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Pillar To Post Newsletter Volume 21, No. 6

The Ultimate Home Inspection Experience

Pillar To Post Home Inspection Packages include even more exclusive and innovative features than ever.
These new services deliver speed, ease and convenience, getting you to closings faster, saving you time, and
delighting your clients.

Standard with every Home Inspection:

PTP360*


Interactive 360° Visual Inspection Summary

  • Brings the inspection report to life
  • Includes every room and the exterior
  • Accessible any time

PTPEstimates*

Powered by PunchList


Cost estimate for Inspection Summary items

  • Learn what recommended repairs will cost
  • Estimate based on local costs
  • Request an estimate with just a click

Also included with Premium and Prestige Packages:

PTPFloorPlan


An accurate floor plan of the entire home

  • Use to determine furniture fit and placement
  • Share dimensions with contractors for estimating

PTPHomeManual

Powered by Centriq


The digital owner’s manual for the home

  • Download user manuals/warranty information
  • Find safety recalls on appliances
  • Indicates age and useful remaining life of systems

Home Inspection At Its Best


Technology coupled with deep knowledge allows us to provide an exceptional home inspection delivered within a seamless brand experience. This experience, and the people who deliver it, has made Pillar To Post North America’s largest home inspection company.

SAFE AT HOME

7 Tips For Holiday & Winter Fire Safety


Taking some simple precautions around the home can
help keep your family safe during the holidays, especially
when it comes to decorating.

  1. Always use non-flammable decorations both indoors and outdoors.
  2. Check holiday light strands for damaged or broken wires and plugs. Enjoy indoor lights only while someone is at home and turn them off before going to bed.
  3. Keep live Christmas trees in a water-filled stand and check daily for dehydration. Dried-out trees are extremely dangerous and should be discarded immediately.
  4. Candles add lovely ambience to your holiday home. Place them in stable holders and keep them away from flammable items, drafts, pets and children.
  5. Children should not have access to or be allowed to use matches, lighters or candles.
  6. Keep space heaters away from bedding, curtains, paper—anything flammable. Never leave a space heater unattended while in use.
  7. Busy with holiday cooking and baking? Kitchen fires are leading cause of house fires. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach and know how to use it. Here’s to enjoying a happy and safe holiday season!

HOME MAINTENANCE

How To Hire A handyman


Whether it’s a big project such as a bathroom remodel, something small like putting up shelves, or repairs and routine maintenance, many homeowners turn to handymen to get the job done. Here are our favorite tips to ensure that you choose the right person for the job:

  1. MAKE SURE THEY’RE QUALIFIED
    Certain projects require specific skills that all handymen may not have. Professional licenses may be required to perform certain work. Electrical and plumbing often fall into this category.
  2. ASK FOR REFERENCES
    Online referral sites can give you a good indication of overall customer satisfaction. You can also ask the handyman for references from previous customers. Ask about the quality of the work, timeliness, professionalism and how satisfied they were with their project.
  3. CHECK ON INSURANCE COVERAGE
    Ask for evidence of liability insurance coverage before agreeing to any work. If the handyman or another worker is injured while working on your property, you may be held liable for medical costs.
  4. GET WRITTEN ESTIMATES AND A CONTRACT
    Ideally, ask three handymen for written estimates for the work you have in mind. Be sure that each estimate contains enough detail so that you can make an accurate comparison. Read all contracts carefully and ask about anything that you are unsure of.
  5. DETERMINE THE PAYMENT SCHEDULE BEFORE YOU SIGN
    Asking for 100% payment up front is not an accepted business practice and could leave you open to fraud. Handymen will often ask for 50% when the contract is signed, which will allow them to purchase materials for the job and assure them that you’re committed. Request receipts for all payments and keep them for your records.

HOME MAINTENANCE

Home Sweet Home Security


We all love coming home to a place where we feel safe. Here are some tips for keeping your home, family and belongings secure.

Secure Entrances – Thoroughly evaluate all entry points to your home. Make sure all doors have a secure lock and reinforce the door frames. Windows should be closed and locked at all times when you are away.

Secure Lighting – Lighting is a basic but important crime deterrent. Indoor lights can thwart intruders by creating the appearance that the house is occupied when you’re not home. Strategically placed outdoor lights create visibility and minimize the places crooks can hide at night.

Secure Garage – Garages are a favorite target for thieves because they contain easy-to-sell valuables like bicycles, tools and sports equipment. Garages can also provide easy access into the home. Keep all garage windows and access doors securely locked. Look into installing tempered glass in windows, or cover the inside of the windows with a sheet of durable polycarbonate.

Security System – There are lots of options available for homeowners who want to take this extra precaution.

The latest systems can be operated using a mobile device and/or smart speaker, allowing you to arm the system and remotely monitor indoor sensors and outdoor security cameras. More conventional alarm systems include third-party monitoring and unmonitored alarms that simply make a loud noise when triggered.

YOUR HEALTHY HOME

Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide


Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is caused by fuel-burning sources such as furnaces, water heaters, generators, stoves and even fireplaces, and can result in illness or death. Take these precautions to help prevent a tragedy in your home:

  • stall CO detectors and learn what to do if an alarm activates. This is the most important step you can take!
  • Don’t use a gas stove or oven to heat the home, even temporarily.
  • Never use camp stoves or charcoal grills indoors.
  • Generators must only be used outdoors and kept at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and vents. Do not operate a generator in a garage.
  • Make sure furnaces, water heaters, gas dryers, stoves and ovens are properly vented to the outside.
  • Never start or idle a vehicle in a closed garage.
  • Have the chimney swept and inspected annually by a certified professional.

Thousands of people are accidentally poisoned each year by carbon monoxide, and hundreds die. Be proactive and lower the risk to yourself and your loved ones.

Experience the Pillar To Post Difference. Schedule a home inspection today!

Fire Alarm Smarts

Smoke alarms are an important defense against injury or death in house fires. Here’s what you need to know:

  • As in real estate, location is key! Smoke alarms should be in installed every bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the home.
  • It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement, whether on the wall or ceiling. High, peaked ceilings have dead air space at the top; in these instances smoke alarms should be placed no closer than 3 feet from the highest point.
  • There are two primary types of smoke alarm technology: ionization and photoelectric. According to the National Fire Protection Association, ionization alarms are more responsive to flames, while photoelectric alarms are more sensitive to smoldering fires. For the most comprehensive protection, both types or a combination unit should be installed.
  • A common rule of thumb is to replace alarm batteries when changing to or from Daylight Saving Time in fall or spring. Many newer alarms have 10-year lithium batteries that eliminate the need for new batteries, but the unit itself must be replaced when the battery dies.
  • If the alarms are hard-wired to the home’s electrical system, make sure they are interconnected for maximum effectiveness – meaning that if one alarm is triggered, all of the others will sound as well. 
  • The newest type of interconnected smoke alarms are wireless. This technology allows detectors to communicate with one another and, like their hard-wired cousins, will sound all of the units even if just one is triggered initially.

Early alerting is key to surviving a fire. Following these simple but important measures allows occupants to be warned, helping to prevent injuries and fatalities.

Pillar To Post Newsletter Volume 21, No. 5

Realtor Safety Month


September is Realtor Safety Month. The safety of Realtors is paramount to all of us at Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, so this special issue of PostNotes is dedicated to actions and strategies brokers, agents and their teams can use to stay safe in their day-to-day business activities.

Additional resources:

Please visit these websites for additional safety information, tools and resources:

www.nar.realtor/safety

www.beverlycarterfoundation.org

Top 10 Tips for Personal Safety


Summer will be here before you know it! Here are a few suggestions for homeowners to get their home in shape and help protect their investment.

  1. Touch base. Always let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll return. Arrange for your office to call you to check in.

  2. Don’t get lost. Always know the exact address of where you’re going. If you use a navigation app, pull over and stop in a safe place if you’ve made a wrong turn.

  3. Sense your surroundings. Is there questionable activity in the area of a property you’re showing? Is anyone loitering? Follow your instincts if you feel you should leave. Leave!

  4. Don’t go it alone. Have an associate or other colleague host open houses with you.

  5. Limit the view. If you’re working late, use window coverings so that you’re not visible to passersby or a potential attacker.

  6. Go on the defense. Learn some self-defense skills. Many health clubs, martial arts studios and community colleges offer basic classes.

  7. Choose flight over fight. Self defense is a good idea, but the primary goal in any threatening situation is to escape from immediate danger and call for help.

  8. Park for protection. Always park in a well-lit, visible location whether you’re parking at your office, an open house, or an empty property.

  9. Make calling for help easy. Program important numbers into your cell phone, including your office, roadside assistance and 911.

  10. Know who you’re dealing with. Ask for ID, take a photo of a client’s license plate. A criminal won’t be comfortable with this and may be thwarted.

Source: NAR Realtor Safety Resource Kit.


Office Safety Action Plan


Personal safety in the office is important to everyone. Here are some elements to include in your office safety action plan.

Initial meeting with clients
Hold the first in-person client meeting in or just outside your office rather than at properties or at home. It’s also a good idea to introduce them to a colleague on-site.

Client ID
All first-time clients must provide a driver’s license, state ID or other official photo ID. The office will retain a copy of the ID for security purposes. You can download a Client Profile Form at www.beverlycarterfoundation.org.

Distress code
Implement a verbal distress code—a secret word or phrase that can be casually worked into conversation if you feel threatened and the person you are with can overhear your conversation.

Buddy system
If you’re uncomfortable meeting with clients alone or hosting open houses alone request another agent or employee to accompany you.

Privacy first
Keep personal information private. Don’t discuss where you live, after-work, or vacation plans in front of prospective clients, new colleagues, or anyone with whom you’re not comfortable.

Limit access
Make sure all doors other than the main entrance are secured and have a clear exit route from the front desk to the door.

Solo security
If you encounter a stranger while working late or alone, say something like “My supervisor will be right with you.” to give the impression you’re not there alone.

Be aware of surroundings
Get to recognize the staff of other nearby businesses and be aware of their schedules. This will benefit everyone.

Sources: NAR; Beverly Carter Foundation

Showing Empty Properties


When you are showing an empty property, take these simple steps to protect and empower yourself against attack or theft.

  1. Be sure to use the lockbox property-key procedure that has been established to improve real estate agent safety so that keys don’t fall into the wrong hands.

  2. Show properties before dark. If you must show a property after dark, alert an associate, turn on all lights as you go through, and don’t lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds.

  3. Try and call the office once an hour to let people know where you are.

  4. If you think it may be some time before a property sells (and you may, therefore, be showing it often), get acquainted with a few of the immediate neighbors. You will feel better knowing they know your vehicle, and they will feel better about the stranger (you) who frequently visits their neighborhood.

  5. Prepare a scenario so that you can leave or encourage someone who makes you uncomfortable to leave. Examples: Your cell phone went off and you have to call your office; you left some important information in your car; another agent with buyers is on his way

  6. When showing a property, always leave the front door unlocked for a quick exit while you and the client are inside. As you enter each room, stand near the door.

  7. Lock your purse in the car trunk before you arrive. Carry only non-valuable business items (except for your cell phone), and do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, or appear to be carrying large sums of money.

  8. Park at the curb in front of the property rather than in the driveway. It is much easier to escape in your vehicle if you don’t have to back out of a driveway. And while parked in a driveway another vehicle could purposefully or accidentally trap you.

Sources: Louisiana REALTORS® Association; Washington Real Estate, Safety Council; City of Albuquerque, NM; Nevada County Association of REALTORS®; City of Mesa, AZ


Tips for Holding a Safe Open House


Safety during open houses is a concern for all real estate agents and their teams. Use these tips to stay safe:

  1. Always try to have at least one other person work- ing with you at the open house.

  2. Check your cell phone’s signal strength on the premises before the open house. Program emergency numbers on speed dial.

  3. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.

  4. Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Yards with swimming pools or hot tubs often have high fences.

  5. Have all open house visitors sign in with their full name, address, phone number and e-mail.

  1. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.

  2. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.

  3. Notify someone in your office, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.

  4. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.

  5. Don’t assume that everyone has left at the end of an open house. Check all rooms and the backyard before locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

Sources: Washington Real Estate Safety Council; City of Mesa, Arizona; Nevada County Board of REALTORS®; Georgia Real Estate Commission

Experience the Pillar To Post difference. Schedule your next home inspection today!

5 FALL MAINTENANCE ESSENTIALS

With these maintenance basics completed, your clients will enjoy the comforts of home all season long and protect their investment, too.

  1. Clear gutters of leaves, sticks, and other debris. This may need to be done more than once during the season. If the gutters can accommodate them, leaf guards are real time-savers and prevent clogging.
  2. Caulk around exterior door and window frames for a tight seal. Look for gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home and seal those as well to protect from water, insects and mice.
  3. Use binoculars to check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Water, wind, ice and snow can cause serious damage to a vulnerable roof, leading to a greater chance of further damage inside the home. Always have a qualified professional inspect and repair the roof.
  4. Have the furnace inspected to ensure that it’s safe and in good working order. Most utility companies will provide basic, no-cost furnace inspections to their customers. Replace disposable furnace air filters or clean the permanent type according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. There’s nothing like a wood-burning fireplace on a chilly fall evening. For safety, have the firebox and chimney professionally cleaned before use this season.

A note on Realtor Safety

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is committed to the health and well-being of our clients. This is especially true during Covid-19 and Realtor Safety Month. We remain committed to providing the highest quality home inspection while adhering to the safety guidelines provided by the CDC and local governments. We also encourage you to take learn about precautions you can take to keep yourself and your team safe while showing homes and in the office. Realtor Safety resources are available at:

www.nar.realtor/safety

www.beverlycarterfoundation.org