May 29, 2011

What should I look for in a home inspection?

When involved with condition concerns, be sure to gather as much information as possible. Both buyer and seller should clarify descriptions and facts regarding condition concerns by asking questions before the offer to purchase is signed. Here are some general questions regarding condition.

Do Not Wait Until You Have Been Damaged – Read This First

The condition of a home is a significant consid­eration in most real estate transactions. As a matter of fact, 90% of the complaints voiced by buyers against home sel­lers, address the condition of the property. In order to evaluate the home’s value, you should thoroughly consider its condition. Our goal is to describe some common condition concerns and help you put them into the proper perspective.

Advice to the Buyer

Buyers should always remember not to expect new when they are buying used. Keep in mind, every home usually has some sign of wear or at least the possibility of condition problems. Your expectations should be proportionate with the complete picture, evaluating all aspects of the home. This total evalu­ation will help to keep condition issues in their proper perspective. Most condition concerns that are understood and properly valued will generally not prevent buyers from purchasing a home and being happy with it.

Advice to the Seller

Sellers often find difficulty seeking a top price when the property is not in top condition. It is best to consider correcting any condition flaws, but if that’s not feasible, sellers should then disclose condition problems. Upfront disclosure will prevent last minute obstacles and mistrust. Since today’s society is prone to engage in lawsuits, the seller is better off with the buyer in harmony rather than in court. Remember, condition problems that are disclosed, understood and properly valued should not prevent a home from selling.

Conditions That Count

Generally, the importance of considering the effect on value of a condition becomes greater the more it costs to repair, replace or correct. Here are some examples of serious condition problems:

• Leaky, bowed or unsound foundation

• Sagging, leaky or deteriorated roof. Remember, if there is a leak somewhere – carpenter ants need water.

• Aging furnace, water heater, well pump, septic system, and other items expensive to replace

• Faulty or aging major appliances

• Deteriorating, cracked, dented or rotted siding or stucco

• Rotting fascia and exterior trim boards

The list can go on and on to include such items as windows, carpeting, landscaping,  light fixtures and more.

Questions to Ask

When involved with condition concerns, be sure to gather as much information as possible. Both buyer and seller should clarify descriptions and facts regarding condition concerns by asking questions before the offer to purchase is signed. Here are some general questions regarding condition.

• When was the last time the problem occurred?

• How often does it happen?

• How long has it been like this?

• Does it need to be replaced or can it be repaired?

• Did they already try to repair it?

• Will it cause further damage to other areas of the home if it is not corrected?

• Do they still manufacture it or will a substitute work?

• What will it cost to repair it?

• What are the qualifications of the person that has inspected the problem?

No Guarantees

People often gauge a  home’s overall condition on the age of the home. Unfortunately, youth makes no guarantees. Although there is often less maintenance with a newer home, it can sometimes be subject to construction and material flaws. As for an older home, it may be a better buy or have fewer  flaws because it has stood the test of time. The home’s age can be a deceptive indicator of its condition.

The Bottom Line

In order to more fully understand the condition of a particular home, we strongly recommend that the home be inspected. The bottom line is, unless you are fully qualified and understand all aspects of building components, systems and structure, you should utilize the services of an expert. All too often, the buyer and seller are just too close to the situation or their opinions are based on “a feel­ing” or other emotional impres­sions of the home. A written home inspection will provide valuable information for your decision-making process.

A home warranty can provide an additional level of comfort and protection. The buyer or the seller can purchase protection from the high cost of repairing major mechanical systems or appliance failures.

No Generalities

There are no generalities to depend on when it comes to evaluating a home’s condition. Information obtained from experts such as home inspectors, contractors or your own observations is particularly valuable. Both buyer and seller need to be aware of and fully understand all condition issues and its impact on value. This understanding will facilitate a more confident and successful real estate decision.

Ask me your questions. I will answer them for you.