Here are some items of interest from the mailbag:

Environmental concerns have become big business for those involved with the purchase and sale of commercial property. But home buyers are as worried as commercial investors about what lies beneath the surface of their property.

Environmental Risk Information & Imaging Services (ERIIS) is the nation’s largest publisher of environmental due diligence property reports. For $75, a home buyer can order an ERIIScan, an environmental property report that accesses 8 databases with over 7 million sites that are either contaminated or have the

The report plots the property address of interest at the center of a local map and indicates where potential problems are. For any site that turns up within a one mile radius of the property address, ERIIScan provides a text report with the name and address of the site, the type of database in which it is registered and the distance from the property.

What kinds of sites might turn up? “Everything from the neighborhood gas station to the local dry cleaners. There is also a national priorities list of the top 1,300 sites in the country where people wear white suits and are decontaminated upon exiting,” said Glenn Hanna, an executive with ERIIS.

An ERIIScan would be most useful for those home buyers who are unfamiliar with the neighborhood in which they want to buy a home. You may also want to purchase a report if your area was once an industrial site.

Hanna says the best time to order a report is before you close on the property, and preferably before you make an offer. “We’ve seen home buyers make an offer contingent upon a satisfactory ERIIScan report,” he said.

Although offered through the Realtors Information Network (RIN), the California Association of Realtors and the New York Association of Realtors, real estate agents don’t like, and don’t want their customers to know about, ERIIS, Hanna said.

“They don’t want their customers to know any information that might kill the deal,” Hanna explained. “That could happen. There are plenty of people who have ordered the ERIIScan, read it, and decided to look for a home in another neighborhood.”

To order an ERIIScan, call toll-free (800) 989-0403. The cost is $75 per address.

The American Institute of Architects believes in the future. They’ve just released a report, written by AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, that forecasts changes in the construction market in the next 15 years.

What do they see happening in the residential and remodeling areas? First, Baker projects a dramatic increase in single-person households, to 37 percent of total households. Approximately 18 million new households will be formed by 2010. This is expected to fuel demand for housing designed with more amenities requiring less maintenance.

Baker also believes that remodeling activity is ready to explode. This trend is based on the fact that a growing number of households over the next 15 years will be in the mid-40s to mid-60s, the age that spends the most on remodeling projects. In addition, changes in work patterns and health care needs will encourage households to remodel their current homes to accommodate new home-based activities. Finally, homes built during the 1970s construction boom are reaching the age where they require system replacements and improvements.

What’s hot on the Internet? According to Becky Swann, editor of the Internet Real Estate Directory (, these are the 10:

1031 Tax Deferred Exchanges Services ( is a plain vanilla presentation of useful information on like-kind exchanges.

Abele Owners Network ( is a national listing service of homes that is for sale by owners, with 5,100 properties in 44 states.

Big Book ( is a “yellow pages” type listing service.

California Association of Realtors ( offers a new look on their web site, with county and regional maps.

Dream Home Diary ( lets you experiences the highs and lows of homeownership vicariously.

High-Tech Home Inspection ( is a Dallas, Texas-based company that offers home inspections. The web site offers information about objective testing.

Keystroke Financial Network ( allows you to apply online for a loan, plus offers title and closing information on a state-by-state basis.

LivingHome Online ( offers information for remodelers.

The San Juan Island Choice ( offer in-depth community information.

Vacation Rental Source ( offers help in designing vacations and making reservations.