Home Inspection Deal Breakers

Before you buy a new house, a qualified home inspector is always your best bet for a thorough home evaluation, but you should also have a general understanding of what to look out for. A bad home inspection has the potential to derail a real estate transaction, especially if what’s uncovered is an expensive problem. Here are four issues that have been deal breakers, according to some Realtors.  

Faulty Electrical Wiring:
The electrical system is an important, and potentially hazardous, part of a home, which is why it is included in every thorough home inspection Newer homes have more supply of power and electrical outlets. Older homes do not. A good inspector should check the outlets throughout the home as well as check the interior of the electrical breaker/fuse box assuring that there are no “double taps” – two electrical circuits attached to a single breaker – as it is a fire hazard. The wires, conduits, and boxes should be securely fixed to the building. There should be no visible signs of damage or deterioration. There should be at least one ground rod or other approved grounding means present at the service.

Plumbing:
Some of these issues are obvious. Skilled inspectors are trained to find obvious, like a clogged toilet as well as the not so obvious, like illegal pipes that could result in being cited for plumbing violations. He will look around the entire home for signs of mildew, fungus or mold related to water leaking from broken pipes and cracks in the ceiling or floor.    

Grading Toward the Home:
Water in the basement, damp or wet crawlspaces, foundation movement, cracking and settlement may all be caused by grading. Water in the foundation could lead to rot in the walls, framing members and mold. Some indications of foundation movement include windows that are out of square; interior doors that have large, uneven gaps at the top when the door is closed; or floors visibly out of level. Some of the most experienced home inspectors believe that the most common issue they find during inspections is the lack of grading (improperly sloped soil) away from the home. 

Roofing:
A roof usually lasts about 30 years, so you will need to find out when it was installed. A home inspector will look at the quality of the shingles and know if any are curled, broken, or even missing which are signs that you might need a new roof soon.

The Bottom Line: Whether any of these issues are deal breaker depends on your preferences and needs. Any issue such as the four listed might be too expensive or time-consuming to fix. However, you might find these issues acceptable and have the resources to get them fixed. The home inspector should not tell anyone to buy or not to buy a home. It’s just his job to provide all the information needed so that the home buyer can make the right decision for them.   

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Home Appraisal

A real estate appraisal is an essential piece of the buying and selling of property most notably if a buyer is going to need a loan to buy the home. No legitimate financial institution will lend money without an appraisal. The appraisal value of a home can make or break a sale, leaving this part of the real estate process one if not the most important, critical steps.

A home appraisal is different from a home inspection even though both an appraiser and an inspector will walk inside, outside and around the property to check everything with a fine tooth comb. The appraiser is finding the value of the home and the inspector is looking for problems or defects with it.

During an appraisal of a home, the appraiser will look at the state of repari, the features, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms. It is good to give a list of repairs and improvements made such as a new roof, water heater, air conditioning, etc. Basically, anything the owner of the home can think of that will help the appraiser decide the general market value of the home.

The home will then be compared as accurately as possible by way of recent sales, homes sold that are similar, and a search will be done for properties that are identical to yours and what’s been sold or what is on sale in the neighborhood. The appraiser will also provide whether values of home are on the rise, decreasing or stable. If there are any concerns that he feels will harm the property’ value, it will be noted as well as flagging any bigger problems he may see in the foundation, the roof or any noticeable water leaks in ceilings or floors.

Again, an appraisal can make or break a sale of the home so it’s a nerve-wracking time. If the appraisal comes back higher or lower than the sale price, there will need to be more negotiating. If the seller isn’t happy with the outcome, a good Realtor will discuss with the appraiser why certain decisions were made. With the help of a Realtor, the seller can put together a valid argument as to why the appraisal is not correct.

Appraisals are valid for six months unless the home is in certain markets where homes are selling fast and prices continually change. At which point, lenders usually like an appraisal every three months.

The Bottom Line: Any good Realtor will press on the point that pricing the home correctly is most important. If a home is overpriced it’s not going to appraise and the sale usually falls through. Pricing issues are the number one reason homes don’t sell.

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Are You Ready For Your Interior Home Inspection?

It’s in a seller’s best interest to make sure their home is as ready as possible for inspection. All homes that have been lived in usually have a bit of damage from simply living in it.  After your home has been on the market and someone is interested in buying it, you have to pass the inspection.  Home inspection seems nerve-wracking but they are necessary before any sale. There are a few things you can do to be prepared for the day when the interior of your home is being inspected. 

Heating, Cooling, Water Heater: Each should have a date of their last inspection on them. If not, they could be flagged by the inspector.  If you can’t find a sticker, have your Realtor give you the name of a licensed contractor to come to have a look to see if any repairs or changes should be made and make sure all are running properly. 

Bathrooms: How is the grout in the shower, around the sink and in the tub looking? This one is an easy remedy if you see any cracks – match the grout color and fill in the damaged areas.  Make sure any pipe work that was performed meets legal standards and guidelines. For example: If you put in your own custom shower, note that the inspector will check below the surface to make sure that the membrane was installed properly and there isn’t water leaking below the shower that could damage the sub-floor and drywall.  The inspector will flush all the toilets and listen for any leaking sounds. Often you will just need a flapper valve if you hear a sound.  Cheap fix. 

Electrical: Test your outlets. For as little as $10, an outlet tester can be picked up at a home improvement store. An inspector will try every single one in your home. Be sure the cover plates are not cracked – another cheap and easy fix.  Every light fixture should have a working bulb and your smoke detector should work. 

Plumbing: Fill all your sinks part of the way and then pull the plug to see if they drain normally. Did it take a long time to fill the sink? It might be because you have low water pressure and is often a really easy fix. Occasionally, this could be an indication of a bigger problem within your plumbing system. It’s best, at that point, to hire a professional to come to see before an inspector. Check inside cabinets under sinks for moisture or around the valves.

Kitchen Appliances: Repair any that may need to be fixed as the inspector will run the dishwasher, the stove, oven, garbage disposal, vents, and fans. If you bought a new appliance while you lived in the home and installed it yourself, mistakes may have been made during setup. Check the water and drainage lines from a new dishwasher or refridgerator

Windows & Doors: Each window should be able to open, close and lock. If you find any hard movement, it can be easily fixed using spray silicone from the hardware store. Repair any caulking around the doors and make sure all the knobs/deadbolts are working properly. 

The Bottom Line: This is just a quick checklist of some of the things that you, as a homeowner, can look for and fix before an inspection inside your home.  Some of the issues may need the help of a professional.  The best advice we have heard is if you want the inspection to go smoothly, have your home inspected before it even goes on the market. This way, anything you can’t fix yourself, you will have time to find a reasonably priced contractor instead of rushing and paying top dollar after the fact. 

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Do I Need A Realtor to Buy a House?

Contract

“Do I really need a Realtor to buy a house?” If you are having doubts, here are a few reasons that a Real Estate Agent is valuable during the home buying process.

Sure, you can look through the many internet real estate listings, but a knowledgeable Realtor can cut through all the fat, plus have access to other sites, know the neighborhood comps, have contact with other agents in town with “pocket listings” and sometimes know the background (or the “skinny”) on a few homes. A Realtor is going to do all the dirty work and guide you through it all.  They are going to research the market trends and other important information that can be tedious.

The housing market is immense, there are literally thousands of options available and it can prove to be difficult to narrow down which homes are even worth looking at.  Your Realtor will have data about crime rates, education options, local businesses, commute times, zoning codes and a lot of other information that will influence your final decision.

Once you fall in love with a home, a skilled Realtor will have been through many homes and is trained to look for issues that might be hidden to you. Once the problem  identified it can be addressed and the Realtor can ask for it to be repaired.

The vast knowledge of market conditions and comp sales coupled with the Realtor’s knowledge will help put together a competitive offer at the best possible price.  You will be given information on at current home conditions to find any issues that could be leveraged during negotiations. The Realtor knows how to navigate through the many documents plus be your voice when the negotiating begins.  If you end up with questions and concerns or are completely confused, your Realtor will be able to  clarify all the clauses, contingencies and jargon-filled fine print as well as find hidden fees and conditions that many people tend to skim over.

The Bottom Line: Anyone can shop for a new home without a Realtor. Buying and selling a house is one of the largest financial transactions people make in their lifetime. Realtors earn their commission by making sure you know exactly what you are doing. They are helping you through the many pages of documents required on the transaction. They are with you during the inspection (pest, foundation, furnace, sewer, electrical, plumbing, etc), appraisal and disclosure. It’s in your best interest to use the resources of a skilled Real Estate Agent.

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Ohio Disclosure Rules

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When selling your home, you are obligated to disclose problems that could affect the property’s value or desirability in Ohio. Sellers and their Realtors are required to document any known defects to potential buyers. Sellers also have to take a proactive role by making written disclosures about the condition of the property.  Disclosure of a problem doesn’t mean you must repair or correct it. A buyer has an interest in getting the deal closed as well and oftentimes will overlook minor issues. More times than not, the disclosed item can become a point of negotiation between you and your buyer.

The Residential Property Disclosure Form is designed so that prospective home buyers are aware of known problems with the property during your ownership for a period not to exceed the past five years. Once the buyers have this in their hands, they have the right to rescind the purchase contract if it is made before the closing, within 30 days of signing the purchase contract and within three days of receiving the form itself.

Not everything needs to be disclosed. Many problems are obvious – a water stain on the ceiling for example or a deck that is rotten and falling apart. As a seller, you don’t have to disclose it. You can’t conceal or prevent a buyer from investigating the problem. A defect that is open, observable and can be discovered through inspection and inquiry is called a patent defect. The buyer can be held responsible and liable for all defects that could have been discovered upon inspection.  The burden is on the buyer to notice these issues prior to purchase.

If there’s any doubt about whether something should be disclosed, the best policy is to err on the side of disclosure. Full disclosure will protect sellers from future legal claims.

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