Home Repair · Real Estate

Potential Garage Door Security Issue?

Do you use one of those handy garage door opener key pad codes to open your garage?  They are pretty popular these days. Families often use them to let themselves into the house without a key. Pretty handy, but do you ever clean the buttons?

Problem: Over time, the buttons you use for your code will appear cleaner or dirtier than the ones you don’t use. This could give a criminal a clue as to what numbers you use for your code making the odds of guessing your code easier.

Solutions: Periodically inspect your key pad and clean off your key pad when needed, so the dirt doesn’t give away your door code.

Refer to the garage door opener’s owners manual to find out what products are recommended for cleaning.

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Buyers · Law/Regulations · Real Estate

Home Buyer Tax Credit…

If you take the first time or move up home buyer tax credit, make sure you can provide eligibility documentation for the IRS.

It seems there are some people that took the credit that weren’t eligible. In an attempt to avoid this from happening in the future, the IRS has tightened the rules regarding this tax credit.

To take the home buyer tax credit, offers must be contracted by April 30, 2010 and must fund by June 30, 2010.

For more information regarding the home buyer tax credit eligibility, refer to a tax professional and/or the IRS.

Economy · Enviroment · News · Real Estate

Public Transportation…

With all the economic and environmental concerns we have today, public transportation is a hot topic.  When shopping for real estate, public transportation may be something you want to consider.  Staying informed about C-Tran’s 20 Year Transit Development Plan could play an important part in deciding where you want to live and invest in real estate. Knowing where C-Tran is going to put a new transit center, add or eliminate a route, or where they are going to close a transit center could effect your decision to buy a property. This information could also effect the salability and/or value of your current home if you are considering selling.

Public transportation plays an important role in our community. C-Tran has been providing public transportation within Clark County for 29 years, connecting Vancouver, Camas, Washougal, Battle Ground, Yacolt, Ridgefield, La Center, and Portland (Oregon).

For more information, check out C-Tran’s website at: http://www.c-tran.com

Economy · News · Real Estate

Oregon Increases Taxes on the Wealthy…

Oregon’s top earners may be preparing for a mass exodus now that Oregon has voted to target the wealthy to solve their deficit problems.

It is possible SW Washington will see businesses and high income earners relocating over the border to avoid the new tax increases. Prior to this tax increase being passed we talked to several people from Oregon that said, “If Oregon increases our taxes, we are out of here.”

Time will tell if Oregon’s tax increase will cause a wave of top earners to move across the border into SW Washington. At a time when Washington has it’s own deficit problems, a move like over the border could benefit Washington state greatly.

Regarding Washington’s budget shortfall, Governor Chris Gregoire said “I will do my best to avoid any new taxes that slow our economic recovery. I will balance, as best I can, my interest in keeping new taxes down, while still protecting programs that I believe the vast majority of us agree are just too important to eliminate. We need a combination of reduced funding for services and raising revenue.”

Avoiding new taxes may sound very appealing to Oregon’s high income earners.

Law/Regulations · Real Estate · Selling Real Estate

Washington State Residents, Did you know…

Did you know that effective July 1, 2010 Washington state adopted the 2009 International Building, Residential, Mechanical and Fire Codes?

One change that is of particular interest to the real estate market is the requirement that all existing residences (Residential Building Group R1, R2 and R3) sold on or after July 1, 2011 must have carbon monoxide (CO2) alarms (complying with UL 2034) installed based on this new code and the manufacturer’s installation instructions. This means sellers will be required to install them before selling. Fortunately, a seller should be able to easily purchase carbon monoxide detectors in the smoke alarm section of any local building or hardware store or department.

Starting January 1, 2011 all new construction homes (Residential Building Group R-1, R-2 and R-3) will also be required to have CO2 detectors installed.

According to the Washington State Building Code Counsel, Group R-1 includes hotels & motels, R-2 includes apartments and R-3 single family, except owner occupied single family.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. Products and equipment powered by internal combustion engine-powered equipment such as portable generators, cars, lawn mowers, and power washers also produce CO.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that on average, about 170 people in the United States die every year from CO produced by non-automotive consumer products. These products include malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces; and charcoal that is burned in homes and other enclosed areas. In 2005 alone, CPSC staff is aware of at least 94 generator-related CO poisoning deaths. Forty-seven of these deaths were known to have occurred during power outages due to severe weather, including Hurricane Katrina. Still others die from CO produced by non-consumer products, such as cars left running in attached garages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that several thousand people go to hospital emergency rooms every year to be treated for CO poisoning.

For more information about this upcoming change check out the Washington State Building Code Counsel or your local building code office.

For information about the dangers of carbon monoxide, refer to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Please note that I am not endorsing the above brand of CO2 detector, I merely included a picture to show what one looks like.  They look very similar to smoke detectors. There are also combo smoke and CO2 detectors on the market.

And now for my disclaimer, I’m not a lawyer, so please consult a legal professional if you have questions.

Buyers · Real Estate

Asbestos…

Today most people know that asbestos is hazardous to one’s health, but did you know that the material dates back to 3000 BC? Back then it was viewed as a miracle material that wouldn’t burn and for it’s insulating properties. Roman restaurant owners used table cloths woven with asbestos, which is a mineral that is soft like cotton. They would throw them in the fire to clean them for the next customer. The table cloths would come out of the fire cleaner than they went in.

Over time, ancient Roman leaders began to realize that slaves that worked with asbestos developed lung sickness. Health problems associated with asbestos were ignored for years and the material was widely used in many common items. By the 1970’s asbestos was openly recognized as a contributor to serious health problems and the use of it has greatly diminished.

Asbestos has a history of being used in building materials. Though it is not used today, there are homes that may have been built with it. When shopping for a home, buyers need to be aware of it’s use in roofing, siding, floor tiles, ceilings, duct work, insulation, etc.  Primarily, any home built prior to the 1990’s may have asbestos building material in them.  For more info on materials to look for, check out Inspectapedia.com.

Removal of asbestos materials in a home requires special care.  It is recommended you hire a professional that is qualified to properly remove asbestos from a home.