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Nov. 18, 2019
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Ten problems that can kill a lake home sale

By Bev Knight

For most sellers, the goal is to get their lake home under contract for as high a price as possible. They don’t realize that a binding contract is just the beginning of the sales process. Virtually every buyer will schedule a home inspection. Even on as-is offers, buyers want to measure their exposure before their due diligence expires so they can get their earnest money back if the needed repairs are too extensive. Most homeowners say, “They won’t find anything wrong with this house.” Trust me, they will. Even new construction has some type of issue.
 
Knowing what to expect makes all the difference between a smooth closing and a contentious negotiation after the inspection. Buyers will submit a “Request for Repairs” asking the homeowner to fix certain problems identified by the inspector. The owner can choose what they’re willing to fix. If the two parties don’t come to an agreement, the buyer will have the right to terminate the offer and their earnest money will be refunded. 
 
If you have an older home, it may be advisable to have a prelisting inspection to identify problems. Then you’ll have time to fix them. It is also important to disclose all known problems and especially, how those problems were resolved (if they were). When you disclose it (required by law) before you get an offer, you can make a case that they knew about it before they made their offer and you shouldn’t have to fix it. You don’t have to fix anything, but you may lose potential buyers if you don’t. Plus, once a problem is identified, legally you have to disclose it to all future buyers.
 
With all this in mind, here are 10 problems often found in lake home inspections. Most buyers will ask for these to be repaired; so, if you can fix them ahead of time, you can avoid the time constraints and stress later and will have more time to shop around for the best deal with contractors.
 
1.) Rotted wood – In humid Georgia, the wood around doors and windows often starts to rot. This opens the door to leaks, mold, pests and other issues. If the inspector can stick a sharp object into wood that looks rotted, they will recommend repairing it. This type of work is not that expensive, and most handymen can handle it. 
 
2.) Compromised Window Seals – Most of today’s windows have two panes attached by seals between them. If that seal is broken, the window will start to fog. Inspectors will always report these broken seals and suggest replacement for maximum energy efficiency. With this problem in particular, it pays to shop around for the most cost-effective contractor. Replacing windows can be expensive, and some units must be ordered in advance. That can take weeks.
 
3.) Leaks – Sooner or later most homes have some type of leak. It could come from roof issues, gutter problems, or even overflows from sinks and AC units. Without a doubt, leaks are deal killers. Make sure the leak is fixed, paint over the evidence of the leak, and be sure to disclose that there was a leak and how it was fixed.
 
4.) Roof Issues – Most homeowners have insurance on their roofs. If your roof is old and/or damaged, check with a contractor who works with insurance companies to see if it has hail damage. If so, your insurance should cover it. In most cases, you’ll be asked when the hail storm occurred. This information is available on the internet. Then, go ahead and get that new roof. It may or may not add value to the home, but a bad roof can definitely kill the sale.
 
5.) Rodents – If you live on the lake, there are rodents who want to take up residence in your attic. Most likely you had this treated by a wildlife exclusion company, but most companies don’t clean up the evidence of the old infestation. Virtually all inspectors will report there are rodent droppings and recommend a professional wildlife inspection to make sure it isn’t current. First and foremost, disclose that you had an infestation and how you had it treated. If possible, vacuum up the droppings or have your wildlife exclusion company do it. This is just a matter of making sure they know that this problem has been addressed.
 
6.) Decks Not Up to Code – You don’t necessarily have to bring everything in your home up to the current building codes. After all, they are constantly changing. But one element that inspectors key on is your deck. Many decks are simply nailed to the home, and that really is dangerous. Others are screwed in which is better; but, all inspectors strongly recommend that decks have a specific kind of bracketing connecting it to the structure of the home. This is an inexpensive fix and safer for your family anyway.
 
7.) Cracked Sheetrock – Remember the story of Chicken Little screaming “The sky is falling?” Sometimes when inspectors see cracked sheetrock, they scream “The foundation is crumbling.” OK, that was a gross exaggeration, but it does raise a question about the foundation. All homes settle, and sometimes that creates cracks in the sheetrock. These are easy to fix, and your painter can usually handle it. It is less expensive to fix those ahead of time than it is to pay for a structural engineer to evaluate the foundation after an inspector raises the question.
 
8.) Dock Issues – More and more buyers are having docks inspected, and most docks have issues. Sitting out in the sun and rain, they all deteriorate. Most sellers don’t want to rehab their docks, so just be sure to disclose the items you know are wrong. If it needs a few boards replaced or new floatation, put that on the disclosure. That way there’s no new news in the inspection, and hopefully the buyers won’t ask you to fix it. It may also be advisable to put on the disclosure that the dock is personal property and will be sold as-is. Many buyers replace the dock anyway, so it usually doesn’t make sense to put a lot of money into it. However, if the dock is dangerous, make sure your agent advises people to stay off of it and puts up something to block access.
 
9.) Drainage Problems – Inspectors will report any current or potential drainage issues on your property. The most common is the condition where the soil around the home slopes down toward the foundation. This is an often-seen cause of leaky basements but an easy situation to fix. Just add soil by the foundation so it slopes away from the house.
 
10.) Appliances That Don’t Work – Inspectors check every appliance to make sure it’s working. The most common failure is with ice makers. These are very expensive and almost always the first appliance to fail. You probably won’t want to replace it or have it fixed when you sell the house; so, be sure to disclose that it is not working. Then the buyer can budget for a new icemaker when making the offer.
 
There are quite a few homes that go under contract but don’t close due to inspection issues. If you address these problems ahead of time, you have a better shot at making it to the closing table after an inspection. You know what they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
 
Bev Knight is lead agent for The Good Life Group, Lake Lanier specialists for Keller Williams Lanier Partners. Her team sold a record-breaking $43 million in 2018, mostly on the lake. For more information and articles, visit her web site at www.HousesOnLanier.net or email: bev@housesonlanier.net.

Posted online 6/281/9
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