Buyers know it can be a real challenge to find the right home. Our limited inventory is confounding buyers and their agents as they try to find a great house at a great price. Once discovered, that house should be approached cautiously, even if it seems perfect for you. Of course your agent has helped you by providing information on schools, communities, travel routes, etc., and all of those things seem to fit. The house payments are within your comfort zone so you decide to move ahead and write an offer.
Once an offer is accepted many buyers will heave a sigh of relief as if a burden has been lifted. There are still several steps though to make sure this biggest investment of your life is truly suited to you. Buying a home should always include a professional inspection. Your agent should recommend several for you to interview. You will want to ask questions about where they will inspect and what they will look for. How will they be able to tell the condition of the roof under all that snow? Will they actually enter the crawlspace to check for plumbing leaks? How about the attic? We often find exhaust fans that are vented directly into the attic instead of to the outside or improper wiring up there.
What is covered in a basic inspection? Are there other recommended services they provide like radon and mold tests? Often these tests require an additional fee and take additional time. The government has determined radon can be harmful in high levels and has determined it is a cause of lung cancer. The Idaho Panhandle has proven to have radon in excess of those levels. While not all homes will have it, you should still test for it.
Mold tests are usually conducted if an inspector sees discoloration — usually in the attic. Mold can be hard to spot in other places and, in fact, can hide anywhere.
If you are prone to allergies or your inspector thinks they have discovered likely mold, you should have them test for spores.
Depending on the age of the house, you may want to have the sewer line checked. Some vintage homes have sewer lines made of products that can collapse. Several area companies employ cameras that can take a video of the sewer line and expose any evidence of failure or obstruction.
Since home inspectors are not required to be licensed by the state, you will want to ask about their competency. What experiences or training have they had that qualifies them to be inspectors? Do they have any physical or technical limitations that will prohibit them from inspecting a portion of the building?
When your offer is accepted, your agent will open escrow. This process will cause a search of the title to begin and an initial report will be issued to you listing all parties who have access to your property. These easements are typical and usually apply to those providing utilities to the neighborhood. This report will also show any liens that are against the property. Read the report so you know the condition of the deed to your new property.
Ask your agent to provide you an aerial photo of the property. We know of a couple occasions where these views revealed an encroachment of a neighbor’s building on property about to be purchased.
Buying a home is a wonderful investment and is the American Dream. Make sure your home purchase does not become a nightmare by scrutinizing the home and its condition before getting too excited. That way your life’s largest investment will be a good one.
Trust an expert…call a Realtor. Call your Realtor or visit www.cdarealtors.com to search properties on the Multiple Listing Service or to find a Realtor member who will represent your best interests.
Kim Cooper is a real estate broker and the spokesman for the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors. Kim and the association invite your feedback and input for this column. You may contact them by writing to the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors, 409 W. Neider, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815 or by calling (208) 667-0664.