Q. A recent property line survey revealed that my neighbors are encroaching onto my yard. Their garage is built on the property line, and their fence and walkways are three feet onto my side of the line. We wrote a letter asking that they do something about this. A few days later, we found the surveyors stake pulled out and hidden in the bushes. Now the neighbors have listed their home for sale and have not responded to our letter. What can we do?
A. Your neighbors need to be convinced of your seriousness and to understand that they cannot sell their property until the issue is resolved. If they are not impressed by a letter from you, perhaps one from a lawyer would be more persuasive. An attorney can explain that a lawsuit would include a "lis pendens" filed against their property, and this would discourage buyers from offering to purchase their home.
Hopefully, the mere suggestion of legal action will lead to a favorable resolution. For a more comprehensive evaluation of this issue, find an attorney who specializes in real estate law.
Q. Our condominium in Florida is a second home and is vacant more than it is inhabited. About six months ago, we began to notice a pungent, mildewy odor. At the same time, we discovered a sticky grime inside the kitchen drawers and on some of the forced air registers. We cleaned up the grime, but the odor remains. If this is mold, what should we do about it?
A. Your home should be surveyed by a qualified mold specialist (listed in the yellow pages under "Mold Testing and Consulting"). Physical samples and filtered air samples should be evaluated by an accredited environmental lab to determine the types of mold that may be present. If the lab report is positive, a mold remediation company should be hired to remove all remnants of mold infection.
The moisture problem that fostered the mold should be located and corrected. It could be a plumbing leak, a ground water problem, faulty site drainage, inadequate ventilation or something else. Eliminating the moisture will prevent a return of the mold.
Q. Everyone knows home inspectors and Realtors work together to close deals. Agents recommend only home inspectors who will do a cursory inspection that ensures the agent's commission. Why do you always ignore this fact?
A. You paint with a very broad brush and should try more colors than black and white. Every profession has good and bad practitioners. No profession is all good or all bad. There are honest agents as well as compromised ones. The same goes for home inspectors. The inspectors with whom I am acquainted try to be as thorough as they can. Some are better at it than others. But a home inspector who routinely fails to disclose defects will be overwhelmed with claims and lawsuits and will not remain in business for very long.
• Email questions to Barry Stone through his website, housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
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