Avoiding “Surprises” and “Deal Killers” When Selling Your Home

39 years ago, you purchased the home you raised your family in.

It’s been a great home.  You know every inch of it, and you’ve taken miraculous care of it over the years.

The memories of your three children being born and taking their very first steps here will be etched in your mind forever.

But, now they’re all grown up and have families of their own.

You’ve been retired for seven years and the ten room home that served your family so well has become a burden you no longer wish to manage.

So, as much as you hate to do it, and against the wishes of your children who want to ‘keep the house in the family’, it’s time to sell your home and downsize.

Fortunately, a close family friend is a realtor and she helps you get your home ready to showcase to potential buyers.

The house is in great shape, and it’s in a very desirable neighborhood, so selling it should be no problem.

Three weeks later, after two open houses and multiple showings, you receive a very good offer subject to a typical home inspection.

You’re thrilled that everything has gone according to plan.  And, especially over the fact that you no longer have to keep your home in “showcase” mode!

Three days later, the buyers and their home inspector spend three hours going through all the checkpoints.

It’s all just a formality now.  The purchase and sale agreement (P&S) is next and you’ll have your 10% deposit and a closing date within a day.

Not So Fast

At 8:15 that evening, you receive a phone call from your realtor.  She goes on to explain that the inspection report revealed some issues that the buyers want resolved before signing a P&S.

At first glance, it appeared to be just a formality according to your realtor.  However, it’s surprising that there are issues because you’ve taken such good care of your home and you’ve never experienced any problems.

The inspection report revealed that you have a small sample of termites, a mold issue in your attic, and that your septic system doesn’t appear to be within code.

How could this be?  You’ve had your pest control company out every year.  And, how could your septic system be out of code?

This doesn’t sound good.

Unfortunately, it gets worse.  The carpenter and pest control folks were able to deal with the termite issue, but it required replacing a support beam which turned into a major project because an entire ceiling had to be opened up to gain access to it.

Next came the ‘mold’ issue.  It turns out that you have a small sample of mold in your attic which necessitates that they inspect and run mold tests in every room of your home.

The results reveal that, although the problem is not severe, it requires three days worth of work in your home to rectify it, and you have to vacate your home while they do the work.

Finally, there’s the septic issue.  It turns out that when you had an addition put on your home 16 years ago, your contractor didn’t properly record the work with your town.

This is getting out of hand!  In order to fix this, you have to hire a real estate attorney to run a title search and track down the contractor to put a timeline on the events.  Of course the contractor is out of business now and nowhere to be found which makes the task even more difficult.

It was hard enough to arrive at a decision to sell your home.  Now this!

Paying for all of this was certainly not in your plans, but that’s not the worst of it.

As each new piece of information was revealed, the buyers began to question everything.  At first, they were very anxious and cordial, and you could tell they really wanted the house.

But, as time went on, the exchanges became less friendly as their demands increased.

Not only did they want all of these issues rectified on your dime, but they also wanted to reduce their offer price.

Finally, after two days of back and forth negotiating, they withdrew their offer and walked away.

Now, you have to start all over again.

The Lesson and Strategy

What’s the lesson in all of this?  And, how could it all have been avoided?

While there’s no way to avoid the issues that were discovered with your home, you can control who discovers them and when they’re discovered?

The solution is to hire an independent home inspector prior to putting your home on the market.

This way, you can discover and rectify everything before showing your home with full confidence that everything is under control.

Yes, you would still have had to face the costs to rectify everything.  But, it wouldn’t have killed the deal with your buyer and your home would be sold which is your goal in the first place.

Selling and purchasing a home is such an emotional experience.  When purchasing, you want everything to be perfect.  The reason you make an offer is the home appears to be exactly what you want.

When, little by little, “issues” and “problems” pop up, your confidence in your decision begins to erode, even though the problems get rectified.

It places seeds of doubt which, ultimately, kills the deal.

Don’t allow this to happen to you.  Hire an independent home inspector prior to placing your home on the market.