When buying a home there are many steps to get to the finish line. If you watch the reality shows, which ironically are not very realistic, you would think all you have to do is look at a few homes with your agent, whom has perfect hair and a scripted answer for everything, pick the home you want and then celebrate. That is so far from the truth that my wife will not let me watch these shows anymore. Aside from the first step, finding an agent who will represent you in the transactions, searching online is how one would usually get the ball rolling.
Once you find the house you want to purchase you will write an offer which contains a lot of legalese, but essentially says you want to buy it for “x” amount, you want to close on “x” date, you would like for the seller to pay “x” amount in closing costs if any, and lastly we want “x” amount of days to make sure we want to purchase the home. This period of time is known as the due diligence period and that amount of time varies from deal to deal, but on average it is typically 3 weeks. This amount of time will give you the ability as a buyer to have a home inspection, termite inspection, radon test, survey, appraisal and anything you want to do to investigate the home and make sure it is the one you want.
The termite inspection is a simple process where the termite inspector is looking for evidence of termites such as tunnels on the inside walls of the crawl space. They are also looking for termite damage which would likely be wood that looks rotted, but it is actually being “chewed” by the termites over time. If there are termites and assuming there is no major wood damage, a spot treatment is typically all that is need to rid the home of termites, but you may consider purchasing a “bond” which will cover you in the near future if termites reappear. Just so you know, termites are likely in everyone’s yard, but it is when they encroach the house that you need to be concerned. If you use mulch in the beds surrounding your home it is advised to not make it too high….to where it is touching any wood part of the home as termites can take an easy path to lunch.
A radon test is always suggested when purchasing a home, but certain types of homes (basements/slabs) or geographic areas (midwest) are more likely to have elevated levels of radon. Radon is a gas that is found in rocks/uranium combustion that can make it’s way into your home from the ground. Like termites, every home has radon, but it is a matter of how much is in your home. The EPA recommends average levels of 4.0 pico curies per liter or more to be mitigated. Mitigation is a simple process to where a PVC pipe is inserted into the ground under the home or in the basement and a fan is attached to pull the air through the soil up to an exiting PVC pipe at least 18 inches above the roof line. If a home you are buying has high levels of radon don’t let it frighten you away…..houses that have a mitigation system in place are likely to have much lower levels than the average house in the area. Mitigation is not that expensive either….though areas may vary, in NC a basement home will cost between $800-$1,300.
Most people think negotiating the price of a home is the most gut wrenching stressful part of buying or selling a home. In my experience it is the home inspection. The reason being is the inspection reports use language that make certain repairs or conditions of a property seem devastating. In truth most houses I have sold in the past have had an average of 10-15 small repairs and every now and then there is a big repair to be made…sometimes enough to kill the deal. With that said, it is imperative to have a home inspection and moreover it is imperative to have an agent with enough experience to “help” you make decisions. Put in another way, most agents have seen so many reports they know which items are the items that really need attention. A few examples would be if a report states “Current Standards” require such and such. Well, a seller looks at this and thinks, current standards = new construction so they are not typically going to address items with that tag. Another item would be “Investigate Further”. These are sometime items such as evidence of a previous leak. You would want to consult the homeowner about what they may know about this item. It is not realistic to ask them to fix an item that is not broken, but a good agent will direct you on how to proceed. I have seen buyers run for the hills after getting an inspection report and some for good reason, but for most it is simply a matter of digesting the information and talking with your agent. One home inspector puts this statement on their report; “Reports generally appear to be written in a matter of fact language along with industry terms that seem to be very cold and harsh. This may make items seem more severe than they actually are so……please ask me any questions you may have.”
The way the Offer to Purchase and Contract for the State of North Carolina is written, the property is sold as-is. It says that in the contract. But, right below that is says something to the effect of “unless all parties agree to certain repairs is writing”. It is pretty typical… and what most buyers and sellers expect is for the seller to address certain repairs, especially if they are major, but they do not have to address any. So, in a nutshell, when you are buying a home it is up to you “the buyer” if you want to proceed after having inspections. It all comes down to how much you want the home, at what price you are getting it for and if the items the seller has not agreed to address are too big for you to take on yourself. I hope this helps you whether you are a buyer or a seller.