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Massachusetts Lawmakers Consider Additional Housing Standards

A proposed measure would require real estate sellers in the Bay State to provide energy audits of the inherited real estate that they sell.

Consumer and housing groups say the bill is a good idea. “Buyers need to avoid being duped into buying a ‘money pit,’” urged the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance and a few other advocacy groups. But realtors aren’t convinced. The Massachusetts Association of Realtors called the proposal “mandatory energy labeling” which is also repetitive, because other similar rules are already in place.

About a third of new home buyers address the concerns that come up in an energy audit.

Inspection-Level Repairs

Almost any sale, other than an as-is cash or auction sale, requires a home inspection. That includes special circumstance sales, like short sales, and most refinancing transactions, like refinances or reverse mortgages. Moreover, if the property is to be leased, most cities require a rental inspection.

Home inspectors are often titled a little in favor of the seller, because everyone wants the sale to go through and no one likes to see a house fail inspection. But this only goes so far, as inspectors are keenly aware that if they pass a house the probably should fail, they might be legally responsible if things go south. Most inspectors focus on a few key areas, including:

  • HVAC: If the heater, air conditioner, and/or other ventilation system in the inherited real estate either is not working or seems to be on its last legs, the house probably will not pass.
  • Plumbing and Electrical: Leaky pipes and exposed wiring are generally an automatic fail; the same thing goes for lead pipes and non-working outlets.
  • Roof: Water stains on the ceiling mean that the roof is leaking, and that’s an automatic fail. Weak spots or loose tiles are, at the very least, serious red flags.
  • Insulation: Each jurisdiction generally has its own rules about the amount of insulation required and the method of installation.
  • Structural: Cracks in the drywall, doors that don’t open or close properly, exterior cracks, and slanted floors all usually mean foundation problems.
  • Vermin: If there are a few mouse droppings in the garage, you’re probably okay, especially if the house is vacant. If a family of opossums has taken up residence in a closet, that’s an epic fail.

In addition to the above, rent inspectors usually look for safety and security issues, like working smoke detectors in every room and keyless deadbolt locks.

If the house fails, the inspector will list what’s wrong and what’s necessary to fix it. Keep in mind you want to do the minimum necessary repairs. If there are some at-risk items, like tree roots that could grow into the foundation or an older HVAC system, a home warranty is usually sufficient to reassure buyers.

To get your house ready to sell for the path that’s right for you, contact us today.

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