The crack wasn’t deep but it followed the entire length of the sub wall. I’ve seen these before in older homes, newer homes, and everything in between. I walked the client through the rest of the home inspection and I hoped this would not be the dreaded Deal Breaker issue. Before the home inspector even reported back to the buyer, I knew it signaled a problem, but just how big?
Realtors are not home inspectors.
Realtors always seem to have all the answers, but we are not trained in the art of how and why of home inspection. When you get a property inspected the right way, you want to know how it is working now, what happened to it in the past and how long stuff will keep working in the future. Simple, right? Just like when you take a used car into your favorite mechanic, you want to know what you are buying, before you drop that big down payment on it.
So how bad is it?
A crack on the foundation isn’t always worrisome. It could merely be a hairline settling crack, which is normal. But you want to have it looked at if it is wide, long or deep. This is exactly why you get a home inspector to put everything he/she finds into a report and hold onto it for future reminders. Other major issues can include roofing problems, termites and HVAC and wiring issues.
Is this the deal breaker?
Here’s the thing: Only the buyer determines if the issue is the deal breaker-not me! I will help the buyer to determine if the issue is nothing, a simple fix, or an expensive fix. Coming up with solutions will involve getting estimates from a reliable contractor who specializes in foundation issues. Then your buyer can give this information to the seller with a request to review it per re-negotiating on the contract, because as your Realtor recommended, you put in your contract to purchase the property pending the home inspection, right? Will the buyer panic at the home inspectors report? Well, now, that depends a lot on the Realtor. Talking with the buyer through the issues, the ups and downs of home buying and what they expect the outcome to be should have been done by now. Communication is vital to understanding what a buyer will and will not accept. I’ve seen a major issue be taken care of 100% by the owners because they know the next buyer will find the same issue anyway. I’ve seen buyers get the credit they needed to fix it later on at the closing table. I’ve also seen owners think this one issue kills the house completely for them and walk away. This happened once, on an short sale, so it was not very surprising that the bank wasn’t too keen on the idea of compromising even more on the price tag. But I’ve never had a buyer walk away as long as the owner was willing to work it out, as long as they knew what they were getting into.
Educating the buyer is essential.
One of the hardest things a Realtor has to do is to educate the buyer to make sound decisions. There is no perfect house! However, not every buyer wants to deal with a headache of foundation issues, but my experience has shown me that there is a buyer out there for every property, no matter the issues. Giving a buyer all the tools they need to make these decisions, such as a thorough home inspection with full written report, outside third party opinions, fair estimates from reputable contractors and realistic expectations that a seller will work in good faith to finalize a sale, will all help get a deal breaker issue resolved into a smooth closing for happy homeowners.
Check out my blog from last month “Is Wood Grain Tile the Spork of Flooring?”