What causes problems on home inspections and how can you avoid renegotiating the sale price after you sign a contract? Address the issues before you list your home. Invest in a pre-listing home inspection and start fixing items 3 to 4 months before you decide to invite the public inside. People tend to make mountains out of molehills and handling repairs in advance will take those issues off the table later.
In every part of the world there are different things that are revealed in home inspections which will surely give the buyer and seller anxiety. In New Jersey we have septic tanks, water wells, electric power lines nearby, swimming pools, wood destroying insects, mold, radon gas, underground oil tanks, big trees leaning over homes, and many residences have basements. There are dozens of other issues like old furnaces, hot water heaters and air conditioning compressors, outdated electric panels, defunct knob and tube wiring, crumbling sidewalks, stoops, patios and driveways, roof leaks, windows and doors that do not open or close, and dozens of other items that ruin deals.
Let’s face it; some things are more obvious and others are hidden beneath the surface.
Some under ground spaces are more frightening than scenes from the horror movie Silence of the Lambs, and sellers need to remove the fear from these areas. Just a bad odor can turn off a prospect and a real estate agent.
If the ceiling is low and this is just an area used for storage, emptying out junk, making room to walk around, and a fresh coat of paint with some decent light bulbs, might be all you can do. If this area has a water problem, digging a whole for a sump pump with a back up battery can help, but usually a water proofing estimate or installation of a French drain will be required. Buyers are actually afraid, that’s right, they are scared of homes with water in the basement and few people want to invision his basement as a dungeon.
In Short Hills, NJ most single family residences have basements. Following all the flooding from the recent Hurricane, homes which were always dry, had water penetration for the first time. Power outages caused sump pumps to fail and back up batteries only last so long. Swimming pools overflowed from too much rain and some took water from window wells that were not properly covered or gutters and leaders that were clogged. Regrading of the landscaping away from the house or patching cracks in the front steps or rear patios, can keep water from seeping into the foundation. There are so many ways for water to seek the lowest level and then come inside.
Serious sellers will give their home a check up, and then remove the obstacles that will stand in the way of getting to a closing. The most serious hot buttons tend to be environmental, or those that the lender will not accept, so a seller has no choice but to address these issues. Often the buyers’ attorney will advise his client against buying a property with one or more of these issues that a seller will not address.
1. Have a pest control company do an inspection and be able to show that you have a one year warranty against all wood destroying insects. If you have infestation of one or more kind (like termites, carpenter ants or carpenter bees to name the three most common wood munchers) get a treatment. Mortgage companies REQUIRE this and some will insist that damage to beams, joists and sill plates are repaired (even if you bought the house this way 25 years ago.)
2. Get an estimate to remove old asbestos insulation on your heating pipes and remove that old asbestos tile in the basement. Better to get rid of it now than scare people away later. If you don’t want to deal with it, have the estimate ready to provide to buyers and be willing to offer a credi. The new owmer can have it done after they close. Be prepared to pay for it one way or another.
3. If you had a leak and there are black stains on your walls or paneling or in crawl spaces (oh yes, get someone to look in those dreaded dark caverns known as crawl spaces) you probably have mold. If your attic was insulated incorrectly (agains the roof instead of the floor) you could have mold buil up there too. In these case you need to remove the sheetrock or insulation, replace, paint and make sure it is all gone. You may need to have a mold company remediate and conduct an air test.
There are so many ways to keep your real estate deal on track and a pre-sale home inspection is one of the best ways to avoid surprises later. If you need help finding contractors to make repairs or inspectors to evaluate your home, visit our website for a list of service providers who may be able to assist you.