About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

63 comments:

  1. 1
    Jason says:

    Trying to buy a home in a high-demand area like Ballard, Phinney Ridge, Magnolia, or Queen Anne? Just about every home in the cheaper range is facing multiple offers, several of which have performed pre-inspections and have waived their inspection contingency. As pre-inspection costs $400+, you have to treat that as the cost-of-entry if you want a chance to buy a home in those areas in this crazy market.

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  2. 2
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    Technically the inspection contingency is waived on almost every transaction at some point, but I suspect that’s not what you’re asking. ;-)

    I would never recommend that a client not conduct an inspection, the question is how many inspections to conduct.

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  3. 3
    David Losh says:

    I can’t vote because usually we do inspect any property we might want to buy before making an offer. For me I take one of three buddies I know for the price of a lunch, so it’s different.

    We make a list of what a property needs before we make the offer.

    I agree with Jason though, that the pre inspection has gotten to be, once again, the price of admission to the Real Estate circus, and it makes no difference about the inspection. It’s now a take it or leave it proposition.

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  4. 4
    Feedback says:

    I think it is very important to inspect a property before one buys it. Thanks for asking!

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  5. 5
    Macro Investor says:

    So far this poll shows that 9 ho’s think you should spend $500k without inspecting the merchandise. Sellers are just as dumb. Any time faced with multiple bids, they should raise the price in large increments until the last one is standing.

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  6. 6
    David Losh says:

    RE: Macro Investor @ 5

    I think the Form 17 is a game that a lot of Real Estate professionals play to skirt some disclosures.

    It’s not just a buyer beware kind of thing, it isn’t just that a buyer may be stuck with known defects, the buyer has recourse.

    In this day, and age I would think every one would want full disclosure. I would think every seller would insist on an inspection.

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  7. 7
    ray pepper says:

    We waive it on each and every transaction..Also close in 7 days goes a long way as well in securing the deal above all others.

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  8. 8
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 3 – Losh is just plain lying he doesn’t buy anything ‘cuz he aint got no dough… nor does he have three friends with which to collaborate with…. he sits at home on SSI and blogs on seattle bubble…..

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  9. 9

    Generally, if the market has become so frothy that the only way you’ll get a house is if you waive the inspection contingency, then it’s time to just say no and take a step back.
    If the house is to rent out or flip, and it’s extremely inexpensive, that might change the answer. But if you need to waive the inspection contingency in order to get a 600,000 dollar house in Kirkland or Sammamish or Ravenna, that’s just stupid. Asinine. You don’t have to allow yourself to get caught up in that kind of frenzy.

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  10. 10

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 9 – The other option is to simply avoid those properties where you think they’re purposefully setting up a bidding type situation. I don’t necessarily shy away from multiple offer situations, but it is a good idea to pick and choose your battles.

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  11. 11

    By Macro Investor @ 5:

    Sellers are just as dumb. Any time faced with multiple bids, they should raise the price in large increments until the last one is standing.

    Sounds like a good way to go from multiple offers to no offers.

    And in the case of one or more non-contingent cash offers at or above the asking price, sounds like a good way for the seller to pay multiple commissions even if they never close a sale!

    Great plan! /sarc

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  12. 12

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 10
    Organised Crime

    Ya know, things like chronic unemployment, serious health problems and mental illness hits equally in the Seattle area….there are no areas that don’t see it in equal application of the need for foreclosures from cheaper neighborhoods…..meaning, the higher priced mortgaged areas are going to be harder hit for a need for bank owned, because the mortagage payments are much higher.

    The reality, they aren’t. Ever asked why?

    Its a Ponzi Scheme, shield them rich with their own bankster friends and its win/win in the short-term keeping price collapse on the rich elite half million Eastside, Sammamish, etc….

    I predict the fun ends for the “shielded” areas when the banks can’t afford to hold ‘em anymore and/or the squatters tear them apart….maybe simultaneously.

    It reminds me of safety defects on cars, when they’re zero, you know you’re dealing with a liar.

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  13. 13

    Ira,

    Frothy???
    :)

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  14. 14
    David Losh says:

    RE: Corndogs @ 8

    Geez, if only I could get SSI, but it’s so darn hard to qualify.

    Now if you had ever read any of my stuff you’d know you don’t need money to buy Real Estate. There is always Other People’s Money.

    Second is that I wouldn’t get involved with Real Estate, and haven’t since 2007, because in 2008 the Real Estate market place got flooded with Real Estate experts like you.

    All these smart guys who are buying, selling, or renting out properties keep driving up those prices, but I don’t see why prices should be rising. There is no economic reason for housing unit prices to rise, but here we are, once again, with multiple offers, waiving inspection.

    You probably forgot that I have a service business, that at one time did service the Real Estate community, but that has gotten to be a complete farce also.

    I’ll stick with the home owners, thanks, who pay their bills, and aren’t looking for the next scam.

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  15. 15

    By Jillayne Schlicke @ 13:

    Ira,

    Frothy???
    :)

    Interestingly, I was thinking about having a cappuccino when I wrote that.
    Not frothy in the 2006, foaming at the mouth, lemming herd of home buyers sense. There are a lot less homebuyers now. But the inventory of homes listed for sale now is so tiny that it’s a lot more frustrating for buyers and their agents right now, as any decent house in a half nice area is getting snatched up too quickly, with multiple offers and buyers waiving the inspection contingency. Waiving the inspection contingency was a stupid thing to do seven years ago. It’s a stupid thing to do now.

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  16. 16
    David Losh says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 15

    What’s interesting is that the tight supply is a National phenomenon. This was on my Financial page of Comcast today: WASHINGTON — A measure of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell last month after reaching a 2 1/2-year high in November. Sales were held back by a limited supply of available homes.

    How can limited supply be a National trend?

    I understand there are hot market places, like job centers, and urban growth areas, but for it to be a National trend isn’t normal at all.

    So, for me, it is like 2006 all over again.

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  17. 17
    QARunner says:

    Conducting an inspection is one thing. Finding a competent home inspector is another. Buyers get in a time crunch after signing the purchase agreement. Trying to find a reputable home inspector in a matter of days with availability to conduct the inspection in desired time frame is difficult. Don’t make the mistake we made and rely on realtor recommnedations. We ended up with an inspector who did not represent our best interests becasue, I assume, he liked referral business from realtor community. His ommissions included not documenting asbestos on ductwork (visibile), knob and tube wiring in the attic (visible), metal water pipe in basement (visible), hole in basement wall (hidden by framed picture at floor level) plus a number of other items. All told, this probably cost us $5k – $10k to fix

    Also, beware the home inspector that arrives at your home better dressed than you are.

    Do your research and select several inspectors based on referrals from trusted firends or online reviews but only after checking references.

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  18. 18

    By QARunner @ 17:

    Don’t make the mistake we made and rely on realtor recommnedations. We ended up with an inspector who did not represent our best interests becasue, I assume, he liked referral business from realtor community.

    I think you have that backwards, because the clients who bring their own inspectors typically bring inferior inspectors in my experience.

    That said, there are some inspectors who may feel they are pressured by agents to give a clean inspection report. That belief may be well based in the case of some agents, or not based in fact at all with others. We let the inspectors on our list know that they will be dropped for not finding things, or otherwise not doing an adequate job, not for finding problematic conditions. I do believe it is important to have that discussion with inspectors, just so they won’t think there is some pressure there that does not exist.

    I will also add that a good agent will help the inspector find items, such as what I detailed here:

    http://www.trulia.com/blog/kary_l_krismer/2013/01/dangerous_electrical_wiring_inspections

    Six eyes (inspector, agent and buyer) are better than two.

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  19. 19
    redmondjp says:

    Kary,

    You cannot count on a home inspector to find real problems with an electrical system (a missing ground at a receptacle, yes, they will find that with their little plug checker). A qualified electrician or electrical inspector who is familiar with all applicable codes is what you really need.

    Unfortunately, your example of dangerous wiring (as found by a home inspector) is not, and the exact situation that you describe is specifically allowed by the 2011 National Electric Code, Article 210.19(A)(3) Exception No. 1. This exception has been in place for quite some time.

    In addition, every microwave oven has internal short-circuit protection (typically fuses).

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  20. 20
  21. 21

    RE: redmondjp @ 19 – I find it hard to believe that there’s an exception which allows a 14 gauge wire to be controlled by a 50 amp breaker. Doesn’t 220.10 require that?

    Note that was the case in the situation described–no subpanel.

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  22. 22
    David Losh says:

    RE: QARunner @ 17

    You are correct, home inspections have become another Real Estate Professionals game.

    ASHI was started in the 1970s to make Home Inspections more “professional.”

    The thing was that in the 1970s, and 1980s, the home inspector was allowed to bid on, and repair the defects they found. The Real Estate community found this to be a conflict of interest because home inspectors may call things that didn’t need to be repaired so they could get more work.

    Well, that was a ridiculous assertion by Real Estate agents because no one had to hire the home inspector to do the work, you could hire anyone. So the home inpsection industry kind of self regulated.

    What Real Estate agents really didn’t like is that the home inspector was looking for work, and they were finding problems with properties that needed to be fixed. The conflict was that the home inspector was working for him, or herself rather than the Real Estate community. Home inspectors were killing deals by finding too much stuff.

    What is true is that the threshold of being a home inspector is very low. At that time you only needed to get certified as a pest inspector, and Washington State University had a class for that you could take at home. It was a very low bar, but the people who wanted to crawl around under houses lookig for rats were a low bar kind of crowd.

    So, ASHI fixed all that by having more training that allowed any yahoo off the street to get a license, get a nice truck, and visit Real Estate offices looking for work.

    I had a Home Inspection license for a number of years for keeping our specialty contractors license. I had a company called Rot Work, the slogan was Done Cheap. I knew a lot of the old time inspectors as good solid independent individuals. After about 1992 though Real Estate got to be a roulette wheel of boom, and bust.

    We had multipe offers in the 1990s, then it would wane, then it would boom, and inspections became a real nuisance. People would tie up properties only to want to renegotiate on inspection. The problem was that the renogiations were based on fantasies of what the property might need rather than actual bids, like home inspectors used to provide.

    So, now, the home owner is on their own because Real Estate agents can’t really recommend an inspector, or steer the buyer to some one. The Home Buyer has another thing to figure out in quick fashion without a real bearing for what they should be looking for.

    As in your example, the inspector didn’t want to make waves, because the inspector knows the Real Estate community will give him, or her, more work than an individual buyer.

    It’s just adding to the crap shoot, isn’t it?

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  23. 23
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 21 – I don’t see in your Trulia post where you mentioned that the tap wire was #14.

    “Conductors tapped from a 50-ampere branch circuit supplying electric ranges, wall-mounted electric ovens, and counter-mounted electric cooking units shall have an ampacity of not less than 20 amperes and shall be sufficient for the load to be served”

    This tells me that it would need to be at least #12, even if the microwave drew far less current.

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  24. 24

    RE: wreckingbull @ 23 – I was just guessing as to the gauge, but whatever it was it was connected to a normal 15 amp outlet, so I’m guessing the wire to the outlet was rated for either 15 or 20 amps, something far less than the breaker protecting it.

    BTW, my own house used to be tapped off the stove’s 240 circuit as mentioned, but it did have a sub panel and breaker. So it’s not the tapping that I was worried about, but instead the lack of proper overcurrent protection.

    That said, I’m not sure my setup was correct either, but I never checked that out. When the circuit was removed I discovered that rather than have the 240 volt lines run into the subpanel, there was about an 8′ romex line (I don’t remember the gauge) running to the subpanel from the 240 volt outlet. So that portion of line was effectively not protected, but for that to be an issue that portion of the line would have had to have been compromised (e.g. a nail). Stated differently, the breaker protection was in the middle of the circuit, not the beginning of the circuit.

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  25. 25
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 24 – One of the more amusing things I have experienced on the Internet is reading flame wars between electricians who interpret the NEC differently. Probably ignites people more than religion or politics!

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  26. 26

    RE: wreckingbull @ 25 – I’ve seen that with inspectors. Once I asked why current code doesn’t allow breaker boxes in bathrooms, and all hell broke loose.

    BTW, never did get a clear answer, but I think it may be because a bathroom door typically has a lock.

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  27. 27
    Meris says:

    I would love to buy a house with the inspection contingency but I would also like to get a good house in a good neighborhood before interest rates rise. If that is the only way to buy a house do I have a choice?

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  28. 28
    redmondjp says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 26 – Why? Outside of the fact that the bathroom can be considered a wet location, the panel typically contains the service disconnecting means. And Article 230.70(A)(2) of the 2011 NEC prohibits the location of the service disconnecting means in a bathroom. You’ll have to ask the code committee that originally added this requirement if you want the real reason.

    You really should stick to your area of expertice, Kary.

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  29. 29
    David Losh says:

    Why not just say electricity is magic, because it is.

    There are thousands of codes, and exceptions to codes about electricity.

    Yes, a bathroom is a wet room, that can also generate steam.

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  30. 30
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    RE: redmondjp @ 28 – Because some older houses have them in the bathroom. If the is a safety concern, then I would like to know why. What is the risk?

    What is your comment about the lack of a subpanel/braker in my scenario? Do you still think it is to code?

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  31. 31
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    By David Losh @ 29:

    Yes, a bathroom is a wet room, that can also generate steam.

    A laundry room can also generate steam, and has plumbing fixtures, but as far as I know, it can have a breaker box.

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  32. 32
    David Losh says:

    How is a mud room generating steam? You mean like it has a shower in it? With wet naked bodies standing in water kind of steam?

    Yeah you can have a breaker box in a mud room. In some older homes they may even have a grandfathered panel in a bathroom.

    Codes are kind of fluid that way.

    For that matter why do we still allow knob, and tube wiring? Why don’t we pass a law that says that if you sell a house you have to replace the knob, and tube the way they required fuse boxes to be replaced?

    Yeah, that’s the ticket, let’s pass some laws that say that every house that is sold has to meet today’s building, energy, and earthquake retorfitting codes?

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  33. 33
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    RE: David Losh @ 32 – Again it is not to know whether it is to current code, nor have I suggested it should be necessary to bring the house to current code.

    I just want to know what the risk is. I think most likely it is just that a door will be locked when you need to get to the panel. That I don’t consider too serious, but I’d like to know if it’s something worse.

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  34. 34
    wreckingbull says:

    I still think Kary brings up a valid point which leaves me wondering. Let’s say that 20 amp tap shorts and starts drawing 40 amps. That 50 amp breaker has not blown and we have overheating wire, no?

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  35. 35
    Pegasus says:

    I sense Kary has yet another phobia over electrocution similar to his obsession over his irrational fears of a tsunami. Perhaps he is haunted from a former life? Certainly not the first time he has been possessed over electrical currents and most certainly will not be the last.

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  36. 36
    Kary L. Krismer says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 35 – Bad homeowner electrical work is very common. In my half bath the prior owner had made three mistakes.

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  37. 37
    ray pepper says:

    when I was 10 I remember putting the hose to a wet dry vac over my genitalia as a dare to friends. I couldn’t get the power on for some reason. Sometimes electrical problems are a good thing…. Thats all I have to say about that.

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  38. 38
    redmondjp says:

    By wreckingbull @ 34:

    I still think Kary brings up a valid point which leaves me wondering. Let’s say that 20 amp tap shorts and starts drawing 40 amps. That 50 amp breaker has not blown and we have overheating wire, no?

    What you are describing is not a short, but an overcurrent condition. A short circuit will typically have hundreds up to several thousand amps (depending upon the availability from the source and the impedances in the circuit), and the 50 amp breaker would still see the short and trip no different than a 20 amp breaker (you have to look at the Time-Current-Curves of the both circuit breakers and you will see that this is the case).

    An overcurrent situation is much different – the current is much lower – higher than the rating of the circuit, but low enough that the circuit protection may take minutes to trip (if ever). If an overcurrent situation exists for a long enough time, it can cause enough heat to be generated in order to potentially ignite any flammable materials nearby.

    The tap in the scenario that Kary described goes to a single kitchen appliance, and the code allows this. An overcurrent situation is not likely in this case (now if the tap fed all of the outlets in the rest of the house, that’s a different story), and the microwave has its own circuit protection inside as well.

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  39. 39
    ARDELL says:

    EVERY Home Buyer should have a home inspection done by a competent Home Inspector prior to closing.

    The question is not whether to have one done, the question is whether or not to reserve the right to cancel based on that inspection. That depends on the house and what you plan to do with it.

    Also you likely have other legal outs, and you can get an inspector over during another legal out phase, like the Resale Certificate phase during a condo or condo-townhome purchase.

    I recently had a client be in multiple offers of 10 offers. We did waive the Home Inspection CONTINGENCY because it was an Estate Sale and the buyer was planning to do a full remodel…take down some walls…put in all new heating and electrical, convert the whole original 59 house to a modern house, new glass garage doors, upgrade to 200 amp, etc.

    However we did DO a home inspection after our offer was selected as the winning, though not highest, offer. If there were something monstrously wrong enough to walk away from the house about, there would likely be a way to get out of the contract as a result. It did inspect as we expected it to. Not perfect…but not anything more or less than we could tell on our own.

    The house before that one that came on market had pre-inspections going on all over the place all at the same time because it was a cinderblock foundation that was sunken and crumbling. I did run my inspector over within the hour to be sure, but he took one look at the foundation and charged a much smaller price to say RUN! :)

    When you do an inspection of that kind, an old house you are going to remodel, you want the inspector to look at the things you are most worried about first, vs following his normal full pattern. That way you can just stop the inspection as soon as you determine the deal breaker, and most inspectors will not charge the full fee.

    As to finding a GOOD inspector, many only work with certain agents so they are always booked by reliable people they know are not going to cancel. Best inspectors can be had and quickly, they must. It is the nature of the business. But many will not take business from total strangers that are not working with an agent they have been using for years…unless the market is dead and they have gaping holes in their schedule. but that has not been the case recently.

    I have never had a problem with my busy inspector…he will find the time for me…he will work on the one day he was going to take off for me. I do have clients who choose their own inspector from time to time, but they are never nearly as good and I even have to have my regular inspector come out behind the first one to find things the first one missed…that I could see myself!

    Good inspectors are not hard to find…they are often connected at the hip of a good agent. If you don’t trust your agent to recommend could people…you probably hired the wrong agent in the first place, so you might as well hire the wrong inspector too. :)

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  40. 40
    ARDELL says:

    Also worth mentioning…IF any of the bids are from builders who are going to tear the house down…then you are getting the house at LOT value. That is a FREE house! If there’s a builder in the room or several other bidders buying an old junker house to do a 90% remodel, then you can’t expect to bring a big list of “fixes” to a seller and have him care. If you are competing with builders…the house by definition is free and your problem. You are paying the price of the dirt.

    There was recently one like that on 9th in Kirkland. The builder got it. Mine above was in 98005. Wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t a few builders in that mix of 10 offers either.

    If the land is worth $450,000 and your offer is $455,000…don’t forget that you are only paying $5,000 for “the house”.

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  41. 41

    By redmondjp @ 38:

    The tap in the scenario that Kary described goes to a single kitchen appliance, and the code allows this. An overcurrent situation is not likely in this case> (now if the tap fed all of the outlets in the rest of the house, that’s a different story), and the microwave has its own circuit protection inside as well.

    There’s no dispute that the code allows the tap off the 240 line. It’s somewhat surprising that the code drafters allow that, given how nit-picky they can be, but that’s pretty basic stuff if you understand how 120 and 240 volts co-exist in a house. But you really think that can be done to code without any over-current protection?

    If so, that’s the only situation I’m aware of that the drafters of the code assume no one will plug more devices into an outlet than what it can handle. We might argue over how likely that is to occur, but I consider any situation where a wire can draw more power than what it can handle, without popping a breaker, to be a dangerous situation.

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  42. 42
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 41 – I don’t think the code allows an outlet on the tap – only a single, hard-mounted appliance, although the sentence is a bit ambiguous.

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  43. 43
    David Losh says:

    The question from the Real Estate agents point of view is what constitutes a “good” Home Inspector.

    Is the good home inspector one that won’t kill a deal? or is that the home inspector that gets you the most goodies from the inspection report so you can kill the deal, or get more stuff done, or not done, just a cash reward.

    The home buyer is left to his, or her own devises in this home buyer process with the inspector.

    Let’s add it up. The home buyer has to pick a Real Estate agent they can trust, get a mortgage loan from a mortgage person they can trust, have an inspector, they can trust, and close in an escrow company that can actually get a transaction to close.

    All of those things are wrapped up in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt that the buyer ends up with.

    Waive the inspection? Heck no.

    Buyers need to be a lot more proactive in today’s market place. Lay out what you can, or can not do, what you can afford, and how you will get into a property that will fit your needs.

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  44. 44

    By wreckingbull @ 42:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 41 – I don’t think the code allows an outlet on the tap – only a single, hard-mounted appliance, although the sentence is a bit ambiguous.

    That’s a huge distinction. One of the scenarios I see is that this 1970s kitchen doesn’t have many circuits–basically only one for the countertop items like toasters, electric frypans, electric woks, rice makers, etc. The occupant could easily run into a situation and notice the microwave still works when some combination of the other items trip the kitchen breaker. One possible solution for them? A six foot heavy duty extension cord plugged into the microwave outlet. Running almost any of those items and the microwave at the same time could result in an overcurrent situation.

    As a new buyer, you’d have no idea whether the prior occupants had done that or not, possibly damaging the wires but not to a point where it affected the operation of the microwave. If you were planning on renting the property out, you’d have no idea whether a tenant might do something like that in the future.

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  45. 45

    By David Losh @ 43:

    Let’s add it up. The home buyer has to pick a Real Estate agent they can trust, get a mortgage loan from a mortgage person they can trust, have an inspector, they can trust, and close in an escrow company that can actually get a transaction to close.

    I addressed your “good” inspector issue in post 18 above. There I said I let our inspectors know they will be dropped from the list for not finding things, as opposed to for killing a deal. I think it is important that the inspector know that.

    As to the above-quoted material, those are the key points, although escrow is typically only a concern on bank (or HUD) transactions. But my point in post 18 is that a real estate agent is more likely to know people who can get the job done in those other areas. With the buyer trying to find those professionals, it’s more likely one of them will be the weak link which causes a deal to fail or be delayed.

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  46. 46
    David Losh says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 45

    OK, let’s take your “good” inspector who you threatened, because he, or she doesn’t care. They are looking at you like you can go do whatever you want to do.

    They are the Inspector. He, or she works for your buyer, and you go onto that Inspectors list of people he doesn’t need to work with in the future. You created a conflict of interest for that Inspector, so why would they bother with you again?

    If you threaten enough Home Inspectors you will no longer be a resource for your buyer.

    A Home Inspection is between the buyer, and the Home Inspector. You illustrated one of the many reasons a buyer should interview Home Inspectors, or find a company that can do the job.

    Another thing a buyer should ask is if the Home Inspector has worked for the Listing Agent before, or is a preferred Inspector of the Listing Agent.

    A Home Inpsection is an important issue that should be taken seriously.

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  47. 47

    By David Losh @ 46:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 45

    OK, let’s take your “good” inspector who you threatened, because he, or she doesn’t care. They are looking at you like you can go do whatever you want to do.

    They are the Inspector. He, or she works for your buyer, and you go onto that Inspectors list of people he doesn’t need to work with in the future. You created a conflict of interest for that Inspector, so why would they bother with you again?

    I think you mis-read something. The only threat was that if we find them doing a lousy job they will be dropped. Stated differently, not finding serious problems will get them dropped. There’s no conflict there between the buyer and that position. That’s presumably what the buyer wants too, otherwise they wouldn’t bother with the inspection.

    Another thing a buyer should ask is if the Home Inspector has worked for the Listing Agent before, or is a preferred Inspector of the Listing Agent.

    If the buyer found the inspector themselves, that would be a very low probability. If the agent supplied the inspector as a reference, it’s required by DOL that past dealings with the inspector be disclosed. The buyer would not have to ask.

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  48. 48
    Doug says:

    Never, ever ever.

    If you can’t afford a house and $50,000 on top of the price, you can’t afford to waive inspection. All of those beautiful homes I’ve been in in Seattle, back in my electrician days, mouldering, and full of knob & tube and lead pipe.

    And new homes aren’t much better. You’ll probably be replacing every appliance within 10 years of the build date if they were ‘builder-grade’. Much less those lovely homes I looked at that were only a couple years old, and had their porches sinking, mold problems, etc.

    My house was built in 2003, with decent materials and visible workmanship. But the wiring is a joke. Half the stuff isn’t properly grounded. The whole upstairs is on pretty much one circuit, and there’s not enough outlets to be up to code. It should not have passed inspection as a new home.

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  49. 49
    David Losh says:

    RE: Doug @ 48

    A guy on another forum compared new construction to a card board suit.

    I like that anaolgy, it’s a good visual.

    2003 should have been OK though. How did they get away with a one circuit upstairs? A better question is if your inspector noted the problem.

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  50. 50
    David Losh says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 47

    Let me say it again; the inspector works for your buyer, so you telling them that they had better perform to your standards is wrong.

    Home Inspection is a profession, and if you feel the need to tell the Inspector they had better shape up, or you will ship them out is unprofessional.

    Real Estate agents, well, a lot of Real Estate agents are just a joke to those of us who provide professional Real Estate services.

    I get agents tell me all the time if I don’t do this, that, or the other their way I’ll never work in this town again.

    These are the same big shots who don’t pay the invoices when they are due, or run through all of us service providers like we don’t know they are pompous dilitantes who will be out of business years before we are.

    Real Estate Professionals recognize that there are many of us who have higher standards than they do, and act accordingly.

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  51. 51
    Doug says:

    RE: David Losh @ 49

    Well it’s technically two circuits. But two bathrooms and one bedroom on one circuit, lights and outlets share circuits. That’s code, but sloppy and shoddy nonetheless. (the wiring within some lights and outlets is NOT)

    The bones of the house are good though. I saw hardiplank siding and smiled. That stuff is expensive and a total pain to work with. *Someone* cared.

    Also, for what it’s worth, I could easily see the wiring of the lights being done by someone who came in post-construction.

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  52. 52
    David Losh says:

    RE: Doug @ 51

    I love Hardi Plank and think it’s a great product for the Pacific NorthWest.

    You are probably referring to the fact Hardi Plank can break. I think if you have the right work bench, that is long enough to support the whole board, and if you have a helper, who can also check your measurements, that Hardi Plank is like working with sheet rock, using a saber saw. Your helper is supporting the plank while you install it.

    Yeah, OK, once I wrote it all out it is a pain to work with.

    Still, did your inspector call the wiring? or is it something you discovered?

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  53. 53

    By David Losh @ 50:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 47 – Let me say it again; the inspector works for your buyer, so you telling them that they had better perform to your standards is wrong.

    Home Inspection is a profession, and if you feel the need to tell the Inspector they had better shape up, or you will ship them out is unprofessional.

    Don’t be absurd. Telling an inspector that they will have to operate to high standards to continue to be referred is not unprofessional. I’m referring them, and I will only do so if I believe they are good.

    If I was telling them something that was not in my clients’ interest, you’d have a point. But that’s not what I’m telling them. My interests and my clients’ interests are aligned perfectly.

    Real Estate agents, well, a lot of Real Estate agents are just a joke to those of us who provide professional Real Estate services.

    LOL. Calling yourself a professional does not make you a professional. And you’re in no position to decide who is a joke. But other than that, great sentence. It made me laugh.

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  54. 54

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 18 – I had a horrible experience with a home I bought in the late 90’s (before I was in the mortgage biz).
    I relied on RE agents recommendation for an inspector – I think he liked him because he wasn’t a “deal killer”. It wound up costing me tens of thousands of dollars after a new roof, dry rot…

    I think it can boil down to if you have a good real estate agent, they’ll recommend solid inspectors, mortgage professionals, title, escrow, etc. If you have one who is more focused on their commission check or keeping their desk fees low, you might wind up with a different experience.

    On our last home purchase, the home inspector was known as “the deal killer” – he did a great job pointing out potential concerns for our home… and he didn’t kill the deal.

    Home buyers should research every aspect of the home buying “team” and be involved in the selection process.

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  55. 55
    David Losh says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 53

    Exactly Kary, calling yourself a professional doesn’t make you one.

    What I find amazing in your comments is that you are better than the Title reps who should be answering your questions, you are better than the Multiple that supplies your forms, better tan a 1031 Exchange Facilitator, and better at Home Inspection than the people you recommend, you feel the need to educate them on professionalism.

    It just got better when you linked to an article you wrote about electricity, and your opinions about electrical codes. I’ve read the codes, I’ve had the codes read to me on numerous occasions, and I would never, ever pretend like I understood them, or that they made sense.

    You’re a bankruptcy attorney. Now you want to be a Real Estate agent. Well, if you want to be a Real Estate agent you should learn the trade.

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  56. 56
    ChrisM says:

    I feel like a broken record here, but so many are talking how “a good agent will do this…”

    Well, us consumers don’t know if we have a good agent or not.

    I’ve been burned by incompetent agents, who then led me down to incompetent LO and inspectors…

    And no one has really given out a method of how to determine (before the fact) if an agent (either listing or buying) is any good!

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  57. 57
    ARDELL says:

    RE: ChrisM @ 56

    The reality of that is it depends on what you are trying to do. There is no “good agent” for any and every thing. A lot of my clients refer me to their friends, but all of their friends are basically trying to do the same thing they were trying to do.

    I had someone talking to me about waterfront property, boat slips etc…and I’m a great agent, but I totally suck at “boat things” and waterfront issues.

    I’m a good agent for good neighborhoods. I’m a terrible agent for overbearing husbands who tell their wives to shut up. LOL!

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  58. 58

    By ChrisM @ 56:

    And no one has really given out a method of how to determine (before the fact) if an agent (either listing or buying) is any good!

    The only suggestion I’ve had is get your RE license and be an active agent for a few years. Then you’ll know who is good and who is bad, or at least what the signs of good and bad are. Unfortunately, with the exception of malpractice suits, there is no public record of someone doing a bad job for their client. In the case of lenders, it’s rather unlikely such a suit would ever be filed.

    That’s why I say start with finding either a loan originator or an agent. Whichever you start with should lead you to other members of the team you need who are good, with the possible exception of the situation where the agent doesn’t really want a good inspector. How you find that loan originator or agent though, remains a tough task. There is no easy answer to that.

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  59. 59

    By David Losh @ 55:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 53 – What I find amazing in your comments is that you are better than the Title reps who should be answering your questions, you are better than the Multiple that supplies your forms, better tan a 1031 Exchange Facilitator, and better at Home Inspection than the people you recommend, you feel the need to educate them on professionalism.

    I’ll take these in turn.

    1. Title reps. They are sales people. Many/most of them can barely read a title report. Moving a step up the ladder there are the title officers. They are generally very knowledgeable, but the really understand more what is done rather than what is right. Keep in mind that depending on what you’re doing, all you may really want to know is what the title company accepts–they are the final arbitrator to your closing. Moving further up there’s the attorneys employed or otherwise represented by the title company. Those are the people who really know their stuff, and their knowledge is generally far beyond mine, except when it comes to bankruptcy matters.

    What you don’t understand is that law school actually teaches courses on real property law. Those go far beyond what a title rep or title officer would know. What you also don’t understand is that real property law is a significant portion of bankruptcy law, because real property is generally a high value asset. Thus in 20+ years of practicing bankruptcy I dealt with a ton of title issues.

    2. NWMLS Forms. Ask just about any real estate attorney what they think of the NWMLS forms, and they will likely have a number of complaints. But whatever. I caught the problem with Form 22A not clearly dealing with what happens to the appraisal provisions of the form when the contingency is waived. The NWMLS corrected the form. I caught the problem with the escalation form not dealing with seller financing concessions when comparing two offers. The NWMLS corrected the form. More recently, I caught an issue where the definition of mutual acceptance on Form 22SS and the backup addendum conflict. That has been reported, but not corrected, presumably because one month is not enough time for that type of an issue.

    1031 Exchange Facilitators. You might be confusing my recent complaints about someone trying a 1031 exchange where there were a few reasons it wouldn’t likely work. I never spoke with an exchange facilitator there though. What I have complained about was the one who came to a clockhour course without even understanding that doing a 1031 exchange affects the basis in the new asset purchased. That’s fairly basic and something I would know because I have a degree in accounting, I took a tax course in law school, and I have attended a non-real estate agent course on 1031 exchanges.

    Inspectors. I never said I was better than the inspector. What I have said is I try to assist them in fining items. Four eyes are better than two. I have also tried to let them know that they should not feel any pressure at all to avoid being a “deal killer.” I have no idea how many agents actually are looking for that, but I do know that some agents have the impression that is what agents are looking for–someone who will not kill the deal. I let them know that there is no such pressure from me.

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  60. 60

    By David Losh @ 55:

    It just got better when you linked to an article you wrote about electricity, and your opinions about electrical codes. I’ve read the codes, I’ve had the codes read to me on numerous occasions, and I would never, ever pretend like I understood them, or that they made sense.

    Nothing of what I wrote in that piece had a thing to do with the electrical code. It had to do with what is unsafe. Having an outlet in a house that can draw more current than what the wire running to the outlet can handle is unsafe! There should not be a single wire in the house opposite the meter side of the breaker box which is not adequately protected by either a breaker or a fuse.

    Inspections do not deal much with code, they deal mainly with what is either a safety, structural or maintenance issue. Zinsco panels met code when they were installed. They are not safe, however, so almost every inspector on the face of the earth will bring that up in an inspection report. The reason they will bring it up is having a Zinsco panel creates a situation where you cannot be assured that the wires opposite the meter side of the breaker box are adequately protected from overcurrent. There the concern reaches virtually every wire in the house. In the article I raised, it only concerns about 8′ of wire.

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  61. 61

    By ARDELL @ 57:

    I had someone talking to me about waterfront property, boat slips etc…and I’m a great agent, but I totally suck at “boat things” and waterfront issues.

    Excellent point. Many agents don’t understand that sort of thing. Similarly, just because you can deal with a SFR property, that doesn’t mean you can deal with multi-family, commercial or even vacant land.

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  62. 62

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 59 – For the Form 22A issue I mentioned above, the NWMLS apparently considered it such a serious issue the form was amended in about a two week period.

    http://www.trulia.com/blog/kary_l_krismer/2010/01/new_statewide_financing_contingency_forms_buyer_beware

    http://blog.seattlepi.com/realestate/2010/01/30/statewide-financing-form-fixed/

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  63. 63
    David Losh says:

    RE: ChrisM @ 56

    I agree more today than I would have three or four years ago that there are many very bad agents in the market today.

    Even some of the good agents, who I know are good agents, have hit times of desperation.

    The other point that I personally would like to make is that as a Real Estate service provider we stopped taking Real Estate agents requests for service, and prefer to work solely for the property buyer, or seller.

    Number one, I think most people don’t understand how Real Estates agent get these people who they refer.

    Now a lot of marketing is done by e-mail, but in the past it was done by flyers, or in office presentations. The Broker would put providers on a list, to hand out.

    There was a lot of bad feelings about this, because some Real Estate offices thought they owned you if you worked for people in that office. Agents would call at 8AM and want worked performed that day, at a certain low price. It was a circus in the hey day of 2007, 2008.

    More recently we have had agents, of all kinds, not pay the invoices. I mean Real Estate agents, banks, and third party providers of services.

    Most agents today will give people our phone number, and have them call us directly, which is the only way we take a referral. If the agent starts talking to me, or telling me how to do my job, we don’t do the work.

    It seems to me that many of the agents working today have to have a niche, or they are floundering. It’s feast, of famine, chicken today, feathers tomorrow.

    In my opinion there are way too many Real Estate agents chasing too few deals.

    So, you are asking a good question, and my advice is to pick an agent who is established, and absolutely the very best in your market place. Chose your market place first, and interview the heck out of the agent.

    Keep in mind that interview process is a two way street, so be kind, be humble, and find a good fit.

    In terms of service providers I recommend people Google search. That’s how we built our business, and I figure a good service provider is constantly promoting themselves. If they aren’t aggresively looking for you as a client, they may not be aggressive in looking out for your best interests.

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