We're back from New York City and I'm still singing . . ."If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere, It's up to you, New York, New York" We made it to four plays in five days, the 9/11 Memorial, the Tenement Museum (You'll never look at your house the same way again. We all live in mansions compared to what our immigrant forefathers endured - 350 sq' for a family of 4-6!), the High Line and Central Parks and the Natural History Museum, and I thought about work . . . hardly at all!
But even while vacationing on the opposite side of the continent, I was able to send out last week's edition of The Perspective via the magic of the Internet. Knowing of our impending vacation, I'd penned the majority of it before I left and with the push of a button, viola!, it landed in your "in box," and in ours.
"Do I have to read this?" Cliff asked me as we took a break at Carnegie Deli, pausing to check our emails. (Evidently, Cliff only reads my musings when he's certain to hear about it from his friends on the tennis courts.)
"Have to?" I replied, a wee bit insulted. "These are pearls of wisdom I'm passing along."
That may be an overstatement on my part, but it's not an unfamiliar sentiment, on his. This same sentence is often repeated by my clients when they are presented with a large stack of "DISCLOSURES" as they begin to get serious about a home and more committed to making an offer.(Excuse me for repeating myself with respect to disclosures, but it's an important topic).
Given that the vast majority of disclosure packages are well over a hundred of pages, they can be incredibly daunting - even for me, who's read several thousand sets of them. Ironically, the smaller the home, the larger the disclosure package seems to be. In addition to standard reports, condominiums also include HOA's (Home Owner's Association) Minutes, and By-laws (wow, that's some seriously fun reading).
Moreover, the disclosures packages seem to get denser with each transaction as new documents become mandatory, and what's more, they may often include the disclosures from past transactions as well. Don't assume these old disclosures are irrelevant. They may, in fact, contain very vital information and inspections/reports that were NOT conducted this time around. If the Pest Report has been updated, it's likely that the previous report is less relevant, but if a new engineering inspection hasn't been ordered, the old one, may contain very useful information worthy of closer review.
As it did recently for clients of mine who came across a disturbing foundation report buried deep within the stack, that might have proven insurmountable under different circumstances. However, upon its discovery, they invited another engineer to the property - prior to presenting an offer - and were able to assuage their concerns. With real numbers in hand and updated information as well, they proceeded to purchase the home and will take possession today. (Congratulations!) Understanding the scope of the work ahead of them and the costs associated with it made for a very informed Buyer and taking the time to read ALL of the disclosures, meant the difference between purchasing or passing on the home without reservation.
This was also true too, for clients involved in a short sale transaction last year. Although such purchases don't require inspections until after the bank has approved the offer, they opted to spend some time and some money on inspections UPFRONT, primarily because the disclosure package was alarmingly incomplete. As a result, these Buyers were also incredibly well prepared and in a position to actually negotiate on their offer with the bank before we had gone too far down the path. (Yes, it's possible to renegotiate with the bank, even on these short-sale "AS IS" properties.)
In both cases, exploration and thorough reading of the disclosures made for two very different, but ultimately, successful outcomes.
So yes, you have to read it (and so do I)! *Happy Leap Year btw!
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.