Think New Housing First

September 15th, 2014

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get,”said Tom Hanks’ character in the movie, “Forrest Gump.” Older homes built years ago are in the same category– you never know what you’re going to get.

It’s not that they’re bad or poorly-built homes, but over time, building codes have been upgraded and new and better products have come into use. Products, appliances, and systems in older homes naturally deteriorate over time.

Buyers should be aware that the true costs of home ownership are more than the down payment and closing costs. Some of these are easy to identify–new window coverings, interior paint, and so on.

Others are not and often don’t become known until the home inspection, which is critical to order when buying an older home. Here are some examples of problems that crop up during an inspection that won’t pop up on new housing:

  • The furnace hasn’t been serviced in years. Might the heat exchanger be cracked, preventing safety certification?
  • Water stains under sinks or, worse, around doorway thresholds or on window sills. Has the flashing deteriorated, or are the window seals blown? If it was  a plumbing leak, how long did it go on before anyone fixed it?
  • A slight, musty smell is pervasive, especially in the basement. Could it mean mold?

A home inspector’s report will run many pages, and the above are just a few typical items that mean dollar signs. Who pays, buyer or seller, and how can a buyer be assured that the repair work has been done properly? Moreover, the inspector’s list comprises only those items he or she can see. Do obvious repairs signal less-obvious latent damage?

Buyers of new housing just don’t encounter the problems listed above. The furnace, air conditioner and other appliances, as well as the plumbing and electrical systems, are brand new. So are the roof and entire building envelope, with a warranty going to the buyer in case something unforeseen happens.

Here’s a fact few are aware of: Window warranties usually extend only to original owners. If someone buys an existing home where the owner has installed new windows, the buyer will not receive the benefit of the warranty. With new housing, the warranty goes to the new owner.

It’s a source of comfort for buyers to know when they take possession of their new home, they don’t have to worry about unseen financial emergencies caused by home repairs. Prior to closing, we take each buyer on a detailed walk-through of the house to note oversights the contractors might have missed, and fix them.

Buying new housing makes sense for a lot of buyers, and if you’d like to know more, give us a shout. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting, and you won’t have to worry about financial emergencies.

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