December 21, 2010
by Robert Wright
I again have been asked to look at a home that has been recently purchased. The thought the family had was to buy a home that needed some work and then improve it to suit them. Many people do this and they rely on the home inspector to guide them on this major purchase. I won’t be asked to inspect a home before a purchase.
What has happened is that now that the family is in the home, problems are showing up. Like most families after they move into their new (to them) home, they don’t have a large amount of cash for additional repairs or if issues arise. The added problem in this case is that the health of the family is being affected by the home.
They did what they should have; they walked through the home with the inspector and discussed various issues. However, the issues raised by the home buyer were not considered of great importance to the inspector. The problem is that these issues might indicate additional problems, which could be of major concern. The next issue is that the costs suggested by the inspector and/or real estate agent for repairs in no way reflected the reality of the actual repair costs. So while they bought the home at less than listing price, the less than anticipated purchase price did not leave them enough to cover the cost of the repairs and issues that are now apparent, due to neglect by the previous home owner.
In addition, I noted other problems that were missed by the inspector. The only saving grace – maybe – for the homeowner is that a form was signed by the previous home owner, which indicates that all work done on the home was done with permits. A lot of work was done that would not pass inspection and was clearly done by non-professional trades.
Does the real estate industry in general work in the interest of the home buyer? All the agents, inspectors, and lawyers have a vested interest in the sale proceeding. While they all may not get paid by the home sale like the agents, they may rely on the referrals and/or repeat business from the agents. So everyone involved may not want to seriously rock the boat when you are planning on purchasing a home – the deal puts food on their tables. So what can you do when planning your next home purchase?
First understand how the system is set up. Next, look for some independent help. While I will not do or be asked to do a home inspection, I have been asked for my opinion on issues and thoughts on the work being considered for a home to be purchased. So look for a renovation contractor to help you confirm if issues you see are major or not. You may also want to hire trade contractors to look at things like the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems. Ensure that your real estate agent works for you when purchasing a new home and keep looking for the home that is right for you.
When I look at home, I have a very good idea what the problems are and what it would take to fix them. Do you? When you are planning the biggest purchase in your life, take some time and really understand what you are buying.
About the Author
Rob Wright has grown up around construction and in the mid 1990’s, Rob joined and took over Citadel Renovations in Ottawa. Rob has presented seminars at the local home shows on various renovations subjects and is a contributor to the Home Renovation Guide. Rob has been active in the Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association for many years and previously served as the Renovation Council Chair. For more information, visit CitadelRenovations.com.