A Primer for Purchasing a “Handyman Special”

Is that crack a normal crack or a go-back-to-renting-crack-and-forget-about-buying-crack?

by Jamie Dunsing

Following up on my previous Call me a Doubter blog post, I want to write about purchasing “handyman specials”. These homes are pretty much the opposite of a flipped house. Every buyer should be aware going into the deal that these houses need some work. One of the problems that we have had in the past is that the home buyer has not been “prepped” for the home inspection. Simply put, we as professionals in the business should manage the process. If the home is a “handyman special”, the client should be prepared for that ahead of time. In this example, the agent should explain to the client that there might be a number of unusual problems found. This eliminates the problems that come after the inspection when the client wants to renegotiate the price.

Agents can do several things to prepare clients for an inspection in several ways:

  • Tell the client that problems will be found (expect it!)
  • Explain that the basic inspection will not include testing for any environmental issues such as radon, mold, asbestos and lead paint.
  • Find out if the inspection includes a WDO (wood destroying organism, or termite) or pest inspections. These are usually an add-on services.
  • Explain to the client that the inspection is not the time to have friends, relatives and others at the home. Set up a separate visit for these people, if necessary.
  • Make sure that the client understands the major vs. minor before they leave the inspection. A colleague of mine, home inspector Rick Heyl from St. Louis, MO used to ask me, “is this meat and potatoes, or simply the appetizer?”

Agents can also head off problems by not telling clients these key things.

  • Don’t tell clients:
    • “The appraiser will find that”.
    • “The basement is dry”.
    • “The seller told me that it’s a newer roof/furnace/water heater/sewer”. These comments may come back to haunt everyone.
    • “You have a home warranty, you don’t need an inspection”.
    • “You don’t need a home warranty, you had an inspection”.
    • “The inspector will find everything”.
    • “The inspection only takes about an hour”.

As you are aware, the home buying process can be very simple, or very complicated. Hopefully, some of the tips above can help to set buyer expectations and make the process easier.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top