Sometimes the smallest things can turn out to be some of the most important. Recently, I had a property listed for sale. It seemed like a no-brainer to sell in the current La Grande market. It was a great buy for the price range. It was in the price range ($135,000) that is in the bull’s-eye of buying activity. It had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a partial basement with a family room and a big yard. The seller was even going to leave the play structure! Everything seemed to indicate that this house would be sold quickly and the owner could move on to Portland to the new job and life would be good for them. Everything went according to plan. We got an offer in the first 60 days of having it on the market. Not just an offer, but a really good offer from pre-qualified buyers. The owner was ready to pack his bags and wave good bye to La Grande. Told ya! What a great real estate agent I presumed myself to be. The home inspection was ordered and we all assumed it would pass with flying colors. After all, this house is in great shape and there very little that could go wrong, right? Wrong.
Out of the blue, the seller and I got slugged right in the gut (figuratively, of course!) as we read through the paperwork informing us the buyers had unconditionally withdrawn from the transaction, citing the inspection as the reason. As with any transaction that fails because of an inspection, the report was delivered to us to review. The home inspection indicated there was water in the crawl space under the house. Not a huge issue, but something we needed to address in order for the bank to loan on the house. Then we saw the notes in the report about a substantial wet spot in the carpet on the floor of the basement family room. NOW we started to worry a little. What the heck is causing that? Then, we read on into the report as the inspector described a large break/crack in the foundation wall and he advised the buyer to get a structural engineer’s opinion. That was enough for the buyers. They walked away from an otherwise beautiful home, and rightfully so. I certainly would have advised them to do the same.
After the seller and I gathered ourselves and got over the shock of the report, we began pondering the potential cause. The house looks so good. It’s super clean. The paint is fresh. This appears to be a model home and yet we lost a great deal and had an inspector tell someone to get a structural engineer. Those things can be the kiss of death when trying to sell a home. We contacted a building contractor to look at the house and give us an opinion of what caused this. Do you know what the problem was? You’ll NEVER guess… The cause of the problem was a missing elbow at the bottom of the rain gutter downspout! Really? That little thing that got thrown off when the seller hit it with his lawn mower? Really? Yes, really. The downspout had been draining water straight down the side of the house and it was running into the ground right next to the foundation wall. Over time, along with the hot and cold of the seasons, the foundation broke and started letting water into the crawl space, which in turn soaked the carpet in the family room downstairs. It all could have been prevented with a $3.00 downspout elbow.
Don’t let this be you. Fall means more rain. More rain and falling leaves. Check your gutters for clogs from leaves and visually inspect them to make sure they are all there and working properly. If they aren’t, get ‘em fixed! It’s usually not costly and will prevent disasters like this one.