Thursday, June 26, 2014

Q: We were a little surprised that you disagreed with the work order list we sent you concerning our home inspection.

We just listed those things we thought the seller really should fix. Part of the reason we decided to work with you was that you only represent the buyer and we thought you would be totally on our side with the decisions we made. I guess we just don’t understand your point of view on this.

A: Representing the buyer often means giving them good advice they may not want to hear. Sometimes it’s obvious stuff like not buying on an active landslide and sometimes it’s more subtle. Your list was very long and included items I would call normal wear and tear. It’s should be expected that a home that’s been lived in for some time will have a few flaws.

An inspection is intended for three things, in my opinion. First, is to find any real "deal killers" that are too expensive, too difficult to fix or even impossible to repair. Those mean you walk away and don’t buy that house. Next would be items that are reasonable to ask a seller to fix or compensate you for, like a bad roof or serious pest issue. Last is the opportunity to learn more about the workings of the structure and potential maintenance needs for the future.

Most of the things on your long list are relatively small and don’t relate to the real workings of the house. Scuffed up baseboards can be painted later or replaced. I don’t consider that a work order. They just reflect the fact that people have lived there. Replacing a solid exterior door just because you don’t like that it has a cat door is another item I wouldn’t consider a major flaw. Besides, you may get a cat someday!

The bottom line is to ask for the really important items and consider the rest cosmetic flaws you can deal with over time. You have some remodel plans anyway and that will take care of many of the smaller issues.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Q: We wanted to see a particular house that’s on the market and you told my wife we probably couldn’t get a loan on it and that it would be really expensive to repair.

I really want to see it and I don’t appreciate you prescreening things before I have a chance to see them.
A:  I am basing my comments on 25 years of experience in real estate on Vashon and would recommend that before we spend the time looking at that property, you ask your lender a few questions.  Will they fund a home on a non-conforming spring fed water system when the water is all above ground with no filtration system?  Will they finance a home in a major landslide area?  Will they let you buy a house that has no real foundation?  Last, but not least, will they finance the loan on a home with no heat?

This place, like many still found off in our woods, was probably someone’s hideaway for a long time.  They probably built it themselves out of what they could scrounge.  No lender was involved.  Today, lending institutions take a dim view of houses that are really shacks thrown together.  Moreover, I take a dim view of homes inches from a serious cliff, especially one with no real foundation. It’s sitting on old boards and rocks.  It also may be impossible to get insurance.
I know I can be over protective toward my clients.  I often go overboard to try to keep them from making what I consider a mistake.  However, I’m always working on trying to let folks make their own mistakes, but it’s hard.  Even taking every precaution, things can go wrong and I always feel badly that there might have been more I could have done.
You do have an alternative and that’s working with another broker on Vashon.  We have a lot of good people in the real estate business here and perhaps one of them would be willing to take on this particular property.  It won’t hurt my feelings if you decide to go elsewhere.