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For this week’s topic, we’d like to share some information about the process of purchasing a home with a known history of water damage. Though it may sound like a bad idea, this may not always be the case. Using the home’s history as leverage can, in some cases, yield a worthy investment with a potentially high payoff in the future, so long as you stay properly informed and take the right steps when closing the deal. 

As we’ve stated before, it’s important (and sometimes invaluable) to back up your own thorough inspection with a comprehensive and detailed water damage assessment by a licensed water restoration professional. These contractors know all the right places to look and can give you the best idea of the house’s condition, salvage-ability, and any potential water-related problems. The possibility of permanent structural damage is evaluated, along with an inspection for any detectable plumbing leaks or signs of moisture intrusion, and walls may be opened in some areas using small inspection points that are relatively non-invasive and used primarily for gathering information. Water restoration professionals are great at removing baseboards without damaging or breaking them to conduct an inspection.  This way, no visible signs of inspection remain once the baseboard or trim is replaced. The need for this kind of inspection can be argued as a key condition of the purchase, when the need for a deeper documented dive is warranted, and the current homeowner may even be willing to take care of the cost of this step for you if negotiated tactfully. 

Among your top priorities should be determining whether or not the home is an indoor air environment that is free of hazardous concentrations of mold growth or mold spores that may have the potential to make the indoor air unhealthy for human respiration. If previous outside flooding required the use of a certified restoration company performing mold remediation services, the seller is typically required to obtain a mold remediation certificate stating just that, and some specialized home inspectors can even bring equipment in to take samples of the airflow inside the home and have it laboratory tested for safety and health concerns. In a perfect world, the question of mold in a home with a questionable past should have already been addressed, or the owner is willing to do so now in order to seal the deal. In either case, the agreement should be made in writing by both parties and their respective legal agents, since mold can be a serious health risk, and treating it should never be left up to mere verbal agreements. 

The property should also be inspected for signs of termites and dry rot, as both can spread quickly from one location to the entire house and can elevate repair bills exponentially. Find out if the home is currently under a pest or termite control agreement and if the service is transferable. If so, sellers are also required to possess and present a WDIR (Wood Destroying Insect Report) at the time of closing. This information is an added value that should hold some serious weight when making your decision and your offer on the property. 

When you are certain that you have explored and documented all the foreseeable problems pertaining to your potential purchase, make them an integral part of your price proposing process. Use these concern areas as leverage to lower the price, or persuade the seller to take care of them properly and to document all remediation steps as a written condition of the deal. More often than not, your efforts will earn a reduction in the asking price, since the seller may not wish to deal with the hassles of fixing these problems themselves, especially if they are well documented and supported by a licensed remediation contractor. If so, it is up to you to protect your new investment and to treat these concern areas with the professionalism and due diligence they deserve. Some insurance, loan and mortgage companies or programs may even require that you fix these issues before any coverage or loan approvals are granted, and only a qualified and certified water damage restoration professional with experience or a license in mold remediation can give you the quality of work and the credibility you’ll need to satisfy these requirements. 

A final suggestion is to look at the home you’re thinking about buying multiple times. Let the initial excitement and distracting remodeling visions get slowly replaced by a more careful and objective approach. You may be amazed by how much you might have missed on previous visits, when it seemed like your dream home was staring you right in the face with an asking price you couldn’t believe was possible! Ultimately, when your closing time comes, making careful decisions and taking the right steps to fixing a water-damaged home can make it a great bargain and a worthwhile investment in your future.

If you suspect water damage, contact Enviro Clean Services, Inc. to help assess the damage. Our professionals know all the right places to look and we can give you the best idea of the house’s condition, salvage-ability, and any potential water-related problems.

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