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Real Estate 101: How To Sell A Home With Foundation Problems

San Diego has, according to the experts at Earthquake Track, suffered over 130 earthquakes in the past year. Obviously these quakes have all been fairly minor, but even a minor temblor can crack a home’s foundation. Foundation damage can also occur from heavy rains and flooding, the settling ground, and a myriad of other causes. 

If you have a home for sale in the San Diego market, and you suspect foundation problems, how can you still sell that home?

Foundation Damage Is More Common than you realize

Though selling a San Diego investment property with foundation issues is admittedly harder than selling a pristine property, remember you have plenty of neighbors suffering the same issues. You are not alone with your cracked foundation, whether from settling, earthquakes, water saturation or some other problem.

Since foundation problems are prevalent in the San Diego housing market, you can expect to still be competitive, cracked foundation and all. Though repairs may be expensive, they need not be your burden. If you are open and up-front with prospective buyers, you can point out how you have adjusted the selling price to reflect the need for extensive repairs.

Warning signs of a damaged foundation

A weakened foundation telegraphs issues throughout your San Diego home. If you suspect foundation ills, but want to avoid spending money on a structural engineer’s assessment, give your investment property a careful look:

  • Misaligned doors and windows
  • Doors that drift open on their own
  • Cracks in window glass (from lateral stress)
  • Visible cracks in foundation walls inside or out
  • Gaps between any two surfaces, such as a chimney that has pulled away from a roof, or a finished interior wall that does not quite touch the finished ceiling
  • Loose plumbing fixtures, such as a toilet that does not sit firmly on its flange
  • Water infiltration, especially in the basement

Structural damage will create selling hurdles

The hard surfaces of your home for sale echo the hard sell you will need for getting your property sold. Your first decision is to invest in a structural engineer or not; you must avoid attempting to sell (knowingly or not) an unsafe property. You must divulge the foundation damage, so having a qualified engineer’s report, instead of your own amateur’s assessment, can go a long way toward showing due diligence.

Be honest with potential buyers. You will lose a lot of prospects immediately, since they do not want to incur the steep costs of foundation repair, no matter what your asking price. For the hard-nosed buyers, you have to sell hard. Show how you have knocked thousands off the asking price. When they lowball you, do not be offended. After all, you are offering what must be considered “damaged goods.”

Should you make foundation repairs or pass?

Should you incur the costs to repair the foundation? Many real estate listings advertise the extensive repairs owners make; others bluntly explain that repair costs are the buyer’s to absorb. If the repairs, as estimated by a foundation repair service or engineer, are within your budget, you will more readily sell your San Diego listing than if you go for the smaller, limited pool of bargain-hunting buyers.

Some repairs can be cosmetic, such as filling and patching cracks without resolving the underlying structural issues. This is especially common with basement repairs to cinder block foundation walls, where stair-step cracks are often patched with carbon-fiber mesh and waterproof mastic. The crack still exists, yet it has disappeared under a superficial treatment.

Defects can make finding a lender more difficult

Lenders are usually reluctant to sign off on mortgages for homes with severe structural defects. The potential for the home to lose value is too great. Here the services of a licensed home inspector can help you and potential buyers move the sale along.

By identifying the specific foundation issues on the San Diego listing, the inspector can catalog every repair needed. Then you and the buyer agree to a combination of repair payments and price reduction so the necessary work is finished before closing. The bank can make the loan, the home is in salable condition, and you have not shouldered the cost alone.

Trust your real estate Agent

Placing your faith in a trustworthy real estate agent is vital for successfully selling a San Diego property with foundation woes. The agent will know how best to position the listing, what price is fair, and how to get buyers to look past the “as-is” nature of the property.

For buyers, a good real estate agent can help them spot a bargain, negotiate a reasonable price reduction knowing some money must be spent on foundation repairs, and close the deal on a “distressed” property that requires a little TLC.

To tap the networks of investors for your San Diego property — no matter its flaws, foundation issues, or cosmetic blemishes — contact the professionals of Steele San Diego Homes. We know homes; we know San Diego; and we know how to sell.

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