Massachusetts realtor Larry Miller has worked in real estate for 45 years and said he has “seen it all.” He always has several contractors of all kinds he can reach in a short time to help the buyer or seller either identify problems or fix them quickly. Speed is crucial during the negotiation phase of a home or building purchase.

Larry warns both buyers and sellers they need to understand the process for purchasing a property. There are stages when a buyer can give up a deal and get his or her deposit returned from a seller, and if a buyer does not meet the deadline, he or she may forfeit the deposit.

6 Questions that both parties to a sale
should take before negotiating a price

  1. Do you know that many state-licensed, home inspectors don’t get up on a ladder and inspect a roof?
  2. Do you know much many home inspectors miss in the hour or they so conduct the inspection?
  3. Do you know what a seller should disclose to their real estate agent about the condition of their house or building if they don’t want a lawsuit from the buyer after the sale?
  4. Do you know the very serious problems a seller should disclose to get the highest possible price, or even avoid a law suit after the closing?
  5. Do you know what a real estate agent can advise a prospective seller about the condition of their house or building before the seller signs on with them?
  6. Do you understand the negotiation process in Massachusetts that governs when a buyer gets back a deposit or a seller can keep their deposit?
Home Inspection

If you don’t know the answer to one, or all, of these questions you will find out that you could lose money on a sale whether you are a buyer or seller. In fact, the seller may face a lawsuit from the buyer for any number of infractions. In Massachusetts, sellers are bound by law to disclose the presence of lead paint or asbestos. They can eradicate the problem on their own or pay for the buyer to do this, but by law they can’t avoid the problem.

Under state law any home that was built before 1978 may have lead paint. According to Miller, the laws are put in place to protect building inhabitants from these very toxic contaminants. He always advises sellers to remove lead paint or asbestos themselves rather than face a fight with an angry buyer or face problems with a town health department, which can levy fines. Radon tests are optional, he said.

Miller said a realtor needs to disclose lead paint if he or she knows it. The age of the property is a clear indicator. “The realtor should recommend a seller or buyer test for lead paint. Home inspectors don’t do lead paint tests,” Miller explained.

Also, he believes a realtor should always do a second walk through of a property before showing it to buyers. “It’s the real estate agent’s job to ensure the buyers who have contracted with him are aware of any problems he discovers.

When a seller signs with a realtor he or she should disclose any problems that they know about their property. Their realtor cannot guide them until after they have officially agreed to hire him or her. The cost of non-disclosure may be a lawsuit from the buyer. Therefore, getting an assessment from a licensed contractor is very important for sellers who don’t know a great deal about the building’s construction or the local building codes. On the other side of the deal, a buyer may want the opinion of a licensed contractor when negotiating a sales price.

The home inspector enters the deal during the negotiation phase. If he or she misses a problem, then the buyer will lose possibly substantial amounts of money in repairs they could have insisted the seller make or take off the sales price as a condition of the sale.

Also, home inspectors don’t inspect roofs. If a roof is rotted or the shingles are allowing water to leak into a house the cost to the homeowner can be substantial. The buyer should take photos of places in a roof that they believe needs repair. They can show them to a licensed contractor like Northeast Home & Energy for advice.