Let’s talk about inspections. I have three tips for what is most probably the most stressful part of the home buying and selling process.
Hi, my name is Johanna Dueren. I am a agent and broker with Circa Properties here in St. Louis, Missouri and today we are talking about the inspection process and all of the heartburn that comes along with that.
For an extra resource I have added down below a link to a document https://johannadueren.com/home-inspection-tips/ that outlines all the things for sellers to be considerate of, things that are going to be looked at during a home inspection. So that can be useful for both buyers and sellers. If you’re getting ready to sell a property, take a look at that document and think about maybe all the things that are on there that you know might be broken. Now might be a good time to get those fixed before you hit the market. And sellers, could be a good opportunity to take a look at that document as well. And as you’re going through your home inspection process on your new home, make sure that your inspector is looking at all of those items as well.
Okay, helpful hint number one when it comes to the inspection process, prepare yourself for the most stressful part. This is going to be the most stressful part of the process for both the buyer and the seller. As long as you are not purchasing an as-is property. If you are purchasing an as-is property, you can have as many inspections as you want. And then at the end of that process you decide if you are willing to move forward knowing all the things that are wrong with the property. But you will not have the opportunity to ask for repairs. So in most situations you are not going to be purchasing an as-is property and you are going to be looking at getting your inspections and then negotiating repairs based off of that inspection report.
From a seller’s perspective, you may have been living in the house for anywhere from who knows, six months, six years, 10 years, 20 years, and you’re going to get this inspection report that’s going to list all these things that are wrong with the house that either, A, you didn’t know about or, B, you may be kind of knew about but have always been fine and you never really had to deal with it. So why suddenly is it a big deal for this buyer? And why are they asking you to repair it?
From the buyer’s perspective, especially in this market that’s been a seller’s market, they have probably paid either list price or over list price for the property. From their perspective, they’re thinking, I’m paying a lot of money for this house and now I’ve got this report that shows all of these things that are wrong with it. I want to make sure that all these things are repaired.
So this is the point in the program where we get a lot of head butting. Buyers feel that they are entitled to have all of these things repaired. Sellers feel like there’s nothing really wrong. I can’t believe that this inspector found this. This isn’t really an issue. And so there is often some back and forth in regards to the inspection process. So as I said, my tip number one is to just expect that it’s going to be a little bit stressful. Look at it from the other side. So if you’re buying, look at it from the seller’s perspective. Think about what they’re going through. If you’re selling, think about it from the buyer’s perspective and the goal is you want to sell the house, they want to buy the house. Let’s find some middle ground where everybody is going to be happy.
Inspection tip number two, when you are looking at your inspection report, you are going to be taking things into consideration that are actually broken. We, at this point in the process, cannot ask for what’s called improvements on the property. You can’t add things to the house. You can look at the report, look at the things that are currently broken and ask for those things to be repaired. But asking for a new French door to be put in on the back of the house when currently there is just an old sliding door. That would be considered an improvement and not something we can technically ask for. So in order to keep your requests in line with being realistic and get across that finish line of everybody agreeing to the inspection notice report, keeping those kinds of requests realistic on your end and for the seller are going to be super important.
Inspection tip number three is going to be that there are going to be certain things on an inspection report that are going to be non-negotiable. The first one that comes to mind is going to be the sewer lateral repairs. So if you are in St. Louis City and some parts of St. Louis County, many of those houses are old. In St. Louis City, some can be over a hundred years old and the sewer laterals are going to be clay or cast iron. And over the years those things break and crack and crumble. So part of your inspection process will be to have the sewer lateral inspection. That can be extremely expensive to repair. So if you find during your sewer lateral inspection that you have a crack or a break, this would be one of those things that I would consider non-negotiable for two reasons. One, the first reason is it is expensive. So you can be looking at anything from a couple thousand dollars to $10,000 to $15,000 depending on how much of the line needs to be repaired.
Also, the other part is when you go to resell the property, you could have your inspection, find out the sewer line is cracked and think it’s fine, I’ll just take it as is. And then the entire time you’re living in the house not make the repair. So then you go to sell the property 10 years down the road and guess what? That buyer is going to do their own inspection and find out that the sewer lateral line is cracked and they are going to demand that it needs to be done.
So when you find out that these things need to happen, it’s best to just go ahead and make that part of the sales process. So keep in mind, in St. Louis City, St. Louis City currently does not have a sewer lateral program, so we find some of the biggest problems in the inspection negotiation comes with the sewer lateral sometimes. Sellers are surprised that they have a crack and are extremely disappointed to find out that now they have to spend $8,000 to have the sewer line replaced before they can sell the property. If you are getting ready to list a property in St. Louis City, especially because there is no sewer lateral program, I would recommend having a sewer lateral inspection done before you go on the market so that you don’t have any nasty surprises.
In St. Louis County, many parts of St. Louis County, there is a sewer lateral program, so that means that that portion, whatever county municipality that is, they will pay for the sewer lateral repair. Typically that is from a portion of the property that’s about four feet away from the property out to the city main. They will not pay for repairs that are on the property or within four feet of the property. So when you’re having your pre on the market inspection for yourself, keep that in mind. If it’s something that’s underneath your basement floor. It’s going to be your responsibility. If it’s something that’s out in the yard, if you’re in the county, it will be their responsibility.
Hopefully this was helpful. As I said below, there is a link to a document that outlines inspection items. I hope you find that useful and thank you so much for watching.
Additional resources available here for ASHI approved home inspectors.
Here’s that link one more time for the home inspection checklist: https://johannadueren.com/home-inspection-tips/