Mon, 31 March 2008
March 31, 2008
Home Owner’s Questionnaire…Here Goes!
Quite often when a new client starts talking about a condo they say, “I don’t want to cut the grass?. And that’s fine as long as they don’t cut out knowing all they can about a condominium complex.
Sun, 30 March 2008
March 30, 2008
Here’s an example: supposing you installed a new furnace and air conditioner two years ago. You thought the contractor was licensed. You assumed the unit was permitted and inspected. It was only when it was sold, inspected by a structural and mechanical inspector and then by a HVAC company that the buyer/seller discovered that the unit had never been permitted, never been inspected and the contractor was not licensed in
You can check property yourself in
Sat, 29 March 2008
March 29, 2008
Fri, 28 March 2008
March 28, 2008
Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and CondoCanDo, Charlotte, NC
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.
Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and CondoCanDo in
Thu, 27 March 2008
March 27, 2008
“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.
Wed, 26 March 2008
March 26, 2008
One more step…Condominium Insurance.
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.
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!
Tue, 25 March 2008
March 25, 2008
Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo
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, www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/hmbyguid.html.
Mecklenburg Inspections, Inc.
Licensed NC and SC Home Inspector
Certified Radon Measurement Provider
Mon, 24 March 2008
March 24, 2008
Latta Pavilion: Two Follow Ups. First, Tracking
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!
Sun, 23 March 2008
§ What is it? Colorless and odorless radioactive gas formed in rock and soil.
§ How does it get in your home or business? Leaks into basement or crawl space from exposed soil, rock. Also is present in building materials such as natural stone or rock.
§ How dangerous is radon? The EPA says radon causes 100 times more deaths than carbon monoxide poisoning. It is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.
§ How to check? EPA-certified radon test kits are available for $20 from hardware, discount stores.
§ How do you cut levels? Seal cracks, openings to prevent from entering via soil; ventilation to carry gas out of a building.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency
Sat, 22 March 2008
In spite of the elevated levels of radon, people are still buying units at Latta Pavilion.
Allen Tate's Dilworth office has sold three units in Latta Pavilion since the radon was found. "We have not worked with any potential buyers who elected not to purchase in this community, based on this knowledge," says Jane Richey, the office branch manager.
Kindbom says Tate has been discussing the radon issue since it was discovered at Latta Pavilion. She says radon tests are not routine in
"It's a fixable problem that's not terribly expensive," Kindbom says. "My hope is that once this is corrected it will be a nonfactor."
Grubb says his company has moved quickly to try to resolve the issue. "We're not trying to hide our head in the sand."
He'd like to move forward with a mitigation plan that includes the fan installation in each unit over the next couple of months. "We'll have to work through whether this is a design issue, construction materials or an engineering issue. That part won't be fun."
Next: GETTING A READ ON RADON
Fri, 21 March 2008
March 21, 2008
Solving the problem
Grubb is involved in a mediation process with Rodgers Builders, the executive board of the Latta Pavilion Condominium Owners Association Inc. and the project's designer, Charlotte-based FMK Architects.
"We have consulted with numerous experts and coordinated professional tests of many units as well as overall airflow in the building," the homeowners association said in a statement sent to the Charlotte Business Journal this week. "Based on what the experts tell us, we believe the primary problem is insufficient airflow between the units and the outside environment."
Association member Buck Lawrimore, owner of a communications firm who is acting as the group's spokesman, declines to comment on the issue.
In the written statement, the association says it's working with Grubb and Rodgers Builders to find a solution. So far, the focus is on installing fans that would funnel the gas out of the building. The cost: $5,000 per unit, or $1.3 million.
Grubb pledges that tenants won't bear any of the expense, but it's not clear who will.
Grubb believes a faulty ventilation system designed by FMK is the cause of the radon problems.
Not so fast, says Allan McGuire, managing principal at the architectural firm. He says his company designed Latta Pavilion to meet the Charlotte-Mecklenburg building codes, and it was constructed accordingly. "Nothing is unique about the Latta Pavilion system that would allow it to contain radon over other systems we have done."
Fong says he's unaware of any similar problem in a building in
McGuire says Grubb is ultimately responsible for delivering a safe building.
Rodgers Builders executives did not return calls.
"It's a weird, perfect storm of strange occurrences that are causing this," says Sandy Kindbom, who heads the uptown office of Allen Tate Realtors. Tate is the primary sales representative for Latta Pavilion and
Caught up in that storm are condo owners such as Brian Cowman, who moved into his $370,000 Latta Pavilion unit a couple of months ago, before the radon issue came to light.
Cowman says he's not concerned about the short-term health impact. He is worried about the potential damage to the value of his unit. "If you have place one and place two and there is an issue at one, you are going to choose place two."
There are currently 22 units in Latta Pavilion and the adjacent
While residents do have a justifiable concern about resale values,
The state's real estate license law imposes upon real estate agents the duty to disclose material facts about the properties they list. But those rules do not apply to the seller.
Next: Still selling
Thu, 20 March 2008
March 20, 2008
Grubb forwarded the results to contractor Rodgers Builders Inc., the original Latta Pavilion contractor.
Bill Brodhead, president of Riegelsville, Pa.-based radon-mitigation service WPB Enterprises, was brought in by Rodgers to analyze the severity of the problem and to help find a cure. "We know there is a situation there. I can't answer who, where or when."
Because of local soil conditions,
The gas can also come from building materials such as concrete or stone fireplaces.
Brodhead found radon readings in Latta Pavilion units ranging from 5 to 10 picocuries per liter, the unit of measurement that quantifies radioactive particles. The EPA says radon is dangerous in the home at 4 picocuries per liter.
He sent the results to Felix Fong, radon program manager for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources' division of radiation protection in
Fong's explanation: The radon could be generated from the building materials inside the units. Radon is typically concentrated in areas with lots of granite, shale and phosphate in the soil. So building materials such as concrete or stone that originated from an area where radon occurs naturally at high levels would be a possible source.
If the radon in Latta Pavilion is coming primarily from building materials, Fong says the fix will not be easy. "Radon is a mysterious thing. It can slip in any crack or hole of a house."
Not so mysterious is the need to find a fix -- and someone to pay for it.
In a unit where the level of radon measures 8 picocuries, the chance for that resident to develop lung cancer is 14 out of 1,000, Fong estimates. By comparison, a pack-a-day smoker faces a 50 in 1,000 chance of developing lung cancer.
Wed, 19 March 2008
March 19, 2008
A colorless, odorless and potentially lethal gas has invaded the high-profile Dilworth complex, which is populated by condo owners, office workers, shoppers and two medical practices.
And while Latta Pavilion developer Grubb Properties Inc. promises to clean up the radon that is coursing through the building at levels at least twice what is considered safe, there's still a question about what exactly is causing the problem.
Getting rid of the gas is not going to be easy. Neither will be deciding who is ultimately responsible. And for owners of condos in the six-year-old building, the question isn't just how their property values are going to be affected. There's also concern about how long they've been exposed to the gas, which the Environmental Protection Agency says is the second-leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking.
The level of radon found at Latta Pavilion is anything but typical for
"At first, we didn't believe it," he says.
The company had sold more than 250 condos in the complex since it opened in 2002. None of the buyers had tested for radon. Neither had any of the office or retail tenants that occupy the first two floors of the building at East Boulevard and Scott Avenue.
It wasn't until a potential corporate client inquired about a condo that radon was on anyone's checklist. The company is based in the Northeast, where radon testing is part of the normal real estate purchase process.
The company's testing found radon. Lots of it.
Coming Up: Taking Measure.
Tue, 18 March 2008
March 18, 2008
Mon, 17 March 2008
March 17, 2008
Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo,
March. In like a Lion out like a lamb. ..
Sometimes, I feel compelled to speak out about what I see and hear. Sometimes,
I think being quiet and patient is more peaceful, but more and more I am learning
that faster is not necessarily better, skipping up the steps is not always prudent and
being as thorough as one can be is probably old fashioned. But as I approach my
70th year, I feel an obligation if only to myself to have conversations with myself
about this real estate business. Because while I never said when I was a little girl
that I wanted to be a real estate broker, it has been the perfect vocation for me in
this city I love so well and have for so long.
What are we thinking? For decades it was a requirement to have a termite inspection. Once I helped a buyer with a two bedroom condominium downtown in The Poplar on the fifth floor. Their mortgage company required a termite letter. It was an FHA loan.
Today, many of the lenders do not require a termite inspection for condominium, town home or single family home. Nothing. ln this city of trees with our usually high water table, termites must gather monthly to laugh and buzz over this latest non-requirement as they munch away on walls of homes built on slabs, the crawl spaces in older and newer homes, the garages, the thresholds and on. I think having a termite inspector at the home with the structural inspector was one of the best protocols we used to follow. And many of us still do. Regardless. And not so much with condominiums...depending.
Cheaper. Better. Faster. I have lived in my home for over four decades and maintenance is like rearing twins. It is a full time job. Painting and cleaning, and caulking and repairing wooden siding and wooden deck and wooden ramp. I know sometimes I wished I would have taken the leap and paid $15 a month more for all brick. ..but as a woman, I was lucky to get a mortgage at all. I might have looked twice at vinyl, but even then, only twice. Now I see instances where wind damage is greater, fire damage is more prevalent because of smaller, closer homesites. The latest wrinkle I learned from a super on a construction site: a home is wrapped thoroughly, the vinyl is installed and the pocket between the wrap and the vinyl can retain moisture. Sound healthy? Insert wheezing and coughing here.
And while crawling around in crawl spaces with the mold guys, I learned that the up and coming thing might be to have a crawl space without vents, no air, no light, and a sump-pump...this new theory is probably based on the dollar. It is not based on a simple theory of fresh air. That is my septuagenarian belief.
Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in gorgeous Charlotte, N.C.
Sun, 16 March 2008
March 16, 2008
Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo in
So you can take it all in.