2008 Mar 8th

How a Home Inspection Can Save Your Condo Sale From Falling Apart

Was Your Hoboken Home or Condo Built in the 1800s?

It is widely assumed that a buyer does a home inspection once the property is under contract. Or at least when their offer has been accepted. Usually, that is correct. Many Hoboken buildings (and condos), however, were built in the late 1800s. That’s not a typo. Most of our brownstones and row houses are over 100 years old. Many have been converted to condos after having been rental units for a long time. In that case, there may be an advantage for the seller to have the condo unit or house inspected before putting it on the market for sale.

What’s In It For The Seller? Knowledge & Power

The seller can learn if there are any potential problems with the property. If there are, repairs can be made before the unit is listed. The buyer is going to do his own inspection and will discover these problems anyway. What do you think happens then? The buyer asks the seller to make repairs or adjust the sales price with a credit. Then the lawyers may have to get involved. It may hold up the deal. It may even give the buyer a way out of the contract and the deal may fall apart.

Nobody Wants Surprises During Negotiations

When you are selling your property, until you are sitting at the closing table, check in hand don’t kid yourself, you are still in negotiations. Just like a lawyer should never ask a witness a question if the lawyer doesn’t know what the witness will answer, if the seller doesn’t know what the buyer’s inspector is going to find wrong with your property the seller is at a disadvantage. Even if you decide not to make any repairs, doing a home inspection will let you will know in advance what the buyer is going to ask for.

Those Old Pipes Love to Ping and SingOld Pipe

Back in the day, Hoboken houses were built with a single heating system for the whole building. Over the years, many of these multi-family homes and buildings were turned into inexpensive rental units. Not all were well maintaned. More recently many were converted to condos. Due to the expense, some of these condo buildings still have parts of the original heating systems in place today. When you see a listing for a condo that says “maintenance includes heat” that is a tip off. The condos don’t have individual meters because the building has not been re-piped and probably has much older heating and possibly electrical systems.

Smart Sellers are Prepared

Buyers may hesitate to buy a condo in a building with old systems. If something goes wrong or costly repairs are needed, maintence fees increase or a special assessment be imposed. Buyers, especially Hoboken’s many first time buyers, don’t like unknown costs. The potential cost of repairs may scare some buyers away. The age of the building systems may prevent them from buying. Having an inspection report available for buyers will reassure them. It gives the seller a way to overcome objections. It makes the buyer feel more secure that there are no significant problems or that the problems have been addressed.

Pay Now or Pay Later

So as a seller you have a choice. You can pay a few hundred dollars now and do the inspection. If there are problems, you can make any needed repairs. Or you can pay later after your property lingers on the market for months and you are forced to drop the price. Worst case scenario, you finally do get an offer and get through attorney review only to have the buyer walk away from the deal because of problems discovered during the home inspection. Selling a 100+ year old condo or brownstone in today’s competitive market? Be smart, do a home inspection.

Also Read: What Everybody Ought To Know About Home Inspections

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently 1 Comment »

2007 Oct 16th

What Everybody Ought To Know About Home Inspections

Home Inspectors Are Not All Created Equal

An important part of buying a condo and, especially a house, is the home inspection. Most sales contracts give the buyer a right to have the property examined by a home inspector. You should be there during the inspection and should take notes. There is much valuable information a home buyer, especially a first time home owner, can learn during the inspection process.

There are some big companies in the home inspection business who operate in the Hoboken area. Housemasters is one of them. They do the inspection and give you a nice, fancy package afterward with your report and information on general maintenance of your home. There are a number of individuals who are inspectors as well. Some of them are excellent. Before you choose one, ask for references. See if other buyers have been satisfied with their services. Many realtors will attend the home inspection along with the buyer. So they’ve been through many inspections and can recommend a few competent inspectors to you. Regardless of who you choose you should know that –

Inspectors do not check most things that they cannot see

If there is mold behind the sheet rock, or a problem with the electrical system only on hot days when the a/c is running full blast the inspector may not find the problem. What they will do is test all the appliances, look at the plumbing and check for obvious leaks or signs of water damage, run the heating and cooling systems, test the electrical sockets and look at the circuit boards, examine the windows and a few other things. If the condo you are buying is new construction, you are probably covered by a new homeowners warranty should you move in and find out that something isn’t working properly. The older the property, the more likely there are to be problems from wear and tear.

Inspectors don’t typically check the common areas in condo buildings.

Since you own from the skin of the walls inward, most inspectors are not going to include problems in the hallway or with the roof as part of the scope of their inspection. Common elements are the responsibility of the condominium association. Problems in the common areas affect you only in so far as the cost of repairs comes from the buildings reserve fund and your maintenance payments.

Inspectors are not structural or building engineers

If you’re buying a 100 year old house or have some other reason for concern it might be worth it to have an engineer perform your inspection. While it may cost more you may avoid a costly issue down the road.

If problems are discovered the seller may have to repair or pay to repair them

Even though your purchase price has been agreed upon, in many instances when problems arise during the home inpection process, the buyer will go to the seller through their attorneys or realtors and request that repairs be made at the sellers expense or that a monetary credit be given the buyer to pay for the needed work. Most buyers prefer to do the work themselves and will take the payment rather than the repair. If the work is not done or an amount cannot be agreed upon between you and the buyer you may have the right to cancel the contract and get your money back. You should know what your contract says about home inspection so ask your lawyer.

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently 4 Comments »

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