Buying or Selling a House with Foundation Issues?

Buying or Selling a House with Foundation Issues?

When it comes to any foundation issues that may be uncovered during the inspection process, the Foundation Doctor St. Louis can help both buyers and sellers.

Buying a Home

Buying a new home comes with a lot of unknowns: what if there’s an issue you didn’t discover until after you move in? What if you find out the neighbors are nosy? What if you planned to remodel a bit, only to discover the load-bearing wall is in the wrong place? None of those are good.

Selling a Home

Selling a home is also full of nail-biting moments: what if the buyers don’t get their financing and you have to start all over? What if the inspection uncovers a big issue that you have to fix now that you are aware of it? What if no one comes to look at your house? Again, none of those are ideal situations.

Let’s face it—no matter which side of the coin you’re on in a real estate transaction, it’s stressful. There are professionals out there to help deal with every one of those scenarios.

If you are thinking about buying or selling a home with a potential foundation issue, here are a few considerations for both parties as you navigate the real estate transaction.

Diagnosing and Repairing Foundation Issues Should Not Be Do-It-Yourself Projects

The foundation of your home is where the whole structure rests. It must be strong and stable enough to support the entire house. Any damage or defects that compromise its integrity can be cause for concern and should be evaluated by professionals to establish the extent of the issue.

This is not the time for amateurs. If you think there is a chance of a foundation issue, have it checked by a home inspector and/or structural engineer. The peace of mind offered by involving a qualified professional is invaluable. Plus, your insurance company or lender (if you are the buyer) may require official documentation that demonstrates that any issues were resolved professionally. Don’t jeopardize the real estate deal because you’re looking to save a few bucks.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Even “Small” Foundation Issues

We get it—the foundation is not the most exciting part of the home. If you’re walking through a home you’re looking to buy, you’d much rather be imagining your decorations in the family room or checking out the walk-in closet space. That being said, don’t forego a thorough examination of the foundation. If you spot a crack, a leak, or a wet spot in the basement, make note to have your inspector really spend time there. With luck, these will turn out to be minor issues, but sometimes what looks minor can actually be hiding a larger issue and quickly become a big headache. There is no way to know this until you hire a professional to evaluate it, and it helps if you can point out problem areas.

Along these lines, there is no way to estimate the cost of a foundation repair until your inspector or foundation professional has correctly identified the problem. See a crack? That could be due to normal settling, and it may easily be repaired with simple patching. Or, it could signify a bowing wall due to a drainage issue that could leave your basement flooded after a rain, and this type of repair may require reinforcement—a very different-looking repair than patching. Only a professional will be able to provide guidance on this.

Foundation Issues Will Affect the Real Estate Deal

A foundation issue is intimidating. As a buyer, if you agree to buy a home after foundation issues have already been disclosed, you assume responsibility (and cost) of addressing those issues after the sale has closed. Sometimes, large foundation issues may render a buyer ineligible for certain types of financing like government-backed loans, which require the home to be structurally sound and free of major issues. Be sure to negotiate for yourself up front—any identified foundation issues can serve as a major bargaining chip when you are negotiating price.

As a seller, you have some options to consider if your home has foundation issues. The first is to hire a professional to fix the issues before you list your home, but this means investing money (possibly a larger than ideal amount). You will be able to say the home is free of foundation issues, but you will also have a repair history that could discourage potential buyers before they even view your home.

A second option would be to just disclose the foundation issues in your listing, but this means that you will need to be realistic about the repair costs and adjust the price accordingly. It helps to have an estimate provided by a professional to justify where you landed in your listing price and why. Within this second option, with the help of a good real estate agent, you could try and shift the focus to the upside—for example, a buyer who takes on fixing the foundation issues could simultaneously finish the basement or add a mancave if he’d like.

The best choice for both buyer and seller will depend on a number of factors, but one thing is for sure: without paying attention to the foundation, identifying any possible issues, and being realistic about what a repair could look like, a bad foundation could derail your real estate transaction.

Don’t let that happen to you—call Foundation Doctor St. Louis today for a free estimate or a foundation evaluation!