Tips and Tricks when viewing Boulder County Real Estate for Sale
This is a true story. It happened just this month.
The day was cold and icy. I met my client in the parking lot of the condo complex after struggling to determine which of the snow and ice covered spaces were for visitors and which would be a mistake. It was 4:30 PM and soon the good folks of the neighborhood would be home to claim their reserved parking. I, for one, was not eager to annoy the people who could possibly be welcoming my client into their ‘hood in due time. Nor did I want to be reunited with my Lexus at a towing facility… Just saying.
As had been the case with most properties we have looked at, there was a queue of Realtors and their clients, at the door. We waited patiently outside and I was grateful that it was easy to pass time with Mr Client – even in the cold.
The unit was cute and although the layout was no surprise (all in this complex have the exact same layout), we enjoyed poking around on the main level and then went upstairs to investigate the two bedrooms and one bathroom. Holy moly, the owners had practiced their considerable lack of texturing skills, on the shared master bathroom! Thick waves of joint compound had been applied haphazardly, then painted with the same degree of mastery as the rest of the house. The colors were uncommon and the edges, creative. (This is me being tactful!) But Mr Client is a guy with vision and this didn’t phase him. It essentially could be improved/removed with a little effort, so we continued on.
In the basement, well that is where the real fun began! The MLS sheet reported that there was a rough in.
What is a rough in? It’s where the plumbing has been installed under the concrete floor for the shower/tub drain, the toilet and sink. The plumbing has then been capped off and sits there. The potential to become a bathroom without jack-hammering up the floor to install all new connections to main sewer line, exists and this saves the home owner a lot of time and money. Yes, it does add value to an unfinished basement.
It;s supposed to look something like this:
We hunted and hunted for a rough in, in the basement. Finally admitting to ourselves that either the owner/listing agent had no idea what a rough in was, or that they were complete liars!
There was indeed an area framed in and looking like it might be a bathroom underway. The vent was installed and the electrical seemed to be wired in. On the floor a carpet covered most of the area and we noticed it was lumpy. If my client was going to make an offer on the place, it was best we found out what lay beneath… So I pulled back the carpet!
Yikes! Random pieces of wood overlapped each other. Plywood, finishing wood, some sort of oak cabinet door? We pulled those up too, only to reveal a hole. Not just a hole… The “bathroom floor” had been jack hammered into nasty little pieces. In some areas the hole was to a depth that penetrated the concrete and showed dirt, in other areas it just stabbed at the concrete, pitting it to 6″ or so and showing quite plainly there was no plumbing there… NONE.
Giving the home owner the benefit of the doubt, I assumed they were part way through the bathroom installation (not very far!) when they decided to sell. Maybe their lack of experience in these things meant they had no idea what the actual definition of a rough in was. However… They are paying an agent to advertise their condo and find a fitting buyer. It is assumed that the agent would (should) understand the difference between a hole in the floor and a rough in, or would make the effort to find out before misrepresenting the details of his listing. It could even be argued that the listing agent covered up the problem.
My client did not put this unit under contract, but someone did. I hope there was a conversation about the hole in the floor, prior to contract execution. Otherwise, the sellers could be in for a little surprise at inspection. The buyer could indeed argue that the nature of the basement floor was hidden from them during showings (under that nice red carpet) and that there is no rough in. Since it will cost the buyer to either re-pour the floor or to add the rough in prior to adding the bathroom, the property is now more expensive than just the purchase price. This opens the door to negotiation on contract price again.
Lesson of the Day:
Disclose, disclose, disclose. Be upfront with buyers about the true condition of the property for sale. When the buyer finds out at inspection that the property has major flaws, they either walk or renegotiate. Either way, the seller and their agent have lost credibility and it interferes with other communications and the working relationship. When the buyer finds out after closing that the property has material defects, the burden of proof falls on them, but the seller and/or listing agent can find themselves liable. A seller might be long gone, but an agent is easy to find and sue!
From a health and safety perspective, this home is now open to the ground underneath. Radon, the USA’s second leading cause of lung cancer, is released from the soil and has free passage into the basement due to the hole in the concrete. The buyer could do a radon test as part of their due diligence (inspection) but until that hole is sealed, there is no way to know if a radon mitigation system is actually required. The buyer will figure that out after closing… After inspection period is done and dusted. After they can ask the seller to contribute funds toward radon mitigation. Something to keep in mind.