Profile picture for seunghwane

House we wanna buy has FOUNDATION problems but the listing agent denies it

I found a property that has a lot of desirable features that I was looking for in my target area after a long search.
But there are unfortunately a lot of mysterious things going on.

1. House was purchased 2 months ago by investors who were planning on bulldozing a new house. Previously it fell out of escrow a few times because of foundation problems scaring the buyers off.

2. Currently the asking price is about 250K higher than the sold price, without any obvious remodeling done.

3. Previous listing agent says that there is possible problem in the soil/foundation.

4. Current listing agent claims that he has not heard of any problems with the foundation.

Given these, what should I do?
Should I make an offer and hire soil/foundation inspectors?
Should I not even bother?
  • May 24 2013 - Rancho Palos Verdes
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Answers (13)

Profile picture for judyburkehomes
In you offer you will likely have a contingency period for checking things out. Use it and do your due diligence. There is no perfect house and foundations can be fixed. Make sure you know what you're getting.
  • June 21 2014
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Profile picture for Galen Kurth

I would write a contingency in the offer to have it checked and cleared by a professional

  • June 21 2014
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Please check the date of the original posting. It's been over a year now; the original poster has certainly moved on.
  • June 21 2014
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Definitely have it inspected by an expert. Also in your contract request a copy of all past inspections, that way you have the question and there response in writing.
  • June 21 2014
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ABSOLUTELY get inspection reports and clearances.
  • June 21 2014
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Profile picture for atwittsend
You should possibly have an engineer look at the foundation since the rest of the building depends on that.  Your Agent could request additional disclosures regarding condition of the structure that the Seller has to by law disclose.  This is a major material item and by law needs to be disclosed if anyone has knowledge.  Here in CA we have engineers who certify foundations and issue letters for about $250.  If you love the home, it's worth it to know.  Your Agent could even ask Seller to pay for the Engineers cert. since there have been ongoing rumors about the problem.  I hope this helps.. bless your day!
  • November 06 2013
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You can start by going to the City and inquire if there is anything on record regarding this property and/or surrounding area. I would also recommend talking to 2-3 foundation specialists at a minimum, that come highly recommended and have local experience. Foundation problems can be minor or major, so deferring to the experts is best. The listing agent may not be aware and does not have a duty to find out. Investor buyers often buy properties discounted to the market and re-sell for a profit. Your agent should be able to provide a fair market value based on recent comparable sales. Then of course, factor in your findings from the foundation expert. Good luck!
  • November 06 2013
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I would hire a foundation and soil inspector prior to writing the offer.  You will need to secure permission to do this prior to the inspection.  Once you are dealing with facts on foundation and soil, you can negotiate a deal from there. 
  • May 25 2013
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Run like the wind !
  • May 24 2013
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Profile picture for Will Rodgers
If you trust your agent then he won't lead you wrong, ask him to recommend someone. 
  • May 24 2013
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Profile picture for seunghwane
Thank you for the answers.
I guess I will wait a little bit before deciding to move on this one.

Is there any way to search for a good structural engineer?
Or should I just let my buyer's agent look for one?
(my buyer's agent has been pretty patient and always one to caution us from going into an offer prematurely and he's been in the business for 25 yrs).
  • May 24 2013
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Profile picture for Will Rodgers
Tough situation for you, considering that you have been searching for a long time. I know that can be frustrating. 

Here is my opinion: 

Hold off on buying the house. Wait and see if they atleast lower the price. Getting a foundation inspection can be quite pricey because it must be done by a structural engineer. 

If there is obvious visible foundation problems, and an agent has at some time disclosed these issues and it was previously targeted for a tear down, I would stay away. 
  • May 24 2013
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You need to have your own physical inspection done in order to determine if the property has problems! Be sure that an inspector has certification!
  • May 24 2013
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