Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Problem with Mold

Say the word "mold" in a cheese shop, and people's faces light up with visions of a pungently tasty blue cheese. Say the word "mold" anywhere near a real estate transaction, and people will flip out. Why is mold so controversial? Read on!

You might think mold will only be found in decrepit old unkempt homes, but you would be wrong. This is a problem that can affect any home, old or new, clean or dirty. (Check out the plight of these owners of new condos in Emeryville, as reported in the East Bay Express).

Mold can grow anywhere in a home, and I mean anywhere--from air conditioning ducts to baseboards to the leaves of house plants. Also, check for mold in abthroom & kitchen caulking, carpet padding, vents & ducts, behind bookshelves, and any humid damp areas. Sometimes a visual inspection is not enough and an expert must be called in to inspect.

The problem with mold is that some forms can be very toxic and could cause disease. Some of the health risks of mold exposure include: allergy attacks, asthma, bronchitis, headaches, nausea, rashes, and more.

It is best to monitor any possible mold situation and take care of it as soon as possible. A regular inspection and early remedies should be quite affordable. But, ignoring a mold problem can cost you a lot of money (like the story in that article link up above). The East Bay can get quite damp, so make sure to protect your investment in your home by keeping mold in check.

Then, go to Pt. Reyes for some great blue cheese!

If you ever have any questions about mold problems, just let us know. We are happy to help.

That luscious blue cheese pic is courtesy of Pt Reyes Farmstead Cheese. Mmmmmmm.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Getting a Real Estate License

Corey here while Mary is storming the Kremlin! Today, we'll take a look at what it takes to become a real estate agent. Perhaps you would like to become an agent, or perhaps you've just wondered what qualifies us to do what we do.

During the recent real estate boom, everyone and their dog became a real estate agent, and at one point there was one licensed agent for every individual looking to buy or sell a house in California. (How are they all supposed to make a living?)

The licensing requirements from the State of California are changing a bit as of October 1. California has historically been one of the easiest states to get licensed in, and these changes make it a little bit tougher. But not much.

The most basic requirements are that you must be over 18 years old, be a US citizen, and be able to pass a background check. The background check is supposedly quite stringent, so thankfully I didn't have any blemishes on my record.

Before you apply to take the licensing exam, you now must pass three classes. The first two classes are required: Real Estate Principles and Real Estate Practice. Principles covers the basic real estate laws, and the Practice class deals more with the day-to-day career of being an agent. And, third, you must take an elective class, which can be anything from Escrows to Appraisals to Real Estate Finance and more.

Once these classes are completed, you can take the Real Estate Salesperson exam, which gives you 150 questions in 3 hours. Study hard! Between the classes, the exam fees and the license fees, it will cost you about $750 to get your license.

Then comes the tough part...finding a good brokerage to hang your license at and getting those first clients. Thankfully, I'm working with Mary, who has been with Lawton Associates for over 13 years and she has many, many wonderful long term clients to work with.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Travel Tips

Hello, Corey here. Mary is on vacation and I'm doing some blog entries in her place. She has jetted off to Russia. No, not to fix the government, but to tour the country, see some Russian opera and ballet, and get away from it all.

Seeing her get ready for the trip made me think it might be nice to share some travel tips for vacationing in other countries. I know it has nothing to do with the East Bay or real estate, but perhaps someone will find these helpful. We'll be back to the regular topics soon!
  • Make sure you have the right outlet adapters to take with you. Check with a local travel or luggage store for guidance.
  • Take a mix of cash, traveler's checks and credit cards so you are always covered. Keep your money well-hidden. And, let your credit card company know that you are going overseas and which country your account might see activity from. And, just don't take anything valuable, like jewelery, that can't be replaced if it is lost or stolen.
  • Make 2 sets of copies of your passport, itinerary, and related travel documents. Leave one set with family or friends, and take the other with you and keep it in a separate place. If you lose anything, this will be invaluable.
  • Travel light. Take clothes that all match each other and can be worn several times. Take books or magazines that can be left behind.
  • Check with your cell phone company if you will have service in your destination country. And, if you do, how much it will cost to use it. It is a vacation, so try to ditch the cell phone if possible and carry a calling card for emergencies.
  • Avoid jet lag by going to bed early for a few days before your departure, staying hydrated on the plane, and giving yourself some time to adjust when you get to your destination.

And, have fun!