So we have the predators, the bottom fish, big fish and really big mammals, and little fish, plankton and seaweed. And the Dolphins. But we are different because we are shape shifters…what looks like a Dolphin person may well be a hungry shark. The test is when we get into unknown waters.The “we” represents the brokers and the buyer and the seller. The unknown waters is sometimes the time for inspections. Because even though the inspectors are licensed and have a governing agency, they are not all alike. Just like “we” are not all alike.Hire three different inspectors and you will have three different reports. 1. They are not all written in the same format. 2. Some are more descriptive than others 3. Some are lacking.4. Some come with color pictures of the troubled spots.5. Inspectors are human,too. Sometimes they miss something.Recently, I had a buyer who liked a house that had been under contract, inspections had been done, repairs were underway. The buyer backed out.We liked the house and wanted to make an offer. The seller said fine, but I am not making anymore repairs. We said, we’ll have it inspected again, have our repair guy look at everything and if all is true, we’ll proceed without further ado. We asked for the previous inspection and for the repair list so our guys could see what had been done.The first inspector was lacking in his report. He reported items that do not require reporting, cosmetic items. He didn’t catch the live hanging wires under the kitchen, he didn’t check the water heater and the list goes on. The sellers repair guy just showed up and did a few things and not well and charged a lot. Our inspector was thorough beyond belief. Comparing the two inspection reports was like day and night. Our repair guy made his list and checked the other’s work. Disparity. And the final straw is in the next podcast because what my handyman and I found in the crawl space was a huge problem that we both “felt” and explored.So what’s my point. If you hire an inspector, look at a sample of their work, check their credentials and make a list of items you and/or your broker have specific questions about and ask him to address them in his report. Give him/her a written list. And for the handyman, even I have been fooled by the smooth talker. The guy I like the best always shows up on time, always sends me a written estimate line by line, always thinks ahead of me and has great ideas, always tries to save money if he can without loosing quality and his prices are always fair. I found him through another broker. Good source.

Coming up…Permits and County Inspections

Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and CondoCanDo, Charlotte, NC

Friday, March 28, 2008

Home Owner's Questionnaire...Good Stuff!

March 28, 2008

Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and CondoCanDo, Charlotte, NC

Home Owner’s Questionnaire…Good Stuff.

So here is the scenario. You decide to buy a condo. You are a first time home buyer. You’ve gotten pre-approval for a loan amount, you’ve teamed up with a real estate broker and you are on the Internet ( 87% of buyers and sellers head to the web) and in your car( 67% drive the area, check the neighborhoods and I do this as well).You’ve found the one you really like, made your offer, negotiated the deal and you’ve got a contract. So you know you like the location, you like the floor plan, you can have a dog, there’s a pool. But what else do you need to know?I posted a great and thorough questionnaire on that I picked up at Countrywide. It’s pretty detailed but I like detail especially when it comes to condominiums and town homes. You need to know before you buy how many investors there are…if the complex or building is complete? (Sound strange? It has happened.)Can the project be expanded beyond its current size? That’s really good. Is there any commercial space designated in the project? This has happened after the fact. Are there any pending lawsuits? Assessments being discussed or forthcoming? Catch my drift?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Download the form or ask your mortgage broker for their company’s questionnaire. Ask the questions, read the documents.Documents, you say?…Discussion on the way!

Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and CondoCanDo in Charlotte, NC

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Condominium Insurance, Part Two

March 27, 2008

Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and CondoCanDo, Charlotte, NC
Condominium Insurance-Part Two

The following is a great excerpt from InmanNews:
“Take this very common situation: a common-element pipe burst, causing major flooding damage throughout the building, including in your unit. The condominium association files its claim against the master policy, and you file your claim with your insurance company. However, each company points it’s finger at the other one, stating that it is the obligation of the other carrier to cover the claim. Often, when faced with this situation,one expert merely tells both agents: "Guys, both the master and the HO-6 policy were issued by the same company, so why not just work it out on your own, and make sure that both the association and the owner are properly compensated for their losses?"
If you own a condominium unit, learn the difference between a unit and the common elements. Remember we often say a condo is the space, the area between the floors and the walls. Common areas are elevators, hallways, roof mechanical equipment, parking garage. And further, consider the pipes that serve only your unit will most likely be considered part of your unit -- even though those pipes go down the walls outside of your unit.
It is important that you understand these concepts. Your association declaration will provide you with this information, but if you get confused with the legal (and architectural) terms, consult the association's property manager, its attorney or even the insurance agent for your building. It is absolutely critical for every owner to carefully read -- and reread periodically -- these legal documents.
If you are renting your unit, you probably will not need protection for your tenant's personal property. However, you still need coverage in case someone gets hurt in your unit, and accordingly should still obtain the HO-6 policy. And you should make it a requirement in your lease that your tenants purchase "renters insurance" -- called an HO-4 policy -- so that they too will have protection in case problems arise.
Damage to condominium units can come from many sources. The hot water hoses in your washer can burn out. Your fireplace chimney can get stuffed up, unable to provide the necessary updraft. Or the rubber seal under your toilet gets worn down.
One never knows when these problems occur. More importantly, disasters are often out of your control. The cost of this insurance is nominal, considering the risk and the exposure involved.

Good Insurance Information at Insurance Information Institute

Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo, Charlotte, NC

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Condominium Insurance, Part One

March 26, 2008
Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo, Charlotte, NC

One more step…Condominium Insurance.

Let’s be precise. This is condominium insurance. Not co-op or town home, but genuine condominium insurance. Good. In every condominium and co-operative and even townhome communities there is a master insurance policy. Each association requires a certain level of insurance. The Lender requires proof of this Master Policy. Further the coverage must be consistent with the legal requirements. The buyer’s lender has a form that is completed by the Home Owner’s Association regarding this policy.
This master policy may not cover your personal loss. The master policy covers the common areas that owners share with others in the building like the roof, elevator, hallways and walkways for both physical damage and liability. If someone takes a tumble, the master policy provides coverage and if a lawsuit ensues, the master policy will also cover the legal costs incurred by the Home Owners Association.If a unit suffers maximum damage, the master policy will bear the expense for the restoration of ceilings and walls. And then there are the grey areas: appliances. Sometimes a master policy will cover them and sometimes not. Remember the deductible and your HOA should know that figure.But…read carefully…any improvements that previous owners or you have made will not be covered. I read this in my insurance brochure, the word is “betterments”. Wallpaper or upgrades in the kitchen or bathroom are not covered. It is better to know this before you need to know this, right? The most common occurrences are the overflowing bath tub or shower: tumbling water into the units below. The Master Policy will repair floors and ceilings…other items that were damaged like that hand woven Greek wall hanging, Persian rug or priceless water color will lack coverage. For those items, you will need your own individual policy. This insurance policy is known as an HO-6 policy. This gives you coverage subject to a deductible for your personal furniture, clothing and “betterments” in your unit.
Depending on your own financial situation, the HO-6 policy can also include such things as reimbursing you for monthly assessments and alternative lodging while you are unable to reside in your unit; water and sewer back-ups (which are all too common especially in older buildings); and even expensive jewelry, stamp or coin collections, or fur coats. You should be able to obtain this kind of policy through any insurance agent
Some associations require that every owner obtain the HO-6 policy, and many experts strongly recommended that every association make this a requirement.
I have read that the best approach is to obtain that policy from the same carrier that issued the master policy.

Condo Insurance, Part Two…Coming Up!
Good insurance information at Insurance Information Institute:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Follow Up Two:Certified Radon Measurement Provider

March 25, 2008

Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo

Latta Pavilion: Following Up with a Certified Radon Measurement Provider

Michael Lewis is a highly qualified inspector with superb credentials and experience. You may check his background and service information at his website:
I received this last night from Michael:

I am often asked “do I have radon in my home?”. The answer is yes. Radon is everywhere. It is the level of the radon and the expose time that is harmful. The EPA suggests that when the level in homes reaches 4.0 Pico curies per liter, remediation is needed. The common levels outside the home are usually 0.4 Pico curies per liter.

What is Radon? Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that is produced by decaying uranium and radium. If it sounds scary, it is. Temperature, wind conditions, and air pressure, as well as behavioral factors, influence ventilation and concentration of radon and its decay products that may build up in a room. Efforts to improve insulation and preserve energy may often times make the situation worse. This means that your efforts to make your home more energy efficient make it harder for your home to breathe.

The use of stony building materials and ground conditions influence indoor concentrations of radon and its decay products. The leakage of radon from the ground shows great variations, and very high indoor concentrations can occur in one house, but not in another, even if located nearby. In general, the leakage of radon from the ground is usually more important than its emanation from stony building materials. Radon can even be located in the water, but is less of a threat than the levels in your environment, such as the home or work place.

The EPA estimates the amount of deaths caused by radon induced lung cancer is about 21,000 per year, second only to deaths caused by drunk drivers. Persons that smoke increase their chances greatly.

To test the levels of radon gas in your home, a certified radon measurement provider should be contacted. If the levels are at 4.0 Pico curies or more, mitigation will be necessary to lower the radon gas levels. For more information go to,

Mecklenburg Inspections, Inc.
Licensed NC and SC Home Inspector
Certified Radon Measurement Provider

As we discover/learn more information about Radon or if there are any further developments regarding Latta Pavillion, I will post them here.

Latta Pavilion: Two Follow-Ups. First, Tracking

March 24, 2008

Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in Charlotte, NC

Latta Pavilion: Two Follow Ups. First, Tracking

When I began my series on Latta Pavilion and Radon, I put out a couple of emails to people in the business. The first reply is from a highly qualified construction professional who works with building condominiums, townhomes, single family homes and large apartment complexes. I asked him how one would begin to track aggregate used in such a project as Latta Pavilion.Here is his reply:
The only way you would be able to track down where the stone came from is to know who the concrete subcontractor was on that job. Then, you'd have to contact that subcontractor and get them to tell you who supplied them with the stone. Then, contact that supplier and ask them where they got their stone during the period of time they supplied to that subcontractor and, most importantly, for that particular job, because a large subcontractor will have several jobs going at once. And they may have an account with one supplier, but that supplier may ship to different jobs from different quarries depending upon the job location. Then, and only then, when you have tracked down which quarry the stone came from, you can then find out which concrete subcontractors the quarry sold to. Then, you'd have to contact those subcontractors and see if they could tell you if the stone they purchased from that quarry was used for slabs or flatwork (sidewalks). If they can tell you specifically slabs, ask them on which projects those slabs were poured.

Yes, it's some back-tracking, and alot of footwork. But that's the only possible way I know that you could track down that sort of information. I hope that helps!Next, I also spoke with a certified Radon Inspector and asked for his overview.

Coming Up Tomorrow: Certified Radon Inspector Comments on Radon