Fire Safety for the Home

by Nick Gromicko and Kate Tarasenko
The U.S. Fire Administration reports that more than 403,000 home fires occurred in the U.S. in 2008, causing 2,780 deaths and more than 13,500 injuries.  Some fires are caused by issues related to the structure, such as lightning strikes, faulty wiring, furnace malfunctions, and other electrical and heating system-related mishaps.

But most home fires are preventable.  According to an April 2010 report by the National Fire Protection Association, adults over the age of 75 are almost three times more likely to die in a home fire than the rest of the general public.  The NFPA’s fire prevention program promotes the following eight tips that elderly people – and people of all ages – can use.

1.  Plan and practice your escape from fire.

We’ve heard this advice before, but you can’t be prepared to act in an emergency if you don’t have a plan and everybody knows what that plan is.  Panic and fear can spread as quickly as a fire, so map out an escape route and a meeting place outdoors, and involve even the youngest family members so that everyone can work as a unit to make a safe escape. 

If you live in a condo or apartment building, make sure you read the signs posted on your floor advising you of the locations of stairways and other exits, as well as alarm pull stations and fire extinguishers.

2.  Plan your escape around your abilities.

Keeping a phone by your bedside will allow you to call 911 quickly, especially if the exits of your home are blocked by smoke or flames.  Keep a pair of shoes near your bed, too.  If your home or building has a fire escape, take some time to practice operating it and climbing it.

3.  Smoke alarms save lives.

If you don’t already have permanently installed smoke alarms hard-wired into your electrical system and located outside each bedroom and on each floor, purchase units and place them in those locations.  Install them using adhesive or screws, but be careful not to touch your screwdriver to any internal wiring, which can cause an electrostatic discharge and disable them.

Also, install carbon monoxide detectors, which can protect family members from lethal poisoning even before a fire starts.

4.  Give space heaters space.

Whether saving on utility bills by using the furnace infrequently, or when using these portable units for spot heat, make sure you give them at least 3 feet of clearance.  Be sure to turn off and unplug them when you leave or go to bed.  Electrical appliances draw current even when they’re turned off, and a faulty one can cause a fire that can spread through the wires in the walls at a deadly pace.

5.  If you smoke, smoke outside.

Not only will this keep your family members healthier and your home smelling fresher, it will minimize the chance that an errant ember from your cigarette will drop and smolder unnoticed until it causes damage.

6.  Be kitchen-wise.

This means monitoring what you have on the stove and keeping track of what’s baking in the oven.  Don’t cook if you’re tired or taking medication that clouds your judgment or makes you drowsy.  Being kitchen-wise also means wearing clothing that will not easily catch on the handles of pots and pans, or graze open flames or heating elements.

It also means knowing how to put out a grease fire; water will make it spread, but salt or baking soda will extinguish it quickly, as will covering the pot or pan with a lid and turning off the stove.  Always use your cooktop’s vent fan while cooking.

Keep a small, all-purpose fire extinguisher in a handy place, such as under the sink.  These 3-pound lifesavers are rated “ABC” for their fire-suppressing contents:  “A” puts out ignited trash, wood and paper; “B” acts on grease and other flammable liquids; and “C” deals with small electrical fires.  Read the instructions on these inexpensive devices when you bring them home from the store so that you can act quickly, if the time comes.  If your fire extinguisher is somewhat old because you’ve yet to use it, turning the canister upside-down and tapping the bottom will help agitate the contents and prevent them from caking, and possibly clogging the nozzle at the time of use.  It’s also a good idea to stow an extra fire extinguisher near the bedrooms.  If an emergency arises and you find yourself trapped by an uncooperative window, you can use the canister to smash through it.

7.  Stop, drop and roll.

Fight the urge to panic and run if your clothes catch fire because this will only accelerate its spread, since fire needs oxygen to sustain and grow.  Tamping out the fire by rolling is effective, especially since your clothes may be on fire on your back or lower body where you may not be immediately aware of it.  If ground space is limited, cover yourself with a blanket to tamp out any flames, and douse yourself with water as soon as you can.

Additionally, always stay close to the floor during a fire; heat and smoke rise, and breathable air will normally be found at the floor-level, giving you a greater chance of escape before being overcome by smoke and toxic fumes.

Also, before exiting a closed room, be sure to test the doorknob for heat before opening the door.  A very hot doorknob indicates that fire could be lurking just outside; opening the door will feed the fire an added surge of oxygen, potentially causing an explosive backdraft that can be fatal.

8.  Know your local emergency number.

People of all ages need to know their emergency number (usually, it’s 911).  Posting it near the phone and putting it on speed-dial will save precious moments when the ability to think clearly may be compromised.

More Tips

  • Make sure your electrical system is updated, and that you have appropriate AFCI and GFCI receptacles.  Have your system inspected by an InterNACHI inspector or a licensed electrician to make sure your electrical needs are not taxing your electrical system.
  • Make sure you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed.  Test them to make sure they’re working properly, and change their batteries at least annually. 
  • Check to see that your house number is clearly visible from the street, and unobstructed by any tree branches or structural overhangs.  If first-responders are called to your home to put out a fire, make sure they can find you.
  • Be aware of lit candles.  Never leave them unattended, and always blow them out when leaving home or going to bed.  This is especially important during the holidays when candles are used as holiday decorations.  Also, keep them out of the way of drapes and plants, and out of reach of children and especially pets, whose tails can accidentally knock over a candle or come into contact with its flame.
  • Never use barbecue grills indoors, either for cooking or as a heat source.  The carbon monoxide they emit cannot be adequately vented, and their flammable materials pose safety hazards.  Also, do not use the oven to heat the indoors.  Space heaters are safer and more energy-efficient.  Ask your InterNACHI home inspector to perform an energy audit to find heat leaks, and to suggest low-cost ways to keep your home warm and comfortable during cold weather.
  • Consider getting rid of your electric blanket.  The fire hazards associated with them make the prospect of trading them in for a thick comforter or multiple blankets much less worrisome.  When their embedded cords become bent, the internal wiring can break, causing them to short out and start an electrical fire.
  • This electric blanket shorted out and caught fire, burning the bedding and mattress.  Its user barely escaped serious injury.Be extra-vigilant when using hot pads, hotplates, Bunsen burners and portable cooktops.  They can overheat and burn the surface they’re sitting on, or burn through a cup or pot sitting on top, which can lead to smoke and fire.  Never leave these unattended, and always unplug (or extinguish) them when not in use.
  • Unplug portable electronic devices and other small appliances when not in use.  Coffeemakers, blow dryers and other devices we use daily still draw current when they’re plugged in, even if they’re turned off.  A faulty device can cause an electrical fire that can be devastating.  One family in Boulder, Colo., returned home one day to discover their house burned to the ground; the fire marshal discovered that the cause was a switched-off curling iron that was left plugged into the wall’s receptacle  Get into the habit of unplugging, just to be safe.
  • Use extension cords sparingly, and always unplug them when not in use.  Some electrical devices work best when plugged directly into the wall’s receptacle or outlet, especially if they have a ground wire (which you should never cut off).  Devices plugged into extension cords can easily overheat (themselves or the extension cords), damaging wires within walls and weakening your electrical system, potentially causing an electrical fire.  Always check for the UL-listed label on extension cords.  Remember that they also pose a tripping hazard, which is another reason to minimize their use.
  • Clean your clothes dryer’s lint trap after each use.  Your dryer should vent directly to the outdoors. Check to make sure that there are no obstructions in the vent hose, such as birds’ nests, foliage or other debris.  The vent should have a damper to keep wildlife and debris out, but it should not have a screen, which can trap combustibles, allowing them to accumulate, heat up, and possibly catch fire.
  • If you have a fireplace, remember to have it professionally inspected and cleaned periodically by a chimney sweep.  Creosote buildup can cause a fire that may unexpectedly back into the living space.  Make sure your damper is working properly, and that the chimney lining is in good condition.  The next time your InterNACHI inspector inspects your roof, s/he can check for adequate flashing around the chimney, as well as its structural integrity.  Make sure the fire is completely out before you leave the home.  Keep all kindling and combustibles a safe distance away from the mouth of the fireplace.  Make use of a screen at the hearth to prevent embers from escaping.  And avoid burning green wood, which doesn’t burn as evenly or safely as dry wood.

Smoke Alarms

All new residential construction requires the installation of smoke alarms, usually on each floor of the home, as well as outside each sleeping area.  Many newer smoke alarms can also detect carbon monoxide.  This silent and odorless killer is one of the primary causes of accidental death because family members can be fatally poisoned while sleeping.

Smoke alarms come in two types.  Photoelectric alarms can sense smoky and smoldering fires.  Ionization alarms are quicker at detecting flames and fast-moving fire.  Dual-sensor smoke alarms combine both these features, and are recommended by the USFA because it’s impossible to predict the type of fire that may erupt in a home.  There are also smoke alarms that vibrate and/or flash strobe lights to alert home dwellers who are vision-impaired or hard of hearing.

The leading U.S. manufacturer of residential smoke alarms, as well as home fire extinguishers, is Kidde.  Their dual-sensor smoke alarms were the subject of a voluntary recall by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in the summer of 2009 because of a malfunction caused by an electrostatic discharge created during their installation, rendering them inoperable.  Make sure that you install any portable smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors safely, and test them after installation.  You can also ask your local fire department to do this for you.

Many smoke alarms are hard-wired into the home’s electrical system, but may still have batteries for backup in the event of a power outage.  They also typically have a test button. Make sure you test them once a month, and replace the batteries once a year.  If you hear a chirping noise, this is a signal that the batteries are weak and need replacing.

Some smoke alarms have “nuisance” buttons.  If you burn something that you’re cooking and accidentally set off the alarm, you can press the nuisance button to turn it off.  Remember not to actually disable the alarm; you may forget to reset it later.  Simply clear the room of smoke instead.

Rebates and Discounts

Under most standard homeowners and even renters insurance policies today, having smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers in the home will qualify policyholders for rebates and discounts on their premiums.  Some newer homes now have sprinkler systems, and various municipalities around the U.S. are mandating their installation, depending on the square footage of the home.
In summary, installing dual-sensor smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as taking some common-sense precautions and performing regular household maintenance, will help keep your family safe from the destructive and potentially lethal effects of a house fire.  Schedule an inspection with your InterNACHI inspector to see where you can fortify your home against this threat.

Why Choose Hero Home Inspection?

5 Reasons to Always Call Hero Home Inspection

There are so many reasons to choose Hero Home Inspection but here are just a few….

Great Reviews: Our past clients love us!  Just check out our testimonial section or our Google Reviews.

Great Value:  Reasonable prices, no hidden fees or extra charges.  Our prices are all listed on our website!  No extra fees for unfinished basements or crawlspaces.  Free services such as aerial drone inspections and infrared camera inspections.  Discounts available for returning clients, Military Families and First Responders.

Experience:  We have years of experience in this industry, along with resumes that include construction, roofing and contracting backgrounds.

Certified and Insured:  We make sure to stay up to date with the latest in technology, but also make sure to keep our certifications up to date so that we can provide the best service available to you.  We also hold a million dollar liability insurance policy which can be viewed here.

We Care About You!  We know that our clients and agents are the heart of our business.  We truly want to make the home buying experience less stressful for everyone involved.  Along with our home inspections we offer the Buy Your Home Back Guarantee to help put your mind at ease along with a 90 Day Miss Anything Guarantee.

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Click Here to Get A Quote or Schedule Your Inspection Today or Call Us at 678-953-7460!

Safety First: Attic Pull Down Ladders

Attic pull-down ladders, also called attic pull-down stairways, are collapsible ladders that are permanently attached to the attic floor. Occupants can use these ladders to access their atticsAttic pull down ladder without being required to carry a portable ladder.
 
Common Defects
 

In older homes, Homeowners, not professional carpenters, usually installed the attic pull-down ladders. Evidence of this distinction can be observed in consistently shoddy and dangerous work that rarely meets safety standards. Some of the more common defective conditions observed by inspectors include:

  • cut bottom cord of structural truss. Often, homeowners will cut through a structural member in the field while installing a pull-down ladder, unknowingly weakening the structure. Structural members should not be modified in the field without an engineer’s approval;
  • fastened with improper nails or screws. Homeowners often use drywall or deck screws rather than the standard 16d penny nails or ¼” x 3” lag screws. Nails and screws that are intended for other purposes may have reduced shear strength and they may not support pull-down ladders;
  • fastened with an insufficient number of nails or screws. Manufacturers provide a certain number of nails with instructions that they all be used, and they probably do this for a good reason. Inspectors should be wary of “place nail here” notices that are nowhere near any nails;
  • lack of insulation. Hatches in many houses (especially older ones) are not likely to be weather-stripped and/or insulated. An uninsulated attic hatch allows air from the attic to flow freely into the home, which may cause the heating or cooling system to run overtime. An attic hatch cover box can be installed to increase energy savings;
  • loose mounting bolts. This condition is more often caused by age rather than installation, although improper installation will hasten the loosening process;
  • attic pull-down ladders are cut too short. Stairs should reach the floor;
  • attic pull-down ladders are cut too long. This causes pressure at the folding hinge, which can cause breakage;
  • improper or missing fasteners;
  • compromised fire barrier when installed in the garage;
  • attic ladder frame is not properly secured to the ceiling opening;
  • closed ladder is covered with debris, such as blown insulation or roofing material shed during roof work. Inspectors can place a sheet on the floor beneath the ladder to catch whatever debris may fall onto the floor; and
  • cracked steps. This defect is a problem with wooden ladders.
  • In sliding pull-down ladders, there is a potential for the ladder to slide down quickly without notice. Always pull the ladder down slowly and cautiously.

Tips for our clients:

  • Do not allow children to enter the attic through an attic access. The lanyard attached to the attic stairs should be short enough that children cannot reach it. Parents can also lock the attic ladder so that a key or combination is required to access it.
  • If possible, avoid carrying large loads into the attic. While properly installed stairways may safely support an adult man, they might fail if he is carrying, for instance, a bag full of bowling balls. Such trips can be split up to reduce the weight load.
  • Replace an old, rickety wooden ladder with a new one. Newer aluminum models are often lightweight, sturdy and easy to install.

In summary, attic pull-down ladders are prone to a number of defects, most of which are due to improper installation. Please be cautious and mindful whenever you are using ladders.

Why Get a Home Inspection If You’re Buying “As Is”?

Some sellers – often, those working without an agent – want to sell their home “as is” so they don’t have to invest money fixing it up or take on any potential liability for defects.  There is nothing wrong with buying a home “as is,” particularly if you can buy it at a favorable price, but if you are considering buying an “as is” home, you should still hire a competent home inspector to perform an inspection.  There are several reasons for this.

First, you don’t know what “as is” is. Sure, you can walk through the home and get an idea of its general condition.  You may even spot some defects or items in obvious need of repair.  But you won’t obtain the same detailed information you will receive if you hire a home inspector.  Home inspectors are trained to look for things you are not likely to notice.  InterNACHI inspectors, for example, must follow InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice and check the roof, exterior, interior, foundation, basement, fireplace, attic, insulation, ventilation, doors, windows, heating system, cooling system, plumbing system, and electrical system for certain defects.  Armed with a home inspector’s detailed report, you will have a better idea of what “as is” means regarding that home, which means you’ll be in a better position to know whether you want to buy it.  You may also be able to use information from the home inspection to negotiate a lower price.

Second, many states require the seller to provide you with written a disclosure about the condition of the property.  Sellers often provide little information, and a few even lie.  A home inspection can provide the missing information. If an inspector finds evidence that a seller concealed information or lied to you, that may be a sign that you don’t want to buy a home from that seller.

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Finally, if you buy a home “as is” without hiring a home inspector and then later discover a defect, all is not lost.  A home inspector may be able to review the seller’s disclosure and testify as to what the seller knew or should have known about.  The inspector may find evidence that the seller made misrepresentations or concealed relevant information from you.  Even the seller of an “as is” home may be held liable for misrepresentation or concealment.

But the better choice, obviously, is to hire a home inspector first.  Remember:  The cost of a home inspection is a pittance compared to the price of the home.  Be an informed consumer, especially when buying an “as is” home, and hire an InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector®.

by Mark Cohen, J.D., LL.M., InterNACHI General Counsel, and
Nick Gromicko, InterNACHI Founder

The Tiny House Movement

 by Nick Gromicko

A growing number of homeowners in the U.S. are downsizing to homes smaller than 1,000 square feet, and, in some cases, smaller than 100 square feet. This transition to smaller homes, known as the Small House Movement, is adhered to by people who believe American houses in general are too large, wasteful and energy-inefficient.Small houses are becoming more common

While home sizes ballooned from the 1950s into the early 2000s, data suggests that this trend is slowing, or even reversing. A 2008 survey shows that more than 60% of potential home buyers would rather have a smaller house with more amenities than the other way around. Similarly, according to the National Association of Home Builders, 59% of builders nationwide said they were planning to or were already significantly downscaling from the “McMansion” era.

The disadvantages of downsizing are obvious:  you may have to get rid a lot of furniture, the new house is less prestigious, and you lose space for guests. Neighbors, too, might view your small home as a threat to their property values. But living small is nothing new.  After World War II, 1,000-square-foot homes were the norm for returning soldiers and their families.

Gayle Butler, editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens, describes the Small House Movement as “right-sizing,” rather than downsizing, as homeowners forgo unused space and buy homes that better fit their needs. Dee Williams, of Olympia, Washington, sold her 1,500-square-foot home and moved into an 84-square-foot home that she built herself. When the electric company began charging more for electricity, her bill doubled from $4 to $8, an increase that probably would have been more dramatic in her previous home.

Adherents to the Small House Movement enjoy the following perks of their transition:

  • increased cash flow. Smaller homes require a smaller mortgage, lower property taxes, and decreased homeowner’s insurance, maintenance costs, and the expense required to furnish the home. Owners might even be able to purchase a smaller house in cash using the proceeds from their existing home. And with the extra money, they can afford improved insulation, higher-quality windows and flooring, and luxuries such as solar roof panels and skylights;
  • less maintenance. Fewer rooms and smaller spaces cut down on the time needed to clean and maintain, leaving more hours in the day for more enjoyable activities;
  • lower utility bills. It costs a lot less to heat and cool a small home than a large home. Typically, there is no wasted space in vaults in a small home;
  • reduced consumption. If there is little space to store items, homeowners are much less likely to buy new things. Fewer rooms and windows mean less money spent on TVs and curtains, for instance;
  • more time with family. Less space means that more room must be shared, which encourages group activities and dinners.

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While the benefits of the Small House Movement are clear, the transition isn’t easy for everyone, especially for those who have become accustomed to large houses. The following tips can help homeowners make do with less space:
  • Use items for more than one purpose. For example, you can use a trunk as a coffee table, placing in it items such as shoes, files, and extra sheets to save closet space.
  • Eliminate or cut down on extra silverware, pots, pans and dishes if the kids have moved out.
  • Use rooms for more than one purpose. You may be able to squeeze a small computer desk into the corner of a bedroom, and a rarely-used dining room can double as a library.
  • Purchase a stackable washer/dryer unit to save space.
In summary, median house sizes have begun to decline, spurred on by adherents to the Small House Movement.

Holiday Home Safety Tips

The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. InterNACHI recommends that you follow these guidelines to help make your holiday season safer and more enjoyable.

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Holiday Lighting
  • Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection. Do not overload extension cords.
  • Don’t mount lights in any way that can damage the cord’s wire insulation.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples–don’t use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
Decorations
  • Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.
 
Holiday Entertaining
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.  When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
  • Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.

Trees
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire-resistant.”
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
  • Make sure the base is steady so the tree won’t tip over easily.
   

Fireplaces
  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Toys and Ornaments
  • Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
  • Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
  • Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
  • Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.
Children and Pets 
  • Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.
  • Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
  • Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
  • Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
  • Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
  • Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
  • Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
  • Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.
 Pet-Safety-Tips
Security
  • Use your home burglar alarm system.
  • If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers.
  • Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.

Three Deadly Mistakes Every Home Buyer Should Avoid

Can You Guess What They Are?
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,

download (3)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.