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About the House Seller

By: Fred Willcox
Copyright© 2010
All Rights Reserved.

Some real estate sellers are actually honest folks. Not many, in my experience in Houston. But some are. I’ve actually had a home seller’s or a home builder tell me things during a residential real estate inspection that I could not possibly have discovered. And I was very grateful as at least one of these items would have lead to a lawsuit. Of course, none of these sellers revealed this information on the seller’s disclosure form. Personally, I assume that a seller’s disclosure form is simply a work of fiction.

Many of my clients ask me if they are getting a good “deal” on the house they are buying. The truth is I cannot answer that question. The value of the deal depends on how you feel about the house and how happy you are with the house after you’ve bought it. Until then, the entire deal is simply an economic equation.

A seller offers to sell a house for, let’s just use the figure of $100,000. You offer to buy the house for $100,000. You are assuming that the house is in a good and serviceable condition. After you have had a house inspection performed and you have gotten estimates to actually put the house in a good and serviceable condition, you find that you are going to have to spend $10,000 to make the house actually worth $100,000.

You report all this information to the seller and ask to re-negotiate the price of the house. The seller is enraged. After all, the house is good enough for him as it is. Why should he spend $10,000 just to make it better for you?

My father taught me that you don’t say bad things about someone’s spouse, their children, their pets or their home.

I make my living by discovering bad things about people’s homes. This does not make me popular with some people.

The reaction of the seller to the inspection report tells you a lot about the seller as a person. If the seller refuses to discuss a re-negotiation and cancels the contract, that’s probably the best thing that could have happened to you. You have discovered that the seller is not a reasonable person and, in all likelihood, would not be fair, honest or rational to deal with.

Many sellers, once they are made aware of the defects in their house, simply fire their Realtor, shred the inspection report and hire a new Realtor. These sellers then fill out a new seller’s disclosure form stating that there are no “known” defects with the house.

So, when you are trying to buy a house, you may ask for copies of previous inspection reports but, you should also ask if the house has been inspected by anyone for any purpose in the last year or so whether the seller has a copy of the inspection report or not.

If the seller has concealed past inspection reports, don’t expect them to be reasonable to deal with or honest in anything.

But, the defects of the house do not necessarily determine the value of the house. You put an offer on the house and signed a contract on the house for a reason or reasons. Those reasons are still valid reasons to buy the house. You should discuss with your real estate inspector what issues are of immediate concern and what defects can be repaired at some time in the future.

If the seller is willing to re-negotiate the price of the house, the knowledge of what are immediate concerns and of what defects can be resolved over time should make it much easier for you and the seller to arrive at a price you can both live with.

But you will only discover the “true” value of any house after you have purchased it and you have moved into it. When you drive into the driveway after work and you are happy to be home, you made the best deal of your life, regardless of the price.

Serving areas including Katy, Sugar Land, Richmond, Sienna Plantation, Royal Oaks, River Oaks, Briarwood, Briar Forest, Cinco Ranch, Memorial, Spring Branch, City of Spring Valley Village, Hedwig Village, Bunker Hill Village, Camp Logan, Rice Military, Montrose, the Heights, Tallowood, Galleria, Bellaire, Downtown, West University, Galveston, Friendswood, Alvin, Clear Lake City, Pasadena, La Porte, Baytown, Champion Forest, Kingwood, Humble, The Woodlands, the Lake Conroe area, and Tomball. Other areas may be available upon request.