Category Archives: home inspection issues

Red Flags to Look for During a House Tour


house tourWe see it: you’re captivated by the winding staircase or the open layout during the house tour. You love the big yard and the beautiful trees. But are you looking beyond the aesthetics as you tour the home? Do you know what red flags to look for during a house tour, so you don’t have to pay for the previous owners’ delayed maintenance or improper repairs? Undoubtedly, the location, layout and everything else on your ‘must have’ list is important, but are you looking at the whole property during your house tour? What lies behind those walls?

One way to spot, and deal with, red flags is to hire a real estate agent. A real estate agent can help you spot red flags during a house tour based on past experience. They’ve seen fixer uppers and damage at other properties and can help you find the most obvious signs during your initial tour:

Curled and cracked roof shingles. Do a visual inspection of the roof. If you see curled or cracked roof shingles, or missing shingles, take that as a red flag. Look for water damage inside the home, in case the deteriorating roof has allowed water in. While a damaged roof is a red flag, don’t panic. If you still are interested in the property, there are ways to deal with this red flag after the home inspection is completed.

Signs of water damage. Are there discolorations or stains on the walls or ceiling? Is the drywall bubbling or soft? Look for signs of water damage during the house tour, especially in the bathrooms and kitchen. Be aware, though, that water damage can be in any room and on the walls and ceilings. In extreme cases, a long-term leak can also lead to mold in the walls or attic, so have your home inspection check for any signs of mold in the drywall (as much as possible, anyway, without opening the walls).

Water in the basement. Most likely, you are not going to walk into a pool of water at the bottom of the basement stairs, but look for signs that water has been in the basement. Signs of water in the basement include staining, bubbling or soft drywall or a musty smell. If the previous owners do disclose a water problem in the basement, ask what was done to rectify the problem. Make sure the water was properly cleaned up, drywall was bleached or replaced and repairs were made (such as a sub pump installed) to prevent the water from coming in again.

Furnace age. The furnace may not be the most beautiful part of a house, but it is one of the most important parts of your home—and one of the most expensive appliances to replace. In addition to replacing the furnace, an impromptu breakdown can cause pipes to freeze. Ask what the age of the furnace is and what kind of fuel it uses.

Smell. Trust your nose. If you smell a musty smell or a strange odor, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Has there been water in the basement? Have the air ducts been cleaned? Is there a gas leak?

Electrical issues. Test the switches in the home. If switches don’t work, you have flickering lights, see burned or dangling wires, ask the home inspector to look into possible electrical issues.

Remember a real estate agent is not a home inspector, though they can help you be on the lookout for red flags during a house tour. If you are serious about the home, put an offer in on the property. When the offer is accepted, hire a home inspector to get an in depth examination of the property by a professional so you don’t get stuck with a “money pit” home (among other valid reasons for a home inspection). Your real estate agent can suggest home inspectors they have worked with in the past. Don’t panic if the home inspection hits a few snags, your real estate agent can walk you through your options. That’s why you have a real estate agent: to guide you through the house tour, explore options that can take care of those red flags and get you into the right home.

6 Mistakes You’re Making in your Search for a New House

Looking for a home like this incredible ranch? Call us today.
Looking for a home like this incredible ranch? Call us today.

Purchasing a new home is a BIG purchase, and most likely one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life. You don’t want to make a mistake, right? An ounce of education can eliminate those mistakes later, or even mistakes you are making now while readying for your home search, including:

  1. Waiting. Mortgage rates are low now. Waiting a few months (or even a few weeks) can cost you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Stop browsing through homes online. Contact a lender now, or call a local realtor for a referral for a local mortgage broker.
  2. Not knowing your budget. To prevent heartaches and disappointment later, consult a lender early in the process to find out if you are approved to buy a house, and what amount you can borrow.
  3. Not having a solid list of ‘must haves’ to work off. If you don’t know what you want in your new home, how is your realtor supposed to know? Make a list of ‘must haves,’ and expect it to change as you search for homes. It’s normal to tweak your list as you see features during your home tours that you like.
  4. Being unrealistic. Don’t expect the moon for nothing. Do your research, and ask your realtor to show you what your money can get for you in the real estate market—what kind of features you can get for 200,000, 250,000 and 300,000. Don’t assume that you need to set your budget at the maximum amount that a lender will borrow you, and don’t assume that you will get everything just because you want it. Prioritize your list of ‘must haves’ and decide what features you want most in your new home.
  5. Foregoing the home inspection. This is a mistake that can cost you thousands of dollars. A home inspector can tell you if work done by the previous owner was done correctly, or can recommend professionals that can inspect the structure or foundation. If you do find issues, you have time to renegotiate with the owners (visit our previous post to find out your options). If your offer is contingent on the home inspection, you can also back out of the sale. Home inspectors can not only give you insight into the quality of past repairs, but can also give you a list of repairs that need to be made in the future and a timeline. If the house needs a new roof, for example, he can give you his opinion on when it needs to be replaced.
  6. Jumping at the first property you see. Although it feels like love at first sight, compare your property love to other homes in the area to make sure it’s the one. Once you know that the property checks off boxes on your ‘must have’ list, and fits all the criteria as your match, talk to your realtor about submitting an offer.

Another common mistake most home buyers make is not using a realtor. A realtor has connections and expertise that can guide you through the home sale process, such as when you get a bad home inspection report or when navigating through the purchase of a foreclosure or short sale. In addition, realtors can recommend local home inspectors, contractors, lenders and insurance companies—any professionals you need to contact during your home search. Don’t delay. Contact a realtor to start your home search, and guide you through a smooth home buying process without any mistakes.

How to Know When That Property is Your Valentine…the ‘One’


brown houseCan a real estate property be a match made in heaven? We think so, especially after seeing the eyes light up of numerous Wisconsin home buyers throughout Dodge and Jefferson counties. And while everyone’s process is different, with some buyers banking their decision on feeling and others on logic, there are several common factors that their ideal real estate property met. So how do you know when that house, condo or town home is the one?

  1. It matches your top priorities on your ‘must have’ list. Know what you want. Three bedrooms? Two bedrooms? A big yard? A condo with no maintenance? The perfect property has the ‘must haves’ that top your list. Creating that list should be one of the first things you do to kick off your home search, along with these other two important steps.
  2. The price is right. Contact a lender to find out what your financial parameters are for your home search. Know how much you can afford, and how much “wiggle room” you have—or if you don’t have any. The perfect property is one you can afford now, and can continue to make payments on in the future.
  3. Location, location, location. Sounds cliché, doesn’t it? Your dream home is in an ideal commuting location, near your family, in the heart of all the action in town or in the country where you want to be.
  4. The home inspection backs it up. You don’t have to walk away from a property because of issues that come up during the home inspection (find out more about your options after a bad home inspection here). We would highly recommend that you get a home inspection, so you know what you’re getting. Even if the property looks perfect, a home inspector can discover structural or foundation issues that are not obviously visible.

Your ideal property may meet other must haves on your personalized ‘must have’ list: income potential, a fixer upper, move-in ready, handicap accessible. Contact a realtor with your list, and get educated. Finding the ‘one’—that dream home—is a process, and one that we can guide you through until you find your dream home.

Buyers & Sellers: What to do after a bad home inspection report


brown houseA licensed home inspector has done a full inspection of your property, and the results are packed into a book the size of an encyclopedia. Whether buyer or seller, you’re less than enthralled with the results, and not sure of your next step.

Don’t panic. Take a deep breath, explore your options and discuss the situation with your real estate agent. What feels like a misstep now can turn into opportunity.

Buyers’ Options

Walk away. If your offer is contingent on a home inspection, you have every right to cancel your contract and walk away from the property. Talk to your real estate agent about getting a refund of your earnest money.

Ask the sellers to make repairs. You have every right to go back to the seller and ask them to make repairs. Make sure the repairs are done by a licensed repairman, and the sellers can provide paperwork for your records.

Use the report for negotiation & make the repairs after the closing. Did the home inspector suggest the house needs a $10,000 repair? Negotiate with the sellers for a lower price, and use the funds “saved” to repair the home after the sale.

Sellers’ Options

Walk away. Sellers can walk away because of the home inspection clause in the offer.
Don’t feel you have to make the repairs, or pay for repairs you feel unnecessary. Be aware that if the repairs are safety-related (i.e. electrical issues, foundation, etc.), you may HAVE to make the repairs to sell your home.

Make repairs before the closing. You have a better chance of closing your home sale if you select this option. Make sure to have all repairs done by a licensed repairman, and supply documentation to the buyers as proof.

Negotiate. If you don’t have the resources to pay for repairs, or cannot facilitate the repair process, offer concessions in the price or the amount of closing costs.

Turn to your real estate agent for advice. They have the experience and knowledge to help you through this home inspection issue, and getting you the results you want from this real estate sale.

Why a Home Inspection Makes Cents


brown houseWhen you’ve found the perfect home, the temptation to waive the home inspection can be strong. Why would the perfect home need a home inspection? It looks fine. Even if you have strong competition for a property, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. A good inspection is invaluable for buyers for several sound business reasons:

  • Don’t buy a money pit. Some of the most expensive repairs can be hidden, such as structural and electrical issues. Buying a home is a sound investment, and should remain as such. You don’t want to sick more money into the property than you have, or than it’s worth.
  • Outside verification of the previous homeowner’s work. Did you know the wall that the previous owner removed caused structural damage? Or that the person who flipped the home did not have any experience installing plumbing? A home inspector can tell you if work done by the previous owner—even if you can’t tell the work was even done—was done correctly, or can recommend professionals that can inspect the structure or foundation.
  • You still have time to ask for a seller to make repairs. If you do find issues, don’t panic. Until you close on the home, you have time to renegotiate with the owners (visit our previous post to find out what your options are). You can go back to the owners and ask for funds to fix the house, or ask them to fix the damage. If your offer is contingent on the home inspection, you can also back out of the sale.
  • The opportunity to look ahead. Home inspectors can not only give you insight into the quality of past repairs, but can also give you a list of repairs that need to be made and a timeline. If the house needs a new roof, for example, he can give you his opinion on the damage and when it needs to be repaired or replaced.

The most important item that any home inspector can give you is peace of mind and an education about your future investment. To find a good home inspector, talk to your agent. They can recommend a home inspector with the experience and knowledge that you need to make an informed decision about your home—and the amount of work and money needed to make it the perfect home, both aesthetically and structurally, inside and out.

How to Handle Home Inspection Snags


brown houseYou found it!  The perfect house in the perfect neighborhood for the perfect price. Your paperwork is in order, your lender contacted. You’re ready for closing…until your home inspector gives you a list of problems with your house that’s as thick as a Harry Potter book.

What do you do? Give up? That is an option if your offer to buy is contingent upon a home inspection. If so, you have every right to pull out of the deal, especially if you are concerned about the scope of work the property needs. You also have a few other options:

  • Ask the seller to fix the problems. Make sure they not only fix the problems, but that they have a licensed repairman fix the issue.  Ask for paperwork so you can prove the problems were fixed when you resell the home.
  • Negotiate a lower price. You can go back to the sellers and negotiate the price down so you can fix the problems. If you take this option, make sure you actually fix the issue—especially safety hazards and foundation issues that could worsen over time.
  • Ignore the report. This is an option, but not a recommended one—especially if you have any intention of selling the house.  If you don’t have the issues fixed now, you’ll have to pay for the repairs.

Remember, you are not alone. Ask your realtor for advice. They’ve seen this before, and can make recommendations and submit the proper paperwork to help you walk away and find another dream house or make your dream home a perfectly repaired reality.