“Real” Estate Tips by Dixon
To Inspect or Not To Inspect – That Is the Question.
Actually, it shouldn’t be. Just get the inspection. There are a variety of inspections that take place in a real estate transaction. Pest and Dry Rot. Whole Home Inspection. Radon. Sewer Scope. Well flow test. Water Quality Test. Septic Inspection. Septic Pumping. Get the inspection.
As agents, we all have stories. My friends who wanted to buy a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) home on a septic system but in town. I made them buy me a hazelnut latte (non-fat, sugar free, extra hot) for my best free advice. I gave it to them – “Get the septic tank inspected.” They told me the owner said it worked great so they were thinking about avoiding the extra cost ($200 at the time). I said again, “Get the inspection.” So they did. It failed miserably, the seller knew it, and also knew that the cost to hook up to the City of Salem was going to be $20,000. My friend’s wife kissed me on the cheek and they bought me two lattes.
Another client was buying a farm. I said “Get the well flow (GPM-Gallons Per Minute) checked out by a professional.” They said the seller’s report was only a year old and that the GPM was estimated at 6. I advised them that the difference between 6 gallons and no gallons a minute was only 6, and that the sellers had a holding tank in the shed. This is usually a sign of a weaker well because the pump will be set to run at night (when the neighbors aren’t irrigating off of the shared aquifer) and the holding tank is filled and used as your daytime water supply. They politely disagreed, saying they didn’t want to spend the extra money ($200 at the time). They closed on the farm and the well went dry two weeks later. Rather than saying “I told you so”, I helped them get a water company to keep filling up the holding tank until they could figure out how to get a new well. When I talked to the well company, they informed me that they had done a well flow test just a month prior to the sellers listing the property, and it showed that the GPM was half a gallon and dying a quick death so that only gray water was coming out. The seller had known this, and simply lied. Fortunately, my clients sued and won a substantial amount of money, and finally got a good well (the fourth well on that property).
Should you get an inspection on an existing home? Absolutely. It might cost you $375-$450, but might save you from making a $400,000 mistake. Furnaces go bad, roofs go bad, plumbing can be a problem. The electrical panel might be one that is under recall. Critters might be in the crawl space. You don’t know. A professional inspector will. What about getting one on a brand new home? Absolutely. A punch list is the list of things you and your builder might make on a final inspection, noting the things you found to be unsatisfactory, liked a cracked tile, a bad paint job, or a leaky faucet. Why not have a professional inspector make the punch list for you? They have much better eyes than the average layperson. One story – I recommend a buyer do an inspection on a new home they were buying. They didn’t think they needed to because the home had passed the City inspection. The City Code Inspectors are looking for code violations, not cracked tiles or knotty pine window trim when you paid for clear cedar. In this case, I won and they got an inspection. The inspector had 37 “blue tape” issues identified, including a gas meter that had been installed upside down.
As with anything, there are exceptions. You don’t necessarily need a sewer scope on a newer house, for example. Radon? Yes. It is only around $150 to have it done professionally or you can buy your own test at the local hardware store.
A word to the wise – Get the inspection. Old adages become old adages because they are usually spot on. “Penny Wise, Pound Foolish” hasn’t lasted a few hundred years because it is gibberish!
Licensed Principal Broker in the State of Oregon