When you are buying country property in Sonoma County you will need to plan to spend from $1500 to $2,000 or more on inspections. It is a big chunk of money but in the long run it will save you headaches and might save you a bunch of cash in the future. Smart sellers may provide some recent inspections as part of their presentation of their property, but in general as a buyer you should be prepared to invest in pre-purchase inspections once you and the seller have come to terms and your offer is ratified. After ratification you have a buyers’ investigation period specified in the purchase offer. The standard term is 17 days but the inspection period can be shorter or longer. It can also be extended if necessary but it is not guaranteed that a seller will extend a contingency period.
People often ask me when we are writing an offer if they have to specify in advance all the inspections they want to have. In California, absolutely not. You may not be able to anticipate up front all of the necessary inspections so you are not limited in any way. You can have your astrologist out to the property if you want!
A good country property realtor can help you to avoid investing time or money on an obviously unsuitable property for your needs, but the only way you will know the whole truth about a property will be to investigate it thoroughly. I have a range of professional experts in various fields that I can recommend to my clients to choose from to hire, and we arrange most appointments as a service to our clients.
As part of our Wine Country and Horses Country Property series we will be looking at many common areas to investigate Some properties may merit more extensive inspections. For example a few years back my clients decided it would be smart to have a geologist evaluate the 2.5 acre site they had in escrow. Why? There was a massive rock hillside just to the back of the house. The geologist crawled all over the property, assured them that the hillside was relatively stable, and pointed out a massive bolder up the hill over their pool that probably needed staking! Now they have a lovely, wonderful weekend getaway place that I love to visit for dinners and parties.
At the very minimum, these are the basic inspections for a country property:
1. Well and Water Quality $400-$500.
2. Septic System $300-$700 if the tank needs pumping
3. Termite Inspections (aka Structural Pest Inspection) $250-$400 depending on the size and number of structures.
4. Professional Home Inspection (Contractor’s Inspection) $400-$500 or more if more dwellings.
5. Permit History Free but requires the buyers’ time to go to Sonoma County PRMD with their agent to pull the permits. As agents we are not allowed to pull permits due to liability concerns, but we can accompany you and show you the ropes.
Oftentimes other aspects will come to light in the initial investigation that will lead to investigation by other specialists: geologists, plumbers, arborists and very importantly, surveyors. Fence lines often do not accurately represent boundary lines and I have heard of cases where parts of entire structures were actually built across a property line on to a neighbor’s property. Not a fun thing to deal with! The only way to accurately know what the corners are for a property is to hire a surveyor. Sometimes sellers can identify corner markers but the survey is the most reliable way to get accurate information. Surveys can cost thousands of dollars but a mislocated garage or vineyard can be very expensive to undo!
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