There are thousands of home sales in the United States every year. The process is fairly standard for most home sellers but sometimes a wrench is thrown into the gears of the transaction. “We have seen quite a few contracts get cancelled during the inspection period,” stated Raymond Campbell of Dr Cash Home Buyers, a national home buyers company. “The buyers get spooked when an unknown defect suddenly appears and they don’t have the appetite to wait for the seller to fix it or fix it themselves. It creates a lot of uncertainty and buyers’ remorse. The buyers also know that they can cancel the contract during the inspection period without any penalty. Often that is the easy way out for the buyers and they just move on to another house. The home sellers, on the other hand, have a cancelled contract and a physical problem with their house. These deal killers will vary by region. The biggest deal killers in 2018 were termites, foundations, water lines, and mold,” he said.
Mr. Campbell noted that northern regions have basements, with their set of unique water seepage and foundation problems. Much of the southern portion of the United States has clay soils, which are a huge problem for all types of home foundations. And the states in the gulf coast area have higher humidity and warmer temperatures which is ideal for termites. And almost all homes built before 1970 have incoming and outgoing water lines that are reaching the end of their serviceable lives.
“I think the presence of termites has the highest kill percentage for residential real estate transactions because the full extent of the problem cannot be determined unless the interior walls are ripped out. It is a gamble for the house buyers because the termite treatment and repair could be several thousand dollars or many tens of thousands of dollars. In these cases it is probably best for the home sellers to treat and repair the problem with reputable vendors that offer warranties with their work,” declared Mr. Campbell.
Foundation damage is another leading deal killer of residential home sales. The most affected region are southern and gulf coast states. The top levels of soils in these areas contain a large amount of clay soils, which expand and contract when they absorb and lose water. The clay soils under a house are not distributed uniformly, nor is rain or moisture evenly distributed to the soils. This creates horizontal, vertical, and diagonal soil movement. It is an annual cycle with wet weather and dry weather creating soil movement and huge stresses on concrete slab foundations. Usually these annual stresses will produce cracked slab foundations in 10 or 20 years. But with hotter temperatures in the summer and greater moisture and temperature extremes, concrete foundations are failing in less than 10 years. The solution is to install monolithic drilled piers, reinforced with steel rebar, to provide support and resistance to soil movement. Once foundation damage has been detected foundation repair contractors can produce accurate estimates for pier installation. It is an expensive undertaking and most home buyers will avoid it.
Water lines are another deal killer. If the incoming water lines are old galvanized pipe and over 50 years of age then it is time to replace them with the latest technology in pipe materials and design. One of the greatest advantages of these new incoming water lines or water pipes is that they resist cracking or breaking during freezing temperatures. This is a significant advantage over older galvanized steel pipe. And the new water pipes / lines do not corrode. But the big disadvantage of replacing incoming water lines is that some portion of the interior walls will have to be removed and then repaired. Older outgoing sewer and waste water lines have also reached the end of their serviceable lives after 50 years. Many of these lines have collapsed and most of them suffer from root intrusion.
Mold is the final major deal killer. Like termites, you don’t know the full extent of the problem until a large portion of the interior walls are ripped out. Mold can be treated, a process called remediation. And a warranty and certificate of remediation can be issue by the mold contractor. However, there may be some potential liability issues for homeowners who sell their home where mold is discovered at a later date.