As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, May 2010.
As the effects of Chinese drywall ripple across the mortgage and real estate industries, more mortgage brokers will find themselves working with problem properties. Brokers can help determine when trouble exists, educate borrowers and solve associated financing issues. They also can assist homeowners forced to deal with Chinese drywall. Here's how.
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The term "Chinese drywall" has become synonymous with defective drywall of any origin. But it originates from reportedly contaminated drywall that came to the United States from China, mainly between 2004 and '07. Between '06 and spring of '09, the U.S. imported an estimated 550 million pounds or more of Chinese drywall, according to Time magazine.
Reports, however, indicate some defective drywall was manufactured domestically. Testing for the existence of toxins associated with Chinese drywall represents a key factor when working with mortgages related to potentially affected homes.
Chinese drywall was reportedly installed in great part in new homes and renovations between '03 and '08, though it has been identified in homes built as early as '98. The majority of homeowners reporting problems associated with Chinese drywall live in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia. As of mid-March, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had received more than 3,000 Chinese drywall complaints from 37 states. For more information, visit drywallresponse.gov.
Led by the CPSC, a team of federal agencies -- including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- continues to investigate problems associated with Chinese drywall. Signs of contaminated drywall include rotten-egg odors, according to the CPSC.
Through a variety of chemical reactions, compounds within affected drywall combine with latent humidity to create caustic gases, including hydrogen sulfide and carbon disulfide. These gases can cause property damage and neurological, cardiovascular and reproductive health issues. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health consider the gases created dangerous. Homeowners have reported health issues ranging from chronic throat and nasal irritation to headaches and insomnia.
Although the concentration levels of hydrogen sulfide and carbon disulfide found in many affected homes are lower than the levels the government safety organizations set, the duration of exposure for residents can be longer, the CDC says. Other effects include metal corrosion that can destroy appliances; electronics; wiring; and heating, ventilating and air conditioning units.
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