Saturday, October 01, 2022

The purpose of a home inspection is to determine if there are serious defects in the home you are buying. The standard New Jersey Association of Realtors contract contains an inspection contingency for structural and environmental defects. Generally, buyers have 10 days from the contract to perform a home, termite and radon inspection. Structural items include the foundation, electrical, plumbing and ensuring that the construction is up to code. Environmental items can include the presence of asbestos (common in homes built in the early 1900’s), some insulation products and some outdated building materials.

Some of today’s home inspections have gotten a bit out of control. If you are buying an older home for its character or its grander features, then you should expect that some things in the home are going to be dated. Your offer and the negotiated price would have taken this into consideration. You are free to make improvements once you purchase the house. This is not the time to start renegotiating the purchase price, or to expect big credits for your intended improvements. Most buyers are losing sight of this factor and deals are falling apart as a result of this unrealistic expectation. Keep in mind that if a roof is old but there is no evidence of leaks in the house, you should not expect the seller to buy you a new roof!

The inspector should be able to determine if you are buying a house that is sound. You should find out what specific items will be included in the fee for his inspection. You don’t want to find out at the inspection that you are being charged extra for items you expected to be included. Some inspections are taking far longer than they used to, and buyers are paying a premium for this, even though they are not always receiving an accurate report.

Most experienced realtors can provide you with a list of inspectors who they have observed in the field. You should call one or two of them to obtain a price and define the scope of their work.

Legitimate findings during the inspection period are sometimes corrected by the seller, or they may agree to provide a credit. A seller may choose not to cure a defect, but it is inevitable that similar things may come up again when the house gets put back on the market. Always consult with your realtor and attorney to try and negotiate a positive result.

What should I do about inspections for oil tanks?

If you are purchasing a home that has an existing underground oil tank, you will need to get a separate inspector to determine if there is an oil leak. If there is evidence of a leak, a soil test should be performed. The seller should be responsible to cure the leak before purchasing the home. If the house does not have a leaking tank, make sure that the seller has separate underground oil tank insurance that is transferrable to the new buyer. You do not need this for an above ground tank. In some cases, an inspection may find an oil tank even though there is gas heat. Some tanks are certified & decommissioned in the ground, meaning that the tank was drained of oil and filled with sand beneath the ground by a licensed company, which is deemed acceptable.

If the house has an oil tank that was removed you should ask for the documentation showing removal if it is available otherwise you can ask for the OPRA (open public records) which can be obtained from the township.

With all the storms we’ve been having, what can I do to prevent flooding and preserve the value of my home?

French Drains and a sump pump with a battery back-up is a good first step for your basement. Windows should be leak free. You should have your landscaper regrade your property, so that moisture moves away from your home or is absorbed by mulch or gravel while keeping your plants moist. Trim trees and remove dead trees close to the house. Gutter leaders should be draining away from the house. If you are planning a new roof, you can now have a hurricane proof shingle roof with a 50 year warranty installed, that is transferrable to buyer’s, which will increase the value of your home as well as insure a dry home. Make sure your gutters are not leaking or install wider gutters that can drain easily in major rainstorms. Flat tar roofs should have a pitch. If extra funds are available you may decide to put in a whole house generator to make sure power is not lost and your sump pump continues to run during power outages. Last but not least, make sure you are not in a designated flood zone that requires mandatory flood insurance that can be costly since it is separate from your homeowner’s policy.

Nicole Idler NJ/NY Associate Broker of Friedberg Properties actively lists, sells and rents in Teaneck, Bergenfield, Englewood, Tenafly, and New Milford and all over Bergen County. E-mail her with your questions at [email protected] or call her on her cell: 201-906-9338 or work- 201-894-1234. Call Nicole Idler and make home ownership a reality!

By Nicole Idler

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