Not everything is as it seems.
There is something called the WOW factor that realtors depend on when advertising a home. It starts with a photographer with an eye for composition and finding that WOW factor.
From wide-angle lenses to angles that omit white elephants, good photographers know how to get pictures that will pique the curiosity of a potential buyer. Then there is software that listing agents use to dress up the white elephants turning a desert into a golf course.
We authors do this with book covers, but I digress.
While a book cover should entice a reader to at least look inside the cover, these pictures are to incentivize the buyer to request a tour. A recent potential home has lots of wow. Objectivity can get lost in the ‘wow’ if one is not careful.
Once you decide this ‘home’ is right for you, get some objectivity. More importantly, be prepared to walk away.
It started with a few curiosities. An indoor pool that was in less-than-perfect condition. A building that was rusted to the point of possible structural failure. Shoddy workmanship to cover flaws with minor cosmetic repairs that did more damage to the property than help.
Then there were multiple windows with what appeared to be bullet holes. They were, in fact, bullet holes.
Hiring an inspector is one of your best expenses for purchasing objectivity. It is not his or her job to say, run, don’t walk. Their job is to locate flaws, structural deficiencies, other modifications that won’t pass muster, and cosmetic repairs that put lipstick on a pig.
Google reviews and, yes, Yelp are paramount in finding a good inspector.
The inspector recommended by the realtor had more negative reviews than positive ones. Pictures of nail holes from pictures hung vs. screwed-up roofs were their standard. Attempting to sell you services after the fact, instead of doing their job, was also part of the standard operating procedures they followed.
The inspector we found went above and beyond, pointing out things that must be addressed before proceeding.
A move-in ready home went to no less than $100,000.00 in necessary repairs before an evaluation from the mortgage lender could proceed.
Some notifications were minor electrical updates that had changed with codes. Others were a roof that had been damaged by hail. Still, others were air conditioners that had been disconnected because they were dead.
After I requested previous bills, I was shocked to see their electric bill hit $800 in August.
Finding both AC units in the home varied the input air to output air from 12 to 15 degrees on a 58-degree day, respectively, answered my questions. The winter months would not be much better, from heat pumps to heat strips.
The bottom line is this. Don’t fall in love with a property until after a quality inspector does his job. Look for reviews of your choice of inspectors, and don’t depend on your agent. A listing agent will want the one that finds holes from pictures hung. You want an inspector that will crawl through the attic or under the home looking for anything that could bite you in the future.