I am working with great clients who found a lovely little place in the east end, or so we thought. The house looked well maintained compared to the others in the area we’d seen, and so they made an offer. I suggested they have an home inspection done.
Now a lot of people think they should skip this step. I know my clients would have preferred not to pay for one; after all, the place looked fine and a home inspection can run anywhere from $ 325 to $450. Besides, it was a condo townhouse with a condo corporation that maintains all of the exterior and structural elements. What could possibly go wrong?
A lot, as it turned out during the inspection.
The unit had an old furnace. We knew that; it was obvious. What we didn’t know was that it was 40 years old and looked as if it had never been serviced. A bearing was blown; the electronic filter was clogged; the motor was full of gunk. Yeck.
There was an oil tank with no tags to indicate it had been serviced or inspected recently either. And the wiring throughout the house, it turned out, was all aluminum. Not only is that an insurance issue (some insurance companies won’t even touch it), it’s a fire hazard. The electrical panel was fuses and breakers, which would have to be replaced. There was a cracked plumbing stack leaking water into the basement, and the attic had no insulation.
Now all of these are things that can be adjusted for in price if the seller is willing to accept a reduction and the buyers still want the property. But there’s a cost to fixing things that are out-of-date. In this case, when the seller wasn’t willing to move far enough on price to justify that cost, my advice was to walk away. We can find a property that’s in better condition, and I know we’ll find one my clients like just as much, or more.
So as a buyer, be sure to always include a home inspection clause. It should be drafted so that you can get out of the deal if you don’t like the results, with a full refund of your deposit. Don’t give up that right easily. Sometimes the good news to share with friends isn’t the new house you bought that you loved, but the one you didn’t.