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Savvy Homebuyers Inspect Before they Contract

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 posted by Tommi Crow

Who wants to purchase a lemon? No one. Before you contract for a home or hire a licensed contractor, do yourself a favor with a little pre-inspection work.

When you find the right house, forget the price and location for a moment. Think Property Condition. Treat your second visit more like an inspection, when you walk thru. Ask that the homeowner not be present during this visit. Ignore the staging, furnishings and hand painted walls. Look beyond the obvious.

Many anxious homebuyers contract for a home, then spend $350 for an inspection that reveal problems they could have easily seen themselves. Buyers and sellers must then begin the process of negotiating all over again, because the condition of the home was not acceptable or as disclosed.

To avoid wasting time, opportunity and money by contracting for a home that is not in an acceptable condition, do some scratching below the surface, before taking a home off the market. Put on your denim and take a look beneath the hood.

Take a couple of tools– a flashlight and receptable tester (phone charger, radio, or anything that easily plugs in), at the least. As you to through the house, start testing a few things, like you would do if you were buying a car.
Using your flashlight, look in crevises, nooks, crannies. Watch for slops or cracks in the walls and ceilings. Watch for signs of Waterdamage. Inspect the attic, garage, basement and crawl spaces. Look for anything that should or should not be there, such as Termites or Mold. Look for signs of recent repairs or coverups. Write down any questionable items you notice.
Don’t forget your nose. Sniff for mold, pet odors, or the seller favorite…strong scents used as a cover up.
Flush every toilet. Run water in each sink, tub and shower, then check the drain time and the water color.
Open every cabinet. Turn on every light switch. Pull out all drawers and test all doors. Open and close every window. Look around the base of hot water heaters and furnaces for leakage, rust, oil, etc.
Test every appliance that stays with the home.
Lift up Rugs, look under beds and check the condition of the floors underneath them. Notice any soft or squeaky area’s in the floors when you walk around, this can indicate a problem with the floor joists or foundation.
Walk the entire perimeter of the home. Check the foundation and gutters. Make sure the foundation is above ground and drainage is away from the home. Note any areas where the earth looks like it was recently disturbed. Watch for signs of waterdamage, insects, bows or cracks in siding or brick. Note any area’s of the roof that buckle or sag. Test sprinkler systems. Notice sunken area’s in the lawn. Check the integrity of decks, steps or porches
Basically, know what you are getting into before writing the offer to purchase. In hot housing markets, buyers need to take matters very seriously and inspect for themselves. It is the only way to insure you are contracting for what you expect from this home. Provide a copy of your findings to your home inspector. Ask for an explaination of your observations, in addition to the ones they find.

Consumer rule #1 is Buyer Beware! Use your brain, eyes, ears and nose before buying a house. You owe it to yourself to determine if the basics are in working order, before writing that check.