Welcome! This blog tracks the real estate market in the Central Shenandoah Valley, featuring market data and analysis, an exploration of common buying and selling questions, and candid commentary on all things real estate.
If you are interested in discussing any of the topics on this blog, or the details of your specific real estate situation, call or e-mail me!
If you're buying a home built before 1978, you must know that your new home may very well have paint that contains lead (lead-based paint). This type of paint can be hazardous to your health -- especially if paint chips are ingested, or if dust from lead-based paint is breathed. Lead-based paint is more dangerous for children than adults because they are more likely to put their hands in their mouths, their bodies absorb more lead, and because their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.
So, what's a buyer to do?
I have worked with buyer clients who decided not to buy a home built before 1978 because they didn't want to live with the possibility that lead might exist in the paint. If you see this issue in that way, it's probably not worthwhile to even go look at potential homes if they are built prior to 1978.
Other clients that I have worked with are comfortable buying a home built before 1978, but thoroughly educate themselves on the risks and the precautions they should take.
The principal fact to remember is that if you are engaging in renovations or remodeling that will disturb the paint (chipping, scraping, sanding), then you need to take precautions to protect yourself and your family.
But what about the contract?
An astute home buyer will realize that the sales contract allows them to test for lead. I haven't had a buyer engage in this testing, so I'm not too familiar with the process, but if you're buying a 1950's home, it wouldn't seem to me that you'd need to do testing to determine whether lead-based paint was present in the home.
Here are some additional resources from the EPA that may be helpful for you.
My brother-in-law works for the Harrisonburg City Police, which makes me feel safe, but let's check another source....
Sperling's Best Places ranks cities and towns on factors such as cost of living, schools, crime, climate, and more. In the fifth annual report, Harrisonburg ranks #8 for small towns (less than 150,000 residents)!
How is this all determined?
According to BestPlaces.net... "The rankings took into consideration crime statistics, extreme weather, risk of natural disasters, environmental hazards, terrorism threats, air quality, life expectancy and job loss numbers in 379 U.S. municipalities."
OK --- so the typical smoke alarm isn't all that visually obtrusive --- but it is when compared to Kidde's Silhouette smoke alarm!
This low-profile smoke alarm protrudes less than half an inch from the ceiling, blending in much more nicely than a traditionally shaped smoke alarm. Furthermore, it uses a rechargeable battery that will last the life of the alarm! No more changing the batteries when the alarm starts beeping!
Yesterday, I wrote an article that talked about the costs and challenges of residential fire sprinklers, given that they may soon be required on all new single family homes and townhomes. Some of the data that I provided was provided by the National Association of Home Builders, who are not in favor of residential code requiring the installation of fire sprinklers.
Today, I received from feedback from two individuals who are advocating for mandatory residential fire sprinklers:
In its September meeting, the International Code Council will be considering a change to the International Residential Code which would mandate the installation of sprinklers in all new single family homes and townhouses.
At first you might think "why not mandate sprinklers, if they'd make our families and our homes safer!?"
But before we encourage our local building inspectors to vote for this change to the IRC, let's take a look at some of the technical and cost issues involved:
What do you think?
As I work with buyers to prepare contracts to purchase, we spend some time reviewing the 30 paragraphs of the standard Virginia purchase contract. If you will be buying a home in the next year, it is o.k. to wait to review the majority of the contract until the time at which we are ready to submit an offer --- except, perhaps, paragraph 23.
Paragraph 23 of Virginia's standard purchase contract states:
"NOTICE TO PURCHASER(S): Purchaser should exercise whatever due diligence Purchaser deems necessary with respect to information on sexual offenders registered under Chapter 23 (sec19.2-987 et seq.) of Title 19. Such information may be obtained by contacting your local police department or the Department of State Police, Central Records Exchange at (804) 674-2000 or www.vsp.state.va.us."
If you wait to review that paragraph until we are getting ready to sign an offer to purchase, you don't leave yourself much time to conduct any due diligence, because this paragraph does not say:
"and if, after the contract is signed, you find out that sexual offenders live in the house next door to the one you are purchasing, you are welcome to change your mind about buying the house."
If it is important to you to buy a home in an area where there are not a high number of sexual offenders (currently) living, you ought to do your research before we start looking at homes for sale.
The good news is that the Virginia State Police web site is a fantastic resource for learning about sexual offenders in our community. You can search by zip code, county, city, name, or map. And once you get to the search results you can view the names, addresses, crimes and photos of registered sex offenders. You will also find some great frequently asked questions on the VSP site.
If you haven't already figured it out, the image at the top of this post is the map search result for Harrisonburg --- each red balloon shows the home address of a registered sex offender.
Again -- if it is important to you to buy a home in an area where there are not a high number of sexual offenders (currently) living, you ought to do your research before we start looking at homes for sale.
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Commonwealth of Virginia
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