An Asheville area Real Estate Agent and Home Inspector tackle the question
Author: Jason Bellamy
Author: Suzanne Devane
Jason the Home Inspector
Hey Suzanne, as a real estate agent at Asheville Realty Group, do you ever get the question, “Would you buy this house?” It’s a question that I get all the time and sometimes dread. On the one hand, helping to answer this question is exactly why people are hiring me. When I bought my first house I wanted my home inspector to look me in the eye and tell me that the house was okay and that I was making a good purchase. I was disappointed when he didn’t.
On the other hand, how could someone ever answer this question for anyone else? People buy houses for different reasons. Some people love renovating, other buyers can’t stand the thought of basic maintenance. Home buying is very personal and people have distinct reasons for selecting the house that they do.
Home inspectors only hold a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to home selection process. We don’t consider location, schools, charm, or value when we perform an inspection. Our job is to seek and find defects and report them. Having said that there are a few rare cases when I am tempted to say something above and beyond my home inspection. Before I get into one of those cases, do you ever get this question? What are your thoughts?
Suzanne the Real Estate Agent
Jason – I know that question well, and I’ll always start by saying there’s a buyer for just about every home!
As a real estate agent, my top job is to understand my buyer’s needs and circumstances. Otherwise, it’s just a case of the blind leading the blind. Let me give you an example of a home that can demonstrate an ‘iffy’ situation and how an agent can ultimately help buyers answer that question in a way that makes sense for them.
Here’s the example: Vintage charmer in a desirable and central neighborhood with good schools nearby. Surrounded by grand old homes, great yard space, three levels of finished living, great price. On the flip side, it’s been on and off the market for about two years, the main level floor plan is a bit weird, and it appears that a support beam may have been removed from the lower level if the sagging first floor indicates anything.
Let’s say my buyers are a young couple with a toddler and this is the first time they’re buying a home. The wife LOVES the charm of the place and its location, and is willing to overlook the floor plan.
Here’s how I’d proceed: dig, Dig, DIG!! First, I’m going to have a frank talk with the listing agent. In NC, we are lucky to live in a state where agents must disclose “material facts” that can influence whether someone would put an offer on the home. So, yeah, I’m going to sound like the Spanish Inquisition to make sure my buyers will not be surprised by any issues AFTER they close on the home. I will ask the listing agent specific questions about the home’s condition and background and expect specific responses. If I don’t get them, the red flags start waving!!
I’m also a firm believer in talking to the neighbors – it’s amazing how much they know and how much they’re willing to tell you. Finally, I’m looking at the public records to see what permits have been pulled and when. Once I have this information assembled, it’s time for me to present the information to the potential buyers and see how they wish to proceed.
If they want to make an offer and end up with a contract, then Jason, I’m bringing you in to do the most detailed inspection you’ve ever done. Based on what you say, I might even suggest bringing in a structural engineer. Sure, it’s an optional investment for the buyers to make, but it’s preferable to making a big-ticket repair down the line.
Now, that entire scenario might play out quite differently if my buyer is a contractor who wants to flip the house, or an experienced homeowner who loves undertaking gut rehabs.
BTW, in this situation I personally wouldn’t buy the home. As a busy real estate agent, I’d become an alcoholic having to deal with the known unknowns that come with that property!!
So, what would you recommend for my first time buyers if they brought you in to look at the home I’ve just described?