As a buyer, you want to ensure there is nothing wrong with the house you intend to buy. While you will want to know the condition of the house if it’s not a new house, you can expect that it won’t be perfect. (Even a new house isn’t going to be perfect). When my wife and I planned our dream home, we spent nearly two years developing and drawing plans, redeveloping and drawing plans (they didn’t know what a CAD system was then), and more redeveloping and drawing plans. When we finished with the plans and watched the house come together (nail by nail), we still thought we had planned perfectly. Guess what? You guessed it! After residing in our new home for about a week or two, we discovered oversights that could have been easily avoided if we would have considered the issues before completion.
When looking for a home for you and your family, you will want to find the one that best suits your wants and needs. That being said, before you begin the “looking process,” make a list of your absolutes and your wants. As an example, you may list a four-bedroom home as an absolute, but if the house meets other criteria, you could settle for a three-bedroom home; that makes it a ‘want,’ not an absolute.
About this time you’re asking what this all has to do with house conditions, and I say, “Hold on, I’m getting to it!”
The issue of condition has different meanings. One is what conditions you can accept (design and amenities, etc.) and the other is cosmetic and functionality of systems. The first is described above. Once you find the house that best meets your absolutes and wants, it’s time to negotiate the price and terms. Now to the terms: the standard contracts used in the Marco Island/Naples market, identify the buyer’s opportunity for a “home inspection.”
I’m not going to detail the terms of the inspection as identified in the standard contract (that’s for your realtor or attorney to do), but you need to know prior to signing an offer to purchase the property the difference between valid issues and cosmetics. Cosmetic “issues” are NOT the seller’s responsibility to cure.
As for the inspection: be sure to employ a licensed inspector and check their credibility. Your attorney or Realtor should be able to provide you with a list. You want to be sure that the inspector does a full inspection, including general inspection of electric, plumbing, A/C, appliances, etc. Further, you want to be sure the pool is working properly (if there is one). Have a roof inspection if it’s a house; and have a pest control inspection for ‘wood destroying’ critters. By the way, carpenter ants or termites may not be grounds to terminate the contract.
When you review the report, if you don’t like to spend a lot of time reading meaningless info, go directly to the summary page. It will identify the conditions of concern. Usually you will find details of the listed items in the following pages. Please remember that cosmetic issues are often found on the summary page. Again, the sellers are NOT obligated to cure such issues.
If there is a home inspector reading this, I apologize if I offended you. I realize that you must include certain documentation for your protection, but in reality, some of it is not relevant to what you observed, and thus it is of little or no value to the customer. Also, if you presently do so, please quit identifying “cosmetic” issues on the report. It only contributes undue stress to both the buyers and sellers.
Now the closing has come and gone and you are the new owner; what next? The hot water tank goes out a week after you take title. While problems usually don’t manifest themselves early, they can occur. I suggest that you consider a home warranty. I have had many buyers benefit from having a home warranty. If you do, choose a reputable company that has service agreements with local contractors. If the A/C goes out the when the temperature is 90 degrees, you don’t want to wait for service from a firm located in Tampa or Miami.
Last, a message for sellers: I suggest that you provide a home warranty with your offering. It makes the buyer more comfortable with considering the purchase of your home; and when you consider the price one pays for a home and the relatively low cost of a warranty plan, it’s an important factor. Further, statistics show that a house will sell faster when a warranty is included.
Marv Needles is the broker/owner of ERA Flagship Real Estate which he founded in 1973. He has been a full time resident of Marco Island for over 40 years.