Real estate Q&A |

Real estate Q&A

Doug Van Etten
Free Press Real Estate Columnist
For Sale by Owner
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

Q: My brother and I have begun looking at bank owned, HUD-owned and short sale homes for sale. I have noticed the information sometimes says the property is being sold “as-is.” If the property is being sold “as-is,” why does everyone I talk with seem to think we should pay for a home inspection?

A: It is good to know you are paying attention to the detailed, printed information on these homes for sale and are ready to heed the advice to get an inspection of the property you purchase. Many times buyers do not seem to acknowledge the “as-is” condition of these sales.

It is always encouraged that a buyer have a home inspection, even when the seller will not make any repairs. In the case of bank or HUD-owned properties, since the seller is an institution rather than a personal owner, they have never lived in the property and accordingly will, in many cases, not provide a buyer with a property disclosure or agree to do any repairs a buyer may request. On the flip side, in some cases these properties may come with a report identifying known or suspected defects.

A major reason for an inspection is so you will know property condition. Then you can decide to continue with your purchase or rescind your purchase offer if anything is revealed by the inspection that is out of your acceptable range of condition or eventual repair.

In these properties, there is usually not a seller’s property disclosure. Consequently your inspector serves that function of making you aware of the property conditions and can advise you on expected repairs as well as routine maintenance. The inspector’s expertise may also make you aware of property conditions not readily apparent to the untrained eye.

Speaking of trained vs. untrained eyes, please heed the advice to use a person for your home inspection who does this work full time. Realtors, mortgage loan originators, and appraisers are all required to be licensed. There is no licensing or certification in Colorado for home inspectors. With that lack of professional identification, day-in and day-out practice of the trade may serve as one of the few indicators of expertise.

Q: Almost a year and a half ago, my husband and I refinanced our house. Now we have decided it is time to sell the property. Our appraised value was $225,650. The Mesa County Assessor’s office reported last year our taxable value as $190,050. Does either of these give us a better idea of how to price the house for sale?

A: That is a very good question — what value or list price to assign to your house. Neither of those two numbers is a magic pricing tool. I suggest you contact a Realtor, or more than one Realtor if you want, to perform what we refer to as a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). It’s also sometimes called a BOV, or broker’s opinion of value. And, even at that, values they report will be opinion.

Prices of homes like yours may be the same, higher or lower than comparable prices were when your appraisal was done. Sellers sometimes think since they have an appraised value, the house will surely sell for that price. Appraised value may be a good starting point or it may not.

An eventual “sale price” is a negotiated value, as in negotiated between the buyer and seller.

Price the house, put it up for sale and market it aggressively. Buyers will come see it, or they won’t. If they come to view the house and write a purchase offer, you selected an appropriate value you can accept or negotiate with the buyer.

If buyers come through the door — but after six to 10 showings one or more has not written you a purchase offer — the price would seem to be close enough to attract attention but not perfect for a purchase. An even more obvious message about price is when no one comes to see your house; that’s a clear indicator that the property is priced too high to attract serious attention.

Home pricing is less exact than, say, the pricing on a new car or truck; and even at that, if vehicles are not selling, the dealer adjusts the price over time. As a home seller, price it, read and interpret what messages the buyers give you by their actions and adjust your price over reasonable periods of time until a buyer writes you a purchase offer.

GJ Free Press columnist Doug Van Etten is a local Realtor with Keller Williams Colorado West Realty. He has been helping buyers, sellers and investors with their real estate needs since the early 1990s— first in Anchorage, Alaska, and for the last three years in the Grand Valley. To submit a question for this column or for your personal real estate needs, contact Van Etten through his website,

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