Last month, I showed some clients an attractive house in one of our solid Oakland neighborhoods. The marketing campaign advertising this home as “all new” was an asset to my clients. They have good jobs and credit but, like most new homeowners, they can’t absorb the cost of any major repairs right now. The house had all the sparkle of a fresh remodeling project: fresh paint, granite counters, stainless steel appliances, new landscaping etc. It was the right house, in the right location, in apparently superb condition. My clients were excited and, after two visits to make sure, wrote an offer that was accepted. Next came the inspection period. Although everything looked perfect on the surface, it was still important to have reputable professionals give their independent opinions. The back story on this house is that it was purchased at a foreclosure sale, all cash, by a group of investors. They prepared it for resale and marketed it as having $80,000 worth of improvements.
Our inspections began with a three hour examination of all systems by my favorite home inspector. He checked the roof, the crawl space, and everywhere in between. What he found was substantial pest damage to the structure, an outdated electrical system with glass fuses, potential drainage problems, and a sewer connection that was inaccessible for video inspection. Based on this we got a drainage consultation from an expert who advised us that the house some of the work done to improve the house was not done to building code standards, that it needed $40,000 to $50,000 worth of structural work, and that we should get an engineering inspection, at an additional cost of $500, to confirm that this work would be enough.
Sadly, I sent my clients’ cancellation notice to the seller today. They spent several hundred dollars on inspections and had their hopes raised and crushed by the entire incident. But that is a much better outcome than they would have had if they had relied on superficial impressions given by the remodeling work. All buyers should have inspections on their properties. Whether it’s old, new, or “flipped” like this one.