Blog by ASHI Inspector Nick Minderman, MARCH 21, 2016
Let’s face it – putting your home up for sale causes stress with feelings of intrusion and fear. In order to sell your home you have to let people ‘into’ your home. You have to trust the buyers and their agent they will appreciate what you have. You want them to feel your homes charm and worth. When you finally find your buyer the next step is to allow an independent third party professional to do a home inspection. That’s me –an ASHI certified home inspector with 7 Oaks Home Inspection! Your agent prepared you and you know this is routine but you dread the day. I always appreciate how the sellers feel when I come in to do a home inspection.
Last week I inspected a home for a young couple buying from an elderly lady who lived in Moscow Mills, Missouri. She had lived in that home 31 years. She raised her family there and had tons of memories. Now she was moving to Florida to live with her daughter. Usually when I’m inspecting a home the sellers leave the home while the buyers and I look things over. But this sweet lady didn’t want to leave. That was fine. She sat in her rocker by the living room window. We talked a bit. She said, “I just know you’re going to find something wrong and they won’t buy it or they’ll reduce their offer!” I told her that was not my job. I reviewed my role as a professional looking for the strengths and weakness of the home and that I worked for the buyers. I was not a code inspector. I was not an insurance inspector. Inspections could not pass or fail. The main purpose of the home inspection was to help the buyers understand the condition of her home at this date and time, understand the maintenance and learn how to correct any issues. Since I’ve been doing this for so many years – I could tell her it was very rare to find something that couldn’t be remedied! She seemed relieved.
When this home was built about fifty years ago code inspections were not the norm. Buyers trusted the builder to use professional carpentry standards. And when the current owner moved in 31 years ago she probably didn’t have it inspected because the home inspection industry was just starting at that time. But today most homes in city limits are built compliant to codes and multiple code inspections. Today almost all homes are inspected before purchase.
The buyers walked through the home with me and we quietly discussed a few undisclosed issues. My reports were emailed to them and their realtor. It was refreshing to hear they understood this was an older home and had already noted the few big items that needed repaired or replaced before they put in their offer. Now they had the confidence they needed to go forward with the purchase knowing the home had ‘told its story’. I had reminded my buyers that a home inspection was NOT primarily a negotiating tool. It is to provide additional information about the home they are purchasing for the purpose of understanding both the weaknesses and the strengths of the home. Their agent had reminded them both before and after the inspection that it was an older home and some of the usual maintenance had been neglected. She reminded them that no home is perfect. This couple was also concerned about health and safety issues and opted for additional air sampling and radon testing. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. The EPA wants every homeowner to check the radon level in their home every three years. The radon test came back below the EPA standards. If there had been high levels of radon gas, it would have been reasonable to go back to the seller and ask for compensation or remediation.
But I also explained there IS a time and place for negotiation. Negotiable examples uncovered by an inspector could include safety concerns such as not having a fire door between the garage and interior of the home, or electrical issues, such as double-tapped circuit breakers. Issues like those are not only unsafe but could prevent the buyer from getting a loan and or insurance. The sellers may prefer to issue the buyer a credit to cover the cost of the repairs rather than fix it themselves. But however compensated these types of discoveries are justifiable negotiations, and it is to the seller’s advantage to deal with these items if they want to sell their home. This is another example of seller’s agents being worth their weight in gold! They have the training and support to help buyers and sellers work through these issues.
Negotiating can be upsetting because issues come as a surprise. For example – when a roof looks to be great from the road but upon close inspection by a trained eye I find hail damage or leaking plumbing vent seals – that is a BIG surprise. Neither the sellers nor the seller’s agent knew this. This is upsetting to everyone. I get it. That is the MAIN reason why more and more sellers are choosing to get a pre-inspection walk through done of their home before the listing is posted. There are NO surprises. They don’t dread the home inspection. Few negotiations if any are needed. They are able to disclose everything about the home. When offers come in they are much more likely to go all the way to purchase and at the highest price.
So this blog has a happy ending. The few undisclosed items I found were small in nature and an agreement was easily reached. The home should close in thirty days. And yes, ideally the home would have been inspected before selling to prevent negotiations due to undisclosed items. But at least these buyers were realistic, educated and informed. They understood older homes should not be expected to conform to new homes. And the buyers knew that the most important reason to get a home inspection was NOT so they could buy at a cheaper price but so to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the home, to find any safety issues and receive general education about routine maintenance specific to that home. I’m glad to report, “All is well – in Moscow Mills.”