I must confess that in my 15 years of selling real estate, nothing has ever taken the place of negotiating and putting a home under contract. Going under contract is even better than the closing since I know, if I’ve done my job correctly, closing is a foregone conclusion. However, that confidence is as a result of thousands of transactions and knowing how to tackle the various real estate transaction pitfalls that causes a buyer to terminate their deal.
In every deal, there’s one looming transaction killer that has the power to destroy even the most certain of transactions: the home inspection.
In North and South Carolina, the home inspection process begins after the property is under contract and generally lasts 10-14 days. During that time, the Buyer is allowed to conduct a battery of inspections to verify anything to do with the property from roofing, plumbing, the foundation, electrical, etc. In North Carolina, this is performed during the Due Diligence Period, during which time the Buyer can elect to terminate at any point without fear of recourse from the Seller.
Most recently, Buyers are getting savvy when it comes to the inspection process as it relates to the Due Diligence Period, electing to wait until very end of the due diligence period to negotiate either expensive repairs, large concession from the Seller or price reduction. As a result, the entire deal gets thrown in to jeopardy as the Seller is now faced with potentially three potentially fatal options: continue to negotiate, say no and hope the Buyer doesn’t terminate the deal, or agree – which would lead to thousands in unplanned expenses. The heartache and stress resulting from this can turn even the most cordial transaction sour. Thankfully, there is a better way.
Some homeowners are choosing to hire an inspector to Pre-Inspect their home prior to it being put on the market for sale. While we all know our homes pretty well, this second set of unbiased eyes can help point out areas that may need to be addressed. Some Sellers are concerned that hiring an inspector could open up their liability to disclose items they weren’t aware of and that is true. If the inspector finds mold in the crawl space, the Seller would be bound to disclose that information to any potential buyer. So is willful blindness the best alternative?
Not in the least. The disclosure rules apply only to items that are not addressed but are known issues. In the case of the Seller with the moldy crawl space, they could simply call a mold remediation company, have the mold addressed and not worry about having to discuss it ever again. Items that are corrected do not need disclosure.
Additionally, having a home inspection report on hand can be an excellent marketing tool. Buyers are willing to pay a little more if they know the house is in a verified good condition and some may elect not to inspection on their own altogether (it happens but not recommended).
We verify things of value that are purchased second hand so why should real estate be any different? A few years back, I purchased an old pickup truck to use around the house for those moments when you need to get something from Lowes or head to the dump. Even though I know the basics of what to look for in used vehicle (does it start, stop, is it smoking, what’s that funny sound), I still invested in having a mechanic look it over to give me a bill of health. Having not done this once before cost me thousands.
A home inspection will run between $400-$700 depending on age and size of the home. It’s important that your inspector is licensed in your state and can provide you with a comprehensive report. As a compliment, if you have a maintenance agreement on your systems like the HVAC or made recent improvements to the house, paid invoices can also be a good reference for a Buyer.