Archive for Monday, May 26, 1997

HOME INSPECTIONS ARE NO GUARANTEE BUT HELP

May 26, 1997

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Before you purchase that new home, a home inspection can let you know what needs repair.

Terri Lintecum sold her home in Lawrence last August and has been actively seeking its replacement ever since. She finally found it at 915 Ala.

But before Lintecum closes on the deal, she requests two home inspections, a mechanical and termite inspection.

"This home is just what I've been looking for," she said. "I hope it turns out OK."

Alan Miller, sales executive for Re/MAX Professionals, said there's a standard form for home buyers, and they choose the inspector. The form includes an amount the buyer agrees to pay toward any repairs the seller makes.

"This could be $25, $75 or $100, and it's done to encourage the buyers to focus only on safety issue repairs," Miller said.

Miller said home inspections have become a standard procedure for existing homes. Buyers need to remember inspections are not a guarantee, but they do provide helpful information on the condition of the home at that given time.

Larry Midyett, owner/broker with Century 21, has been selling real estate in Lawrence for 33 years. He said many buyers rely too much on what the inspector says.

"It protects the buyer somewhat," he said. "But an inspector can do nothing more than observe just as the buyer can."

Midyett said there will always be hidden items the inspector can't see.

"They can't tear the house up to see what's behind the walls," he notes.

An additional safety measure for buyers is the homeowners warranty policy offered by area real estate companies. Cost is $385 for a one-year policy, which covers all the mechanical systems, wiring and plumbing, with no deductible.

"At least it enables the buyer to get their feet back on the ground and save a little money after investing in a home," Midyett said.

The inspection

Jeff Clark, of Clark Inspection Service, has been inspecting homes full time in the Lawrence area for three years. Lintecum contacted Clark to inspect her potential new home.

Clark started with the exterior of the home, built in the early 1900s. Lintecum, Miller, the selling agent and Becky Mondi, the listing agent for Re/MAX, walked along to hear Clark's report.

Armed with gas and carbon monoxide detectors, a moisture meter, voltage sniffer and a three-prong outlet tester, Clark moved through each level of the home, from roof to basement, recording his findings throughout.

"You may need to replace parts of the roof to prevent possible water leakage later on," Clark told Lintecum.

He pointed out where asbestos shingles appeared serviceable, where paint was needed, and where the routing of a few downspouts would help prevent water damage in the basement.

"I'm not here to put a guarantee on things but make them aware of what's there and what isn't and what's working," Clark said.

Home inspections cost between $185 and $275 in the Lawrence area and are most often paid for by the buyer. The price can vary according to the size, age and style of the home.

Debbie Liddel, of Advanced Termite Management, also inspected the Alabama Street home for termites and gave it a clean bill of health.

"Most lenders will not loan money without a termite check unless the home is new and was treated when it was built," Liddel said.

While termite inspections are required by all lenders, mechanical inspections are not.

Susie Deeken, a retail lending loan officer from Mercantile Bank, said the bank follows the contract requirements from the sale of the home.

"A termite inspection must be done," she said. "But if a buyer signs a form stating they are taking the home as is and recognize the problems, we don't require the mechanical."

Deeken said most home sale contracts, however, are contingent on both inspections.

A busy season

Spring is the busiest time for home sales, and Clark said he's been working seven days a week since March, inspecting homes.

"It's funny because last year it took off Jan. 1 and was steady the entire year," he said. "This year started out slow and then exploded."

Some homes he's called to inspect were homes he had inspected within the last two years.

"I did a home in Baldwin three times within the last two years," he said. "But you have to do the complete inspection again because you never know if something has changed."

End result

Clark's inspection report was presented the following day to Lintecum and the seller. At this point, any repair and replacement problems are then negotiated between the buyer and the seller.

"It's an interesting procedure, and I guess I'll have some work to do," Lintecum said.

Clark also gives his client a check list for home maintenance. From the foundation to the electrical system, the check list helps homeowners keep track of what they should be looking for and the time of year it's most important to be checked.

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