Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tips from the Home Inspector, Part 2

Something most people forget is the fireplace. Get your fireplace ready by having it inspected. Creosol can build up in the chimney. Creosol is a resin that can build up in the flue. It’s a by- product of burning wood. Make sure that the damper works and make sure the damper seals when it is closed. You would be surprised how may people forget to close them! Remember, nine out of ten people in Atlanta are not from Atlanta. Fireplaces are common in Georgia but not everywhere else.

Something else you may want to do in preparation for the really cold weather is the garden hose spigots. Do not wait for the freeze warning. Get on a mission and turn them all off. Most houses have a spigot shut off valve on each spigot. Look under the sinks, you may find some valves there. Remember what our science teacher told us. Water is the only substance found in nature that expands when it freezes. This can cause pipes to burst in the walls. This can be an expensive repair, especially if you're not at home when it happens. So, close the valve and drain spigots.

Another thing you may want to look at is the grade of the soil around the house. All summer you have been putting down pine straw. It makes the landscape look good. Unfortunately it hides the ground so you don’t know if it has been changing. The grade should always be away from the house. Get a stick and probe around the house. Next to the wall of the foundation it should have the highest soil, as you move away in a perpendicular line from the house the ground should fall. If it’s not happening, call your landscaper and have him check it and if needed, have him build up the grade. This is a particular situation for new houses. The reason new houses have this situation is the ground is excavated to prepare for the foundation and the molds used to pour the foundation. Once the concrete for the foundation cures, the forms are removed and the soil is returned. The problem is the soil is sometimes not recompacted to its original density. This soil will erode a lot quicker than the surrounding soil. This softer soil will erode and create a negative grade toward your house. Don’t worry, the problem is fixable with more dirt.

During the summer some of our feathered friends will have found your home as attractive as you and may have made their nest in your vents. Now that they're gone, remove those nests. Don’t worry, next year they will build new ones. The problem is that these vents are for your bathrooms, dryer and fireplace.

Now is a good time to trim those shrubs away from the house. The shrubs should be at least 12 inches from the house. Shrubs are attractive, but like all plants they give off moisture and cover the house from the sun. This slows the drying process of the house and can cause algae or mold to form. Remember you’re on a mission.

This time of year is also a great time for taking long, hot showers. So if you want to enjoy a longer hot shower, drain off some of the sediment that accumulated at the bottom of your tank. It acts like an insulator. Just follow the manufacturer's instructions. Another way is to turn off the hot water heater, ( before you do that make sure you know how to light the pilot light, ) or have a good friend who does. Consume all the hot water and then connect a hose to the bottom of the tank and open the valve at the tank and let some water out. You do not have to drain the entire tank. The initial surge should remove most of the sediment. Drain a few gallons, check and make sure the water is coming out clear. then close the valve, reignite the pilot and you're ready for your next hot shower.

By now lots of leaves have fallen. Make sure the Air Cooling Compressors are free of leaves and organic debris. These units are designed to shed water. Some organic material will produce acids as they decay and can cause damage to the units. You can cover them, but all that is really needed in our mild winter is keeping them free of debris and they should be ready when the heat comes back.

Thanks so much, George, for sharing your expertise and valuable home maintenance advice with all of us! If you have any questions about winter home maintenance, give George a call at Athenia Home Inspectors, 404-447-4677 or e-mail him at

Monday, November 24, 2008

SAFE Home Alpharetta

I asked my trusted Home Inspector, George Font, if he would make a guest appearance on Sweet Home Alpharetta to share some very timely information on winter home maintenance. Thank you, George, for the following valuable contribution!

Its that time of the year, time to get firewood for the fireplace and wake up the old furnace after its summer of hibernation. Now if you’re like most of us, you won’t think a thing about it. It’s kind of a yearly ritual, so not a lot a thought goes into it. However, w!e should take some precautions.

Furnace filters should be checked monthly and maintained as necessary. For the best result, seek HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. Although more expensive than regular filters, these will help clean the air while your system is running. A good HEPA filter can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 micrometers (┬Ám) in diameter from the air you breathe. This type filter will pick up mold spores, and many air borne allergens. This is the time of year you and your family will spend a lot more time indoors.

For more information goto

If you have a smoke and or Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector, test them now. The process is not very complicated. Most detectors have a self test feature. Follow the manufacturer's suggested testing procedure. It will not take long to do. While you’re at it, replace the batteries. Remember Murphy’s Law!

For more information go to

Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer. It is odorless, tasteless, has no color and kills by robbing your red blood cells of their ability to absorb oxygen. Results are that your organs are gradually suffocated. Your brain is the most sensitive organ to oxygen depravation. So how does that affect you? You start feeling tired and sleepy. Be warned, This does not mean that every time you feel sleepy or tired you have CO poisoning. But to be on the safe side you need to have a CO detector or monitor.

You do not need a security system to install a CO monitor. There are many plug in models available. These are installed on a 110 VAC receptacle and do the job required. Check at Lowes or Home Depot. Make sure you get one that has a battery backup. In the event of a power failure your fireplace may be your best friend. Your fireplace can produce CO emissions in rare occasions or power could be lost to the monitors but not the furnaces. CO monitors are very inexpensive for the work they do and the lives they can save.
When you buy one, follow the manufacturer's recommendation on where best to place them and how to test them.

In our next installment, George will explain creosol and how it builds up in chimneys to create a potentially dangerous situation. Tune in later this week for more Winter Home Maintenance Tips from George, the Home Inspector. George is the owner of Athenia Home Inspectors and is ASHI certified. If you have questions, give him a call at 404-447-4677. He is very patient and never makes you feel dumb when you ask (probably) dumb questions. Believe me, I've had to ask a lot of them! But, I have learned a lot from George over the past couple of years, and so have many home buyers.

George joins me in wishing all of you a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Real Estate in Any Language

As a Realtor, I have the privilege and pleasure of working with people who have come to Atlanta from many countries and cultures. In fact, this opportunity to make friends from so many places and learn about and appreciate their customs, is one of my favorite pieces of the relocation puzzle. The bad part for me, though, is when my clients move back to their home country after their home is sold! As a result of sales this past year, I now have friends in The Netherlands and Columbia, but I have new friends from Pakistan and Ireland, too!
Even in my Keller Williams office of 100 agents, we are a very diverse group of people from many countries. Countries represented among my colleagues include India, Iran, U.K., Italy, Peru, Argentina, New Zealand, and I’m sure several others that I have missed. I’m from Wisconsin, and of course, my friends give me a hard time about my “accent”. “What accent”?

So, my agent friends and I thought it would be fun and educational to put together a panel discussion featuring the agents in our office who have come to us from other countries. Our first Cultural Awareness Panel Discussion was even better than I had hoped, and we all learned so much about each other! Our primary goal was to learn more so that we could make a better impression when working with international clients, but I think we realized that something even more important happened. We began to realize that even though we come from so many places with such different customs, all people need to be listened to and appreciated. We love to feel welcomed and respected. Isn’t it great that a smile is the same in any language?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Time to Buy in Atlanta

Forbes Magazine made some good predictions for Atlanta homebuilders and residents last week. While other cities, like Las Vegas and Phoenix are expected to see home prices decrease by up to 50%, Atlanta is predicted to see significant increases as early as 2009. (This reiterates that NOW is the time to buy Atlanta Real Estate. Discounts on current new home inventory are available now. They won’t last forever!)Although Forbes mentions the number of Atlanta foreclosures in early 2008, our continued steady job growth rate promises an end to our housing slump. In fact, next year home prices are expected to jump up by 32.5% for single family homes around the metro Atlanta area. Multi-family home prices are expected to rise by as much as 18.4% and job growth will remain around the steady 2% yearly increase that has kept Atlanta afloat and the envy of the nation. We are placed at number nine in the group of ten “lucky cities” that are predicted to experience long term recovery that will begin next year. Other cities where home prices are expected to rise include Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, Austin, Portland, San Antonio, Charlotte, and Albuquerque. So while times may seem tough now, if we can just hold out for a little while longer, things should be looking up for the economy and the Atlanta housing market once again.
So, as the old saying goes, you might want to "strike while the iron is hot"!
Contact me if you would like to discuss ways to take advantage of the current real estate market. You'll be glad you did!
Have a great day,

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Family of Heroes

On this Veteran's Day I got to thinking about all the military people in our family, and it made me very proud! I am definitely in the minority in this patriotic group! From the time I was big enough to reach the rope on the flag pole, my job at our family cabin in Wisconsin was to raise Old Glory as soon as we arrived for the weekend. To this day, I fly the flag at our front door every day of the year. But, that is pretty much as far as my "active duty" extends, except for exercising my right and privilege to vote.

But, I digress. The purpose of this post is to honor all the people in my immediate family who have served in the military. My Grandpa Ross served in the Army in World War I, my dad, Ed Gorman joined the Navy toward the end of World War II. My father-in-law, Don Schulte, is an Army Veteran serving over seas as a cook. In the next generation, my sister, Mary and her husband, Jim, are proud Air Force Veterans, active duty for six years and then serving in the Reserves even beyond their 20 year retirement date. Following along in the family tradition, both of my sons took up the cause. Kyle joined the Army, and Andy is my Navy man, planning to make the Navy his career.

On this Veteran's Day, 2008, I just want to tell you all how proud I am of you!