Issues That Can Ruin A Home Sale
Selling a home always presents some challenges, especially if you want to get top dollar. But some issues can be considered more than just challenging when you are trying to sell – issues that can kill your sale altogether. You should be aware of what problems are considered major when selling, and whether your home has any such problems.
If your home does have significant issues, you will want to address them before you put your home on the market. Real Estate agents like to call these things major home inspection problems. These are the concerns that dramatically increase the odds of a sale falling apart.
Working as a Massachusetts real estate agent for the past thirty plus years, there is always apprehension when the inspection roles around. As most agents can vouch for, it is a time when your anxiety levels rise.
The issues mentioned below are the cause of more home sales falling apart than any other. Remedy them if you can!
1. Water penetration
Water penetration is one of the top problems that could kill your home sale! Whether it’s a basement flooding or a leaking roof, buyers will often steer clear if they discover that your home has water problems.
Even a little water can lead to mold infestation, rot and general destruction to the materials that make up your home.
In the winter time, ice dam problems can be quite common in the colder areas of the country. An ice dam issue is something that should be addressed immediately when you are selling a home. Ice dam problems are preventable when you know how to resolve the issue.
The unknown is what causes many home sales to follow apart. Many buyers are fearful when they hear of any matters related to water.
Fortunately, water penetration issues are often relatively straightforward to repair with the help of a good contractor. Such problems are common, and in most cases, a skilled repair person can find the source of the water penetration and provide a remedy that will make it a non-issue as you move forward with your sale.
Above all else be honest with the buyer. Disclose any problems you have had and how you went about remedying them. Even better is to provide the buyer with any paperwork from the contractors that did the repair.If there is a warranty with the work that is also helpful to have on display. Remember water problems freak buyers out! Water issues are a top real estate deal killer.
2. Mold infestation
Buyers are understandably hesitant to buy a home with mold problems. Mold inside the home indicates a problem with moisture. Somehow moisture is accumulating in the home to the point where mold can gain a foothold.
There is also the health concerns that come with mold. While serious health damage from mold exposure has not been proven, some people can be sensitive to the spores and suffer reactions. However dangerous, or not dangerous, expect buyers to be concerned if mold is discovered in your home.
If you discover you have a mold problem in the middle of your real estate transaction, it is best to address it right away. There are professional mold remediation companies that specialize in removing mold and preventing it from coming back.
3. Failed septic system
Septic systems are a vital component in homes that require them. The system processes the waste products leaving the home, so it is understandable that buyers will want to know that it is in good working order. When they find out that the septic system has failed, they are going to do one of three things – ask you to fix it before they buy, adjust their offer to account for replacement costs, or just find another home with a functional septic system.
The problem you run into as a seller is that every lender requires a passing septic system inspection to lend money. If your septic system fails the inspection, it is easy to see why it’s a problem that could kill your home sale.
When your septic system fails inspection, you have a couple of choices. You can either replace it with a new system or put money into escrow covering the cost of replacement. It should be noted that most lending institutions will require you to have an escrow holdback equal to 1.5 times the estimated cost.
For example, if you have an estimate to replace the septic system at $20,000, the lender is probably going to require you put 30,000 dollars into escrow.
When a seller is strapped for cash and doesn’t have the money to fix the system is when it becomes really hairy. This translates into an as-is home sale. The problem for a seller is they will take significantly less money for their home selling to only buyers who can pay cash. Having only cash buyers really affects the law of supply and demand.
4. Elevated radon levels
Radon is a radioactive gas found all over the place, but in most homes, the concentrations are low enough not to be a health concern. However, there are times when radon is particularly high in the area where your home sits, and the container provided by your home can concentrate those levels to the point where they become dangerous.
No one wants to buy a home that has dangerous levels of a radioactive mineral. Fortunately, you can alleviate the problem with assistance from a professional.
It should be understood that radon can be found both in the air and the water. Removing radon from the air is a far less costly repair than removing it from the water. The average cost of a sub-slab radon mitigation system is around $1100-1200. Removing radon from water is far more costly. You will be looking at roughly $4000-$6000 dollars to reduce radon in your water. There are two removal methods for radon found in water. Both approaches are discussed in the reference above.
The cost for both radon removal in air and water can vary depending on where you are located.
5. Major structural issues
Problems with the main structure of your home are going to drive away most buyers. It is easy to understand why. Buyers are planning on paying a lot of money for a home that they can live in for years, if not decades.
But serious structural issues, like with the foundation, walls, supports, etc., put serious doubt in the minds of buyers about how long the house will be around – or if it is even safe to live in.
A home with issues like these is not going to look like a smart investment to most people. If you are aware of a major structural problem with your home, it makes sense to fix it before going on the market.
If you are not in the financial position to repair the issue, two things should be done. The first thing to do is get an appropriate contractor to give you an estimate for repair. This structural problem should be disclosed to the buyer, and you should provide the documentation on how to remedy the issue.
Even though this is an “as-is” issue, you are letting the buyer know about the problem and that it can be fixed. By doing this leg of homework, you’ll eliminate doubt in the mind of the buyer.
6. Poor well quality or quantity
Any modern home is expected to have access to clean, safe water for drinking and cleaning. For homes not on a municipal water system, a well is necessary to meet these water needs. Buyers are going to expect a well that is in good working order, one that produces safe water of reasonable quality, and one that provides enough water to meet the needs of the home.
If your well fails to meet any of these requirements, buyers are not going to be happy about it. Wells are expensive to drill, and no buyer wants to go to the trouble of paying for drilling, waiting for the well to be drilled, etc. They want to close on the home, move in and go about their lives.
Buyers will expect a problem like this to be remedied before the completion of the sale and so will the lender. In real estate transactions, most buyers will do what is referred to as a well quality and quantity test. In the case of well quality, a sample will be taken and sent to a lab for analysis.
If the test comes back high is volatile compounds, you can expect the buyer to want the issues treated with an appropriate filtration system. A water quantity test encompasses checking the volume of water coming from the system along with the recovery rate. Both are important considerations when considering a home with a well. Nobody wants to deal with a lack of water.
7. Major pest or rodent infestations
Termites, mice, rats, squirrels, bats, roaches – there are a lot of critters that are happy to make a home in your house if they are able. While a minor pest problem is part of home ownership, sometimes minor problems become major issues.
Termites can destroy the wood that supports the home creating major issues. One the other hand mice, rats bats, and squirrels could present health concerns. None of these things are matters a buyer wants to deal with in a home sale.
If you have a pest or rodent infestation, it is in your best interests to address it before you list your home. A specialist should be able to help you eliminate the problem, so you don’t have to worry about it when you try to sell.
8. Sex offender nearby or other neighborhood problems
All of the above problems are things that you can do something about. Unfortunately, there are also issues that can kill a home sale that you may have no control over. Having a registered sex offender in the area, for instance, can push away buyers with children.
Many sellers often ask how to deal with a sex offender who lives next door. The answer depends on the state you live in. Disclosure laws can vary from state to state. It is vital that you and your real estate agent understand the law.
Other neighborhood problems can make your home less appealing, like high crime rates, unkempt homes, abandoned homes, or even an unruly neighbor, etc.
When faced with problems like these, the best you can do is find a Realtor that is experienced in working with homes like yours and to come up with a selling strategy that adapts to your situation.
Just because your home is not in a perfect area does not mean you can’t sell it. You may not get as much as you would like, but you may also be able to get more than you expect with the right Realtor on the job.
How to Deal With Home Sale Killers
As a home seller, you always should be looking to head off problems before they happen. Avoiding potential home selling deal killers will not only keep your sale running smoothly but save you a lot of stress in the process.
As you can see, many of the issues mentioned above relate to your home’s condition. One of the smartest things you can do is remedy the home before the buyer’s inspection. Every home has problems. Some issues are bigger than others. Besides the major issues presented already, the article mentions other potential issues you can address prior to listing for sale.
You might even think about picking a good home inspector who can go through your home before listing it for sale. It is entirely possible you may not even be aware of some of the warts.
By conquering these common problems, you can often head off a buyer becoming nervous about the upkeep on your property.
Additional Home Selling References
- What scares away home buyers via Kyle Hiscock at Slideshare.
- What to do when the home inspection goes wrong via Kevin Vitali.
Use these additional resources to make wise decisions when you are selling a home. Be cognizant of the issues that can cause a real estate transaction to fall apart.
About the Author: The above Real Estate information on the eight problems that could kill your home sale was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 30+ Years.
Are you thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!
I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.