The 3 magic words to know if a VA property will need repairs

Sure, it’s an older home. The wallpaper is funky. The avocado green appliances belong in a museum.

But the neighborhood is great. With a little paint and love, it will be amazing.

What you don’t know is if it’ll pass a VA appraisal. Will they require repairs you can’t afford, or don’t want to do? If you have these questions, then so does the seller.

Here’s how to know what’ll get flagged and what won’t.

Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs) – stuff you’ll probably never see

The VA has an entire chapter that covers all the special requirements a home needs to have. Most of this list is stuff you’ll never see, like:

  • Pit Privies – Yes, they have rules on outhouses
  • High Voltage Power lines – Assuming you want to live directly under them
  • Natural Springs – If your water only comes from a puddle in the backyard.

The key is a paragraph that says “the property is habitable from the standpoint of: a house needs to be 3 magic words:

  1. Safety
  2. Structural soundness, and
  3. Sanitation."

That’s what really drives most of the repairs a VA appraiser will call for.

You can take those magic words at face value

  • Safe: Would you let a 5 year old run around unsupervised? If there’s something that would be a concern, then it’s probably a safety issue.
  • Sound: Are all the big parts there and working like they’re supposed to? Does the roof hold out the rain? Is the foundation solid?
  • Sanitary: This isn’t about grandma coming to dinner. This is about disgusting stuff. Mold, rodents, and other health concerns.

Read also: Susan’s story – if you watered the carpet, it would grow

The VA isn’t about bringing the house up to modern building codes. Just is it safe, sound, and sanitary.

But what about…

  • Appliances: Those that are permanent to the property (built in double oven for example) should be there. Those that are personal property (refrigerator for example) aren’t required.
  • Fire wall: The wall between a garage and living space need to be fire safe, including a solid self-closing (spring loaded) door
  • Smoke & Carbon Monoxide detectors: VA says a home need to meet local safety codes, so if your area requires these, then you need them.
  • Stuff that ‘might’ be _____: If something is hard to determine (is the foundations still solid on a 100+ year old house) the appraiser will likely call for a professional to inspect it. That professional will be the one to render the safe/sound/sanitary decision

Read also: Judy’s story – Black substance under sink

When in doubt, go for it:

Most VA repairs fall into 2 categories. Crazy expensive ones, most of which are known upfront. Or minor handyman type stuff that can be accomplished in a weekend.

If you find the house with crazy repairs, don’t waste everyone’s time. Pass. Those projects need an all cash investor to come in and to do the work. Then you can buy the fixed up place from them.

If you find a house with no noticeable crazy repairs, then go for it. Get the appraisal ordered and wait for it and the Notice of Value (NOV) to come back. That NOV is what tells you what repairs are mandatory.

If you do hit that rare time when a surprise crazy repair is identified, then renegotiate. Yes, you heard me. Since the seller now knows about the issue, they have to deal with it. Any buyer (VA or not) doesn’t want a major problem, or they’ll want a major price break. Either way, the seller is stuck. Use that reality to keep your deal going and just renegotiate to deal with the issue now.

Read also: Lucy and Jim’s Story – Does that post look a little off its foundation pad?

Read also: A $16,000 structural surprise - the seller paid to repair Erin’s story – an $8,340 structural surprise

 


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Information accurate as of publication date; the views, articles, postings and other information listed in this section are personal and do not necessarily represent the opinion or the position of American Pacific Mortgage Corporation. The material in this section is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment and/or mortgage advice. Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, there is no guarantee it is without errors.

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