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.
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.