Trying to buy a home in this hot market? Inspection issues don’t have to break the deal.
As it goes with things we’ve had to adjust to in 2020, like wearing face masks and standing on line to shop at Trader Joe’s, now you can add this to the list — in today’s real estate market, sellers are calling the shots.
Fueled by the pandemic, buyers are fleeing the cities in droves and looking for homes where they can sink their toes in the grass and not feel like they’re on top of the rest of their family members. After months stuck indoors staring at the same four walls, they want backyards, home offices and swimming pools.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Kelly Zaccaro, one of the top listing agents in New Jersey, who’s been in the real estate business for over 20 years. “There are more buyers than ever before.”
Despite demand, the current real estate market is a study in classic economic theory, as the limited supply of listings is driving prices up and setting the stage for often multiple offers. Buyers are now forced to move quickly and accept that some inspection issues that arise may be left for them to address after closing.
Sellers are in the driver’s seat.
After the initial wave of COVID-19 cases began to subside in urban areas throughout New York and New Jersey in late spring, city dwellers emerged from their apartments and began looking for more space and found the inventory to be limited.
According to Zaccaro, an agent with Heritage House Sotheby’s International Realty in Rumson, NJ, listings that had been languishing began to get snapped up and often, multiple buyers were vying for the same home. One of her Hoboken buyers saw a house and made an offer on the spot without his wife seeing it (although to be fair, Zaccaro explained, she was about to give birth to their second child).
“The market is so competitive right now that inspection issues are becoming less of a sticking point because buyers understand that there are other buyers waiting to scoop up the house,” she said. “Buyers in this market have to learn to accept that they may have to deal with some things themselves.
“If you know there are three offers right behind yours, you have to be mindful when negotiating,” said Zaccaro, who resides on both the Upper West Side of Manhattan and in Rumson, and serves her clients in both locations.
Mold Doesn’t Have to be a Real Estate Deal Breaker
Of course, there are some issues uncovered by the home inspector that no buyer wants to contend with, like an oil tank or high radon levels. But most likely, what a home inspector uncovers is something that can be easily remediated.
“Most issues are solvable and usually not major,” said Wayne Stock, owner of Stock Environmental in Tinton Falls, NJ. “But you want to eliminate things that might break the bank and take a lot of time to remediate.”
Occasionally, major issues like roof leaks or structural issues with a foundation are uncovered, but even then depending on the severity of the issue, buyers might be willing to fix after closing. “People are being much more generous about what they are willing to accept in terms of inspection issues,” Zaccaro said. “People aren’t running away from problems as fast as they might have before and be willing to kill the deal and find another house.
“There aren’t any other houses. So you may need to figure out how to deal with the one you’ve got an offer in on,” she said.
Getting to the source.
Of course, just the word “mold” can cause potential buyers to freak out, but according to Stock, if you can identify the water source you’ll most likely be able to eradicate the issue.
“Usually, it’s not that hard to figure out where it’s coming from,” he said, adding that landscape grading issues are often the culprit, followed by clogged gutters.
Stock said the most important thing for buyers who’ve put an offer in on a home to do their due diligence with a home inspector and environmental consultant to determine what the issues are and what it will take to fix them. “You don’t want to move all of your furniture into a home that might need a week’s worth of work to correct environmental issues,” he said.
“Once you know what you are getting into, you can feel confident about agreeing to fix the problem after the sale is complete,” he said. “As a buyer in this market, you don’t want this to block the sale because the seller has the option of moving on to the next buyer who might be willing to remediate themselves.”
The really critical piece though is that buyers ensure that they actually address the inspection issue once they take ownership. Stock said he often sees old mold issues where the water issue has been corrected but the mold was never addressed. “Most things can wait until after closing but you don’t want to forget about them after you take title of the home,” said Stock. “It could affect your family’s health.”
If your home inspection uncovered potential environmental issues, the experts at Stock Environmental can perform a detailed inspection to determine the size and scope of the issue. Call (732) 383-5190 to book your free consultation and let us help get you into your new, and healthy, home.