Environmental Facts

Environmental Summaries by Topic

Asbestos Carbon Monoxide Environmental Stewardship Home Inspector Law
Lead Paint Mold & Moisture Radon Gas  Right to Farm
Rivers Protection Scenic Mountain Act Title 5 – Septic UFFI Insulation
Underground Tanks  Wetlands Protection 
 

 

 

Right to Farm Regulations

MP900178988 (1)We’ve determined that 23 communities in Berkshire County have passed some form of Agricultural Farming bylaws, many of which include a ‘right to farm provision’. What does this mean for you as a REALTOR?

In state model bylaws, there is an obligation that the seller of any property in such a jurisdiction must present a ‘Right to Farm’ disclosure form to buyers, no more than 21 days after the purchase and sale contract is entered into, or prior to the sale or exchange of real property. This form must be signed by the buyer and on file with the city or town before transfer or else a fine in the amount of $300 can be assessed.

Click here for more information and a list of Right to Farm Communities.


 


April CE Series: Green Home Efficiencies – It’s What Millennials Want!

According to the National Association of REALTORS 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trend Report, Millennials made up 34% of home buyers in 2016.  Did you also know, Millennials are also shaping the future of energy?  When the two mesh…are you aware of what your Millennial and otherwise environmentally conscientious buyers want?  Make sure you’re

Greening the Gateway Cities – Planting Trees in Pittsfield

Neighborhoods* of Pittsfield have been selected as part of a statewide program by the MA Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to increase canopy cover and reduce home energy use for heating and cooling. *currently only availabe in some neighborhoods – view map here Benefits of planting trees in Pittsfield include: Save Money:  Just 3-4

Solar Panels: Advising Your Clients

I think we all agree that renewable energy and conservation is critical to our planet, our pocketbooks and our health. That said, in the real estate world, there have been a lot of questions and concerns related to roof-installed solar panels.  If you’re advising a buyer or seller client, please be sure to understand that there are many issues beyond what meets the eye in terms of cost savings and good environmental stewardship.

Leased solar panels bind the seller, and in some cases the future buyer to long range terms and conditions.  Some contracts have been shown to be fair and balanced, but others have terms that are not at all acceptable to some new buyers.  The contracts should be read in detail before signing!!

There can also be physical home advantages and disadvantages to a home with panels.  Great savings or hardly any savings?  Both outcomes have been reported.

There are also concerns from firefighters about battling blazes with homes with roof panels.  There should be clear markings where the electrical system can be shut off – and some reports have shown water penetration on upper story fires is limited in the areas where the panels reside.  There are also concerns by firefighters about the added weight and instability on the roof.  For this reason and others, the panels should be noted when qualifying for homeowner’s insurance as well.

The caliber of the professional installing the panels makes a huge difference as well, including what technology is employed and the warranted provisions granted to the homeowner.

There are many benefits to professionally installed, well written contracts for the installation and use of solar panels, but REALTORS need to advise clients that they need to do some research first to fully understand their obligations. Some of the basic first questions a homeowner should ask several solar panel providers to supply are:

  • How is the company rated, and are they reputable with a history of outstanding service before and after installation?
  • Do you plan to install an owned or leased system?
  • Is the roof positioned to catch the sun or is there enough space on the ground to accommodate the panels?
  • What brand and type of equipment is provided? (and ratings of such equipment… some is good some not)
  • Does the installer of the panels guarantee a range of the estimated annual production expected from the system?
  • Will the panels be tied into the grid so you can “sell” unused power back to the utility?
  • Who gets the tax incentives, the installer or the homeowner?
  • What is the maintenance required (washing, snow removal, re-positioning?)
  • What is the gross cost, including all equipment, electrical panel upgrades, installation, additional homeowners insurance if applicable and rental or initial payment?
  • What is the warranty? Does it cover all parts and service or is it limited?
  • Is there a schedule of replacement parts and costs that may be needed to keep the panels functional in the long run?
  • Can other companies service the panels without voiding the warranty?

Clients should consult with their attorney for any contractual obligation they are proposing to assume.  And of course, due diligence research and information on the insurability, safety and environmental and saving impact that the panels have is needed.

Member Poll: Green Designation

The last member poll asked you how you think we should celebrate our 75th Anniversary.  With only 30 responses (so few??), hosting a BIG party is in the lead.  We’re going to leave that poll open while we add our new inquiry… Would you be interested in obtaining your Green Designation?

Would you be interested in obtaining your 2-day Green Designation?

As our 2016 trends show, going green is not part of a fad. Green real estate is altering market dynamics.  Heating and cooling costs were at least “somewhat” important to 85% of home buyers in 2013. A whopping 73% of home buyers considered commuting costs at least “somewhat” important in the same study. The course prepares real estate professionals to provide advice and sources of information to help homeowners improve the resource efficiency of their homes from low-cost fixes and DIY projects to retrofitting and replacing systems on a big scale.  Marketing energy efficiency can also improve a seller’s net proceeds.

We can offer live lecture or online courses to help you learn about this new market.  Here are the learning objectives for those that like the details:

Lakes and Ponds

Thanks to Jonathan Hankin of Berkshire Property Agents – he provided a draft list of the Berkshire lakes and ponds by town, their approximate acreage and whether or not they allow motorized craft (and notes that could be helpful).  Staff went through and linked all of the ponds and lakes with Mass Wildlife maps and
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