Disclose Your Home’s Condition
When it comes time to sell your home, you want to have a clear conscience that you are selling your home with little to no hidden defects. How is this done? It’s done with the help of home services professionals.
No one person is all knowing but there are experts who are close in their area of expertise. This is why you want to employ the help of professionals in their field of experience.
Your Limited Experience
You may be a person who has some level of experience in the home services arena but you can be blinded by the areas in your own home that need to be brought to attention and addressed.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “If it was a snake it would have bit me.”
This saying is referring to how we can be so close to the situation and can’t see the danger that is lurking nearby. What dangerous defects are lurking nearby that you can’t see because of your lack of training but a professional can help you from potential liabilities?
Purposes of Professional Inspectors
Professional home inspectors and pest inspectors will be the two professionals you will want to employ first. They will help you discover any areas needing fixing and/or disclosing before you sell your home.
If you don’t know of any yourself, you can call your local real estate agencies and ask them for their most nit-pickiest inspectors. Make sure that you have a home inspector that has at least a 1,000 hours of log time in their inspections and is certified in your local state.
The purpose of the home inspector is to discover any visible defects and not latent defects (areas that are hidden). For example, areas of latent defects would be a leak behind the wall/ceiling that caused a water stain from water intrusion. They will address the stain for you to know this is an area of concern and that it needs to be investigated further.
When it comes to code compliance violations this is the responsibility of your local municipality inspector; your home inspector will let you know this is not their purpose but to disclose defects and concerns only. Now a defect can result from a code compliance violation and if so, they will possibly let you know that too; but inspectors can’t know all the codes there are when it comes to many systems of a home.
The pest inspector responsibilities are to check areas like but not limited to for pest invasions, wood destroying insects, environmental containments and moisture content in your crawl space. If your state allows for the pest inspection company to make repairs/treatment on their findings, you may want to get a second opinion.
At the time of this writing our state/county allowed for repairs/treatment to be made by the pest inspection company. Buyers can’t purchase a home loan if they don’t have a clearance letter from the pest inspection company.
Before I get into a list of areas that are usually covered in your inspections, it’s very important to disclose to any potential buyers of any improvements or remodels done either by a homeowner or professional(s). Also, if any work was done, was it conforming or nonconforming?
Conforming improvements/remodels would be when a permit was pulled and then permit signed off by local municipality inspector when work was completed and inspected. Non-conforming improvements/remodels can be no permit was pulled or permit was pulled but not signed off for inspection by local municipality inspector when work was completed.
Not all home improvements require a permit/inspection by your local municipality. It is important though to still disclose areas of improvements done to your home. Buyers have been known to go back to previous home owners to sue them for areas of defects that were not disclosed and that ended up resulting in costly repairs.
An example of an improvement that Mr. & Mrs. Seller could do to improve the look of their home before putting it on the market is to lay down a new wood laminate floor over a concrete slab floor. Now three to four months down the road after closing on the house, Mr. & Mrs. New Homeowners notice that the flooring is puckling and doesn’t understand what is going on. As far as they know there has been no water intrusion.
Mr. & Mrs. Sellers didn’t know the importance of the vapor barrier and wanted to save money by not putting it down between the concrete floor and the laminate flooring. Sellers didn’t know that concrete absorbs moisture from the ground and pulls it up through the concrete. Now the pretty new floor has to be redone again the correct way. This why it’s very important to disclose as much as possible to reduce your risks of liabilities down the road.
Importance of Inspections
When it comes to home inspections I’m not an expert; but I have as a real estate agent been on numerous inspections with my buyers as a buyer’s agent. I have recently started recommending to sellers and seller’s agents to do the home inspection first before they have their homes put onto the market.
It’s frustrating to have a seller wait to get the buyer’s report from their home inspector and they aren’t able to make the necessary repairs required by contractual/state laws. Also, if the buyer wanted to continue to move towards closing, they couldn’t because certain repairs the buyer’s loan type will not allow to be financed in.
This can actually cause the seller to lose the deal. It’s better for sellers to know up front what they may possibly be looking at that needs repaired and especially required repairs like an HVAC system.
I highly recommend if you employed the inspectors that you be present when an inspection is done. This way when defects are discovered you can be there for them to show you and explain what needs to be done to correct it.
Areas of Inspections
As I stated before the two top inspectors you will need is a home inspector and a pest inspector. In their inspections they may recommend other professional experts to come in to investigate upon areas of concern for further discovery. The home inspector will investigate for a number of areas of concerns like the following but not limited to:
• In crawl space area – rotten wood from water intrusion or leaks thru floors and joist, concrete pillars and mortar, conditions of plumbing lines like corroding of copper piping, conditions of duct lines for any air loose or insulation missing, insulation missing between floor joist.
• In attic space – look for exhaust vent pipes to be connected properly and exhausting, water stains from roof leaks, insulation condition in ceiling joist.
• Interior of home – all appliances are tested for working condition, HVAC abilities tested for heat and ac, all plumbing checked for pressure, drainage and any possible leaks, fireplaces, window opened and closed (homeowners have been known to paint them shut). Electric outlets are tested and electrical panel for safety.
• On top of the roof – condition of shingles, proper flashing around vent pipes and chimney, and does chimney have vent cap on top.
Lastly I want to address those areas of concerns that your local municipality requires as compliance codes that may not have been in place when you had purchased the home. For example, in our area along the eastern coast, properties that are in flood zones required to have additional ventilation openings.
If a home is in a flood zone area and has a foot print of 1800 square feet then it needs 180 total square inches of open ventilation space in the foundation. If homeowners don’t have one square inch for every one square foot of footprint then any potential buyer would find it difficult to get home owners insurance.
Now for the pest inspector, areas of concern will be investigated looking for but not limited to the following possible areas:
• In the crawl – pests like rodents or critters of any type, insect wood destroying pests like termites or wood rot microorganisms like certain funguses, and then environmental concerns that can be caused by high moisture content like mold or mildew. Moisture content will also be measured and must not exceed a certain percentage level to be considered in the safety zone. Our area must be at or below 19 percent moisture content.
• The next area the pest inspector may look at is eves/fascia boards or also known as exterior trim along the roof line. They will check for any potential wood rot then move into the interior of home. The other areas of concern are along base boards, door frames cabinets and windows for any wood rot or deterioration from wood destroying insects.
• Last area of investigation is in the attic to look for any possible wood rot and pest invasions.
This list of investigation areas may not be the complete list of areas. Again this has been my experience as an observer as a buyer’s agent. Other potential inspectors that may be needed for further evaluation may have been recommended by your home inspectors and pest inspectors are as follows:
• Asbestos Inspector– deterioration of asbestos insulation on duct work, pipes, etc.
• Environmental Inspector – Septic systems and water safety.
• Geotechnical Engineer Inspector – soil safety from fuel tank leakage underground.
• Lead Base Abatement Inspector – for homes painted prior to 1978.
• Mold/Mildew Remediation Inspector – testing & removing mold/mildew.
• Structural Engineer Inspector – checking for structural compromises when cracks are in walls of at least ½” or larger.
These additional experts will help with any additional areas of concern. Remember you want to disclose before you close so you can reduce your risks of liabilities down the road with your new buyers.