COVINGTON, Ky. — The housing market is so hot that desperate buyers are now dropping contingencies and inspections to get their new home.
When 10 people are making offers on the same home, taking it "as is" can make your offer the winner.
But one Northern Kentucky couple learned why that can be a bad idea and has a cautionary tale for anyone dropping inspections and other routine home buyer diligence.
Scott and Lorri Hill recently found their dream home along the Covington riverfront, with dramatic views of Cincinnati and the Ohio River.
But to win the house in this competitive market, they purchased it "as is," a decision now costing them a small fortune.
"The risk to buying a home without doing your due diligence of protecting yourself is you could end up losing the home," Lorrie Hill cautioned, during an interview on their outdoor deck overlooking the river.
More than $100K in repairs, legal fees
They have spent tens of thousands of dollars on repairs, including rebuilding their deck, which was rotting underneath.
"We were OK with that because we loved this house," Lorrie Hill said. "What we didn't expect were the legal fees."
They have paid well over $100,000 in attorney fees so far, over a decades-old property line dispute. They were unaware of the dispute until they had signed the contract.
Realtors say buying without inspections or contingencies is especially risky with older homes, where you can find you are dealing with termites, water damage, or in the Hills' case, long-running property line questions.
"If you don't do an inspection and do a title search," she said, "you can end up with huge bills you weren't expecting."
But realtors Steve and Denise Taylor told us many people are doing that in multiple-offer situations, especially when cash offers are involved.
"Especially dealing with multiple offers, many people are waiving inspections," Denise Taylor said. "They are waiving inspections and waiving appraisals."
That's not usually a major risk with a newer home in a newer subdivision, but it can lead to a nightmare scenario with older homes.
How to protect yourself
So you don't let this happen to you, Realtors suggest you:
- Work with a licensed Realtor throughout the home-buying process.
- Pay a real estate attorney to look over the contract.
- Have a home inspector do a full inspection. Even if you agreed to take the house "as is," if they find a major problem like a sinking foundation or termites, the inspection may still allow you to back out.
- Purchase title insurance, in case someone else tries to claim part of your land, which may have saved the Hills thousands of dollars in legal fees.
"Get that title insurance; it could help you," she said.
Lorrie and Scott Hill say they can't even sell their home now, even if they wanted to, until their land dispute is resolved.
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