May, 2007
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Developed in partnership with EPA

EDITED BY ASHI STAFF

Since 2000, ASHI has offered the ASHI Radon Mitigation System Inspection Checklist, developed in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Its main purpose is to educate home inspection clients about radon, and to encourage radon testing and mitigation when elevated radon levels (4 pCi/L or more) are found. The checklist also helps determine whether an existing system may need to be repaired or upgraded. The checklist is not a comprehensive inspection tool, and it does not replace, nor is it a substitute for, mitigation system inspections conducted or required by state or local governments or agencies. ASHI members (log in here) who would like to use the checklist can download it from the ASHI document section of the Membership Extranet on www.ashi.org.

Insect stings and roof inspections


Who would expect to find a safety reminder under Roof Systems on the ASHI Membership Extranet Discussion Boards? But that’s where one member shared a timely tip and another added to it.

Spring is around the corner. No more snow, ice and frozen shingles to prevent roof inspections. Inspectors who walk the roofs may encounter yellow jackets or similar stinging insects, and should carry in their tool kits a topical insect anesthetic such as Sting-Kill or Benadryl and an over-the-counter antihistamine drug. Anyone who is subject to a severe allergic reaction should check with his or her health provider about carrying injectable anti-venom ampoules.


And more:

Good advice. Also, when resting your ladder against a rain gutter, it’s a good idea to tap the ladder against the gutter a few times prior to climbing, especially when a product like gutter helmet is installed. Bees love to make nests under these products. 

If you’re an ASHI member who wants to learn and wants to share what you know, including safety tips, the Discussion Boards are for you. Discuss ethics, reporting systems, business practices and any of the systems and components covered by the ASHI Standards of Practice with some of ASHI’s most dedicated and knowledgeable members. Sign on today.

Online, ‘readers’ don’t read


Reading online is onerous. So, readers are more likely to scan than read.

In fact, according to Jakob Nielsen, usability guru and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group:

• 79 percent of Web visitors scan any new page they come across

• 16 percent read word-by-word

To make it easier for Web visitors to get the information they need without reading word-by-word, you must make your copy scannable.

Microcontent is key. Make it easy for readers to get the gist of the story without reading the text by encapsulating your messages in your:

• Headlines
• Decks  
• Subheads
• Links and buttons
• Bullets and lists
• Bold-faced lead-ins
• Highlighted text

Source: Ann Wylie, Wylie Communications Inc., 4618 Warwick, Ste. 7A, Kansas City, MO, 64112, http://WylieComm.com/.

Tighter lending standards good for housing, but will dampen sales

Tighter lending criteria and fallout from the subprime loan debacle will lead to a healthier housing market with greater assurance that owners can handle mortgage adjustments, but higher loan standards will slow the housing recovery, according to the latest forecast by the National Association of Realtors®.

The first week of April, Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 6.17 percent. The 30-year fixed rate should rise slowly to 6.6 percent by the end of this year. 

“Tighter lending standards will dampen home sales a bit, but by less than a couple of percentage points from initial projections. We still forecast 2007 to be the fourth highest year on record for existing-home sales, and housing remains a great long-term investment,” David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said.

Existing-home sales are likely to total 6.34 million in 2007 and 6.52 million next year, in contrast with 6.48 million in 2006. New-home sales are seen at 904,000 this year and 935,000 in 2008, below the 1.05 million last year. Housing starts are estimated at 1.47 million in 2007 and 1.55 million next year, down from 1.80 million units in 2006.

“As home sales moderate, overall home prices will be essentially flat this year,” Lereah said. “The good news is that inventories remain well below the levels experienced during the last housing downturn in the early 1990s, and supplies are close to balance in many areas.”

The national median existing-home price will probably slip 0.7 percent to $220,300 in 2007, following a 1.0 percent rise last year. The median new-home price is projected to increase 0.4 percent to $246,200 this year after gaining 1.8 percent in 2006. Modest growth is expected next year, with existing-home prices increasing 1.6 percent and new-home prices rising 2.0 percent.
The unemployment rate should average

4.6 percent in 2007, the same as last year. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is likely to decline to 2.1 percent this year, compared with 3.2 percent in 2006, while growth in the U.S. gross domestic product is forecast at 2.3 percent in 2007, down from 3.3 percent last year. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income will probably rise 3.1 percent this year, up from a gain of 2.6 percent in 2006.