Updated: Mar 24
One of the scariest parts of purchasing a home is purchasing a home not knowing all it’s faults and history. While a home might be “perfect” for the buyer in terms of the district, décor, area, and price, it’s hard to know what issues the house may have that are not readily apparent. There are three ways a buyer can protect themselves from the unknown of the house.
With a few exceptions, every home must have a Seller Property Condition Disclosure (frequently referred to as the SPCD). This legal document describes in detail any issues the home may have had during the seller’s ownership of the property. It includes things like age of roof, HVAC, easements, plumbing/drain issues, water damage, electrical issues, pets on property, etc. This document should reflect any issues regarding the property, as well as what appliances are included with the sale. A good buyer’s agent will also offer to look up any previous sales to see if the SPCDs from those transactions are still available. If they are, they can give even more insight into the property and its history.
Another way to get a good look at a property is through a home inspection with a reputable home inspector. When the market is hot, people often waive the home inspection and continue forward with the sale. While this is a competitive strategy, it is always something to talk about with your agent and see if you can write a winning offer WITH the inspection. A home inspection gives you a chance to “look under the hood” of the home and see things that aren’t readily apparent during an initial showing. A home inspector will spend 3+ hours at the property. They check every window, every outlet, every sink. They run all the appliances, look at the circuit breaker box, check for tripping and other hazards. Home inspectors get up on the roof and down into crawl spaces. After the home inspector does their thorough investigation, they walk with the buyers through the house and give them the ins and outs of their findings. After this, in a typical market, the repairs are negotiated and completed before closing.
Finally, another good way to look out for your new property is to have a home warranty. Home warranties protect the majority of the appliances in the home as well as the major mechanics such as the HVAC. They give a deductible for service calls, and it’s just a nice way to know that the home has an extra layer of protection. When writing a contract, buyers can request that the home warranty be purchased at the expense of themselves or the seller. Most plans are under $500.
In the end, if you are like most people, your home is your biggest asset and therefore you want to do anything and everything to protect that. Knowing what you are getting is a great first step to making sure that your home is full of treats and not tricks.