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With so much upheaval in the housing market these days, and everyone wanting to buy a home, what are the main concerns for people as far as what they look for in a home inspection? It seems to me like people don't know what questions to ask and so I don't know how to help them. I'm wondering what's on their minds....and how to find this information out....

Many thanks,

cat

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Originally posted by catlugo

With so much upheaval in the housing market these days, and everyone wanting to buy a home, what are the main concerns for people as far as what they look for in a home inspection? It seems to me like people don't know what questions to ask and so I don't know how to help them. I'm wondering what's on their minds....and how to find this information out....

Many thanks,

cat

Everyone's wanting to buy a home? That's news to me. I see a lot of housing stock sitting there, unsold, going stale.

I've found that, if I want to know what's on someone's mind, it's easiest to simply ask him.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Hi Cat,

I'm not sure how to answer the question. I've done a walk-n-talk type inspection that I call The School of the House for more than 12 years. I've found that by doing consistently thorough inspections all of the clients' questions are pretty much answered by the end of the process. Outside of that I don't hear any particular question repeated a lot.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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After too many years and reviewing too many inspections/inspectors - The all time winner is the question "Would you buy this house?". And the all time answer - "I don't give a rip if you buy the house or not. I ain't making the mortgage payments and quite happy where I live now."

I suppose the generic answer would be about the windows and/or roof. For the past five years or so, they always ask about something that could kill them, like "Is there mold? Is there radon?"

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Originally posted by catlugo

With so much upheaval in the housing market these days, and everyone wanting to buy a home, what are the main concerns for people as far as what they look for in a home inspection? It seems to me like people don't know what questions to ask and so I don't know how to help them. I'm wondering what's on their minds....and how to find this information out....

Many thanks,

cat

I think buyers want to know what, if anything, is wrong with the house.

I took the approach of telling the customers everything I'd tell a close friend of family member if that friend or family member were buying the house.

WJ

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I am not sure what you question really is.

Most people want to know about "expensive" repairs. Things that are broken or likely to break and cost "alot". Generally most people define that as more than $500 per item for homes costing less than 1/2 million.

They are scared of the unknown. They don't want to buy a house and think all is fine when in reality it is failing in many ways in many locations. They don't have a list of trusted repair people and they don't have any money to pay for repairs because they spent all their money on buying the house.

Most clients only see cosmetic issues. One of our tasks is to help them see the structural and mechanical defects. Most people would not know if a heat exchanger is good or bad even if they could see one.

"the main concerns for people as far as what they look for in a home inspection" is a home inspector that is detailed enough to find all the problems, document them in an easy to understand manner by a laypersopn and instill confidence that the inspector was knowledgeable, courtous, and was sufficiently skilled to build trust that s/he did the job correctly and completely. They want to rest easy at night knowing that everything was found and it will be repaired.

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Originally posted by Darren

So now Walter (and everyone else),

How many buyers have you actually told "Don't buy this house".

The reason I'm asking is there is a debate over at AR about this very question.

Well, since you ask: I did it many, many times. (I had about 5,000 opportunities.) RE agents who didn't like it could kiss my ass. My catchphrase was, "If you were my baby sister, you'd have to kill me before I'd let you buy this house."

I confess: The lack of courage some HIs show when asked a direct question really chafes me. If somebody asks me if I'd buy the house or not, I just say yes or no. This notion that the HI is "overstepping," chafes me even more.

Most of my customers found me via my newspaper column. They trusted me more than they trusted RE agents. So, I felt a duty to speak plainly.

Others' mileage may vary.

WJ

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How many buyers have you actually told "Don't buy this house".

I've said that or some version of that quite a few times as well.

Regarding a historic property I inspected last week for an extremely optimistic couple I wrote:

"You won't own this house, it'll own you. It'll be unfinished long after you're dead and you'll drop enough cash in the process to fund an emerging nation for a year."

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FTR:

Concerning the Active Rain site: I disagree with almost everyone that posts there, almost all of the time. Trying to communicate any standard of ethics to the ass kissing, back patting, sunshine blowing majority is an exercise in futility.

If I had a medical condition that required me to raise my blood pressure I'd visit AR daily.

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Illinois HI licensing law has a line prohibiting any home inspector from "commenting on advisability of purchase", or something like that.

Not that I care.......

In most cases, buying or not buying is a simple matter of arithmetic. I know what stuff costs to fix or replace. I tell folks those numbers. From there, most folks w/a frontal lobe can figure out if they should buy or not buy.

The large problem is the vast number of HI's w/no practical experience in construction or remodeling. No one seems to know how to do anything, or what it might cost. Most HI's I know couldn't change out a kitchen sink trap. Everyone's talking authoritatively about things they know little or nothing about.

Just like the realtors, the only sales job where product knowledge is a liability.

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Originally posted by Darren

So now Walter (and everyone else),

How many buyers have you actually told "Don't buy this house".

The reason I'm asking is there is a debate over at AR about this very question.

I always use this phrase.."Ya know, if my daughter or son wanted to buy this home I would have to tell them that Dad does not approve, based on what I have seen so far." At that point, most of the time I tell my client, that if they want they can end the inspection now. You can pay me just for my time and I will issue a report that tells what I have found based on this limited inspection.

I would say that this happens about once a year.

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I guess I have given my world famous opinion a few thousand times.

I was doing fine with Bruce R's post, until the last few words. I have never found everything that was wrong with any house and really never cared if it was repaired or not.

Kurt M is right on about skill level of inspectors. There is another active topic where a question was asked of the brethern and nobody replied "dumb question". Could be many of us are too polite to tell another inspector to find another line of work.

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Further thoughts on this subject:

In my experience, many HIs who apparently skipped Logic 101 heard some folklore or read a piece of a law that makes them think that they're forbidden from answering the "would you buy it" question. There's a big difference between "would you buy it" and "should I buy it." I've seen HI posts stating that their states won't let them "give real estate advice." Now that's funny, because that's pretty much what we do -- we give real estate advice.

It's like changing out a sink trap. There are guys with limited skillsets and/or limited knowledge, who just don't know how to deal with the situation. I've run across many HIs who think that if a given action isn't required, then it's forbidden, or "illegal." HIs, taken as a breed, don't know what's illegal. And how many times have we seen HI boilerplate that states that XYZ is "mandatory." HIs can't mandate anything.

If/when somebody asks me if I'd buy the house, I answer directly. Yes or no. Heck, I've told dozens of customers that if they decide not to buy a given house, let me know, because I'd be glad to buy it the next day. (Nobody ever took me up on that.) I've also told many customers that the house is a turd, and I wouldn't buy it any price.

I run all potential conflicts through my "what are they gonna do to me" filter. The chance of somebody hauling me into court because I answered a customer question truthfully is, well, zero.

This is one of those questions where a lot of HIs seem to have gotten their information -- and their beliefs -- from RE agents or other HIs. These HIs don't really fear the law; I think they fear the loss of referrals from RE agents.

I wrote a column a while back, in which I told would-be buyers to ask their HI if he'd buy the house or not. I told them that if the guy gave a straight answer, he was probably a decent HI. I told them that if the guy tiptoed around the answer and/or served up bullshift, they shouldn't rely on the guy's opinions.

Co-inspector Rick and I finished up a lot of inspections by answering the "would you buy it" question. Usually, it went like this:

Customer: "Would you buy this house?"

Me: "Never in a million years."

Rick: "Same here."

Me: "Bear in mind, you can ignore our combined 40 years of knowledge, and buy the thing anyway."

Customer: "Thanks. I'll call you when I find a better one."

HI work is very simple stuff. No need to complicate it with folklore, bad logic and magical thinking.

WJ

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Good advice, Walter. I've said the same thing, but I typically add in a qualifier, sort of like what Kurt described.

When someone asks if I'd buy a crappy house, I say, "Yes, if I had eighty grand--or whatever figure seems relevant--to sink into it before I began to think about remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms."

This usually gets their attention and edges them toward the pragmatic side of the fence.

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I don't think it's as cut and dry as Walter opines, but I think I've formed my opinions based on our crazy Seattle market. There are truly too many unknown factors of which I'm not aware when someone asks me that question.

Perhaps they're getting a killer deal.

Maybe they're up against a deadline to find a property utilizing a 1031 exchange.

Maybe they're investors who know its a bad place, but can't go wrong on the investment anyway.

Maybe the husband lukewarm about it but the wife really loves it.

Maybe it's the right place because it's much closer to their workplace than somehwere else (Seattle's pretty sprawled)

Maybe they've got a ton of extra cash to sink in to it.

Maybe they want a fixer.

This is just a start of all the factors I personally consider.

Seattle might have been fairly unique in this factor - at least up until a year or so ago: if one could just jump on the real estate carousel, they couldn't go wrong.

Heck, there was a time when builders were buying $700,000 40 year old homes in a poochy-fanooly part of town, only to tear them down so they could build their $1.6 million dollar McMansions. Tear down, POS ramblers would appreciate 5% as the ink was still drying on the loan closing docs.

About the only time I'll simply say "yes" or "no" is when I see the single mom or parents pull up in their beater car, hauling the two little ones. After the first few minutes when I see the exasperated look on their faces because they're stressed the house paint needs touch up, I'll stop right there and be perfectly blunt.

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I have no problem telling folks that I think they're getting in over their heads. Since I primarily inspect old buildings, I also have no reservation telling certain types of buyers that they're not the kind of people that the house needs.

I wish I could play the voice mail I got today from a listing agent.

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Once, I was explaining to a young couple that the 100-year-old house they wanted to buy wasn't built to last a 100 years and was in dire straits.

Their elderly, blue-haired realtor said, "Well, yes, Mr. Bain. But what are the safety issues?"

I looked that chick in the eye and said, "It's my professional opinion that the best course of action is to toss a few grenades into this place, haul away the rubble, and start over. So I suppose the biggest safety issue is to stand clear while the grenades are being hurled."

She did that wacky eye-twitch thing that Kramer made famous and didn't speak again.

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