real estate

Looking to Buy a Home? Don't Have Real Estate Regret

Homeowners and real estate professionals share tips and cautionary tales, so you don’t end up buckling under pressure and buying in our red-hot real estate market without knowing the backstory to the home.

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The red-hot housing market is causing people to make decisions quickly.

With multiple bids, buyers are waving inspections and many houses are going for way over asking price, but there can be a hidden price of rushing to buy. Some Connecticut homeowners say they paid a price for not knowing more about their future homes.

Just ask the Favreaus, of Bristol, who longed to retire in Connecticut. But they say their new forever home has quickly turned into a nightmare.

“We had family coming over for the Fourth of July and then the septic comes spewing into the basement,” Pat Favreau said.

Favreau and her husband Mike trusted what they said they were told - that the house had a three-year-old septic system and a disclosure that said no septic problems.

“So we said, ‘Well, all right, it’s three years old,’ so we didn't do the septic inspection and that's where it all kind of went down the tubes,” Mike said. “I guess we just took it on faith that they were telling us the truth.”

Mike Favreau

The septic failed a month after they moved in and the repairs began to the tune of $17,000, which they paid for out of pocket.

“We had a Porta Potty put out in the driveway in the sun and that was our bathroom for about two weeks. It was a headache. It really was,” Mike said.

Tyler Pratt, of West Hartford, is looking to buy a new home right now. He learned a lot after rushing to close on a house a decade ago.

“We wound up having quite a few headaches, like asbestos and things like that,” he said.

While people are moving fast in this whirlwind buying market, Pratt plans to take time to weigh his options this time around.

“Don't become so in love with it that you're not willing to walk away."

-Tyler Pratt

With two decades of selling houses under her belt, William Raveis realtor Anna Sava Namnoum says you need to stop and think about your investment.

“‘Oh, yay, I won. I got the house.’ You may not have won. You may be the biggest loser in the entire transaction,” Namnoum said.

She says leave no stone unturned.

“Think to yourself 30 years from now, ‘Do I want to be able to sell my home for some kind of profit?’”

Namnoum won’t let her clients skip an inspection. Instead, she’s doubling down during this chaos, bringing in master plumbers, electricians and other experts to investigate what’s behind the bones of a home.

“You want to send your kids to college? Or do you want to take a vacation, or you want to do some things you didn’t plan on, you know, reinsulating the entire attic because you didn't even know there was something in there?”

Mike Favreau

While Namnoum would not recommend it, if a buyer waives inspections and agrees to buy a property “as is,” the buyer can still order inspections to understand what problems the house might have.

An NBC Connecticut colleague just bought a home in Burlington. Yes, she bought the house as is, but she and her realtor still ordered all the inspections at her own expense. Not only was the chimney deteriorating, but it was dangerous and may have gone undetected without an inspection.

“If you waived it [a chimney inspection], you could have a carbon monoxide leak that you don't even know about. You could have brick falling off, off your roof damaging your roof,” said Eric Beavin, a field technician with Spotless Chimney, who was called in to fix the problems.

Another issue that can’t be seen by a buyer’s eyes: radon.

“It's somewhere around 30% of homes in Connecticut have high levels of radon,” said A & R Environmental owner Jordan Clark.

The state has documented counties most at risk for radon - a cancer-causing gas which can be found in the air and the water.

Thankfully, the new Burlington homeowner sought out a test because radon levels in her new home were high. She went back to the seller and got an allowance for repairs to the chimney and radon remediation.

“We're seeing that more and more people are not getting inspections, but a portion of them are testing after the fact,” said Clark.

Doug Clarke, of Rocky Hill, wished he pushed for a radon test decades ago.

“It might have saved where we are, saved the time, saved the anger,” he said.

Douglas Clarke

Experts with the American Lung Association associate his small cell lung cancer diagnosis with elevated radon levels discovered in his home.

“I don't want anyone else to have to deal with what I dealt with what my family dealt with. Just it's just not fun,” said Clarke.

He hope you'll get your house levels checked.

Experts remind you, once you sign on the dotted line, there’s really no going back.

Douglas Clarke

“It's not like returning a product to the store saying it's defective. That doesn't happen in real estate,” said Tim Goetz, a real estate attorney.

Which brings us back to the Favreaus, who consider themselves experienced real estate buyers. But the one inspection they say they skipped on the advice of their realtor is the one that cost them.

“Buyer beware,” said Pat Favreau.

She and her husband took their complaints to their real estate agent, who gave them a document indicating potential septic problems, but the seller disclosure was never updated to reflect that.

The Department of Consumer Protection says they are in the process of investigating the Favreaus' complaint.

“I would say absolutely do an inspection and don't believe anything you're told,” said Mike Favreau.

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