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Buying a new house? Why have a building inspection?

Posted 05-20-2009 at 05:19 AM by faucetman886

With the state of today’s economy and the vast number of foreclosures affecting the marketplace, now can be the time to step out in faith and make your dreams of home ownership a reality. The advantage, today, is the tremendous values that can be had in houses these days. I saw a news article recently showing homes in an area of Florida where homes that had sold, 3 years ago, for in excess of $300,000 were now on the market for $75,000. A great buy, maybe, but possibly a “money pit”. Homes in foreclosure can be perfect but in all likelihood will have some problems relative to the financial distress of the previous owner. Routine maintenance could have been missed, repairs of major systems avoided and sometimes these homes have been abused and violated while left empty and awaiting sale. Home inspections have always been a good idea whether good times or bad. When buying a home from an existing owner or a financial institution, the home inspection becomes a useful tool to make yourself aware of any repairs the home may need and can be a useful tool to negotiate the final price with an offset for making the necessary repairs shown in the inspection. I give you a prime scenario from my own experience. I lived in Los Angeles in the 1980’s and was an active real estate investor. I found a beautiful home in the Hollywood Hills, great view of L.A., swimming pool and a mid century modern design that I loved. I negotiated what I thought to be a great price and set off to close escrow. My only contingency was the building inspection. I retained a licensed bonded inspection company and met the inspector at the house. He immediately wanted to go into the attic, and on return approached the seller and said that he wanted to pull up the carpet in the living room. The seller was freaked out and I was in a quandary because he hadn’t looked at the heating, plumbing, electrical or really anything else. When the seller said no to pulling up the carpet the inspector turned to me and said the inspection was over and advised that I walk away from the deal. The seller capitulated to pulling the carpet up and when done we found that the entire concrete slab was cracked clean into and gapped open from what was diagnosed as previous undiscovered earthquake damage from at least four years prior. How did the inspector know the crack was there by visiting the attic? When he had driven up to the house he had noticed that the main roof line was sagging and once in the attic discovered the main roof beam was cracked and separated. This could have only happen in his opinion if the foundation was also cracked. In short the house was then deemed to be a total loss and I was out of the deal. The house was eventually bulldozed and the property sold for land value only. The moral of the story always get a building inspection prior to closing any real estate transaction. This becomes even more Important when buying a property that is in distress. Undisclosed problems can make a great buy an albatross. You can not and should not enter into a real estate transaction without being fully informed as to the condition of the property. No reliable real estate agent , bank or seller will decline this contingency unless they are attempting to hide something. Even if the inspection is done with no recourse as to price adjustment you will at least be aware of the full cost of what it will take to own the house. As always CAVEAT EMPTOR ( BUYER BEWARE).
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