Nov 052018
 

When buying or selling a home you generally will want to hire an inspector to assess the general condition of the property and buildings before closing. In other blog posts I’ve gone over that process, so this post is more about this common language you’ll see in the report.

Older houses have older systems!

As a buyer it is important to know the condition of the home mechanicals which generally includes the furnace – heating / AC units, water heater, and possibly water softener and other water conditioning systems. Often the inspector will check any included appliances but mostly that is to determine if they work or not. Items such as furnaces, AC units, and water heaters will have a manufacturer’s tag that includes specifics on the unit and when it was manufactured. At some point manufactures came up with standards on how long the purchaser should expect their product to function under normal usage. Thus they came up with the “Industry Standard Useful Life”.

Now the truth is that it is only a vague guideline and is not how you determine a unit is close to failure. But we’ve often seen buyers panic when they see that term used in the inspection report referring to the units in the home they are purchasing. What is more important to look at is the general condition of the units which lets you know the owner regularly serviced them. Good maintenance can extend the useful life, in some cases doubling the lifespan or more. With heating / furnaces it’s important that depending on the type some need a lot more maintenance than others. Any furnace or heating system that uses combustibles as the heat source, (gas, oil, propane, etc.) should be serviced regularly as the use of those products can cause corrosion from the fumes and moisture from the fuel itself. An ‘All electric’ heating system on the other hand just needs an occasional cleaning and if a heat pump a check on the refrigerant level. So the important factor that the inspector needs to determine is has the unit been serviced. Same pretty much goes with the water heater as they can last a long time if serviced properly.

As a buyer you want to pay more attention to how the seller has taken care of the mechanicals and not how old the systems are. If they are old and worry you we often recommend having the seller pay for a 1 year home warranty, just in case something is nearing the end. Often a change in how the unit is used with new owners will cause it to fail so the warranty will cover the buyer in that case as well. Probably the main item of note if a system is old is that newer systems are more efficient, so your utility bills might be slightly higher than with newer systems.

As a seller we always recommend you have your mechanicals serviced before you go on the market. Any time an inspector sees that the system has recently been serviced by a professional they will know it should be in good working order. And if you’ve been doing that regularly that just makes it look better for your potential buyers.

Have questions on what you need to do to get your home ready to sell? Don’t hesitate to call The Derrick Team about your mechanical systems or any other questions you might have at 317-563-1110. Or send us a message here.

 

 

 

Sep 132018
 

It’s easy to forget when you are spending a lot of money on a house that you are buying a USED home (unless you happen to be building a new one). And often it is at least several years old, if not a few decades or more. When we first talk to buyers we find out how comfortable they are with home maintenance which can dictate how old of a home they might be comfortable with. But truth is a lot of older homes are better built than some of the newer styles. But that’s another whole blog post so we won’t go over that here. But the real key is that when you’ve successfully worked out the Purchase Agreement (PA) with the seller, you’ll want to pay and professional inspector to carefully go over the home to point out any flaws or defects the home has that aren’t readily apparent.

1308Interior10

Inspection of the furnace /AC and water heater is very important!

As you are looking at homes with your real estate agent you can usually note the basic conditions that tell you what might be needed. Because we’ve talked to our clients before showing them homes we’ll point out things and ask if they are comfortable taking care of that after the sale. For example, many homes will need some painting of some sort, and most our clients will be OK with that since they might want to change the colors anyway. But for holes in the walls or cracks in the ceiling it might depend on how handy our client is as to if that makes them move on to the next home. The reason we point this out is these are the items in the homes condition that are readily apparent and are “known issues” at the time you write the purchase agreement. So you factor those items into what you are willing to pay for the home. We help guide our clients on what their costs may be in addressing these issues.

The inspection after the PA is accepted by both parties is to look for the “unknown issues”. A good inspector will help educate you about the home you are about to purchase going over items like the furnace operation, water shut offs, etc. That’s why it’s important to be there why the inspector is doing the inspection. Unlike many agents we try to be there for all our buyer’s inspections. (sellers should leave during inspections). Inspectors will ALWAYS find something wrong, it’s their job. And remember these are USED homes. The age of the home will also determine how to look at issues as building codes have changed over the years so what’s OK in a 50-year-old home may not be for a home only 10 years old. What I like to point out is there will be a list of items the inspector finds on every home as no home is perfect. So as either a buyer or seller, don’t freak out when you see the list. That’s why we like to be there so we can mention this or that is a common problem found in most homes. Having attended many inspections, we’ve listed below many of the common items found at inspections, even in homes less than 10 years old. For a buyer don’t be surprised at the list and as a seller look this list over to see if you can address some of these items before you put your home on the market.

Electrical:

  • Loose outlets and switches (very common)
  • Open /uncovered junction boxes
  • Non-working GFCI outlets (important in newer homes)
  • Non-grounded outlets (important in newer homes)

Furnace / cooling systems:

  • Dirty filters (very common)
  • Dirty furnace (showing lack of servicing)
  • Improper ventilation for combustion systems (gas, propane, oil)
  • Indoor circuit breaker not matching outside AC unit

Windows / doors:

  • Broken seals on double-pane windows (very common)
  • Doors that won’t latch
  • Broken / cracked glass
  • Missing / damaged screens (very common)

Roof / exterior:

  • Roofing nail pops (very common)
  • Loose or missing shingles
  • Loose vinyl siding
  • Roof damaged (hail damage or worn out)
  • Rotten / damaged soffits or window trim
  • Unlevel or cracked concrete patio / sidewalk / driveway (very common)
  • Gutters full of leaves
  • Improper downspouts

Plumbing:

  • Dishwasher drain without proper loop (very common)
  • Leaky pipes / drains under sinks
  • Low water pressure (common in older homes)
  • Improper water heater pressure relief valve drain pipe (very common)
  • Sump pump inoperative in crawl spaces

These are just some of the more common items that are found in just about every home. If you inspected your current home today many of these items would probably show up. The main thing to keep in mind is you are not buying a perfect home (inspectors will also find problems with brand new builds). Use the inspection report to address items that relate to safety, security, and structural conditions. That’s what we are there to help you with as you go through what some might call the ‘scary’ home inspection. It’s usually something that all parties can negotiate items to be addressed and it’s very rare that a buyer has to move on to another home. Having a good REALTOR will help you make your deal work out, as either a buyer or seller.

Contact The Derrick Team today at 317-563-1110 with any questions on buying or selling real estate. We work 7 days a week, evenings too!

A Home Inspection Nightmare

 

May 232018
 

I’ve talked about homeowner’s maintenance responsibilities before and how that affects a homes value when you are ready to sell. But often ignored is the lot outside the home and that can sometimes lead to issues. I’ve mentioned before how it’s important to maintain your home. It can be for your own safety and security that everything works inside your home such as the furnace, water heater, electrical system, etc. But recently we’ve been running into issues with dead and dying trees, and that can lead to some expensive issues if not addressed, especially if they fall on your home.

Newer homes in neighborhoods often have very few if any large trees around them. Sometimes a few are left by the developer to maintain some sort of natural look in easements, common areas, and nature parks, depending on the type of development and requirements by the local zoning laws. But as neighborhoods mature we see landscaping that’s been ignored for way too long.

In homes older than 20 years previous landscaping can often grow beyond what was needed when originally planted (think large bushes hiding the front of the home). The decorative Bradford Pear was very popular back then and now we’re seeing them topple over in windy conditions as they don’t mature well without proper pruning. And any large tree close to the home should be looked at closely to make sure it’s healthy and won’t be falling on the home any time soon. It’s becoming a more common issue that some of the older trees are dying due to extreme weather, changing local conditions, and most commonly bug infestations such as the Ash borer killing Ash trees here in central Indiana.

Large Maple Trees Getting A Haircut

For the larger mature trees over 30 years old it’s a good idea to have an arborist or qualified tree trimmer examine the tree. Once the trees reach 30 – 40 tall you need to understand what could happen if it topples in a storm. Most of the time you’ll find they recommend a good pruning will help ‘storm proof’ a tree. They thin out the branches and remove unhealthy or dead branches, so the tree will fill in with younger branches and you’ll end up with a safer & shadier tree.

Another item to pay attention to is plants and trees too close to the home. Bushes and thick plantings up against the home can cause moisture and insect issues. Large trees too close to the home can damage the foundation and basement walls with their roots, not to mention clog up underground drainage pipes & septic systems.

So as a seller you’ll want to look at your landscaping before listing your home, so you can remove problem landscaping yourself or have it done professionally (highly recommended for large trees).

As a buyer, be sure and look around at any tall trees. Any more you should assume if there is an Ash tree, or large Bradford Pear around, it will have to be removed in the near future. Sometimes your home inspector will point out landscaping issues but most the time they focus on the house, so you’ll want to do your own scouting as well.

If you have any questions on this topic or any others on buying or selling your home don’t hesitate to contact The Derrick Team at 317-563-1110.

Oct 312017
 

As listing agents, we sometimes find that sellers don’t understand their responsibilities with a home they are selling and it’s condition. So I’ll explain some of the things we’ve seen with homes we’ve listed for clients and the best approach in dealing with them.

I think everyone can agree that the condition of a home greatly affects the sale price and how quickly it sells. A home that has been well maintained, no matter the age, will sell far more quickly and for a higher price range than average similar homes that are in the area. So as a realtor when we come to do our Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) on a home, we look closely on the homes’ condition compared to other homes to set the possible sale price (as an appraiser will do). Updates on older homes will also be a factor but that has been covered in other posts, so we’ll focus on condition for now.

Some of the major items we consider will always be age of the roof, windows, and mechanical systems such as furnace, A/C, & water heater. Normally this is usually pretty easy to establish either from visual inspection or repair invoices from the owner. But there is a lot in a home that is hidden inside walls, attics, basements, and crawlspaces that no one can really be sure of other than the homeowner, and in many cases they often will not know either.

Every time we talk to a homeowner with a crawl space I ask if they have been in there within the past 6 months or so. The reason is this is one of the most common, expensive, hidden defects we run into on a regular basis. Water penetration is a bad thing for a home, and in a dark damp crawl space it’s the worst. Leaking pipes, water coming in around the foundation, and in heavy rains a raised water table can all leave standing water and high humidity. What you end up with is the 4-letter word we hate: Mold.

Expensive Leaky Shower Drain

Recently an inspection found a leaky master bath shower drain that apparently had been that way for months. What was a $200-$300 plumbing repair became a $3400 mold remediation. Another one was so bad the water from clogged gutters, poor drainage, and a nonfunctional sump pump had damaged some of the foundation, which resulted in a $10,000 foundation repair along with a $4800 mold remediation.

Attic spaces are not immune to similar issues. For years it was common practice to vent bathrooms & kitchen fans directly to the attic. Add to that attics also are often not properly vented so again you get an attic full of mold and a rather expensive mold remediation. A few years back on a fairly new custom built home mold was found in a section of the attic that was not vented at all. In another case the roof was in pretty good shape but due to poor ventilation the underneath decking had rotted.

Other expensive hidden items that have turned up include fireplaces with major issues, older or improperly installed electrical wiring, major termite damage, and damaged foundations.

The seller is ultimately responsible for the condition of the home, whether the conditions were known or not. The visible condition is only part of this responsibility. As a seller you must understand that hidden conditions and/or undisclosed conditions can lead to lawsuits if found after the sale of the home. So it’s always best for all parties to be up front it dealing with items found during the inspection and repairs.

How does a seller avoid the surprise costs? Not everyone agrees on the best approach, but we always will ask about maintenance items before listing the home. If seller knows of anything with issues, we advise to have them repaired first. Otherwise they must be disclosed up front. One option if the seller is not sure on their homes condition is to pay for a pre-listing inspection. But anything found must be addressed or disclosed. In other cases where someone is selling a home they have not lived in, inherited, or know nothing about, the home can be listed ‘As Is’ and priced accordingly. But even then major items in the inspection can kill the deal if the buyer walks.

The safest way to avoid the high dollar repair costs when selling your home: take good care of it while you live there. A well maintained home has the highest dollar for dollar payback on one of your most expensive investments.

If you have any questions on selling your home don’t hesitate to contact us at 317-563-1110 or via our web site www.DerrickTeam.com. We’ll be happy to come look at your home with no obligations to hire us. We’re here to help you today, tomorrow, or anytime down the road.

 

 

 

 

Jul 262017
 

Buyers today will typically have the home they purchase inspected by a licensed home inspector. Acting as buyer agents we always will insist they do as they are buying a ‘used’ home and not everyone takes care of their home the same. And even a well-maintained home may have defects that the seller was not aware of.

A new roof can be an expensive surprise.

As the seller, you should expect this as part of the sales process. Even if you are selling ‘as-is’ a buyer will most likely do an inspection just to make sure they don’t get any surprises. They buyer hires and pays for this inspection so the inspector will be working for the buyer. With that in mind they will almost always find something wrong. The buyer will then present you with a Buyers Inspection Response that lists items they want repaired before they will close on the sale.

First, here are things expected of the seller for the inspection, which can take anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours.

  1. As a common courtesy, the seller should vacate the home during the inspection. Pets should be removed or crated during this time. If you cannot leave for some reason at least leave the inspector and buyers alone so they have some privacy. The inspector needs to be able to discuss items freely with the buyer.
  2. Access to the mechanicals, such as the furnace / AC, water heater, etc. is necessary for the inspector to check them out. Move boxes, items, etc away so they can remove the panel on the air handler unit.
  3. Any access to the attic areas or crawl spaces must be clear of all items. Cars parked in a garage can keep them from attic entry if that’s where the opening is. Locks on crawl space entry must be removed or a key left behind.
  4. Any electrical panel should not be blocked or hidden. If there is a picture hanging over it remove it. The inspector will need to pull the cover off to check the wiring.
  5. Any outbuilding, detached garage, etc should be unlocked or key left in home so inspector can enter.

Second, here are some things the seller can do to help prepare for an inspection.

  1. We usually suggest or sellers have the furnace / AC serviced when they list their home unless they’ve already done so recently. That way there are no surprises and inspectors will always point out serviced systems.
  2. If the home has a crawl space peek in there or hire someone to check it out before listing. This is where some of the most expensive repairs come from. Often from a non-working sump pump that leads to water damage and mold.
  3. If the roof is more than 10 years old or age is unknown, have a roofing contractor inspect the roof for damage before listing your home. This gives you time to get quotes and check for insurance coverage way before the inspector finds and reports the issue. This also is often an issue with appraisers and having the roof replaced can be a condition on the sale of the home.
  4. If you or a ‘buddy’ have done electrical work or you are aware of some electrical items that just don’t work correctly, it would be a good idea to have an electrician come inspect and repair any of these items. These often show up in inspection reports.
  5. Leaking pipes, call a plumber. It’s often not just repairing the pipes but repairing water damage that can run up the costs on inspection repairs.
  6. If you have a wood burning fireplace, it’s best to have it inspected and cleaned by a chimney sweep.
  7. If there are any major items you are aware of but don’t want to fix, get quotes beforehand. It helps with negotiations when you have a quote on the repair costs ahead of time.

Keep in mind the Buyer’s Inspection Response is a negotiation and not necessarily a demand. But the items listed above are generally items that should be addressed, as nobody wants a leaky roof, electrical or plumbing issue, water or mold issue, or a furnace that breaks down the first time it gets cold. We generally say look at the items you would want fixed if you continued to live in the home and work from there. In some cases it can be negotiated as rather than making repairs the seller adjusts the selling price in compensation to the buyer.

As both buyer and listing agents we’ve see it all. For question on home inspections, selling, or buying a home feel free to call or text The Derrick Team at 317-563-1110. We work 7 days a week including weekends and evenings.

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