Avoiding A House Of Broken Dreams In Virginia

Dated: 11/11/2014

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Avoiding a ‘House of Broken Dreams’ in Virginia
Earlier this year, Andy Fox of 10 On Your Side (WAVY.com) published a story detailing the specifics of a woman who bought a ‘house of broken dreams’ in Virginia. The report spurred a flurry of online chatter from homeowners, potential buyers, sellers, and even real estate agents. The story, albeit unfortunate, is chalked full of lessons we can learn from to avoid buying a real estate lemon.

The Story

Heather Wooden, the buyer in Fox’s story, was under the impression she’d bought the house of her dreams. But her dreams were dashed by holes in the floor, rotten wood, and termite damage. The damages weren’t spotted until after she’d signed on the dotted line and moved in her family. Pulling back the carpet in her son’s new room, she found extensive termite damage and a rotten floor. Her daughter’s new bedroom was filled with insulation pulled from the crawl space. The house itself had numerous structural issues, all of which needed immediate attention for the house to remain safe and livable. The family’s dream home quickly eroded into a house of broken dreams requiring more work than anticipated. Wooden’s story reads like a ‘series of unfortunate events.’ What can we learn from this unfortunate event to prevent it from happening to us?
Lesson 1: Know the Ropes
The first lesson we can glean is that home seller disclosures are not guaranteed accurate. In the state of Virginia, residential property disclosures are required. But it’s not uncommon for sellers to fudge the facts in hopes of a quick, worry-free sale—especially if the house is in need of repair. Although this fact is unpleasant, it’s worth keeping in mind. Believe it or not, the easiest way to prove what a seller knows is by asking the neighbors. It sounds clichéd, but the neighbors often know as much as the seller. In fact, they frequently remember how many years ago an issue arose and whether it was addressed.
Lesson 2: Know the Inspector
From a negotiation standpoint, home inspections are important. They produce a written report that details any outstanding problems that you, as the buyer, will potentially have to handle. A home inspector won’t catch everything, every time. They can catch some issues that you might not otherwise notice until it’s too late. However, they must be qualified. The home inspector should be DPOR licensed. If they’re not, find one that is licensed. The best inspector referral will come from your real estate agent. No reputable agent will knowingly recommend a non-licensed inspector, or an inspector who overlooks issues. They count on client referrals. It’s in their best interest to refer a qualified and proven inspector.
Lesson 3: Be a Little Nosey
Some situations call for being a little nosey, and buying a house is one of them. Before signing on the dotted line, be sure to check out the house thoroughly on your own. You should be able to schedule a showing with your agent. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions, and never be afraid of checking things out for yourself. The truth is if the buyer doesn’t ask, a seller usually doesn’t have to tell. For example, if the roof had a leak last year, but the seller had it repaired versus replaced, they aren’t required to tell you. It’s up to you to ask lots of questions and learn as much as possible about the home before making a purchase. But coming up with a list of questions, that’s hard. Leverage the knowledge and experience of your agent to better prepare.
Lesson 4: Check the Basement
When it comes to determining whether the house is a probable money pit, the basement is a huge tell. It can house telltale signs of structural and other issues. For example, evidence of past moisture is a red flag. Indicators include water spots, stains, a musty/moldy odor, or drip lines. You should be on the lookout for cracks in the foundation outside. Previous problems may have been dealt with, but it never hurts to ask. The seller shouldn’t have a problem disclosing what’s been done, including the why, when, and how of it.

Lesson 5: Enlist Experience

You cannot guarantee buying a home that won’t cost money in the long run, but you can take steps toward making a sound investment. One of the wisest decisions you can make is working with a local, experienced real estate agent. If you’re searching for a home in the Virginia Beach area, why not start your search with the experience of Blu Skyy Realty? Together, we’ll work toward finding and purchasing your dream house, not a ‘house of broken dreams.’
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Chenea Powell

Whether it is your first home or the home you plan to retire in, I will be there to ease the process every step of the way! I find great pleasure in helping people achieve their goals in real estate a....

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