If you’re selling your home, the very decision to schedule or allow a home inspection is an act of goodwill. It not only indicates that you’re serious about selling a property in good condition, but also that you respect the sizeable investment your buyers are considering and want to give them the most information possible before they close the deal. Of course, where there’s money at stake, there are always some looking to cut corners. A handful of uncovered defects can give buyers enough leverage to negotiate a lower price, so some sellers may be less than forthcoming about their home’s issues to preserve their asking price, especially if the seller doesn’t view the issues as major deal breakers. Problem is, when it’s your home, you’re prone to a host of biases. They could be malicious, with the seller simply looking to pull one over on everyone to get the best offer possible. They could also come from a sentimental, nostalgic place based on the seller’s memories of living there. Regardless of their motivations, there are sellers out there that try to manufacture a good home inspection, as opposed to earning one. Here are just a few of their tricky strategies:
Concealing Water Stained Walls
One of the most common inspection concealments is also, often, one of the costliest for buyers. Water stains indicate leaks, and where there are leaks, mold growth is always a concern. So, it’s not just the one issue; a buyer that purchases a home with significant water damage is on the hook for both repairing the leaks and potentially bringing in a restoration contractor to eliminate any unwanted bacterial growths. Unfortunately, there numerous D.I.Y. ways to conceal water stains, whether it’s a fresh coat of paint, a stack of boxes or an oversized piece of furniture. If you’re considering buying a home and you attend its inspection, keep an eye out for “organized chaos,” or areas where obstructive items seem too pre-arranged; then ask the inspector to take a closer look, if he or she hasn’t flagged the area already.
The Old “Under the Rug” Trick
You would think home sellers would steer clear of this tactic since most people are warned from a young age to be wary of those that “sweep things under the rug,” but as they say of all clichés, there’s a reason for their existence. Throwing a rug over a cracked floor or stained carpet may give the seller a momentary bit of ease, but any home inspector worth their credentials won’t forget to inspect covered areas—in fact, they’ll likely prioritize them especially if they feel an uneveness to the floor. Home buyers often lift up rugs. Get caught hiding something and you lose nearly all trust from the buyer.
Buyers should never lose sight of the fact that buying a home is an investment in the property and the neighborhood. Since home inspections mostly focus on the indoor spaces, it can be easy to be wooed by a freshly remodeled shower and vanity from one of the top Cleveland bathroom remodeling companies, or a sleek, contemporary roof from one of Columbus’ best roofing contractors; but it’s important to step outside, observe the neighborhood and note the time of day. Check to see if the neighborhood’s thoroughfare has a lot of traffic, and ask the seller about pending plans for the area—like school district rezoning or planned construction. You’ll also want to make sure the neighbors aren’t too raucous. Any one of these things can significantly diminish the value or curb appeal of the property being inspecting. I recommend visiting the neighborhood on a Friday or Saturday night to make sure there are no crazy neighbors; or if there are, that they’re the right type of crazy—like you’d see in a great Ohio State football fan (O-H-I-O!)
Covering Foundational Flaws
I’ve seen this attempted many ways, from placing foam board insulation over a leaning foundation wall to stacking boxes against foundational cracks. It’s understandable why some would conceal such a debilitating home issue, but it’s also a nonsensical tactic for sellers that will clearly stop at nothing to sell their property at what they deem the appropriate price. Let’s track the hypothetical: a seller hides their home’s cracking foundation and, by some miracle, sneaks it past the buyer and inspector. At some point, though, the foundational flaws will be uncovered. If it happens right before the dotted line is signed, the seller’s deception was for nothing. If it’s found after the house changes hands, the seller could eventually be subject to legal action because of the severe nature of the undisclosed defect. If you live in the Columbus and Central Ohio area and would like a thorough home inspector that has seen through these tricks and countless others before, there’s no better place to turn than Habitation Investigation! To schedule your inspection today, call (937) 205-4758 or (614) 413-0075.