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Old 04-30-2012, 02:56 PM
 
9 posts, read 15,167 times
Reputation: 16

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Twice I've fallen in love with, had an offer accepted, and then conducted an inspection on a Newton home this month. Twice the deals have fallen through post-inspection. It's brutal and costly!

What's the common practice for negotiating with sellers on huge issues (read: concrete safety/livability concerns) that arise from an inspection? Examples:

- electrical not to code / never permitted to be wired over 60amps
- current owners claim roof is 9 years old; inspector says it's ready to die (at least 20-25 years old)
- two glorious fireplaces completely inoperable/unsafe, min. cost to fix = $20K+

I'm not over here nitpicking over things like uneven steps that need to be rebuilt, warped cabinets, cracks in the driveway, or even busted garage doors and poison ivy in the backyard. These aren't inexpensive fixes I'm losing houses over. What's so unsettling is that when my agent and I try to address these major concerns, the sellers aren't willing to negotiate. The thought of paying for the negligence of others sets my teeth on edge, but am I the one who needs a reality check? If they've accepted an offer of $600K, is it crazy to expect that the electrical system and fireplaces/chimneys and roof work safely and properly (they certainly weren't disclosed as issues by the seller's agent) - and if the inspection says they don't, and furthermore, that they're dangerous/hazardous, then is there any way that the same house is still worth $600K?

It's hard to know whether or not I'm being unreasonable here. I certainly don't want to insult anyone or lowball them, but I don't want to make foolish choices, either. It'd be helpful to get feedback from someone who's not my agent, and if anyone can be specific with numbers, that would be great. I just want to figure out where I stand, readjust my strategy if necessary, and move on.
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Old 04-30-2012, 03:09 PM
 
Location: Montreal -> CT -> MA -> Montreal -> Ottawa
17,330 posts, read 30,028,763 times
Reputation: 28795
I'm not a Realtor, and I've only purchased three houses in my lifetime, so I'm no authority, but I think this sounds CRAZY on their part. It's actually quite incredulous that these items were not disclosed BEFORE you bothered to have an inspection -- that would truly get my goat.

My personal opinion? You have every reason to be peeved.

I'm sorry, this comment is really no help to you regarding what recourse you have. I just wanted to say that I'm on your side.
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Old 04-30-2012, 03:46 PM
 
1,039 posts, read 3,248,841 times
Reputation: 606
It sounds like the sellers are a bit unrealistic, but they might have seller's fatigue as well. Between HGTV, a less hands-on echo boomer generation, litigation wary inspectors who get paid no matter what, and the buyer's market, most BUYERS in my experience are the unrealistic ones. They inspect a century old home and are surprised by uneven floors and anything imperfect that's typically parsed too finely by inspectors these days. Yes, you lose several hundred dollars, but you move on right away. A seller can lose much more valuable weeks and momentum while a house is off the market.
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Old 04-30-2012, 04:37 PM
 
Location: Montreal -> CT -> MA -> Montreal -> Ottawa
17,330 posts, read 30,028,763 times
Reputation: 28795
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonsey View Post
- current owners claim roof is 9 years old; inspector says it's ready to die (at least 20-25 years old)
This one is killing me because it's out-and-out lying.

Let me ask you a question: How long has your Realtor been a Realtor? I'm asking because our Realtor in CT, who helped us buy two houses, knew this sort of stuff. He could tell you -- ball park, of course -- how old the furnace or boiler was, how old the roof was, what sort of electrical problem we might face, etc...

Our Realtor in MA didn't face those sorts of issues -- our house had been gutted and completely redone -- but, if this house hadn't been in such good shape, I'd have expected her to know that sort of stuff upon initial viewing.

Maybe you should consider a more experienced Realtor? One who could spot those sorts of things before you hire an inspector? Just a thought. (I'm still livid and seething at the sorts of things that you're facing. It's ridiculous!)
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Old 04-30-2012, 05:32 PM
 
Location: East Valley, AZ
3,852 posts, read 8,879,375 times
Reputation: 4007
Quote:
Originally Posted by DandJ View Post
This one is killing me because it's out-and-out lying.

Let me ask you a question: How long has your Realtor been a Realtor? I'm asking because our Realtor in CT, who helped us buy two houses, knew this sort of stuff. He could tell you -- ball park, of course -- how old the furnace or boiler was, how old the roof was, what sort of electrical problem we might face, etc...

Our Realtor in MA didn't face those sorts of issues -- our house had been gutted and completely redone -- but, if this house hadn't been in such good shape, I'd have expected her to know that sort of stuff upon initial viewing.

Maybe you should consider a more experienced Realtor? One who could spot those sorts of things before you hire an inspector? Just a thought. (I'm still livid and seething at the sorts of things that you're facing. It's ridiculous!)
Maybe you should make your realtor brownies?
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Old 04-30-2012, 05:47 PM
 
Location: Montreal -> CT -> MA -> Montreal -> Ottawa
17,330 posts, read 30,028,763 times
Reputation: 28795
Quote:
Originally Posted by MAtheBanker View Post
Maybe you should make your realtor brownies?
HA! I didn't make the brownies for him, M, I made them for the viewers. The Realtor just happened to SHARE! Ha!

PS. Nice to see you!
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Old 04-30-2012, 05:59 PM
 
Location: East Valley, AZ
3,852 posts, read 8,879,375 times
Reputation: 4007
Quote:
Originally Posted by DandJ View Post
HA! I didn't make the brownies for him, M, I made them for the viewers. The Realtor just happened to SHARE! Ha!

PS. Nice to see you!
I browse every now and then. Saw your name while I was scrolling.

Commence with the thread! I'm going to commence fighting fraud
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Old 04-30-2012, 06:49 PM
 
392 posts, read 838,863 times
Reputation: 330
Have you tired getting information from Newton town hall? I don't know how responsive this particular town hall is, but the Natick one (where I live) would freely and easily give you lots of info. Whenever a major update is being done, a permit has to be issued through townhall, and records would tell you exactly when the roof was replaced for example. You can search for this info without putting an offer on a house or hiring an inspector. Just give the address of property. Ask your realtor.

Second thing, while roof is a huge issue, a fire place is different. True, you want to use your beautiful fireplace, but previous owner may not, and fixing a fire place is not an absolute necessity (like fixing water heater), so some home owners might forgo this. I have friends with a stunning house (should I say mansion) in Newton (gutted and renovated), but they never use their fireplaces, and think that fixing them would be too expensive.

Still, I truly feel for you and think you have all rights to be dissatisfied with the way things are going. Try getting more info upfront, before the inspection is done. Good luck!
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:09 PM
 
Location: Needham, MA
7,440 posts, read 11,581,239 times
Reputation: 6631
It's really hard to give you a quality answer without seeing the house in person and also being at the inspection. However, the one thing I want to start off with is an examination of what an inspector is . . .

An inspector is a sort of "jack of all trades." They know a little about everything but usually know everything about nothing. They can point out areas they think might be a problem but they don't know enough to be sure that there is a problem. I've attended many many inpsections representing both buyers and sellers and I can't tell you how many flat out wrong or ignorant things I've heard inspectors say. I always recommend to my clients after an inspection if there is a particularly concerning issue to call in someone who actually knows what they're talking about. This way we know with more certainty if there is actually a problem and we get a good idea of the repair costs. Plus, inspectors are limited in what they are willing to inspect. They won't disassemble anything (you can't even get many of them to take a cover plate off an outlet) and they only test what they have access to. They're not going to move furniture to get at an outlet for example.

Next, I want to discuss a little buying an older house. Buyers always want everything to be perfect, but when you buy an older home that's just not going to be the case and it's not a realistic or fair expectation. An old house might not have a new furnace and it might not have a new roof. This is all part of buying an old house. One of the most common requests I get after an inspection as the listing agent is "we want GFCIs in the kitchen." As a listing agent, I'm going to advise my clients to say "no" to that request. Why? Because this an upgrade. The outlets in the kitchen work as they were intended to and the kitchen was installed prior to GFCIs becoming a requirement of code. Are GFCIs safer? Yes, but I view an upgrade such as this as the buyer's responsability. The key here is the word upgrade. Most inspectors will use this term in such a situation right on their report.

The last thing I want to address is the City of Newton. I haven't done much business in Newton this spring, but I have been doing a lot in Needham, Wellesley, and Natick and those towns are on fire. Especially in the lower price ranges of those towns (which would be high price ranges in many other towns). I imagine Newton is experiencing the same level of activity. Sadly, the $600K range is very much entry level for the City of Newton and I'm sure this seller feels if you don't want his house "as is" then there are probably 10 people lined up behind you that will take it that way. It's possible they're being unreasonable but it's also likely that the market allows them to be that way.

I hope this helps. I will say working with a good Realtor will help you deal with as many of these problems as possible. Please note I've highlighted the word good because finding a good real estate agent is like finding a needle in a haystack sometimes.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:10 PM
 
Location: Needham, MA
7,440 posts, read 11,581,239 times
Reputation: 6631
Quote:
Originally Posted by tikaram View Post
Have you tired getting information from Newton town hall? I don't know how responsive this particular town hall is, but the Natick one (where I live) would freely and easily give you lots of info. Whenever a major update is being done, a permit has to be issued through townhall, and records would tell you exactly when the roof was replaced for example. You can search for this info without putting an offer on a house or hiring an inspector. Just give the address of property. Ask your realtor.
A home's file in the building department (usually found in city/town hall) is public record and can be accessed by anyone. It's always a good idea to look for open permits or check for unpermitted work by reviewing the file. For example, the age of the roof in this case is in question. The homeowner should have pulled a permit when putting on a new roof. If you can find the permit then you know the roof's age. Unfortunately, not everyone pulls permits when they should and so you might not find what you're looking for in the file.
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