If you're a would-be homebuyer wrangling to stake your claim to the American Dream, we have welcome news. In parts of the Northwest's super-heated real estate market, the number of homes for sale has increased over the past three months. That means the price – and the frantic pace to buy a home before someone sweeps it out from under you – is easing a bit.
The not-so-great news: Even with bigger inventory, the stock of homes for sale is still just over half its long-term average.
Still, the news is giving hope to people who had taken themselves out of the running for a home.
If you're among them, we urge you to once again consider the "luxury" of a professional home inspection before committing to the biggest purchase of your life. Before the current real estate boom, almost no one bought a home without a "home inspection contingency." That means after a seller accepts a buyer's offer, the buyer hires an inspector to check the home for damage before the deal closes. If the inspector finds something significant, the buyer can ask the seller to make repairs or renegotiate the price. If the seller is unwilling, the buyer can back out.
However, in recent years, buyers have been waiving that right to help sweeten their offers in the seller-friendly market – sometimes to learn, months down the line, they purchased a home with hidden problems.
We know each situation and each market has its own set of opportunities and challenges – but we also know persistence pays off, and that the right home is out there for you! If competition still requires you to forego the professional inspection, check out these tips that can help you spot a money pit.
BONUS DIY INSPECTION TIPS YOU WON'T FIND IN THE VIDEO
In addition to our "Big Five," watch for these tipoffs to trouble:
Landscaping. Well-maintained landscaping often correlates with the home's interior condition. Shoddy yard repair can indicate other home maintenance has been let go, too.
Soil stability. Is the house on or near a slope? Trees and shrubbery can help prevent erosion. Not only do plants draw moisture out of the soil, but their root structures help bind it. Bare dirt on steep slopes may signal erosion.
Drainage. Warning signs include water in crawl spaces or in basements. Excess water can contribute to soil instability and mold.
Mold. Check around showers and toilets for mold stains and wall discoloration. Compromised tile and grout in showers and tub enclosures can allow water penetration into the walls. Often this leads to expensive repairs for rot in the structural members behind walls and under floors. Mold can be a harmless nuisance, or it could be a health hazard. Toxic mold and mildew have been linked to a growing number of illnesses.
Pools. If the house has a pool or hot tub, make sure it's protected from unauthorized access, especially by children. Unenclosed pools and hot tubs are a liability hazard and affect eligibility for insurance.