Life Events: House Hunting

My husband and I are in the house hunting process. And it doesn’t help we’re in a super-shortage of houses on the market. So we’ve spent hours over the past 2 months scouring Zillow & Realtor.com for houses that we think have hope of making us happy. We schedule 4-5 to see on a weekend and frequently spend Friday night switching for 2 of them because 2 we wanted to see are already under contract. 24 or 48 hours after they’ve been listed (or at least since Zillow updated their info).

And then we found one. Great size. Plenty of bedrooms and spaces for us to hang out with friends or have an office. Good kitchen (it has really shocked me at how often the kitchens are so disrespected). A master bathroom with separate tub & shower. A mother-in-law suite in the basement with an exterior entrance. Even had a pool and a decent amount of backyard.

Oh it wasn’t perfect. No garage (I want a Tesla). The front yard is pretty steep, but would possibly terrace really well. There is a pool – neither of us have ever taken care of a pool. The home owner took us on whirlwind tour that didn’t let us really poke into the corners and closets to think about space. That master bath needs an overhaul/update. The deck might need some work/re-work.

We bid accordingly on the imperfections and were shocked when the seller accepted the first bid. We expected a negotiation. I thought we had given a decent under-priced bid. We asked for a good 10% off the asking price.

So we scheduled the inspection. My mother, being of curiosity and stubbornness, found out that Georgia does not require any licensing to be a home inspector. (Home inspector definition & requirements of an inspection). So she found an inspector who is a member of ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) and recommended we use him.  At this point in the process I scheduled an appointment.

We had the home inspected on Tuesday. At first it wasn’t anything shocking. The deck needs work. The gutters are rough (not surprising in a 1980-something house). Oh, 2 of the 3 A/C units (it’s a big house!) are 15+ years old. We began to worry about expensive bills coming up on us as new homeowners.

Then the inspection went inside: the smoke detectors didn’t work. The GFCI plugs didn’t work (anywhere). The furnace won’t turn on. The mother-in-law suite/apartment in the basement: nothing in the kitchen worked. Mold.

At mold I went and sat on a couch. I was done. I have asthma. If you can see and smell the mold (you could), it’s a gut-job. The latitude we gained with our low-ball offer has been met, doubled and now doubled again.

I was despondent. I wanted to cry. Given half an opportunity, I would have burst into frustrated tears. This is not the kind of inspection you expect from a house where a family is living. This is the kind of inspection you expect from something that foreclosed, didn’t get bought at auction and then sat for three months in neglect.

We had our agent immediately send a termination of the contract. We called her as we left the house immediately. We were out of that before 5pm.

But, this is why an inspection is important. And having a good inspector who really took time and effort to go through all of the items to make sure we had all the information… it took away any doubts we had about the property. One or two of those issues we could handle. We know being a homeowner we’ll need to handle roof & gutters, decks & yard work. We expect the A/C to need upkeep, repairs and replacement. But all at once? And something difficult to tackle and control like mold (and all the health hazards that come with it) and major electrical repairs possibly needed (GFCI receptacles are expensive!)

This could have been the horror story of why we walked out of a house and lost all our money. This inspection saved us. Yes, we are out the cost of the inspection (and as a registered/certified inspector, he wasn’t the cheapest!) BUT – we are out a 1/10th or 1/30th of what the repairs and costs in time, health & energy could have cost us without that information.

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