I Don't Need* An Inspection

(*Want, Have money for, Have time for, etc....)

The pandemic has caused the real estate market to go nuts. Bidding wars are common, as are waivers for everything from inspections to actual viewings! Yes, there are homes being purchased sight-unseen. The buyers may know the area well and may have seen a few houses in the neighborhood. They may have even been outbid on one or more. Waiving the inspection presents a more attractive offer to the seller. Of course, I'm going to tell you how crazy you are for not having a home inspected, but not for the reason you may be expecting. I'll give you a very good reason that puts you in a position to offer MORE for a home, and get your offer on top. Read on.

A man who serves as his own counselor has a fool for a client

Hence, the reason I brought a trusted associate along with me when it came time to view a home I wanted to purchase. The house was priced a little high for the market at the time, but not over the top. It needed some updating, but the real problem was in the backyard and the owner knew it. In fact, a few people had actually bid on the house, only to walk away after getting inspections. The pool was in bad shape. The concrete liner was badly stained and the deck and coping was crumbling. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that the pool vessel was sinking away from the deck. There was a ~3" gap along half of the circumference that had been filled in with what appeared to be painters caulk. Many of the wall tiles were cracked. The owner saw us looking and quipped, "My pool guy did that". Yeah. Right. He then added, "It hasn't moved much in the last year, but it's going to need to be rebuilt at some point". He was obviously aware of the problem, got a quote, and decided he was better off selling. I can't blame him, but he was still asking a lot of money for a house that was going to need $65,000 in pool work.

While I mentally tabulated the cost of excavating and rebuilding an inground pool, my trusted associate glanced around a bit and walked away. We met up a few minutes later as he examined a gigantic pine tree in the center of the backyard. It was about 30' tall and with a trunk at least 18" in diameter. He asked me, "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"

Sure enough, the pool wasn't sinking at all.

The gigantic pine had a gigantic root system. A few of the roots infiltrated under the concrete pool deck and expanded, lifting and cracking it. The rising concrete caused the pool coping to lift, but the vessel remained in place. Everything was on an even plane which gave the appearance that the pool was sinking when it was the deck that was rising. It was an optical illusion that fooled the owner, the pool contractor, and maybe a half-dozen others who bid on the house only to walk away. Armed with this information, I bid low knowing that was what the owner was expecting. He countered appropriately. We met in the middle.

In the end, I immediately had the pine tree removed and watched the roots decompose over the course of the next 18 months. The deck eventually lowered itself by more than 2" in some places. After resurfacing with pavers and having the pool relined, the entire lanai area looks fantastic for about one-quarter of what the previous owner expected to pay. I paid a couple of thousand more for the house but saved about $50,000.