Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Realtor Home Inspection Tips

I can't count how many home inspections I've attended since 2001.  Following each one, even after discussing what to expect during the inspection, my clients will still look somewhat dumbfounded and confused on how to sift through the big and small stuff.  What's critical and what's simply FYI notes and comments?  

Prep Yourself Ahead of Time...Your House Won't Be Perfect!

1. Always something:  It seems that most properties have something to address, even new construction homes usually require one or two things following completion, so don't be alarmed. Ask questions and don't be afraid to ask the inspector if you are purchasing a money pit.

2. Peeling paint: This is important for FHA financed buyers and Investors alike,but for      different reasons. 
Lead was added to paints and stains prior to 1978, so somewhere beneath layers of paint or stain, you'll likely find lead.
FHA appraisals are tough when dealing with peeling paint, particularly if the property was built prior to 1978...and lead is the issue. 
Investors, you need to be concerned because dealing with non-owner occupied property and peeling paint means you have to follow strict EPA repainting and disposal rules when it's time to paint.
3. Concrete: In Orlando, most properties are sheathed in stucco, and if you notice, you'll typically find hairline cracks...this is normal. Cracks need to be sealed and painted to prevent water penetration.  Larger cracks will most likely prompt the inspector to comment or voice concern. The same is true for garage floors and concrete slab foundations; they will both crack over time.  Years ago, an inspector friend, who was not trying to be flippant, said this. "concrete does two things:"
get's hard

4. Mold: I have horrible allergies, so the minute I walk into a house, if mold is present somewhere, my body quickly reacts. It's best to rely on an inspector to assess this instead of a Realtor with mold allergies, but if mold is found or suspected, be sure to ask your inspector some ideas on what it will cost to repair.  Remember, mildew on shower tiles is not the same as black mold covering the attic or an entire wall.

5. Electrical & Plumbing: These are both well documented on the inspection report, such as a broken fixures, switches, faucets, etc.  You will want to listen to the inspector regarding the electrical panels and plumbing lines, specifically Federal Pacific Electric & polybutylene.

6. Chinese Drywall, Yep, believe it or not, this is a concern.  The most common years are 2004-2007 in Orlando.  Unless the seller is prepared to deal with this massive expense, I advise my clients to move on if Chinese Drywall is discovered…

7. HVAC System: Air handlers are known for getting clogged condensation discharge lines, and when the lines back up, you get water damage and mold.  This is somewhat common, so don't freak if you see this.  I advise my clients to ask the seller to hire (at their expense) a licensed HVAC tech to repair and tune up the system and repair the damage.
8. Roofs:  Some homeowner insurance companies are requiring roof replacement prior to covering the property even if the roof appears to have several years of life remaining.  You don't want to be surprised by this at closing...ask your inspector, Realtor and seller how old the roof is.

9. Drainage & Gutters: Most people think gutters, in Florida, aren't important since we don't have basements.  Whether you have a slab or full basement, the purpose of gutters is rainwater management.  Having daily rainfall, which is common during the summer months in Orlando, terminating at the foundation of the house will weaken the footing.  Drainage away from the foundation is equally important for the very same reason.

10. Termites and WDO: Wood Destroying Organisms and termites are real issues in Orlando, even with block construction homes you need to keep a watchful eye.  Many homeowners have something called a Termite Bond, which is essentially an insurance policy against termites.  Always hire a WDO inspector when buying a house in Orlando!!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Lipstick On A Pig...? Don't Be Fooled!

It's amazing how a fresh coat of paint, granite, stainless appliances, new tile, etc., neutralizes our instincts to question the general condition of a property.

Don't let that happen.

When looking at properties, I suggest the following to my clients:
  1. Take notes. After looking at 6, 7 or 8 homes in a given day, they all start blending together and it becomes difficult to remember critical details.
  2. Question Remodeling Decisions.  Why did the flipper replace cabinets but not the old electrical panel or roof? 
  3. Value of Remodeling.  Always have your agent do a Market Analysis to determine if the asking price is justified.  If the flipper bought the house 4 months earlier for $100,000 and is now asking $199,900, are the upgrades and remodeling worth it?
  4. Over Improvement.  Beware purchasing the most expensive house on the block.  If you are looking at a tract house surrounded by other tract houses, even with all of the "Bells and Whistles", the price should be within the prevailing range of neighboring properties.
  5. Inspections!  If you ignore the 4 others steps, please remember to get a General Inspection and WDO (wood destroying organism) Inspection.