Inspective - The ASHI Blog

FaceTime or face time? You can’t do it all on your smartphone

posted by Dave Kogan (9/25/2017)

Apple, Samsung, or Pixel?

You can Google a video on how to fix your running toilet or set your alarm, video chat with someone across the planet and send out a 140-character opinion that could reach more than a million people.

You can see who’s at your front door while you’re at work, turn on your oven and air conditioner, watch your kitty-cam, and most assuredly receive immediate updates the moment a house that meets your criteria hits the market.

However, there are a couple of things you might find difficult to do with your phone, and you might actually want to be present.

Go look at the house. This requires that you reach out to your Realtor and have her make an appointment to tour the home. Your Realtor has a magic app on her phone that releases the key to the house from its lockbox.

Now you can see if the rooms are as large as they appeared in the photos and video you saw on your phone.

Is the floor real wood or laminate? Is that a big stain on the carpet or an intentional pattern? Can the driveway really fit six cars or was that just distortion from the photographer’s wide-angle lens? Can you hear traffic noise from the street? Is that a moldy smell coming from the closet under the stairs or were they making wine in there? Where are the 14 fruit trees mentioned in the property description?

Now, get back on your phone.

Call or text your agent to discuss the terms of your offer. Open your email to review the purchase agreement and click to sign and initial as indicated. Visit the home inspector’s website to schedule your inspection date and time. Send your lender updated bank statements, pay stubs, and tax returns. Give your lender your credit card information to pay for the appraisal.

Then brace yourself for the three other things you need to do the old-fashioned way.

Show up for the home inspection, at least at the very end when the inspector will give you a summary of his findings. That way you can see, touch, smell, and feel whatever the finding may be. You can also look the inspector and your Realtor in the eye to figure out how significant the finding may be to the health and safety of the house.

Secondly, you’ll need to fill out your Statement of Information, which will come in your escrow instructions. There’s lots of tedious personal information required that only you can supply. Most buyers do this by hand, but if you have a PDF editor, have at it.

The last thing you will need to do is go to the escrow office and sign your loan documents. These have to be notarized, and the notary has to witness your signing. In person.

Contributing columnist Leslie Sargent Eskildsen is an agent with Realty One Group. Shcan be reached at 949-678-3373 or @leslieeskildsen.

About the House: Home is where the garden is

posted by Dave Kogan (9/18/2017)

Originally posted in The Sturgis Journal

by Rob Kinsey

Sometimes, the best part of a home really isn’t a part of i, so much as a place “in” it.

Sometimes, the best part of a home really isn’t a part of i, so much as a place “in” it. Like the dining room or the patio and deck. For many of us, it can be the kitchen because that’s often where everyone gathers. It might be a game room in the basement or the home theater for those who have the space.

For me, it’s where the food is served. That can be the kitchen counter, dining room, deck or even standing and wandering around. Sometimes, it’s the dock or the pontoon boat, but too often, it’s the desk in a mad dash to eat, work and get to the next thing.

Other great places are gardens. Whether they’re big or small, flower or vegetable gardens aren’t exactly part of the house, but they are a part of the landscapes, properties and, most importantly, lives. I don’t recall not having a garden.

As I was growing up, there were several places in the yard for flowers and we always seemed to plant a tree or two ’round about the neighborhood. When my dad was working long hours and usually far from home, he would have a small vegetable garden in a corner of the lawn. Some squash, peppers and tomatoes were sometimes the extent of it.

One year when I was rather young, I planted potatoes in with his vegetables. I waited and watched for an eternity. It was most likely closer to three weeks, then I forgot all about it. A lifetime later, he reminded me I needed to go dig up my forgotten taters so we could make a meal. I still remember being fascinated at how long they took to grow and how incredibly small they were. But did they ever taste good!

He and I canned tomatoes, potatoes, horseradish and all sorts of things, but mostly we ate the wonderful fruits of the harvest fresh for dinner. I just got done canning applesauce, tomatoes and hot peppers and still think about all of the meals where we just picked what was ready and stirred everything together in one pan and ate whatever it was, sometimes tasty, sometimes not, but always memorable.

Tomatoes are nearing completion now, then we’ll still be eating them green and fried, in all the best places About the House.

Haisler: Revisiting home inspections

posted by Dave Kogan (9/18/2017)

Originally published in the Northwest Herald

Two months ago I wrote about home inspections which generated a few more questions from readers. First, let’s keep in mind that these are legal questions, I’m not an attorney, and this is not legal advice but rather my opinion based on my knowledge and over 20 years experience in real estate.

Q: What does a home listed in "as is" condition cover the seller when selling a house?

When a property is listed in "as-is" condition, it could mean a couple of things. Mostly it is a signal to the buyer that the seller is not willing to make any repairs or offer any type of credit for issues found during a property inspection. It does not mean that the buyer has to buy the home regardless of what is found and it does not mean that the buyer is waiving his/her right to have the property inspected. All real estate agent’s representing the buyer should consult with their client about getting the property inspected. The common contract used in Northern Illinois clearly calls out a specific attorney approval and home inspection period to allow for the inspection of the property. In my opinion, all buyers should hire a licensed whole-house home inspector to review the property. It’s just good to know what you are getting. And you should do this as soon as possible so as to have time to review the findings with your agent or attorney within the 5 business day time frame – that goes fast – so don’t wait.

Q. What happens when a seller gets sued for not disclosing said issues that a home inspector found?

First, the common contract referenced above has a number of built in disclosures as does the Illinois statute – namely Residential Real Property Disclosure Form (RRPDF). In essence the contract becomes a legal affidavit were the seller is stating that they have not done any work to the property that wasn’t property permitted by the appropriate governing body that should have been permitted. In many cases this promise runs for up to 7 years after the contract so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. The RRPDF is also an affidavit signed by the seller which requires them to answer a couple dozen questions about the property and any known defects. If a seller knew of a defect, but had it repaired and the defect no longer exists, then no defect exists. But sometimes there is an attempt to fix a known defect that fails to work. If the seller knows the repair did not work and the defect still exists, it needs to be disclosed on the form. If the seller tries to hide a known defect, they could be sued for fraud. Something as simple as painting the ceiling to hide the evidence of a roof leak and then not disclosing the leak could be an issue. Of course every situation is unique, and assumptions shouldn’t be made. But hiring a home inspector would very likely uncover such an issue from the attic inspection. The results of these lawsuits can be a huge loss of time, certainly they are expensive as the losing party may be held liable for the prevailing party’s attorney’s fees, and fines and awards may be levied. It is far better off to discuss the known defects and negotiate them instead of trying to hide them.

Q. I’m buying a foreclosed property, what does the bank have to disclose?

A few years ago the law changed on this a little. That is, the RRPDF disclosure form used to say that if the seller hadn’t lived in the property for the last 12 months they weren’t required to complete the form. This language was removed a number of years ago so that certain owners of the property regardless of occupancy would still have to execute this disclosure form. That being said the form still exempts a number of ‘sellers’ from having to complete the form. One type that is specifically called out and exempted is those who have taken ownership of the property through the foreclosure process. Special note here: short sale sellers are not exempted; they must still execute the RRPDF. So a lender that forecloses on a property wouldn’t have to complete the form but they would still be required to disclose any known latent material defects on the property. But if they haven’t lived there or in many cases even set foot on the property, how would they know? So the dilemma comes up that what if a buyer put an offer in on a property like this, conducted a home inspection and found true defects, wouldn’t the seller know be aware? Maybe. The legal issue arises that there is only a suspicion that a defect exists at this time. The owner would likely need to conduct their own investigation to determine if, indeed, there was a defect in the property. And now we need to ask, why would they do that research? Right, they likely wouldn’t. So is there really something for them to disclose or not. Furthermore, the way the industry has learned to handle this situation is that both the owner/seller and the seller’s agent don’t want to see a copy of the home inspection report. And even if it is sent to them, most won’t open it. If the buyer wants out of the deal as a result of their due diligence (read "home inspection issue") the seller will simply let them go and usually return the earnest money promptly. In other words, they won’t even put themselves into the situation of whether they know of a potential defect or not.

Lastly, if a seller’s agent is aware of a known defect on the property, they are obligated to disclose it even if the seller insists on not disclosing it. Of course this puts the agent into a very difficult situation at which time I would argue they have the need to get their client to talk with an attorney to convince then to disclose the defect or the listing agent should walk away from the deal. 

• Jim Haisler, MRE, RCE, is CEO for the Heartland Realtor Organization, headquartered in Crystal Lake, a nonprofit trade organization serving over 1,100 real estate related professionals throughout Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. Licensed since 1996 he has a master’s degree in real estate, holds an Illinois managing broker’s real estate license, an Illinois continuing education instructor’s license and an Illinois pre-license instructor’s license.