Selling a Home With a Complicated History

Posted by Unity Home Group® on Thursday, April 20th, 2017 at 10:16am.

How to Sell a Home with Previous Damage When buyers make an offer and have a home inspected, it will probably be made clear to them that a home has had a history of damage from water, fire and other sources. If you have had to deal with such problems in your home, here are some tips to ensure the appropriate tasks have been done before selling.

Complete Recommended Repairs

People who involve a homeowner’s insurance company when damage occurs usually have a very detailed estimate of the damage and recommended repairs. The best thing you can do for a future sale is to ensure that every item was completed according to specifications. In some cases, this means shelling out more money than the insurance company paid to repair or replace some items within the home. However, being diligent about repairs and replacement will make it easier to show home buyers that you made a sincere effort to put the house to rights before selling. If you hire contractors to perform some of the tasks for you, be sure to use contractors that guarantee their work. Give yourself enough time to get estimates and verify the quality of the repairs before you plan to list the home.

Identify and Fix Possible Causes

In many instances, repairing the structure or buying new equipment will neutralize the cause. Sometimes, the cause is quite unrelated to the solution. For example, if the property is graded inaccurately, a basement flood from an overflowing river or heavy rainstorm is likely to happen more than once. Repairing the basement does not solve the problem, even if you install a sump pump that you can use if it happens again. If the trigger for the fire or flood was not immediately obvious, you can hire a professional to inspect the damage and make note of the likely causes. Your goal is to make amends for the instigators as much as the effects, because these problems may be brought up in the home inspection.

Maintain Careful Records

You have probably heard the modern idiom, “Pics, or it didn’t happen.” When it comes to house repairs, all you have to show for your work is your documentation that it was completed. It may be fairly simple to show that you replaced a leaking water heater with a newer model a few years ago. By comparison, it could be quite complicated to prove that you hired an electrician to fix the wiring that triggered an electrical fire 10 years back. Every service that you request should come with a receipt. If you did not already keep the records together for your insurance company, now is the time to get it all organized. In cases where you are passing on information about damage that occurred before you owned the home, the best you can do is show the records that the previous owner gave you, and provide evidence of proper maintenance of the equipment during your tenure.

Arrange a Home Inspection Before Listing

Nobody likes to have a sure thing ruined at the last moment, and this is true for both buyers and sellers. It is a nightmare to have a buyer’s home inspection reveal something about your own home of which you were completely unaware and are now on the hook to fix. To prevent some of the stress and frustration, you should order a home inspection a couple of months before listing the home. Ask the home inspector about the damage the house sustained, and if you need to hire any other experts to inspect or test certain aspects of the property to ascertain the lasting effects of the disaster. Take the report and make a plan to repair as much as possible, so you can present a cleaner slate to buyers.

Be Clear About Home’s History

It is hard to talk about disadvantages of a home, especially when it is your home and you would like to sell it quickly. However, leaving out important information in a seller’s disclosure can backfire on you in many unfortunate ways. Since this transaction is a legal one, sellers can be held liable for failure to disclose faults in the home. As such, you should err on the side of providing more details than less. It does not matter if the damage was very minor, or if it happened 15 years ago. Pure honesty from the outset demonstrates to buyers that you are trustworthy, and minimizes the likelihood of complications later in the buying process.

Selling a home with fire damage is stressful enough without worrying that buyers will back out at the last minute. With these tips, you can show that your home is an open book, and a good investment despite its history.

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* This representation is based in whole or part on data supplied by, and to, the Subscribers of Alaska MLS. Alaska MLS does not guarantee nor is it in any way responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by Alaska MLS is for its own use and may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. Report reflects sales through within 24 hours of the final report date.

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