Years ago, thirteen to be exact, I was buying a seven year old home and I remember my real estate agent telling me I needed to have a radon test done. One factor was two of my children would be living in the bedrooms in the basement. I need to have it tested for what? What was radon and why did it matter? Ends up it is pretty common in some areas of the country, especially in Colorado, and it can be pretty harmful...deadly, in fact I had no idea at the time! Although radon is more commonly known about these days, many people still are confused as to what it is and the harm it can cause.
What is radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in almost all soils. It usually moves up through the ground, into the air, and on up into your home through cracks and other holes in your foundation. Your home traps radon inside causing it can build up. Any home may have a radon problem and it doesn't really matter if it is a new home, well-sealed, or does not have a basement.
Radon usually comes from soil gas but it sometimes can enter your home through well water (see www.epa.gov/radon/rnwater.html). Building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves but it can happen in a small number of cases.
I won't bore you with too many scientific details but it is an extremely toxic, colorless gas that can be condensed to a transparent liquid and to an opaque, glowing solid. It is derived from the radioactive decay of radium and is used in cancer treatment, as a tracer in leak detection, and in radiography.
So why does it matter?
Radon is the second leading overall cause of lung cancer and, according to the EPA, is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. That is some pretty scary stuff! Radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year and of those, about 2900 are non-smokers. That means this is not something you can just ignore especially consider it is something caused in your home! (https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon#head)
The DOs with regard to radon
1. Get a radon test done. Whether you are buying a new or old home or just staying in your current home, it is best do a radon test. The test is non-invasive and is usually a small testing unit set up on a tri-pod in the lowest part of your home. Although you can go in and out of your doors, for the several days the indicator is in your home, you should not leave doors and windows open because they can affect readings making them inaccurate.
2. Seal cracks and other openings. This is a start to reducing radon, but according to the EPA, merely sealing, although it can limit radon entry, should not be you only method of lowering radon levels.
3. Have a mitigation system installed. You do not need to make major changes to your home and can sometimes be put into crawl spaces. The system prevents radon gas from entering the home from below the concrete floor and from outside the foundation. Radon mitigation contractors would be the best ones to determine the best method and place to install the system.
4. Have your home retested . Once the system is installed, but sure to have your home retested to make sure it is doing its job. Be sure to retest your home every few years as levels can change and additional measures may be needed to mitigate its entrance into your home.
If you would like any additional information on radon, home inspection items, and other real estate questions, please contact me and we can talk in more detail and buy or sell your castle.
As an agent, I hear it all the time, "Do I really need to 'stage' my house? Won't the right person walk in and just love it just as it is?" Well, yes, that is possible but not for the majority of people. People may love your home but you need to set the "stage" so they can see themselves living there. They need to see it as their home with their things. Staging does not mean you have to buy new things. There are simple ways to get your home ready.
1. Clean up the Clutter. We all collect things and often times they end up in the storage, garage, or closet because we just know one day we will use it. Now, four years later, not only have you not used it, but you forgot you even had it!
* Needed: Three tubs - Save, storage, and give-away & trash bags
* Set a timer for an hour
* Start in one corner of the room you want to declutter
* Ready....go! After an hour, take a break, and go again until the area is finished
2. Depersonalize. Yes, your wedding was beautiful and your oldest was adorable when she was a toddler. The problem with not putting away the photos and personal items is the buyer pictures you in the home and we want them to see themselves living there. Although it may be difficult to do, pack up the photos and put them away.
3. Clean. This is the most inexpensive way to stage your home. You want the buyer to see the beautiful counter and not the dust. Clean the baseboards, the corners and the ceiling fans. This is like spring cleaning to the extreme. Don't forget the windows, inside and out! Bathrooms and kitchens are where many buyers focus so be sure to give them a lot of care. Buyers will look in drawers, closets, ovens, under beds, and in the refrigerator so don't forget them. Just because you can shut a door doesn't mean it might not be seen.
4. Neutralize. Your son's favorite team was the Broncos so it only made sense to paint his room orange and blue. He loved it! New buyers might not and even though painting may seem to be an easy and inexpensive project for new buyers, it can make or break a deal. Buyers often do not want to walk into a home and instantly feel the need to paint, clean, etc. unless it is a flip house. Painting is a very inexpensive way to stage. Use neutral colors. Gray is the "in" color right now with buyers moving away from tans and beiges.
5. Modernize. Most people could use some updating in their home. Even changing small things like cabinet handles from gold to chrome or nickel can make a difference in how modern a room can appear. Some appliances can have an overlay that appears to be stainless steel applied to the front for a cleaner look. There are even special paints to use. If you can, replacing the appliances completely with stainless steel will not only give the kitchen a cleaner look, but also the buyers will be told there are new appliances in the home. - one less thing for them to worry about and possibly a higher offer for your home.
Obviously there are many other ways to stage but if money is tight, these are some good things to start with. If you would like more information on selling your home and how to prepare, get in touch with me and we can talk about the process and options.
You found your dream castle, your house is under contract, and things are moving forward. You close on both homes in two months. You are going to have extra money after down payment on the new home. Perfect timing to spend that cash on new things for your new house, right? Well, you might not want to start charging those cards to the max just yet! Some things are "warning signs" that can hurt your credit scores and the interest rate of your new loan.
Here are a few things you DON'T want to do when applying for a loan
1. Do NOT apply for a new credit card. You walk into that furniture store and wow! That couch would go perfectly in the new house! A new home means you need a new couch! "Would you like to open a credit card with us and save 10% today?" It IS an expensive item so and you will have some extra cash to spend and pay it off in a few month so, sure! It is best to wait.
2. Do NOT pay off collections. This seems a bit contrary to what would seem to be something that would help your credit score, but believe it or not, it can actually hurt.
3. Do NOT change jobs. Even if it pays more, if you can, do not change jobs. Having a work history and stability for the prior two years is more desirable.
4. Do NOT co-sign on a debt for someone else. This will show as an additional debt for you and could affect your credit scores.
5. Do NOT miss a payment. You may not think it matters now since it will all be paid off in a few months, but just missing one payment can affect your credit score and loan rate.
As always, talk to your loan officer about any changes that you may want or need to make. If you have legal issues that may effect your credit score or loan rates (i.e. divorce), be sure to also speak with an attorney as well.
I am a real estate broker, attorney and mediator. I am blogging from my own ideas and perspective. Although I am a licensed attorney, these are not intended to be legal advise.