My sister and brother-in-law are trying to buy a home here in St. Petersburg, Florida or surrounding cities like Largo or Seminole, but like many other buyers in 2021, are getting frustrated. They’ve put in several offers on homes they like under $400,000, but keep getting outbid by cash buyers and institutional buyers paying way over asking price in most cases. It’s a tough situation to be in when you need to get a mortgage.
Finally, we made an offer on one that got accepted – yay! We did a short inspection period and did our inspection on day 1 of the contract. Turns out, the inspector found mold. And lots of it, along with many other items of concern. You see the home was a flip. It looks fantastic on the inside! But one thing the inspector immediately noticed was that there were 2 AC units and the house was only 1,300 square feet. Odd, right? Turns out it was because the cathedral roof line meant there was no attic – so the prior owner apparently did an AC unit on each side of the home because there was nowhere to bring ductwork across the top of the house.
Now normally I wouldn’t think of too much AC being a bad thing…but apparently it can be! If you have oversized AC tonnage for the size of your home, it continually is pushing cool air and there’s nowhere for humidity to escape to, which results in – you guessed it – MOLD. Both AC units were from 2006 too and on their last legs, and full of mold, as well as we could see streaks of mold all over the garage walls.
So what’s my point?
I am seeing crazy things in contracts right now in this competitive Tampa Bay real estate market. Buyer’s waiving appraisal contingencies, waiving inspections, throwing in their first born child…you name it. I am here to say – please don’t waive your inspection contingency.
Had we done that with my sister’s house – we could have been stuck with a moldy house that could cost upwards of $30-50K between needing not one but TWO new AC units, new electrical panel and mold remediation done on the home and ductwork. I’d even go so far as to recommend that it’s not a bad idea to have a regular home inspection PLUS, if your inspector is not super well versed in AC systems, to have an AC guy evaluate the system. Just like if an inspector finds some cracked roof tiles, I’d immediately call a roofer to come take a look too while we are still in our inspection window. The more expertise we can find with eyes on the potentially largest investment you’ll ever make, the better.
What you can do to make your offer more attractive to a seller is limit your inspection period to say, 3 to 7 days (just make sure your inspector is readily available in advance). I’d never recommend forgoing a home inspection unless your spouse or significant other is a certified general contractor or something along those lines who can recognize such issues. Otherwise, it’s just too big a risk.
In this case, my sister cancelled the contract rather than ask the seller to do repairs because, at this point, she doesn’t trust them to actually remediate the situation properly, nor does she care to deal with doing the repairs on her end post-closing. I would’ve done the same thing. It was pretty obvious there was lots of mold in the garage which she missed at her first showing because it was late in the day and lights were dim in the garage.
Long story short – hang in there mortgage-needing buyers. Your future home is out there. Don’t settle and don’t forget to have it inspected early, and by more than one professional if need be. And contact our team of professional real estate agents here in Pinellas County (and beyond!) if we can help you find the one.