Undoubtedly you’ve heard of Carfax. I have a DVR and I still manage to have to muscle through commercials from time to time. “Show me the Carfax” is the slogan for the website service through which you can find out if a car you consider buying has ever been in an accident, had a major repair, or similar possibly vital data. But purchasing a home is way more expensive. Given that there are some Lambos or Bentleys out there that cost as much as a house or more. In most cases, buying a home is the biggest investment that people will ever make; so who’s going to show us the housefax? I was wondering about this so I did a search. With all of the disclosures involved in a transaction, it is hard to sneak one by unless you are actually intending, as a seller, to be deceitful about the repair history of your home.
It was only a matter of time before someone dedicated itself to handing out this useful information. I would have thought it may be too hard to track, but maybe it isn’t as tough as I thought. The fact that the information about a house’s history is available publicly, the average citizen doesn’t want or even now how to pull county records or get a permit department to cooperate in tracing work done on a property. Also, what about work done by the homeowner without a permit, or a contractor that isn’t exactly licensed? Now, all the public information is available in one place, at a site called BuildFax. The concept is interesting but as a Realtor I don’t know that it will ever catch on. I think in theory it is good but there is something in real estate called Due Diligence and your title company along with public records in escrow usually show if the property has had any major issues.
I’m not a “hater” though and to each their own. BuildFax is the creator of the first and only national database of historical building permit data. Some cities and counties have similar databases which are free and easy to use, such as Portland Maps in Portland, Oregon. But largely, a collective, easy to access resource for tracing a property’s repair history is missing from the national real estate norm, or at least it was, part of the system that kept home owners and potential homeowners in the dark about the home in question. But why should vital information about the property you want to buy only be available to “industry professionals” who may or may not have motivation to disclose it fully to you? I say that most people don’t really want to take on this task, they are relying on their responsible real estate agent to find out for them. We can’t believe in the honesty of a seller, nor can we rely on them even knowing unless they did a similar type of search.
I guess the only question would be at this point, if you really wanted one of these reports, how much would they cost. They fall a hair shy of forty dollars. My issue is that even if repairs are reported, they may have been shoddy. Let me tell you how to really protect yourself from buying a house “lemon”. You trust a local and well reviewed real estate office. Your realtor can make sure that they go through the due diligence needed when someone takes on a purchase like this. Realtors are your best protection, not a website that offers information that you can get without having to pay the $40 which, like I mentioned, may or may not disclose major issues.
A real estate professional with your best interest in mind is going to suggest that you get a home inspection and fight for you to get a home warranty. A home inspection is important because it checks all of your major systems including but not limited to your foundation, roof, A/C unit, plumbing, and electrical. These are the costly repairs. In case these things still come up with issues after the purchase, a home warranty will help you pay for large expenses. If an expense was known and not disclosed by the seller, having a real estate company behind you will be a major help in case mediation or court happens.