By Drew Jackson
Selling any home can be challenging, depending on the Atlanta real estate market. But if you have an older home, you may need to take some extra steps to calm many buyers fears. A poor home inspection during the due diligence period of a purchase, can not only end a deal, but can also cost you extra money in repairs or price reductions from your original offer. You may also have to put your home back on the market and deal with the stigma of a buyer that withdrew due to an inspection.
The best way to prepare for selling your 100+ year old home is to purchase an inspection before you list. Use a reputable inspector and have them tell you and your listing agent what big ticket items or big red flags may come up during your future buyer’s inspection. Once the inspection is complete, you can then choose to address certain items before listing, while others you may want to disclose to buyers beforehand. Either way, being armed with the information you need to address your buyer’s concerns is your and your agent’s greatest tool in closing a contract on your home.
Here are some of the big red flags that you may see on your home inspection report and that the buyer’s agent will either advise their client to have repaired or ask for a price reduction.
99% of crawl spaces in this area are Georgia Red Clay, which already scares many out of state buyers. Having a vapor barrier installed will be a “must” for all inspections and immediately sets a lot of buyer’s minds at ease. You can also prepare for selling by fixing any areas that have standing water or un-level ground where water could pool. You can do this by installing a sump pump or by sealing off water entryways. If standing water is noted on your report, be prepared for the possibility of mold and the need to remediate the mold to sell your home. An inspector will note all of these items on their a buyer’s report.
CORROSIVE WATER PIPES
Galvanized pipes are one of the most common items I see on inspection reports. For a quick test of an old house, turn on the hot water. If the pressure is low, the house probably has galvanized pipes that have corroded and plugged up. The hot-water pipes are the first to go. Many inspectors will suggest replacing the entire piping system when galvanized piping starts to go bad, but that is pricey, and homeowners can opt for the more economical fix by repairing only the pipe that is the immediate problem.
CLAY SEWER LINES
Many of the older houses here in Atlanta have the original clay pipes that run from the street to the home. I cannot tell you how many of these pipes are partially collapsed, or blocked with tree roots. If you don’t know if your sewer line has been replaced, it’s time to find out. This is an expensive item to fix and you don’t want to be caught unawares. Did you know the city of Atlanta has $5 a month insurance for your pipe that will cover a large portion of the replacement? Having this insurance before you sell your home and repairing a broken line could mean the difference of thousands of dollars, depending on where your pipe runs under your property.
It isn’t an issue you wouldn’t typically think about, but you’ll find it in a lot of old homes. Sagging floors could just be character, but it’s important to know if some of your floors need re-supporting. It’s also important to know if you do have supports, whether or not they were temporary or permanent supports built to code. In some cases, your floors may not sag because they already have supports, but again, it is important to know whether or not they were installed to code.
Knowing the age of your major systems and their current working state (ie, heating, A/C, water heaters) is important as they can be used to renegotiate price after inspection. If your heater is 15 years old, the inspector is going to tell the buyer that this system will fail within a year or11Candler Park MessengerJuly 2016two. Th eir realtor will then advise to factor that into the price of future repairs. Knowing what systems will need replacement in the near future will give you a clearer picture and your agent of how to price the home, or whether or not your want to replace one or more of these systems before listing. If you have older systems, be prepared to off er a home warranty to ease buyer’s fears.
FAULTY, DANGEROUS OR OLD WIRING
Well, here’s the good news: If you’re currently living in a house that is 100 years old, the wiring has probably been replaced from necessity. However if you do have original K&T (knob and tube) wiring, it’s almost never in great working order and the inspector will note that on his report. Also, a not-so fun fact: Many insurance companies will not issue coverage on homes with K&T, which the buying agent will alert their client to. Even if the K&T wiring is not active, removing all remnants of it is always a good idea as the inspector will note it and some buyers will be scared of it either way.
These are just a few of the major items I see come up again and again, but the good news is it’s a seller’s market right now. Arming yourself with great information and making decisions about repairs before entering into a contract can make the whole selling experience an easier and less stressful process.