The red-hot housing market is causing people to make decisions quickly. With multiple bids, buyers are waving inspections, and many houses are going way over the asking price, but there can be a hidden price of rushing to buy.
The Hickman-Coen Home Team wanted to share this with you because there is always: a “Caveat Emptor” (Let the Buyer Beware).
We urge our buyers to get a home inspection even if they make an offer with no contingency for a home inspection. However, putting only a home inspection for informational purposes on the offer may deter some sellers from accepting the offer.
This article was written by Caitlin Burchill and published on NBC-Connecticut. It shows some homeowners that regretted their decision to waive the home inspection.
In Massachusetts, the state requires a Title 5 certificate for every septic system by the city or town. So, what happened to the Favreau’s in Connecticut would tend not to occur in Massachusetts.
In addition, Radon levels should be tested, especially if the basement is a finished one and the buyer intends to use it. High Radon levels can be mitigated, often for an inexpensive cost. However, if the radon level in a basement has been tested and the level is high, the seller must disclose that fact.
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Some Connecticut homeowners say they paid the price for not knowing more about their future homes. Just ask the Favreau’s of Bristol, who longed to retire in Connecticut. But they say their new forever home has quickly turned into a nightmare. “We had family coming over for the Fourth of July, and then the septic comes spewing into the basement,” Pat Favreau said. Favreau and her husband Mike trusted what they said they were told – that the house had a three-year-old septic system and a disclosure that said no septic problems. “So we said, ‘Well, all right, it’s three years old,’ so we didn’t do the septic inspection, and that’s where it all kind of went down the tubes,” Mike said. “I guess we just took it on faith that they told us the truth.”
The septic failed a month after they moved in. After that, the repairs began to mount up to $17,000, which they paid out of pocket.
“We had a Porta Potty put out in the driveway in the sun, and that was our bathroom for about two weeks. It was a headache. It was,” Mike said.
Tyler Pratt of West Hartford is looking to buy a new home. He learned a lot after rushing to close on a house a decade ago.
“We wound up having quite a few headaches, like asbestos and things like that,” he said.
While people are moving fast in this whirlwind buying market, Pratt plans to take time to weigh his options this time around. “Don’t become so in love with it that you’re unwilling to walk away.”-Tyler Pratt
With two decades of selling houses under her belt, William Raveis realtor Anna Sava Namnoum says you need to stop thinking about your investment. “‘Oh, yay, I won. I got the house.’ But, of course, you may not have won. You may be the biggest loser in the entire transaction,” Namnoum said. She says leave no stone unturned.
“Think to yourself 30 years from now, ‘Do I want to be able to sell my home for some kind of profit?'” Namnoum won’t let her clients skip an inspection. So instead, she’s doubling down during this chaos, bringing in master plumbers, electricians, and other experts to investigate what’s behind the bones of a home. “You want to send your kids to college? Or do you want to take a vacation or do some things you didn’t plan on, reinsulating the entire attic because you didn’t even know there was something in there?”
While Namnoum would not recommend it, if a buyer waives inspections and agrees to buy a property “as is,” the buyer can still order inspections to understand what problems the house might have.
An NBC Connecticut colleague just bought a home in Burlington. Yes, she bought the house, but she and her realtor still ordered all the inspections at her own expense. The chimney was deteriorating, but it was dangerous and may have gone undetected without an inspection.
“If you waived it [a chimney inspection], you could have a carbon monoxide leak that you don’t even know is there. You could have brick falling off, off your roof damaging your roof,” said Eric Beavin, a field technician with Spotless Chimney, who was called to fix the problems.
Another issue that a buyer’s eyes can’t see: is radon.
“It’s somewhere around 30% of homes in Connecticut have high levels of radon,” said A & R Environmental owner Jordan Clark.
Connecticut has documented counties most at risk for radon – a cancer-causing gas found in the air and the water.
Thankfully, the new Burlington homeowner sought a test because radon levels in her new home were high. She went back to the seller and got an allowance for repairs to the chimney and radon remediation.
“We’re seeing that more and more people are not getting inspections, but a portion of them are testing after the fact,” said Clark.
Doug Clarke of Rocky Hill wished he pushed for a radon test decades ago.
“It might have saved where we are, saved the time, saved the anger,” he said.
Experts with the American Lung Association associate his small cell lung cancer diagnosis with elevated radon levels discovered in his home.
“I don’t want anyone else to deal with what I dealt with and what my family dealt with. Just it’s not fun,” said Clarke.
He hopes you’ll get your house levels checked.
Experts remind you that there’s no going back once you sign on the dotted line. “It’s not like returning a product to the store saying it’s defective. That doesn’t happen in real estate,” said Tim Goetz, a real estate attorney.
This brings us back to the Favreau’s, who consider themselves experienced real estate buyers. But the one inspection they say they skipped on the advice of their realtor is the one that cost them.
“Buyer beware,” said Pat Favreau.
She and her husband took their complaints to their real estate agent, who gave them a document indicating potential septic problems, but the seller disclosure was never updated.
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection says they are in the process of investigating the Favreaus’ complaint.
“I would say do an inspection and don’t believe anything you’re told,” said Mike Favreau.
Please note: Massachusetts requires a Title 5 septic inspection by the city or town before selling any real estate with a septic system.