While most people know what they want in a house, sooner or later they have to come to terms with what they don’t want in a house.
I am not talking about whether it is red or green or even how many bedrooms it has. Most people recognize paint colors can be changed and if they needed a three bedroom house they most likely wouldn’t be looking at two bedroom houses.
Sometimes I think agents could help their buyers sort through some of the heart aches that come with falling in love with a house only to find out when they get the home inspected it has “one of those things” on their list they don’t want in a house.
Of course that list varies with every buyer so it becomes imperative agents get to know what their buyers really want–to get to know what their personal deal breakers are.
As an example of what I am talking about, if one has a buyer that is REALLY concerned about lead paint (has two very small children and another one on the way) why would any house built prior to 1978 even be in the running?
Or the same for asbestos, except this would include homes into the mid 80’s.
Now there is going to be some leeway with these numbers–depending on the amount of remodeling done and the methods of original construction, but as general guidelines these dates should be considered limiting factors for anyone concerned about either of these substances.
I routinely have clients tell me they are very concerned about both of these materials and yet they are asking me to inspect pre-1920’s homes. Why even bother with the inspection? Homes from this time period have an almost 100 percent chance of having at least one of these materials–and probably both of them–especially if a lot of remodeling has not been done.
There is nothing about the inspection process that will magically make these things disappear.
I thought it might be informative to create a list with the likely date at which the material/issue stopped being a concern. These are issues that I frequently find to be “deal breakers” for some people.
The list will start with issues that are more difficult to address and have regulatory consequences if not dealt with appropriately, and then be followed by issues that, while problematic, are a little bit easier to deal with but nonetheless concerns that frequently turn into deal breakers when purchasing homes.
Lead in Solder (copper pipes): 1988
Asbestos (in a cornucopia of materials): 1985
Knob & Tube Wiring: 1955
Ungrounded wiring: 1965
Aluminum wiring: 1965-1976
In my opinion, the last three things on the list should almost never be deal breakers. In most cases, if one cannot afford to rewire a house, one perhaps cannot really afford a house. The cost of rewiring a home is not a very big percentage of the total cost of a home. In some more depressed areas of the country this may not be true; however in the Seattle market it is certainly true.
There is another list of items that sometimes turn into deal killers:
No steel reinforcement in concrete foundations (none likely before 1950 and not much until after 1965)
Mold: Any age of home
Rats: Any age of home
I am sorry I can’t give you any dates with these last few issues. However, they can usually be resolved. Dealing with a significant rodent infestations can be as costly as rewiring a home. It is best to keep them out of your home.
Obviously, some of the things on the list above, you may not be able to determine without a Home Inspector, but some things you can.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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