In a world where litigation is the preferred method of resolving even the most minor conflicts, it should come as no surprise to real estate agents that they are increasingly finding themselves named as defendants in lawsuits wherein purchasers of residential real estate are claiming damages as the result of the alleged fraud and/or negligence of one or more of the participants in the transaction.
Aggrieved purchasers of residential real estate are operating in a target-rich environment and have a remarkable array of potentially responsible parties from which to seek financial redress for their claimed grievances. In lawsuit after lawsuit, one finds multiple defendants: the sellers, the sellers’ agent, the sellers’ agent’s broker, the buyers’ agent, the buyers’ agent’s broker, the home inspector, the pest inspector, and so on. The alleged grievances can include multiple counts, as well: fraud, negligence, breach of contract, etc.
Once a lawsuit has been filed and you have been named as a defendant, you can kiss your E&O deductible goodbye, even if you are blameless, which, in the overwhelming majority of instances, you are, because the overwhelming majority of these types of lawsuits is completely devoid of merit. The size of these complaints and the sheer number of their allegations guarantee it. No competent lawyer could possibly read and respond to the vastly overblown pleadings that normally characterize these types of lawsuits for anything close to the typical real estate agent’s E&O deductible.
Therefore, the best strategy is to avoid being named in the suit in the first place. Fortunately, there are a number of effective policies that, if followed, can sharply reduce and even eliminate your exposure to being named in a meritless lawsuit.
Lawsuits resulting from a residential real estate transaction almost always result from a feeling on the buyers’ part that they got less than they bargained for. After they moved into the property, they discovered that it was not all that it was cracked up to be. Sometimes, the alleged defects were present at the time of the home inspection but, for one reason or another, were not discovered during the home inspection. The fact that the alleged defects were not discovered by the home inspector does not automatically mean that the home inspector was negligent or that you were negligent for recommending the inspector -- in fact, far from it.
There could be a number of reasons why the alleged defect was not discovered at the inspection that fall well short of actionable negligence. The defect could be something that is not discovered because its inspection is simply not contemplated by the home inspection, such as a determination of the adequacy of any structural system or component, for example. Such a determination is outside the scope of a home inspection. Or it could be something that is not reported because it was concealed by furniture on the day of the inspection, or was located in an area that was inaccessible. Not infrequently, known defects are deliberately concealed by the sellers. And far more frequently than anyone would imagine, the alleged defect that is the subject of the buyers’ complaint was actually discovered by the home inspector and noted in the inspection report, but not acted upon by the buyers because they did not bother to read the inspection report.
Therefore, when selecting a home inspector for your client, you should bear uppermost in your mind that the home inspector is your first line of defense against a meritless negligence claim.
Top Ten Ways You Can Sharply Reduce Your Professional Liability Exposure:
Speed up your home sale by preparing your home ahead of time using the following tips. Your home inspection will go smoother, with fewer concerns to delay closing.
Septic systems treat and disperse relatively small volumes of wastewater from individual and small numbers of homes and commercial buildings. Septic system regulation is usually a state and local responsibility. The EPA provides information to homeowners and assistance to state and local governments to improve the management of septic systems to prevent failures that could harm human health and water quality.
Information for Homeowners:
If your septic tank failed, or you know someone whose did, you are not alone. As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining your septic system. Proper septic system maintenance will help keep your system from failing and will help maintain your investment in your home. Failing septic systems can contaminate the ground water that you and your neighbors drink and can pollute nearby rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
Ten simple steps you can take to keep your septic system working properly:
A typical septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a drainfield, and the soil. Microbes in the soil digest and remove most contaminants from wastewater before it eventually reaches groundwater. The septic tank is a buried, watertight container typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. It holds the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle out (forming sludge), and oil and grease to float to the surface (as scum). It also allows partial decomposition of the solid materials. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet in the septic tank prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drainfield area. Screens are also recommended to keep solids from entering the drainfield. The wastewater exits the septic tank and is discharged into the drainfield for further treatment by the soil. Micro-organisms in the soil provide final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients.
Your septic system is your responsibility!
Did you know that, as a homeowner, you’re responsible for maintaining your septic system? Did you know that maintaining your septic system protects your investment in your home? Did you know that you should periodically inspect your system and pump out your septic tank? If properly designed, constructed and maintained, your septic system can provide long-term, effective treatment of household wastewater. If your septic system isn’t maintained, you might need to replace it, costing you thousands of dollars. A malfunctioning system can contaminate groundwater that might be a source of drinking water. And if you sell your home, your septic system must be in good working order.
You should have your septic system inspected at least every three years by a professional, and have your tank pumped as necessary (generally every three to five years).
Use water efficiently...
Average indoor water use in the typical single-family home is almost 70 gallons per person per day. Dripping faucets can waste about 2,000 gallons of water each year. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons each day. The more water a household conserves, the less water enters the septic system.
Dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, and other kitchen and bathroom waste can clog and potentially damage septic system components. Flushing household chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, anti-freeze and paint can stress or destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system, as well as contaminate surface waters and groundwater.
How do I maintain my septic system?
A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected (at least every three years) is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system. Your system will need pumping every three to five years, depending on how many people live in the house and the size of the system. An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property’s value and could pose a legal liability. Other good reasons for safe treatment of sewage include preventing the spread of infection and disease, and protecting water resources. Typical pollutants in household wastewater are nitrogen phosphorus, and disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Nitrogen and phosphorus are aquatic plant nutrients that can cause unsightly algae blooms. Excessive nitrate-nitrogen in drinking water can cause pregnancy complications, as well as methemoglobinemia (also known as "blue baby syndrome") in infancy. Pathogens can cause communicable diseases through direct or indirect body contact, or ingestion of contaminated water or shellfish. If a septic system is working properly, it will effectively remove most of these pollutants.
Deadly Mistake #1: Thinking you can't afford it.
Many people who thought that buying the home they wanted was simply out of their reach are now enjoying a new lifestyle in their very own homes.
Buying a home is the smartest financial decision you will ever make. In fact, most homeowners would be broke at retirement if it wasn't for one saving grace -- the equity in their homes. Furthermore, tax allowances favor home ownership.
Real estate values have always risen steadily. Of course, there are peaks and valleys, but the long-term trend is a consistent increase. This means that every month when you make a mortgage payment, the amount that you owe on the home goes down and the value typically increases. This "owe less, worth more" situation is called equity build-up and is the reason you can't afford not to buy.
Even if you have little money for a down payment or credit problems, chances are that you can still buy that new home. It just comes down to knowing the right strategies, and working with the right people. See below.
Deadly Mistake #2: Not hiring a buyer's agent to represent you.
Buying property is a complex and stressful task. In fact, it is often the biggest, single investment you will make in your lifetime. At the same time, real estate transactions have become increasingly complicated. New technology, laws, procedures, and competition from other buyers require buyer agents to perform at an ever-increasing level of competence and professionalism. In addition, making the wrong decisions can end up costing you thousands of dollars. It doesn't have to be this way!
Work with a buyer's agent who has a keen understanding of the real estate business and the local market. A buyer's agent has a fiduciary duty to you. That means that he or she is loyal only to you and is obligated to look out for your best interests. A buyer's agent can help you find the best home, the best lender, and the best home inspector in your area. That inspector should be an InterNACHI-certified home inspector because InterNACHI inspectors are the most qualified and best-trained inspectors in the world.
Trying to buy a home without an agent or a qualified inspector is, well... unthinkable.
Deadly Mistake #3: Getting a cheap inspection.
Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make. This is no time to shop for a cheap inspection. The cost of a home inspection is small relative to the value of the home being inspected. The additional cost of hiring a certified inspector is almost insignificant by comparison. As a home buyer, you have recently been crunching the numbers, negotiating offers, adding up closing costs, shopping for mortgages, and trying to get the best deals. Don't stop now! Don't let your real estate agent, a "patty-cake" inspector, or anyone else talk you into skimping here.
InterNACHI front-ends its membership requirements. InterNACHI turns down more than half the inspectors who want to join because they can't fulfill the membership requirements.
InterNACHI-certified inspectors perform the best inspections, by far. InterNACHI-certified inspectors earn their fees many times over. They do more, they deserve more and -- yes -- they generally charge a little more. Do yourself a favor...and pay a little more for the quality inspection you deserve.
I recommend getting a home inspection with your real estate purchase.A solid home inspection can save you from costly home repairs and unseen problems.You cannot get your home inspection payment back after ordering an inspection but, is it better to pay for an inspection or find out after you buy the property that you need a new $10,000 roof or septic system?It is helpful to know the structural integrity of the property your buying and little things you might need to repair that you never thought of.Hows the roof?What type of plumbing system do I have?Any signs of water intrusion?How much is it gonna cost me?The home inspector will go over everything he finds in person with you at the property if you like and also he will give you a detailed written report so you have it in writing.Its up to you as the home buyer ultimately.If you don't get one it can cost you in the long run
A kitchen refrigerator is an appliance that consists of a thermally insulated compartment and a heat pump, which transfers heat from the refrigerator's interior to its external environment. The refrigerator's interior is cooled to a temperature below the ambient air temperature. Refrigeration is essential for storing food, and the cool temperature of the refrigerator's interior helps slow the growth of micro-organisms to prevent spoilage.
The slightly warm air inside the refrigerator comes in contact with the chilled coils and transfers its heat to the gas refrigerant flowing inside the cooling coils. This results in the cabinet interior and its contents to cool down. The warmed refrigerant flows to the compressor, which pressurizes and heats it up. The “squeezed” hot refrigerant leaves the compressor as a super-heated gas that flows to the condenser coils on the back-side of the refrigerator. As the gas flows through the condenser coils, the gas releases its heat to the surrounding air. That’s why it’s warm behind the refrigerator. The refrigerant then cools and condenses into a liquid. The liquid line terminates at the refrigerant control, the capillary tube, which controls the amount of refrigeration that goes to the cooling coils of the evaporator. When the liquid enters the capillary tube, the liquid pressure drops due to a very small diameter of the capillary. The refrigerant leaves the refrigerant control and enters a low pressure environment of the evaporator. Moving through the cooling coils, the refrigerant continues its job of absorbing heat from the food inside the refrigerator. Styles & Features Some common types of refrigerators include the following:
Some common features include:
According to the InterNACHI Standards of Practice (nachi.org/sop), the inspector is not required to inspect or move appliances. However, appliance inspection is required by some states' SOPs, and some inspectors offer appliance inspection as part of their standard home inspection. So, it's useful to understand how common household appliances function. The inspector may attempt to inspect the refrigerator using normal operating controls. A full and comprehensive inspection may need to be deferred to a qualified expert. However, the inspector may exert his/her best effort by referring to the owner's manual (if available) to determine the proper condition and operation of the appliance in order to report any apparent deficiencies, whose further evaluation and repair (if required) must be deferred to a qualified professional.
The inspector may report as deficient:
The refrigerator should maintain an interior temperature of 40° F or less. The freezer should maintain an interior temperature below 32° F.
Most home refrigerators weigh between 200 and 450 pounds, and some models weight up to 875 pounds.
Current U.S. refrigerator models that are ENERGY STAR-qualified use 50% less energy than the average models made in 1974. The most energy-efficient units made in the U.S. consume about one-half a kilowatt-hour per day. Large refrigerators, especially those with large freezers and ice makers, may use as much as 4 kWh per day.
Check the refrigerator inside and out, paying special attention to any areas corresponding to indications of damage. Look carefully for dents and scratches on both the interior and exterior of the refrigerator.
Open and close the refrigerator and freezer doors to check their operation. Check that the door lights come on and that the doors close evenly and tightly with the frame of the refrigerator. Inspect the gasket material of the door. The door should close and seal tightly, with no gaps that could allow cold air to escape. Door gaskets should not be torn, twisted, or otherwise out of shape to assure that they make a tight seal. Gaskets can be replaced and are not too expensive, but if they need to be replaced, this should lower the price of the used refrigerator.
This blog is to help people better understand their home inspection. It is filled with great in depth advice. If you'd like a topic covered just send us an email on what you need more information on!