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Deferred Maintenance? Don’t Do It!

A home inspection is not meant to be a big deal. The idea is to get a better feel about what you are buying, how things work and if there are any “issues” that you should be aware of. For the most part, many inspections are all about getting familiar with your new house. Everyone involved in the transaction is hoping that there are not going to be any issues. Big issues or too many have a way of sinking a deal.

Recently, a buyer client of mine wrote a contract on a neat townhouse that was in need of being freshened up, kind of like what you see on TV shows. In this case, it appeared the house had “good bones” and was priced correctly to allow for updating. The home inspector quickly let us know that the house had some expensive issues that needed to be addressed soon – really soon. The first indicator was the sway in the roof that was visible from the street. The attic inspection found several sheets of roofing plywood that were dark in color due to high moisture content. Roof shingles are wet when it rains, but attics should always be dry. Wet plywood is never a good sign.

Replacing the roof might have been workable for both the seller and the buyer; however, other things showed up. The cedar-sided house had several areas of wood rot that was, once again, clearly visible from the ground. In keeping with the wood rot theme, several of the windows had rotted sills – the type of rot that is easily pushed into with a finger. This problem was visible by standing on the living room floor and looking at the opened window.

Discovering the issues was the first step. The second step was to negotiate a solution that both sides could live with. The seller felt that she had a wonderful house and was willing to offer $5,000 toward a new roof, a roof that roofers were quoting $8,500 for. She got a quote from someone to deal with the siding and windows for $1,700-$2,000. Once again, we had two contractors that saw a totally different job and quoted $9,000-$10,000. This is where things fell apart. We decided to opt out and wished the seller well.

There are a couple of morals to this story. One is that most people are not willing to buy someone else’s problems – unless they are compensated for them. The second is that all houses should be painted and caulked about two to three years before it’s ever done. It’s called staying ahead of the curve. The third – very important – is that if you think something doesn’t look right, investigate right away.  Just like turning up the radio if your car makes a strange noise while driving, problems with your home do not get better with time.

If you are thinking of selling now or in the new year, give me a call so we can schedule a time to walk your house. You are better served to have your house looking sharp and well-maintained as it will sell quicker – and at a higher price.