What issues should you know about before you buy a house as-is? In all cases, sellers offer property in its present condition. Even if the seller is willing to fix problems or offer credit for issues it is all a negotiation. This article deals with a few questions you may have about buying a property in a take-it-or-leave-it condition:
- What does this term mean?
- What should you look for?
- Are there legal issues you should know?
These transactions should not frighten you away if you are buying a home, but you should be careful and make sure that you learn all of the issues associated with the property before you buy it.
What does It Mean When You Buy a House As-Is?
The seller will not make repairs to the property when you buy a house as-is. While this seems like a frightening proposition it really is nothing to worry about as long as you do your homework.
- There may be a significant and/or expensive problem with the property
- There may be a special reason for selling the house
In either case, you need to learn as much as you can about the home. The best way to ensure that you know any structural problems is by getting a home inspection. While there may be significant problems, properties that sell usually sell below market prices. For a savvy buyer, a home offered in its present condition can be a very good deal.1
- Gather as much information about structural problems with the home
- Determine a budget for dealing with any issues that arise
Knowing all of the issues will help you decide if the price is fair. It will also help you budget for repairs that you need to make after you close.
Reasons for Selling
A homeowner may have several reasons to sell his/her home as-is. While the owner may sell the house in its present condition because he/she can’t or won’t deal with any structural issues, he/she may have other reasons.
- It may be owned by the bank
- The owner may have died or become incapacitated
In either of these cases, the sellers won’t want to deal with any issues associated with the property. In addition to these reasons, there can be many cases where a seller won’t be able to fix any problems. The home may be in good shape, but the seller has to sell it.
What to Look for When Buying a House As-Is
There are several things you should look for when you buy a house as-is. Houses are complex structures and there may be many obvious or hidden issues that you may encounter.
- Structural problems
- Faulty roof
- Chinese drywall
- Termites or other wood-destroying insects
- Non-functioning systems
- Mold or mildew
- Asbestos or other harmful materials
This is not an exhaustive list of problems that may exist. Whether you know how to identify these problems it is still a good idea to have another professional inspector look over the property before you close.2
You may close on a property as-is without a home inspection. Some buyers think that because the seller will not fix any problems or give credits for work that needs to be done on the home that there is no point in having one done. We do not recommend this decision.
Even if you purchase a property as-is you can still have a home inspection. There may be many things you overlook no matter how experienced you are or how thorough you are.
- A fresh set of eyes examining a structure is always good
- You may be emotionally attached to the property and it may cloud your judgment
- An inspector may have up to date information that you may not know to look for
A home inspection is costly, usually between $300 and $500. However, it may save you thousands because of the information it can provide. You must find a professional inspector who is current on structural issues.
When you buy a house as-is you can still finance the property. Banks are not interested in how much money you will have to spend to fix up the property. They only care about market value.
- Banks do not look at the home inspection
- Mortgage companies base their decision of how much to loan based on the appraisal
These basic facts should guide you on how to finance your property. Not only are banks making loans for houses sold as-is they even make loans that will roll the cost of repairs into the loan.
Legal Definition of As-Is
When you buy a house as is the legal definition is the seller will not make any repairs. The seller is offering the property on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Sellers do this for a variety of issues. The bottom line, though, is that they want to get rid of the home without any complications. However, there are a couple of things you need to remember about legal issues associated with a take-it-or-leave-it transaction:
- It protects the seller from being responsible for unknown problems
- The seller must still disclose any known issues with the property
Remember that even though the seller won’t make any repairs or concessions, the buyer also has protections. The buyer has the right to obtain information about the condition of the house before the deal closes.
An as-is clause is typically included in a real estate contract to protect the seller. As-Is clauses are common in real estate contracts precisely because it protects sellers. Why do they need these protections?
- Sellers may not know about some problems with the house.
- Buyers cannot seek money for unknown problems after the close
For a buyer, getting a home inspection from a competent, professional inspector is very important. This is because the contract clause protects the seller, while the home inspection protects the buyer.
A repair warranty protects buyers from unforeseen costs after they close on a house. These programs offer repair and replace services for systems that may go wrong within a house.3
- They are not insurance
- They may not cover repairs on equipment that was not properly maintained
While these may seem like a good idea, we believe that a good inspector should find most issues that will arise with systems in the home. Beyond that setting up a rainy day fund is a better way to handle unforeseen problems.