Living in Wisconsin presents both beauty and diverse weather patterns. Our past winter and the rains of June have been challenging especially to home owners. We’ve seen problems such as leaky walls and roofs from the ice build up in winter. The flooding rains in June have caused other problems such as leaky basement walls, floors, and window wells, as well as sewer backups. Combine this with the angst due to the current real estate market and you have a seller who is reluctant to even attempt to put their home on the market!
I remember well the real estate market of the 80’s where interest rates climbed to incredible highs (17% for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage). At that time mortgage money was scarce. To my surprise, folks were still buying homes and finding other means to purchase those homes, such as assumable mortgages or land contracts. The lesson was that people are people, and home ownership is so strongly desired by those who need a place to live! We can talk all we want about interest rates, recession, declining property values, etc. The bottom line is that reasons for one’s move in many cases are stronger than any negative news the market can muster.
Now suppose you are one of the owners who have experienced structural or mechanical problems recently and are worried about disclosing more negative news to a potential buyer. The first step in mitigating a buyer’s concerns about condition is to have the problem inspected by licensed contractors. Do not get reports by a handyman or a contractor who does not specialize in the problem at hand. If you have a basement issue, call a licensed basement contractor or inspector. They will give you a detailed description of the problem if there is a problem, and of coarse a solution. If you have the funds to correct the defect, do so. Then when you sell, you are not selling a problem. The buyer may not be able to focus on the attributes of your home when worrying about correcting a basement issue. If you do not have the funds to repair your roof, furnace, basement or any other structural or mechanical issues, then get a couple of estimates that you can show a purchaser. These bids will ease their concerns and establish a negotiating starting point for both you and the buyer. Remember, every home sells! It is just a matter of the final sales price.
As for disclosure requirements by state law, if you are not selling as an estate (many situations allow for an as is sale), you must disclose any negative material information such as a defect which may adversely affect the value of the property. Buyers are more understanding than you may think when it comes to a record rain as in June. They are told by their home inspectors that this may be a one time event which is highly unusual for the area. Yes, the buyer will still want to have the problem inspected, but you may find they are in most cases fair and reasonable.
In summary, we are seeing a steady stream of buyers today! Many first time potential homeowners have decided that prices may have bottomed out and interest rates may rise in the future. Therefore, this may be an opportune time to put your home on the market if you have been waiting for the right moment to list your property. No matter what the structural or mechanical problem may be, there is a solution. It is up to you whether or not you will be proactive by remedying the defect or getting a few estimates. Even if you don’t move in the near future, try to maintain those structural and mechanical issues so that when the time comes to sell, you don’t have to scramble to fix those issues at the same time you are planning a move. One step at a time is the mantra. One day at a time and you will find a seemingly overwhelming maintenance issue may be just another problem waiting to be solved!