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Easton eyes real estate inspection revisions

Changes would make Easton's rules more like Allentown, Bethlehem

EASTON, Pa. - Easton City Council is considering changes to how the city checks for possible code violations in homes and buildings prior to a real estate sale.

The proposed changes, which were discussed Tuesday night and will resurface at Wednesday night's council meeting, would bring Easton's inspection policies in line with how they are done in Allentown and Bethlehem, said George Kinney, director of Easton's planning and codes.

The potential changes in the city's buyer notifications ordinance have the backing of the Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors, said Taylor W. Munoz, the association's regional government affairs director.

The revisions would, among other things, focus inspections on "true health and safety" issues and require quicker turnarounds of inspection reports following inspections, Munoz said.

If adopted later this summer, the changes would require sellers to request an inspection within five days of listing their property for sale.

It also would require the city to perform the inspection within 15 days of the request and deliver the inspection report to the seller within three days.

Glenn Steckman, the city administrator, said Easton's real estate policies would be "more similar to what Allentown and Bethlehem do," if the proposed changes are adopted by council.

Steckman said the city is considering buying a software package that would allow inspectors to input data on a tablet, filling out forms and checklists on the spot, then printing the results from a mobile printer in their car.

"It's coming," Steckman said.

In part because of the soft real estate market, Steckman said there are no longer backlogs in turning out reports compared to the past when there was a "couple months' backlog."

Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said he favors the new inspection process over the current one, which has been known to turn out reports with four pages of single spaced findings.

"It was scaring people away," Panto said. "They were addressing every single code violation, no matter how diminus."

An unintended consequence, he said, was damage to some of the city's historic homes by property owners trying to remedy faults listed on the inspection report by removing historical details like stained glass or antique wood doors.

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Allentown, PA 18102




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