Posts Tagged ‘home inspections’

…I mean from a maintenance standpoint.  As I work with buyers and sellers of homes, I’m frequently struck by the surprise some home sellers experience when the buyer has an inspection done, and report findings about various things that are less than perfect about the house.  In North Carolina, our offer to purchase has contained language that allows the buyer to get an inspection and ask for repairs for anything not performing the function for which it was designed, including leaks- you know how the roof is designed to keep water off your head in the living room.  That means that the buyer can ask for repairs of functional things but not for cosmetic things.  Still, there are cosmetic issues that if left too long can become functional issues and start to cost some major cash to fix.  I’ve found that lots of sellers (owners) think their houses are in top condition and are shocked to find out that needed repairs may be costly.  That’s one reason that I always recommend to a seller to go ahead and have an inspection done and make needed repairs so that repairs are not an issue going toward closing.  Believe me when I say they definitely can derail a closing, either temporarily or permanently.

Even if you’re not going to sell your home, it’s probably a good idea to have an inspector go over your house every few years in order to catch things going wrong before they demand extensive repairs.  Houses are going to require maintenance of some type on an almost constant basis.  Undiscovered problems can become very expensive repairs, and from my experience, many homeowners have those undiscovered problems brewing all the time.

What to do?  One option to consider is to have a professional home inspector go through your house periodically to report what he’s found and catch little problems before they get big.  They are trained and licensed professionals who will likely see things that most homeowners will miss.  They’ll do this and give you a detailed report for between $300 and $500.  Some include an additional warranty.  They can also arrange for additional tests like water quality, septic systems, radon, etc.  Understand that they don’t have x-ray vision, so they can’t see behind walls, but I guarantee they’ll see more than most homeowners and give you the chance to “nip it in the bud” as Barney Fife used to say.

If you think you’d like to take this approach, I’ll be happy to recommend several home inspectors to you.  You can interview them and choose the inspector that you like the most.  I don’t get any financial consideration from them.  I just get the satisfaction or recommending a good service provider to my friends and maybe saving them some trouble and expense down the road.

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Some of my clients and I just got the results of an inspection on a house in Mooresville, NC  that we have under contract.  The house was built in the mid-seventies, and the windows have basic IGUs- Insulated Glass Units.  These units in the windows are what you’ll see in most homes, with two panes of glass separated by a space that may at one time have provided a partial vacuum designed to improve the insulating value.  Over time, these units may lose the seal that preserves the partial vacuum and get moisture inside, clouding the glass.  That’s what the inspection report said has happened with many of the windows in the house.  My clients, the buyers, must decide if they want some or any of these window units replaced.  The reason is that inspections point out what parts of a house are no longer performing the functions for which they were designed.  In this case, the insulating value is less than original, and the ability to see through the window is less than the original.

This is a good example of the interpretation of the language in the standard offer to purchase which says inspected components of the house must be able to perform the function for which they were designed.  Are windows designed primarily to keep out the wind and rain and let in the light?  If so, a failed seal is not a big deal.  However, if you add to your definition of functionality that they are also meant to reduce heating bills just like other insulation in the house and provide a clear view to the outside, then a failed seal means that the window is not performing the intended function- at least fully performing it.

Gets tricky, doesn’t it?  If you are selling your home, you might want to think about this if you have some cloudy windows.  Most buyers will get an inspection and most inspectors will say the window units need to be replaced.  One way to keep that from becoming an issue is to go ahead and replace those faulty units now.  It makes negotiations much easier when there’s not much in the way of repairs to negotiate.

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Our Lake Norman/Charlotte market is one of the best in the nation, but we still find sellers competing with more sellers than usual for a smaller than usual supply of buyers.  So, sellers need to be mindful of marketing strategies that will set them apart from the crowd and convince buyers that the seller’s property is the best value available.  One of the least used, but most attractive ways to do this is by the seller having a home inspection done as part of their marketing plan.  Yes, I know most sellers don’t want to spend the money on an inspection.  But think of these points:

  • Contracts usually lead to buyer inspections, and they lead to further negotiations on what the seller should repair.
  • Buyer inspections often point out problems in the property that the seller didn’t know about and didn’t consider in pricing the property.
  • A seller inspection gives the seller prior knowledge of what’s wrong and what it might cost to repair it- no surprises during repair negotiations (which can be very contentious)
  • Buyers negotiating a price often build in some discounting for problems that they may have to address that are unknown to them at the time of the basic negotiation.  They’ll be willing to offer and pay more when they know what they are getting up front.
  • The seller who has an up-front inspection is better protected from post closing property disclosure issues.
  • Less stress for everyone- both seller and buyer!

A professional inspection will cost only a few hundred dollars depending on the size and details included.  This can be a very smart move for a seller to increase the net sale price of the property and reduce the odds of fall through and stress of getting through contract to closing.

There are lots of excellent inspectors in our area.  Let me know if you’d like a few recommendations.  It doesn’t cost anything to talk to them about their services and prices.

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