When to walk away after the home inspection

The home inspection is the toughest part of a sale I think.

It can be hard to get past the condition, even a house that inspected pretty good, since your inspector gave you an entire book containing everything that is wrong with what is about to be the biggest purchase in your life.

What I try to tell my buyers is that no house is perfect. They are all in various stages of Mother Nature trying to destroy the home and reclaim the property. Everything has a life span and given enough time, everything on a house will need replaced or some maintenance.

I’ve probably been the Buyer’s agent on well over 400 inspections and gotten repairs lists for hundreds of listings I have had. Know what I have found? Most of the issues that turn up from a home inspection are either deferred maintenance or things that the inspector noted were done a little less than textbook perfection.

Here are some things that are on almost EVERY home inspection report: Windows or door that need caulking, faucets that drip, loose outlets, cracks in sidewalks and driveways, downspouts that are not out far enough away from the house, air conditioner condensation lines that drain too close to the house. Minor plumbing issues are common. Minor electrical issues are common. Often the flashing on a roof needs some attention. Older houses tend to not have grounded outlets. Few houses have weepholes in brick to allow moisture behind the brick to escape. Few houses have flashing where a gutter ends at an exterior wall to prevent water from splashing on the side of the house………and the home inspector I recommend always seems to find loose toilets, lol!

I think the hardest thing for buyers is that they think they have picked a loser house when they have 20-30 of these common issues. It is easy to assume that the house you picked to purchase is the only one with these issues. That you can walk away from this one and the next house you buy will be perfect. I don’t know how successful I have been at convincing my buyers of this, but I normally tell them that 80-90% of the same issues found on their house will be found on any house. I have also joked that there needs to be a rule that the inspector has to inspect the Buyer’s old house first, and anything found at their old house can’t be asked to be repaired at their new house.

Since the topic of this is when to walk away, I guess I better get into that.

If you are a first time buyer or don’t have a lot of money, I guess you walk away if the the big ticket items don’t have much of their lifespan left. If you have a 22 year old roof and won’t have any money to replace it in the next few years, it might be best to walk away.

If you have a house with a problem such as a major structural issue that will impact your ability to sell the house to the next buyer when you move, might be good to skip that house.

When I bought my current home, I had it inspected. It had all the usual issues. I did the inspection type that is very common in this hot seller’s market: I could inspect it but wouldn’t ask for repairs. I would take it or leave it. I of course chose to take it because to be honest, I loved the property so much that there wasn’t anything that was going to deter me from living there. I had all the usual items. Being a landlord, realtor and middle aged man who has owned lots of homes, there was nothing that scared me nor surprised me. It was just a “To-do” list that I prioritized and am getting it all sorted as I find time. Which brings me to something else I tell my buyers. If you will encounter pretty much the same items on any house, why not just stick with the sale of the one you fell in love with after looking at all the other houses you had to pick from? This is especially true in today’s market where you have so few choices and odds are you will pay even more for the next house as prices go up while you wait for it to come on the market.

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