Over the last 10 years home sellers had it made. No need for inspections. If a buyer’s inspector found a problem, another buyer would come along. But that has changed. It is VERY difficult to get buyers into escrow now, and very easy to lose them if they find problems during their inspection. Here are true stories about issues that caused disasters ranging from large monetary losses for sellers to outright escrow cancellations. It is time for sellers to realize the value of the “Certified Pre Owned Home” services now available. A $300-$500 home inspection coupled with a home warranty can save the seller $1000s of dollars, make the buyer happier and help sell the home faster.
1. Listing says “Air Conditioned” but the home is not.
During the inspection, the buyer asked the inspector about the air conditioning. The inspector found that there is no air conditioning installed. The listing agent, when asked why the listing stated there is air conditioning, replied that the seller said there was. The air conditioning was important to the buyer, who works from home. The buyer attempted to negotiate a fair settlement from the seller to add air but the negotiation broke down and the sale was lost.
2. Home has serious construction defect.
Many homes are now built by builders as two on a lot or more. The home inspector saw that a balcony over the entry was tilted. When measured, it showed a slope to the east of over 2 inches in 4 feet. But there was no sign of distress in the stucco around the balcony. Inspection of the identical rear home showed that the same balcony was absolutely straight. The conclusion was that the builder had allowed the balcony to be finished even though it was at a tilt. The buyer dropped out stating “I was concerned that there might be other construction defects that were not as obvious.”
3. Bathroom sink has small water leak in tile counter top causing serious water damage.
Some defects are nearly undetectable. In this case, the dark tile on the counter and the rather stuffed cabinet concealed significant water damage. There was enough water to have caused the cabinet’s pressed wood base to expand, the shelf paper to discolor and some mold to start to grow on the paper. But there was no leak in the plumbing. Upon further inspection, it was found by the inspector that when water was splashed on the tile behind the faucet, it ran through small cracks in the tile grout and dripped to the back of the cabinet base. There was reason to expect that there was more moisture and mold under the cabinet base that could not be inspected. This finding, coupled with other troubling issues, caused the buyer to cancel.
4. Home has concealed earthquake damage.
A condo looked excellent from the street. The interior was in beautiful condition. Inspection of the plumbing under the sink, however, revealed a disturbing fact. The galvanized pipe drain that ran up from the bottom of the subterranean garage 3 stories below appeared to have raised up and smashed the drywall above it. Suspecting that this was impossible, the inspector recalled that this building had suffered damage from a powerful nearby earthquake. A closer look revealed that the floor had dropped 1-2 inches during that quake and not recovered and the ceiling had dropped along with the interior walls. Only the perimeter load bearing walls remained as built. The result was that the torn drywall was wall that had FALLEN onto the solid pipe. The damage was so extensive that the buyer dropped out.
5. Another listing without air conditioning.
This was a condo conversion and a very nice property. But again the listing said A/C but there was none. The buyer was, in this case, not as eager for the deal and used this as an excuse to drop out.
6. Hillside 1930’s home seller loses $200,000.
This home is on a hill and there were multiple retaining walls and tiered foundations that needed repair. There is no doubt that had the seller done a pre inspection, problems with the foundation could have been addressed for far lower cost by taking more time. But work was rushed because the home was in escrow and cost far more than necessary.
7. Lots of minor issues turn off first time buyer.
The buyer, a young lady looking for her first home, was put off by issues that were not individually that expensive, but they added up to a long list of problems she just could not cope with. Had the seller done a pre inspection and just done a little work this escrow would have closed.
Note: This article is copyrighted by the author but sellers, buyers, agents and other home inspectors are encouraged to copy and use this article as long as the author’s name and web site are kept with it.
by Kurt Shafer