When Selling or Buying consider the Specifics


When getting your home ready for sale in the Regent Square area, there are a myriad of issues to consider.

* When considering repairs and/or new additions, there are some items that will increase the value and some that will not.

* When selling in Pittsburgh, the city requires no pre-closing inspection, but Wilkinsburg, Swissvale, and Edgewood Boroughs each have an inspection which is required prior to closing!

* Should a Home Inspection be done prior to Listing the property to determine and possibly replace and/or repair defects.

* If the Home Inspection requires improvements/repairs, should they be done prior to or after closing, and how is the money transacted.

When considering repairs and/or new additions, there are some items that will increase the value and some that will not. Look at your home through the potential Buyers' eyes. What are the assets and drawbacks of the home? What would you pay more for?
Is there a bath on the first floor (one of the most attractive features of today's Buyers)? What condition are the components of the property: roofs, furnace, electrical, structure, water in the basement, upper floor ceilings.
99% of all purchases involve a home inspection. An inspection done by an impartial party.
The inspection will refer to all of the components of the subject property. If you feel that there are items that are past their useful life, e.g. a 30 year old furnace, it would probably be in your best interest to replace it. Will you receive the exact return for the cost of the furnace? Probably not. But your home will be more attractive to Buyers than other homes with older furnaces, or ones that will need to be replaced in the short term.

Windows-if most of the windows in your home are old, and visible signs dictate the need to be replaced, if you have the funds it is probably in your best interest to replace the windows. I speak to many Sellers who don't have funds to rehab their home at the time they're selling and I suggest to them to leave the items the way they are and let the home inspection dictate what needs to be replaced or repaired or credited at closing.

The best advice would be to talk to your Realtor about this. In selling homes in this area for over 15 years, I am very aware of what Buyers want. Be sure that your Realtor is very knowledgeable about the area, it could mean the difference between you spending money needlessly and making an investment that you will capitalize on. When I am listing a home in our area I always do a walk through with the Seller (s) to determine which items would be worthwhile repairing or replacing prior to listing.

The boundaries of Regent Square vary depending on who you talk to.
Suffice it to say that by some peoples definition Regent Square includes parts of Edgewood, Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg, and Swissvale. This is important when selling your home because of the following. Pittsburgh, requires no pre-closing inspection, but Wilkinsburg, Swissvale, and Edgewood each have their own inspection, with specific zoning requirements, and a dye test (we'll talk about this one in depth at another time), which needs to be done prior to the closing! It's actually a prerequisite to closing your property to have this inspection completed. Here is how it works. When transferring a property in any of the boroughs, it is required that you obtain an occupancy permit. In order to obtain the occupancy permit an inspection needs to be done. You can't go to the closing without the occupancy permit because the mortgage companies require it! This can be a problem if you and your Realtor are not aware of these Occupancy Inspections.

Case in Point.
I sold a home on Braddock Ave a few years ago. Neither the Realtor or Seller were aware that Wilkinsburg had this Occupancy Inspection requirement. I mentioned it to the agent, but she put it off. We completed the home inspection and the work that was negotiated was paid for and done by the Seller. In the Sellers mind all of the work was DONE. Not so. I again reminded the agent to call Wilkinsburg to set up the inspection, closing was only a week away and the Borough Inspectors don't like last minute inspections because work may be required prior to closing, in which case a re-inspection would need to be done. 2 days before the closing the agent remembered to call the Borough, and when the Occupancy Inspection was done there was more than $1,000.00 worth of repairs that needed to be completed PRIOR to closing! The Seller was livid! He thought that all of the work that needed to be done was done. We had a Major problem, the Seller didn't want to put any more money into the property after he and the Buyer agreed upon a price, and the Buyer wasn't about to purchase a home that couldn't pass local Zoning.


My suggestion is to Always have the Occupancy Inspection at the time of listing, and do the improvements at that time. That way there are no surprises. And, when considering a listing price you can encompass the improvements into the asking price, rather than waiting until after the Buyer and Seller settle on a price and then having the Seller realize that there are improvements that will be made in addition.

I've been in the Real Estate business for almost 20 years. I can count on one hand the number of transactions that have not included a Home Inspection. The Home Inspection is paid for by the Buyer (s) and is not a mandate of the mortgage company or required in any way by any member of the transaction.
Most Buyers will have a Home Inspection. If there are defects to the property, found during the Home Inspection, my suggestion is to ALWAYS give a credit to the Buyer. If I am the Listing Agent, my job is to "act with the best interests of the Seller (s)". Give the Buyer the credit, allowing them to have the repairs done after closing-less liability to the Seller!
I also advise against having a Home Inspection prior to listing. It has been my experience that Inspectors vary on how they look at older properties. The homes in our area are for the most part older homes. And most are in need of some repairs at the time of Sale. One Inspector may find an 18 year old roof to be past it's useful life and brand it as a defect in the report. Another may find it to have a few years left. By definition if the Inspector brands an item as a defect and it exceeds the amount in the agreement which the Buyer (s) has agreed to accept, it becomes a subject for negotiation or termination of the agreement. On the other hand, if a defect is noted in the Home Inspection that the Seller had contracted for, it is required by the laws of disclosure that the Seller disclose such information to all potential Buyers!

These are complicated and sometimes expensive issues for Sellers. My best advice is to negotiate a contract with a reputable and knowledgeable Realtor and use their expertise to your benefit. After all…that's what you pay them for!

Fred Leff
Associate Broker
Prudential Preferred Realty
or 412-731-5300