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Seller Fears Termite-Damage Repairs Will Eat Up Profits

September 24, 2000|BARRY STONE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Question: I'm in a desperate situation. My house was recently inspected for termites, and not only are there many termites in the attic, the inspector also found rotted wood at the eaves. I have no cash reserves to take care of these problems and would like to sell the property "as is," probably at a loss. What should I do?

Answer: Problems with wood-destroying pests are common, but it is not always necessary to rectify these conditions as part of a sale.

In many areas, the majority of houses have termites to greater or lesser degrees. Rotted wood, resulting from fungus and moisture exposure, is to be found more often than not with wood frame structures. Therefore, the infestation in your building does not constitute an unusual circumstance.

Your primary obligation is to provide the prospective purchasers with full disclosure of the existing defects by giving them a copy of the termite report.

As long as they are fully informed, it is their choice to accept the property as is. Disclosure of these or other flaws will protect you from liability arising from undisclosed defects related to the many other aspects of the building.

The one problem that might arise with this approach is that the buyers' mortgage lender may require a termite clearance as a condition of the loan. In that event, you would need to negotiate with the buyers to have them pay for the repairs.

Install Gutters to Avoid Stains on Stucco Walls

Q: We have a problem with stains on the outside of our house, and attempts to eliminate them have met with little success. The building has stucco walls and a flat roof. Dark stains, shaped like icicles, come down from the roof edges whenever it rains. We've had the building power-washed, but the stains just get worse every year. Now that we're selling the property, this has been listed as a defect in the house inspection report, and the buyers want us to do something about it. What can we do?

A: Stucco stains often appear on buildings where flat roofs are designed without overhanging eaves. Dust and debris tend to collect on roof surfaces during dry weather. When the rains come, some of this accumulated dirt is washed away.

On houses with eaves, dissolved roof residue drains onto the ground or through the rain gutters, without posing any problems or even being noticed. On buildings like yours, this sooty mixture can run onto the stucco walls, resulting in unsightly stains.

The common solution for this kind of drainage problem is to install gutters and flashing to divert water away from stucco surfaces. To determine the cost, consult a licensed roofing contractor.

Water Stains May Need a Plumber's Attention

Q: There are water stains on the downstairs ceiling of my house, directly below the bathrooms. What is the best way to find the cause? Should I call a plumber, a general contractor or someone else?

A: If the ceiling stains are below the bathrooms, the only question is whether they are the result of past or current leakage. Feeling the ceiling surfaces for wetness can help to answer that, but sometimes diagnosis is not that easy.

For example, wetness from a slow leak can be so slight that a moisture meter is needed to detect it. Also, the stains could be caused by intermittent leakage, resulting in ceiling wetness on an occasional basis.

Stains below bathrooms can be caused by plumbing leakage at water supply fixtures or at drains. It is also possible that a one-time occurrence, such as a bathtub overflow, caused the stains. Have the bathroom plumbing fixtures and ceiling stains evaluated by a licensed plumber.

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If you have questions or comments, contact Barry Stone through his Web site at http://www.housedetective.com. Distributed by Access Media Group.

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