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: Buyers Love Fresh Paint - We Don't Always Love it Too

Buyers Love Fresh Paint - We Don't Always Love it Too

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Most home buyers love it when there is fresh pain inside, as a home inspector, we look at it in a different light.  What is under the paint? 

When we inspect homes, we have lots of tools to help us accurately report what we see, smell or suspect.  One of the most valuable in our tool-bag is a moisture meter.  This tool helps us to determine the percentage of water in a material, like wood or sheetrock.  It is a pricey tool at $570, but its worth every penny!

Yesterday we looked at a high end town home and something about the ceiling didn't look right.  There was no stain to be seen, but instead we noticed slightly mismatched paint and poor drywall repair job.  Using our moisture meter, we took 'baseline' readings of the same sheetrock and found about 8%-10% moisture content, these are normal.  When we ran the meter over the repaired area, the meter read 76%!  There was no visible evidence of and active leak, only poor workmanship of a repair. We never want to see numbers above 17%, that is the level  in kiln dried lumber, and wood this dry is resistant to wood destroying organisms.

What made this situation so disturbing to me was the form 17 (sellers disclosure statement) admitted that there had been a leak years ago and it had been repaired and there was no leak now.  Not only was this leak active, but with this fresh paint, there is no question someone was attempting to hide it.

Even with great tools, an inspector needs intuition and experience.  We always take it as a clue about the honesty of a seller if they lived in a home for many years and claim there is nothing wrong.  Almost all homes have some issues, and honest sellers know its important to state that upfront.

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Good stuff.  I think home inspections are a must for every homebuyer.

Thanks for sharing it.

Posted by Anthony Daniels, SF Bay Area REO Specialist (Coldwell Banker) over 9 years ago

I can't for the life of me, understand why every single buyer doesn't do a home inspection before they buy! 

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) over 9 years ago

I think home inspections are one of the greatest tools a buyer has at their disposal. Any time I've bought a house to re-sell I want to know what's under the paint. As a stager I always recommend repair, not coverup!

Posted by Peg Barcelo, The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC (Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369) over 9 years ago

A famous President once said, "trust, but verify." That certainly applies in our business.

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 9 years ago

Thta's interesting. I have not seen this gadget or reading before. Great information!

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge over 9 years ago

JJ & Suzanne, 

This is exactly why I love having homes inspected.  Amazing what folks try to sweep under the carpet and hide!  (It would have been easier to fix the problem in the first place.

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) over 9 years ago

JJ and Suzanne,

I'm sure your clients appreciate your knowledge and experience!!  Good job finding the high moisture in the wall!

Posted by Sonja Patterson, Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou (Keller Williams - BV) over 9 years ago

kudos to you guys for taking the time to do it right. i'm sure those who get to call that "home" will be greatly appreciative of your time spent.

Posted by Margie Kopp Sorrell, Lake Oconee Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Lake Oconee Realty and Lake Country) over 9 years ago

Fantastic example of why it is so important to use a competent home inspector to inspect your home when you purchase.

Posted by Dan Quinn, Dan Quinn (The Eric Steart Group of Long & Foster Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Oh my -- and they say that buyers are liars... hmmm.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 9 years ago

Good piece!  I run into these situations quite often in PA myself and it further justifies that home inspections are necessary to protect the buyer.  That moisture meter certainly comes in handy when that intuition kicks in!

Posted by David Artigliere, ARTI Home Inspections, ASHI Certified Home Inspect (Reading, Pottstown, Norristown, Philadelphia) over 9 years ago

Great job explaining this one.  I'm sure we've all encountered homes that are trying to mask a problem or two.

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 9 years ago

That's why it is so important to have a home inspection. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 9 years ago

One would love to think that sellers would be truthful in their Disclosures, and even then many times they answer to the "best of their knowledge". In this case it seems obvious they had knowledge of a leak. A perfect example of why you should always hire a good home inspector!

Posted by Cindy Westfall, ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate (Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon) over 9 years ago
Great post. Thank god for home inspections.
Posted by eRealty Houston Real Estate, Brokerage (Buy, or Sell Homes in Corpus Christi) over 9 years ago

I will see a freshly painted home...including those that have semi gloss throughout and think...what are they hiding.

Posted by Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty, Florida Space Coast Homes (Waves Realty) over 9 years ago

As a fellow Home Inspector, I completely agree. I carry a ton of equipment with me to each inspection, just in case. I don't always use everything, everytime, but I bring it.

Posted by A1 Certified Home Inspections over 9 years ago

I always inform my investors to obtain a home inspection before putting home on the market. This way they can fix the punch list. Then, we put the home on the market with no problems. Smooth transaction

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia III, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) over 9 years ago

Since I do both home inspections and sell real estate, it is interesting when showing homes to buyers.  They love the fresh paint and carpet, the only thing that I have in my mind is what was there before.  I also love the two or three different colors of white on a ceiling.  Good catch on the leak.  Most would miss it. 

Posted by Timothy Mattingly, Louisville Homes for Sale (Louisville Homes Team Louisville KY over 9 years ago

JJ & Suzanne,

You've again shown why an excellent home inspector is worth his or her weight in gold!  I shudder when I even think about sellers who aren't forthcoming...

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) over 9 years ago

Busted!  Great home inspectors (like yourselves) are worth every $ spent for the inspection and in many cases, they save the buyer MANY more $$$$ .  Excellent sleuthing job!

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (Kinard Realty Group Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) over 9 years ago

You've highlighted the importance of hiring a competent home inspector. I bet many would not have caught that. Thanks for your insights.

BTW, as a home stager, when I do a consultation on a home, I always note on my consultation report if there is the appearance of water damage. I also ask if the leak has been repaired and recommend that they disclose the leak and the repair. Not sure how many home owners take my advice, but at least I've tried :o)

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 9 years ago

Good morning, JJ and Suzanne. Great detective work! What a nightmare it would have been for the home buyers had you not discovered this issue.

Posted by Bill Burchard, Broker, Realtor, Representing Buyers and Sellers (3B Realty: 951-347-3818, CA) over 9 years ago

JJ and Suzanne:

Yes, some sneaky sellers try to hide defects with paint.  But the majority just want to make the house look presentable and nothing does that like fresh paint.  Good thing you know what you are doing.

Posted by Anonymous over 9 years ago

JJ and Suzanne - You have shown the value of a knowledgable home inspector.

Posted by FN LN over 9 years ago

Great post.  Truly shows the value of a qualified home inspector.

Did the buyers get the sellers to come clean?

Posted by Bob Zorechak - ABR, GRI, e-PRO, Sells Homes in Morris/Somerset/Hunterdon Cos., NJ (Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan) over 9 years ago

@ Bob Zorechak, Funny you should ask, I just got off the phone with the sellers, we spoke at great length to determine what the problem is.  They did open up the drywall and sure enough, it was soaked.  The roofing company claims that it was condensation and not their roof.  I call BS.  I good roofing company would have evaluated this attic for ventilation and should have brought it up to modern codes (1 sf of vent for every 150 sf of attic) so I would still blame them if it is condensation.  Its not, I am sure due to the localized area of the moisture, there is a drip that is soaking that one area. 
I am never adversarial with sellers or contractors, I only state the facts and if asked will offer speculation as the the solutions if it falls under an area of my expertise.

Posted by JJ Greive over 9 years ago

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