Answer: Typically the buyer only does a property inspection with a qualified inspector. If that report shows some significant concerns such as roof problems or mold type issues, then the buyer will request further investigation by those experts. There are times when the buyer just thinks they have to be very thorough and order every type of inspection, which can confuse the whole process and be very expensive at the same time. Mold inspections can be costly depending on how many samples are taken. Every home has mold to some degree I am told. The mold inspection can lead to a concern about mold in the home that leads to bringing in a mold remediation company that will very costly in the estimates of how to remediate the problems, some of which are not clearly known since the problem might be behind the walls, or not exist at all. When a buyer does all these tests and inspections, generally you can expect a large list of requests. Be very careful how you respond. If you desire to get the sale done, then you will be generous in your offer to do those things requested. If you are not in a hurry and are willing to let the transaction cancel, then you can be aggressive in not approving the requests made by the buyer. You may want to get your own inspector to confirm the findings to help you feel comfortable that those requests are warranted. The easiest way to approach the repair request is to offer a credit through escrow in lieu of repairs being made. The request for repairs portion of the transaction is another negotiation that takes place in the transaction that can be difficult or challenging. We always tell our clients that it is "request" and not a "demand" for repairs and that the seller does not have to do everything on the list. Those things that are required are the proper strapping of the water heater, operational smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor. For the buyers out there, I suggest you first have a property inspection to see if there are areas you might want to pursue further. Also, ask the property inspector about further inspections he would suggest. If there is visible mold like substances on any outside wall surfaces or serious water leaks, then a mold inspection may make sense. If there is extensive roof damage and obvious roof leaks, then I would get a roof inspection. Cracked roof tiles or missing roof tiles or slipped roof tiles can be easily fixed and would not require an additional roof inspection, just ask that the roof be repaired as needed. I understand buyers want to insure that the house is in good shape but they can go beyond a normal scope of inspection to a point that no house would seem acceptable.
Answer: Yes, that has come up a few times in regards to fireplaces. The first time we had a fireplace expert come in to investigate for our seller as the buyer wanted it fixed. The original fireplace was built by the Rampart General Company (no longer in business) and was built offsite and brought to the property and stood up and connected to the home. In the process of standing the unit up, the breastplate had been cracked (an assumption). As a result of the crack it made it possible for the heat to go through the concrete and find the wood framing and could cause a fire. In fact, fires were caused and the company is no longer in operation. However, there are many, many Rampart General fireplaces in the marketplace. So what was the advice we were given? We could rebuild a new fireplace at a cost of around $20,000 or we could simply fill the existing fireplace with bricks and abandon it with a cost of $6,000. Neither seemed a good solution. After an extensive search on the internet, a product was discovered called Thermo Crete that was used to line the chimney and seal those cracks and made the fireplace usable and safe. The cost at the time was around $3,500. While not inexpensive it was a great answer to our Rampart General fireplace and both parties were satisfied. I do not know if all cities building codes have approved this process, you would have to check with your local building inspector. It has become widely accepted as the fix I understand. I suspect the property inspector mentioned that your fireplace was a Rampart General fireplace and, if so, this could be your fix. Check out fireplace repair companies and ask it they use Thermo Crete and work with Rampart General fireplaces. I believe the cost is still around the same number I mentioned. Since the hazard of having the crack in the breastplate is a significant safety problem, I believe it would be wise to take care of the issue. If you are reading this and wondering if your fireplace is a Rampart General, take a look and see if it appears to be built in one piece. Usually it looks like a brick exterior but when you look closely you can tell that the bricks and the mortar are all the same material. It is usually not very wide at the stack. You can look up the chimney from the inside and shine a flashlight at the base of the fireplace as it goes up the stack and you may see a horizontal crack in the material. That is the "crack in the breastplate." This would be in homes built primarily in the 60's and 70's. You can look up Rampart General on the internet and read more. This is the time of the year that you want to insure that your fireplace is safe as you build that warming fire to enjoy the season. Santa might appreciate it as well.
Answer: A property inspection is an important piece of the purchase of a home. You are making a major investment when you purchase a property and it makes sense to insure that your investment is a good one. The property inspector will evaluate all the major systems of the home and look at all the accessible areas to determine if there are safety or health issues and that the major concerns such as roof, heating and cooling, plumbing and electrical are working or in satisfactory condition. Based on the report and findings of the property inspector you have the right to request repairs. Some things are mandatory to fix such as the proper strapping of the water heater, functional smoke detectors and the presence of carbon monoxide detectors. Beyond that there is little that is required for the buyer to fix. At the same time, you may ask for items of concern to you that are not working. Generally the seller will address the majority of the items requested by the buyer. Small cosmetic issues are not generally a part of the request. If you are buying a home that is not new, then you can't expect that the seller will agree to make it "like new." If the air-conditioning is not functioning properly or the furnace doesn't work, then you would want that fixed prior to the end of escrow. If the roof has evidence of leaking, then you would want that addressed by the seller. If an appliance does not work and that appliance is staying with the property, that would be a possible request. If there are plumbing leaks or electrical issues, those should be requested. Your agent will help you determine what should be asked for and what might be left off your request. The repair request part of the transaction is another negotiation between the buyer and the seller. It is a normal part of the transaction and should not be seen as a battle but as a "give and take" between the buyer and seller. You may not get all those items you requested but if you love the home then you may have to take care of those items after you take possession. If there are major items that should be addressed but the seller is unwilling to fix them, you will have to decide if you want to continue the purchase or to cancel the sale. As to whether you should have a property inspection, the answer is YES. You will likely get a home warranty as a part of the sale and if there is a problem with an appliance after the sale, the property inspection can be helpful to show that it worked properly before the sale was completed and therefore would be addressed by the home warranty company. There are many reasons to have a property inspection but the best reason is peace of mind for you, the buyer. It is a small cost based on the size of the investment.
Question: What are my obligations when it comes to termites when I sell?
Answer: It may be hard to accept but we do have obligations to termites when we sell. In most sales the responsibility of the home owner is to have a termite inspection done by a reputable termite company. The inspection is looking for termite activity and for dry rot and fungus activity. Often water is not your friend as it can destroy wood and require that it be replaced as a result of the inspection. There are two parts of the termite inspection; the first identifies Section 1 items that will require the homeowner to repair or replace or fumigate if needed. Second, is Section 2 items that are not required to be corrected by the homeowner but the buyer may choose to have the repairs done. In many cases the homeowner has a contract with a pest control company to come in and spray to take care of termites and other bugs. Even though this service has been done regularly it does not mean that there is no other work required. Often these companies don’t address the dry rot issues or wood replacement issues. For a real estate sale you will need a complete inspection and have the required work done prior to the close of escrow. Your regular termite/pest control company may do the inspection but have another company do the actual work as that is not their primary business. One of the main culprits for dry rot and termite damage is the patio cover made of wood. The trick to keeping the damage down to a minimum is excellent maintenance with frequent painting and sealing to keep the water from penetrating the wood. Even the best maintenance can still leave work to be done on these patio covers. If you are considering painting your home in preparation of a sale, then first I would recommend that you get a thorough termite/dry rot inspection. Then get the required work done such as fascia replacement prior to having the house painted. I did that at my own house and discovered that I have to have the house tented and have some boards replaced. Many painters will point out problem areas prior to painting but some won’t and just paint over the damage only to have it come up on a termite inspection and have to be replaced and repainted. Most homes in Southern California have some termite activity and it is minor. People who come from areas without termites think that if a home has termites it might fall down. That is rarely the case. Your obligation to those termites is to eradicate them!
Answer: What you have shared regarding your termite inspection and report could represent a high percentage of homes in Southern California. We live in an area that has termites and dry rot (fungus) issues. In the California real estate purchase contract and in supplemental forms that deal with termite issues it is clear that the responsibility to deal with the termite and dry rot issues belongs to the seller. In some cases it could be waived by mutual agreement, but that is rare. If there is a loan involved, the bank will usually require that the termite issues be resolved prior to funding the loan. If you are from an area that does not have these kind of issues, then you may be envisioning a home that is about to fall down because the termites have eaten all the wood and the home is unsafe. That would be an extremely rare case where the home has had an enormous amount of termite activity and never been treated over a very long period of time. Termite companies vary on how they treat termites with some companies recommending tenting more frequently that other companies. Just because there is evidence of termites does not necessary mean that the home has to be tented. I am not a termite inspector so I am not able to tell you whether it is necessary or not. Once tented you can expect to be in good shape for a few years. I am told that termites find their way into your home due to wind carrying them to a spot where they land and then find a food source and make themselves at home. It may take some time for them to be evident in your fascia or trim areas. The problem with fungus (dry rot) is usually from water sitting in an area or sprinklers hitting an area and the wood softens and a fungus destroys the wood. It is repaired by either local treatments or by wood replacement if it is more extensive or the wood is completely destroyed. In either case the problem can be fixed. Every day homes are tented and dry rot is repaired and replaced in many of the homes that are being sold. It is unusual to have a home without any need for termite/dry rot repair or treatment. I would not be concerned about the home because of the report you have received. Once in the home it is a good idea to have the home check by a licensed termite company periodically to make sure you keep those little pests under control. If you have a wood patio cover, then keep it well painted to avoid water intrusion and dry rot problems. Welcome to Southern California!
Answer: Walk around your house as a potential buyer. If you notice the damage, then your answer is to repair or correct the issues before you put the property on the market. Usually the big culprit is the patio cover as they are more prone to dry rot and damage that is noticeable. Let’s say you have $2500 worth of work to do around the home but you want to wait and take care of it after you have a contract with a buyer. The buyer likely evaluated your home when they made and offer and was concerned about the termite/dry rot issues they saw and imagined that the problems to be more extensive than what they saw. As a result they offered $10,000 less than they would have if the problem had been taken care of before going on the market. Often the problem can be a lack of available funds to do the repairs upfront, at that point you should get a termite report that shows the actual damage and the cost to repair to be able to show the potential buyer so that they know the extent of the damage. “NO surprises” is always a good idea in the sale of a home. On the other hand, if the visible damage is minimal and not very noticeable, then you can wait. The advantage of doing the termite work at the end of the escrow is that it can be paid through your escrow account (from your proceeds) and does not have to come out of presale cash. Do your own inspection around your home and look for rotting eaves, damaged window trim, around door frames and outside doors, and your patio cover. These are the areas your potential buyers can see easily and may be concerned about. Most homes do not require tenting to correct termite problems but most homes do have some damage from dry rot and isolated termite damage that will require correction. Be sure you hire a reputable termite company to do your inspection and necessary work. Ask your Realtor for a recommendation as they will have somebody they have worked with and trust. Just remember, you get your best price when the curb appeal and general condition reflect a well maintained home that does not concern a buyer.
Question: When you buy a home what kind of inspections should you do to insure you know the condition of the home?
Answer: I appreciate the question as it shows you want to know all you can about the home you are purchasing. The first inspection you want to do is a general property inspection by a qualified property inspector. Property inspectors are not licensed but often come from backgrounds such as general contractors or builders. Look for membership in CREIA (California Real Estate Inspection Association) as that is an indication that they are involved in the profession and have had training. Your best resource for a good property inspector is your real estate agent. This person will inspect the entire home from the roof to the basement and all major systems in the house. Their report will indicate if further inspections are recommended. Property inspectors will not walk on tile or concrete roofs and may see a reason to have a roofer inspect for damage or leaks. The property inspector can see evidence of possible leaks by looking in the attic but a roofer can determine if they are active leaks or old leaks. The property inspector may find water leaks and be concerned about possible mold and recommend a mold inspection. If there are numerous cracks on the home in places that are not normal or cracks in the surrounding concrete where the levels on each side of the crack are raised or lowered it may indicate soil movement or tree root problems and the property inspector will recommend a soil inspection or geologic inspection. If there are issues with the pool, then further inspection may be recommended by a pool contractor. You can see that the property inspector you hire is an important decision. This is a person you want to have extensive experience and a history of property inspections to know that they have seen it all. In this profession, experience is an excellent teacher. Property inspectors cannot do the work needed as that would be a conflict of interest so you don’t have to worry that they will find things wrong so that they will be called on to correct. No property inspector can see behind walls or under the floors, they can only evaluate what they can see. They may see evidence of termite or dry rot but they can only indicate that there is some wood damage and refer that to the termite inspector. They usually don’t check sprinkler systems or Malibu lighting and that will be specified in the contract you sign. You will receive a thorough report after the inspection that will be the tool you use for asking for repairs from the seller as well as determining if you want to pursue additional inspections. The cost for the inspections is the responsibility of the buyer as part of their due diligence concerning the property. The cost of the property inspection will vary from inspector to inspector. Since you are buying an expensive asset, having a property inspection is not an option you want to pass up.