Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Q: I am really confused about the seller’s disclosure form.

We have read some of these as we’ve been looking at homes to buy and often the form isn’t complete or the little boxes aren’t checked.  It says on the form that any answers that have an asterisk next to them have to be explained in a separate sheet of paper.  We’ve only seen one that really did that.  How are we supposed to trust what the seller says if the form is not complete or there are all kinds of scratched out answers?

A: This is one of my hot buttons, I can tell you.  Most of the attorneys for the real estate firms and associations caution brokers against helping the sellers fill out these forms.  However, I would really hope that they would at least review the filled out form and call attention to incomplete answers, obviously incorrect answers, and require that the sellers fill out a separate page when needed.
I recommend that as a buyer, you never trust these answers. Not because the sellers are lying or can’t be trusted, but because people often fill this form out incorrectly and sometimes don’t even understand the questions.  I just reviewed a sellers disclosure that had more than half of the questions left blank.  The seller is required to answer all of the questions.  A buyer can even get out of a sale based on an incomplete form.  So you would think they would be more careful. Common mistakes include things like a seller saying they are on a public water system when they really have their own well. That can make a difference.   Or stating that they did some recent remodeling but don’t know if they got permits. Buyers should do their own homework to check for things that concern them over and above relying on the seller’s disclosure.  Good examples of issues some buyers would care about that a seller might not think are important would be heavy traffic noise.  A child care or animal boarding facility next door might be another.  You get the idea. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Some Quick Tips To get Ready For Winter!

I’m always asked to repeat this list from year to year to help you get ready for winter:

1. Clean the gutters! Water can penetrate under your roofing and even into your walls and can cause serious mold problems. Plus, water can gush straight down into your crawl space from full gutters encouraging flooding.
2. If you haven’t done it already, call the heating and cooling contractors and have your furnace serviced and cleaned for the year. This is critical if you use a fuel like oil, propane or natural gas. This makes your furnace safer, but also saves you big bucks by running more efficiently.
3. Be sure you’re ready for power outages. A generator is fine, especially for pumping your well and running the refrigerator but frankly, a few days without the TV is good for you! Use battery or propane lamps, a battery powered radio for weather news and be sure you’ve stored plenty of food and water.
4. Clean decks and walkways so the moss build-up won’t be too slippery. Consider putting non-skid strips or outdoor carpet on slick stairs.
5. Look around your yard for objects that can get lost under a few inches of snow. You don’t want to lose the dog’s favorite ball and you sure don’t want to step on a rake you forgot was there!
6. Have your car serviced and checked out for winter driving. Have ice scraping tools in the car as well as jackets and a warm blanket in the trunk in case you get stranded.
7. Try not to use portable heaters in the house, but if you must, then unplug them when you leave home. They are a major cause of fires.
8. Clean dryer vents and range vents which are also fire hazards.
9. Have the chimney cleaned if you have a wood stove or fireplaces. They are another major source of house fires.
10. Go to online for a check list for everything you need to know about weather related and other emergencies.