How one smart agent saved her clients $120,000
It was a hot, dusky afternoon in the Texas Hill Country as Amy curved round the bend following the directions on her phone. She’d been out showing since about 11am, skipping lunch, and behind her she could just see her clients’ car catching up to her as she pulled into the driveway for her final showing of the day. So far they had seen almost 20 homes over a 3 week period, and nothing yet had really caught their eye. But when your clients’ budget is $2.5 Million, you don’t tend to complain as much. Plus, she had plenty of other closings coming up, she just REALLY wanted to help this couple find their perfect home.
She pulled into a parking spot in front of the 3-car garage, and hopped out, turning to greet her buyers. John and Taylor were moving to Austin from out of state for new jobs in the booming Texas technology sector, but REALLY didn’t want to live in the city. They had fallen in love with the rolling hills and rivers of the Hill Country area just outside Austin, and wanted to find somewhere special. Back home the winters were long and cold, and they dreamed of a home where they could spend time outside and enjoy hiking, watersports and long summer afternoons. Because of this, views and outside areas were important to them, and they wanted to find that perfect dream home that they never could have afforded back in New York. It was a big investment, and they wanted to be sure.
All 3 turned to look at the beautiful Tuscan-style home, perched on top of the hill they had just climbed. A mix of local limestone, natural rock and splendid angles of turrets and pitching roof lines greeted them from the outside. The landscaping was exquisite with an emphasis on native plants and xeriscaping, and they could just see the edges of the Terracotta tile roof glinting in the late afternoon sun. This could be it – this could be what they had been looking for.
Inside, things kept getting better. A solid oak door that looked a hundred years old opened onto a light and bright atrium, and through the open living area they could just see the cool green water of the pool cascading over its infinity edge; leading the eye to a gorgeous sweeping view of Lake Travis beyond. They hurried through the interior and stepped onto the back porch. It was perfect, and meticulously maintained.
The kitchen was tasteful and spacious with plenty of storage and a large walk-in pantry, the rough beams of the ceiling tying all the open spaces together into a welcoming family area. They hurried through the large master and 4 further bedrooms, inspecting closets and bathrooms, and then made a bee-line for the back patio again. Turning to Amy they smiled at each other, “This is it!” said Taylor, and they all laughed and seemed to relax a little.
Amy had already run detailed comps on the homes they were viewing, and provided them to her buyers beforehand, so when they got back to her office to write up the offer, they knew they couldn’t negotiate too much. It was priced well in a competitive market, and while out of the price range of most buyers, they still knew that this was the home for them and they didn’t want to lose out. After a brief conversation with the listing agent to go over a few things, Amy wrote up the offer, had her clients sign it, and emailed it over – fingers crossed!
There was some back and forth for a few days with minor questions and negotiations, but the sellers were moving back overseas so wanted to get a deal done, and by Tuesday the seller had signed off and they were under contract.
They ordered an inspection for the following day, and sat back and tried not to think too much. The home seemed in good condition and didn’t seem to have any defects normally noted on a home inspection checklist, so it was more of a precaution and Amy counseled all her clients to get a home inspection just in case. Wednesday came, and the report came back that evening. As Amy scanned it, she saw that it came to almost 50 pages, but that was standard for a home this size and over 10 years old. Most of the items were code issues that the inspector was duty bound to report, but from experience she knew that a lot of out of state buyers became nervous when they saw a report of this length and became convinced that their “dream home” was in fact a money pit. So she went to RepairPricer.com and uploaded her report:
SHAMELESS PLUG: RepairPricer.com is a new tool allows you to turn ANY inspection report into an incredibly accurate and easy-to-read estimate of repairs. It separates out items that REALLY need addressing, from those that are just cosmetic and do not affect the performance of the home. All pricing is zip-code specific and over 98% accurate to real life repair cost.
The next morning Amy woke up and her condensed report from RepairPricer.com was already in her email inbox. She had also ordered a Home History report, which was attached in a separate email. (A Home History report investigates major damage and insurance claims over the last five years to discover items that may not have been reported by the seller or included in the insepction.)
Her inspection report had been condensed down to 2 simple pages that she could now easily talk through with her buyers, and she scanned it quickly. Nothing major, all above board. As she opened the Home History report however, she saw a red flag.
One claim reported in the last 5 years – for $120,000!!
She checked it again – apparently just last year an insurance company had paid out to have the entire roof replaced – a hefty undertaking for a home this size with a terracotta tile roof. She went and read over the MLS listing and Seller’s Disclosure notice again.
No mention of a new roof.
She checked the inspection report.
No mention of leaks or visible damage to the roof, but due to the 3-story height of the home the inspector had been unable to access most of the roof areas. She paused and collected her thoughts.
If the home had an entirely new roof, why wouldn’t that have been advertised as a MAJOR selling point for the home? So she called the listing agent. After talking for a few minutes, the listing agent confirmed that the seller had mentioned nothing about a new roof, and promised to call back with more information.
Amy meanwhile, went to her arranged meeting with her buyers to talk through everything and present them with her findings from RepairPricer.com. They agreed that all the repair costs proposed in the report seemed fair, and while there were a few small items to negotiate, the roof was their major concern. Did it have a warranty? Was there water damage from before it was repaired? Who had done the work? Amy promised to find out more and get back to them by end of day. They still had 5 days in their option period so she wasn’t too concerned, but she did want to get to the bottom of it.
Driving home, her bluetooth started buzzing – she picked up. It was the listing agent. Bad news. She was extremely apologetic while not admitting anything forthright, but apparently the seller had “forgotten” to mention the roof damage to her.
“Roof repair you mean?” said Amy. “No,” replied the listing agent, “the damage was never repaired. The insurance company sent an adjustor out and released the funds for repairs but they were never completed.”
Amy was furious, and gave herself a few minutes to calm down and come up with a plan before calling her clients. She knew the seller had been aware of this issue, and had just been trying to hide it. The inspector had been unable to access the roof so had no idea of the damage, so there was no liability there, and her buyers would have been stuck with a $120,000 repair job and probably have come after her and her broker for damages. But she knew in her heart this was still the right home for them. She immediately called a roofing contractor she knew who did good work in the area, and scheduled a roof inspection for the next day, then texted the listing agent to let her know what was happening. She didn’t want to talk to her again yet, not until she knew everything.
The next day Amy pre-emptively filed an option period extension, and surprisingly the seller accepted. She had given them some breathing room, and she headed out to meet the roofer. “It could have been worse,” he explained at the end of the day, “whoever did the initial installation work used a new self-adhesive membrane that seals extremely well – they did a heck of a job and we can’t find evidence of leaks anywhere. There is significant damage however to about 80% of the roof tiles due to what seems to have been a massive hailstorm and we recommend just replacing the entire thing.”
This was the best possible news, but the bid for roof replacement still came in at almost $100,000. Amy called her clients and they all agreed – they wanted either the roof repaired or the cost of replacement taken off the price of the home. They would not ask for any other repairs, but this item was non-negotiable. Seeing as the closing was not for almost 2 months, Amy recommended they have the repairs completed by her contractor before closing, and she wrote up an amendment to this effect.
After much back and forth, and some raised emotions on both sides, the parties did come to an agreement however that all were happy with. In the end it came down to the fact that after using RepairPricer.com Amy and her clients now had proof not only of the damage, but also that the seller was aware of it and had been compensated for it.
This is what we are trying to bring to the industry. Unparalleled transparency and knowledge for both buyers and Realtors. We have a hundreds of stories like this where we have helped Realtors help their clients and bring the deal to the closing table. If you haven’t tried us yet, please check out our website, and the next time you see an inspection report, think of us.
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Please note: For legal reasons we have had to change names, events and details in this article.