Do Realtors tell buyers about the negatives on a home?
That’s a tougher question than it sounds.
If it’s an obvious negative I always make the customer aware of it.
For example, if a house is pretty close to the railroad tracks, and I am not sure if the customer knows it, or likes railroad tracks, then I’ll point that fact out.
I, on the other hand, love being close to a railroad, so it’s not a negative to me. But that’s where Realtors get into trouble.
I just happen to be aware that these things are a negative to some people. Some Realtors may not be.
And in most cases it’s not because they are less astute, it’s just that they have never encountered a situation where a railroad is a negative to someone. Or they may have never sold a house near a railroad before.
I typically let customers ask me, or tell me, what are their negatives are, because they usually tell me right off the bat anyway.
“Don’t want to be near this.”
“Don’t want to hear traffic.”
“I want to be in this school system.”
“I don’t want to be in a home that is near X, Y and Z.”
When it’s important, the customers generally let me know that it’s important ahead of time.
And it works the other way, too. A lot of times I see things in a house that I would consider a negative…a floor plan for example…that my customer falls head over heels in love with. If I get all negative on something that my customer loves, I’m being a buzz kill and raining on their parade.
We’re all human. “Negatives” are a very subjective thing, and if you don’t know it’s hard to guess.
The Seller’s Disclosure
A buyer should always ask for, and a seller should always provide a standard Seller’s disclosure that provides facts about the house (does it have a sprinkler system, for example) and discloses any latent defects (such as, does the roof leak, is the pool pump not working, is it sitting on a sinkhole to your knowledge, etc.).
A “latent defect,” by the way, is a defect that you can’t see with the naked eye. You couldn’t just look at the roof and tell it leaked without someone telling you, unless there were water stains, for example. In Florida, Sellers are required to disclose latent defects to the buyer.
So in this way you should be able to find out about any structural negatives of a house and/or the land it sits on. And in this way you are protected.
Communicate With Your Realtor
We had a home for sale a few blocks back from the ocean and a potential buyer asked me, “Will I always have an ocean view?”
The question never occurred to me until the customer asked it.
While the home had a an ocean view, it wasn’t a great one, and though we made note of it in the marketing because it signaled how close the home really was to the beach, we never really promoted the view as such. We promoted it as a beach house where the ocean view was just kind of a bonus.
So I did a quick mental calculation, figured pretty strongly that there was at least one vacant lot between the house and the water, and gave my opinion. Which was that there should always be view between “there and there,” because those lots were already built up, but you might lose that view “there” because it looks like there’s a vacant lot. It could be 50 years, but chances are that lot will be built on.
The same customer asked me if his truck would fit in the garage. Also something I would never consider. So we took my Jeep with it’s bike rack on the roof and it wouldn’t fit inside. Question answered.
But it took the buyer to ask the right question because I had no idea he had a truck (he was driving a car that day).
So ask a lot of questions, and make sure you inform the Realtor what your negatives are.