You’ve just gotten your keys to your new dream home, you’ve moved in, and then XXXX hit’s the fan. The water heater blows up; the air conditioning stops working on the hottest day of the year; the roof leaks in the first rain in months; there’s an invasion of ants bigger than the mass exodus from Egypt. Here are some things you can do to avoid a costly post-closing catastrophe.
- Look at the listing language.Some properties are listed for sale “as is,” but you should clarify if that means the seller is absolutely unwilling to address major safety issues and/or code violations that might come up in an inspection that would make it difficult for them to sell the house to any buyer. If a seller either can’t afford or doesn’t want to fork out any money for repairs, be prepared to move on, based upon the advice given in a physical inspection report by a certified physical inspector. I have several incidences where the physical inspector has recommended that my client not buy the house.
- Know your mortgage lender’s requirements.Some mortgage lendersrequire that certain safety issues and or code violations, such as broken windows and door locks; missing window screens; water heaters not properly installed and secured; fire rated doors that the sellers have compromised by putting in a doggie door, etc. Depending on the type of mortgage you get, appraisers may note physical deficiencies within the house that the lender will see.
- Check out the property and seller online.If you find a house that you think has been renovated recently have your real estate agent or physical inspectors check your county’s records to see if the proper building permits were pulled. You want to make sure that major renovations are up to up to code and permits were drawn.
- Get a home inspection.When you buy a house always hire your own physical inspector to do a thorough home inspection, which typically costs $300 to $500. While an inspector might not catch everything, particularly if a seller is hiding something intentionally, you shouldn’t skip this step — problems that pop up later could cost you big bucks. I just recently had a buyer that did not want to spend the money in ordering a physical inspection and after he moved in spent 3-times over in fixing/repairing the air conditioning, plumbing, and kitchen counters.
- Review the seller’s disclosures.Laws vary from state to state, but generally sellers are supposed to reveal any latent defects or deficiencies, i.e. problems with their property that a physical inspection can’t reasonably be expected to reveal. Homebuyers should always ask for repair or renovation documentation. Also, be wary of sellers who disclaim knowledge of the home’s condition; that’s a SERIOUS red flag,
- Get a Home Warranty! The most important think you can do is get a Home Warranty, of your choice, and paid for by the seller. My favorite for my clients in the CRES Advantage Enhanced Plan that has 13-months of Coverage. It’s not the “end all solution” but it has saved scores of my clients from unexpected calamities involving their home.