Sunday, March 1, 2009

So, Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad, Home Inspection?

No matter whom you talk to that is involved in a home sale transaction, whether it be the owner, buyer, or real estate agent, everyone has a certain amount of reservation concerning a home inspection or "termite" inspection. Why? All that it entails is basically a visual inspection of the home and a short written report, right? So, who's afraid of the big, bad home inspection? Everyone it seems!

Let me start by making an obvious observation. For most all of us, the single biggest investment we will make in our lifetime is the purchase of our own home. Not only is it an investment that we can't have go sour, but we must make a comfortable, safe place out of the dwelling to protect and grow our families that we can live in happily and call "home". And when we've outgrown or want a new/different home, we need to realize the equity we have built up in the property to help us purchase our next "home". "OK", you say, "I know all of this. What has this got to do with being afraid of home inspections?" Everything, actually, because it is well known that buying or selling a home is probably the second biggest stress we will encounter in our life. All the uncertainty and suspicions begin to "bubble to the surface" as the home sale process grinds on which skews our thinking, and sometimes our common sense.

So, let's look logically at what a home inspection has to offer for each participant in the home sale process. I want to start with the home owner who is thinking about moving and about to list his/her property for sale, because usually they are the ones that think they have nothing to gain from, and everything to loose from a home inspection. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No matter what "shape" the owner feels his/her property is in (good, bad or in between), the smartest thing they can do is spend the few dollars necessary for an accurate home inspection and "termite" inspection. Spending these few dollars in the beginning will save you major dollars and stress in the end. Possessing this information prior to listing your home for sale not only enables you to plan, but to price your property accurately. The information gleaned from the reports allows you to take care of any repairs that you feel you want to on your time schedule, and to obtain bids from various contractors for repairs you don't want to tackle yourself, which could save you a lot of money in the process. When you do list your property for sale, you do so empowered with the knowledge that you know of, or have taken care of any repairs, and you can go into negotiations with the buyer straight on because you have a "heads-up" on what the condition of your home is. This negotiating strength will allow you to realize as much of your equity as possible to be used to purchase your new home. Most real estate agents will appreciate this situation also because it takes most of all the uncertainty and stress out of the equation. Normally the home inspection results are revealed shortly before escrow is to close and there is no time for obtaining bids or alternative actions, which can result in a "blown" deal with everyone unhappy.

Most everyone thinks that a home inspection and "termite" inspection is only for the "protection" of the buyer. That is only partly true. Sure home inspections are ordered to reveal any unknown/undisclosed issues. But, the buyer didn't order and pay for the inspections to make the property out as garbage! The buyer likes and wants to spend and invest their hard earned money on the property and they want to make it their "home". As a prospective purchaser of a home and property, you want the inspection(s) to validate your decision to purchase that piece of property. You want to know what you are buying. You, of course, want to know what the big issues are, if any, but you also want to know the little things that will be an irritation or money drain before you sign the contract of sale. You want to make up your own mind as to what is acceptable as is, and what is not and needs to be negotiated with the seller. And just about as important, the home inspection is actually your first in depth "get acquainted" look at your new home because it covers information on so many of the homes' components, systems, utilities and their locations. But even that is not all, if your home inspector is like most concerned inspectors', he is your source for information you can turn to long after the close of escrow when everyone else involved in the deal has disappeared.

OK, onto the real estate agent and what the home inspection and "termite" inspection has to offer them. How about peace of mind? How about the good feeling inside that you have put together a home sale in which both the buyer and seller are happy and there is not going to be a bad case of "buyers remorse" now that escrow is closed? How about the fact that you are looked up to as an agent that demands full disclosure and still can close the deal BECAUSE EVERY BODY KNOWS WHERE THEY STAND AND WHAT THEY CAN EXPECT OUT OF THE DEAL! In the years I have been involved in inspecting homes, I can't tell you how many times I have seen buyers follow through and close a sale of a home with major issues because they not only like the home, but because they are fully aware of its' short comings and are mentally prepared to take it on. With truth and knowledge everyone comes out ahead. As I've been preaching for years, your buyer today is your seller tomorrow.

So in closing, there is absolutely nothing to fear from a home inspection or "termite" inspection except fear itself. These are "tools" to be used in a positive way to bring about a positive home sale experience, if you choose to use them in that way.

Bruce LaBell



Home Safety Inspection

Home Safety Inspection
Is your home fire and burn proof? A few simple steps can save your life and the lives of those you love. This simple checklist will help you determine what you need to do to help fire proof your home. Print your checklist results as a reminder of what you still need to inspect or accomplish.
Fire Prevention Checklist
Fire Protection and Preparedness:
• Is there a smoke detector on each level of your home and near each sleeping area?
• Are the batteries working?
• Do you test your smoke detector monthly?
• If you are hearing and/or vision impaired, do you have an appropriate smoke detector?
• Do you have an escape plan?
• Have you practiced your escape plan?
• If you use a wheelchair or walking aid, have you checked each possible exit route carefully?
• Do windows and doors open easily from the inside?
• Do you have a single box containing all important papers?
• Do you keep them in a safe place? Have you catalogued and updated your household inventory list for insurance claims?
Living Area:
• Are all space heaters at least three feet away from everything, including you?
• Are all electrical cords and plugs in good condition?
• Are candles blown out when leaving the room or going to sleep?
• Are candles in sturdy non-tip and non-combustible candle holders?
• Are bathroom and kitchen outlets protected by ground-fault circuit-interrupters.
• Is there a fire extinguisher within easy access of the cooking area?
• Do you know how to use it?
• Is the cooking area clean and free of clutter?
• Do you always remain in the kitchen while cooking?
• Do you wear snug fitting sleeves that won't catch fire while cooking?
• Do you turn off and unplug appliances when they are not in use?
• Do you ensure electrical outlets are not overloaded?
• Do you clean appliances so grease cannot build up and catch fire?
• Do you turn pot and pan handles in so they are not knocked over?
• Never smoke in bed!
• Is there a flashlight near your bed?
• Are the batteries fully charged?
• Is there a whistle by your bed to warn others of a fire and alert rescuers of your location?
• Do you always make sure curling irons and hot rollers are unplugged after each use?
• Is the water heater set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to prevent scalds and burns?
• Have you installed thermostatically controlled faucets and shower heads?
• Are newspapers, empty boxes, paints, and gasoline cans stored away from heaters and outlets?
• Is gasoline stored in approved safety cans that prevent the escape of flammable vapors?
• Are paints, gasoline and other flammable liquids stored away from flames and sparks: Are they outside the home in a shed or detached garage?
• Are address numbers at least 3-5 inches, a contrasting color from the rest of the exterior and clearly visible from the street?
• Is firewood stacked at least ten feet from your home?
• Is the exterior of your house clear of all trash and dead grass?
• Is your grill or barbecue at least three feet from the house when cooking? Never use a charcoal
• type grill on a wooden deck or porch.
• Are ashes and coals placed in a metal container away from the house?
• Is the chimney clean and in good repair?
Before You Go To Bed Or Lie Down:
• Did you fully extinguish smoking materials (cigarettes, cigars, etc.)?
• Did you turn off the oven and burners?
• Did you unplug the coffee pot?
• Did you fully extinguish all candles or oil lamps?
• Is your heating pad turned off?
• Are the lights turned out, leaving one on in case you need to get up?
• Are your glasses near your bedside so you can see to escape and avoid injury?
• Are your house keys and car keys near your bedside so they are easily accessible?
• Are your doors locked?
Smoking Materials:
• Do you have large, deep, non-tip ashtrays for smokers?
• Are matches and lighters locked up high, out of children's sight and reach?
• Do smokers wet all butts and ashes before throwing them away?
References: Home Checklist for Older Consumers,; Home Safety Council on line at:; Fire Safety Checklist for Older Adults,