KIM COOPER: Don’t cut corners

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As competitive as the real estate market has been — lower inventory and higher prices — some buyers are prone to cut corners to keep from losing a long-sought home. One trend seen nationally is skipping the inspection to avoid losing the house. Not only is this unwise it could be dreadfully expensive. True, a conventional loan does not require a home inspection. FHA or USDA loans include an inspection with the appraisal, but often these inspections are not as thorough as a specifically trained home inspector might conduct.

Foregoing an inspection will save you a few bucks on the front end of the transaction. A typical home inspection will run from $250 to $500 for an average house. That inspection should include visual examination of all accessible areas of the home. Inspectors aren’t afraid of bugs usually, so they will crawl under the house where black widow spiders may lurk and into the attic where there may be vermin. A good inspector will access every nook and cranny possible without causing damage to the home. Of course no one can see inside walls, so some things might be undiscovered, but technology allows inspectors to be more thorough than ever.

Walking onto the roof allows the inspector to closely examine for potential leaks. Things like rubber boots around vent pipes and air vents can become cracked with age and potentially leak water into the attic or living space. Imagine the expense of having to replace the overhead insulation and ceiling plaster after a water-caused collapse.

Unseen dangers can also be detected with the proper equipment. Your home inspector should have access to air sampling devices that will test for radon gas and mold spores. Even though most houses have some type of mold that may be visible in the crawl space or other normally dark, moist areas, these fungi are usually harmless to most people. If someone in your family has allergies, you might want to pony up that extra $50 to have the air sampled inside the living area to determine if some harmful type of mold is hidden inside the walls.

We live in an area that is rich in minerals. That means radon gas — which comes from deteriorating uranium ore — is bountiful in our region. Your inspector will offer a radon test for a small fee. Usually this test will require placement of an air sampler in a low-traffic area of the home where it may remain undisturbed for several days. Since radon is heavier than air, the device will be placed in the lowest living area of the home. Since radon is also odorless, air sampling is the only way to detect it. The Environmental Protection Agency tells us radon gas contributes to lung cancer and possibly other maladies, so the small fee for testing may alert you to a serious hazard. If excessive levels of radon are detected, they can easily be vented outside, but this could cost $1,200 to $4,000 depending on the difficulty of elimination.

Newer to our market is the sewer line camera inspection. Several companies in the area are now offering that service, which could be helpful in determining the condition of the sewer line. From the home to the main line in the street is the homeowner’s responsibility, so replacement or repair will be on whomever owns the home at the time of failure. Digging up a sewer line can be fairly costly and the farther it is from the home to the main line, the more it will cost to repair. Sewer line inspections start around $100.

When you are buying a home, you are likely making the biggest investment of your life. Don’t go cheap when ensuring that investment.

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.

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