Tami Michaels: Inside Out

Buying and Selling a Home

Today on my KOMO 4 TV Home & Lifestyle segment, I talked about two issues that most real estate buyers and sellers should be more aware of. 

First, the complexity of Form 17, the real estate disclosure form that must be filled out by every seller of property and should be read very carefully by every buyer.  Second, the common belief of buyers that a home inspection protects them as a consumer when they purchase a home.


A couple in Rexberg, ID purchased their dream home only to find out that the home sat literally on top of a snake lair, aka a snake pit. The home was crawling with hundreds of snakes. In this case the seller did disclose that they had in fact seen snakes. Even if the home owner had an inspection done on the home prior to the purchase our state only holds the inspector liable for the fee of the inspection, which is typically around $300. Our state is riddled with disgruntled buyers seeking reformations in court and frightened sellers that believe common maladies will prevent them from selling their home in this tumultuous market.

Rodents and spiders are in fact very common in the NW, yet pests do adversely affect your property as a seller on Form 17 when you go to sell your home. Rats love to eat insulation and electrical wiring and if they enter your residence and cause property damage the home owner must disclose that fact on Form 17. Potential buyers should look for pest infestation. A tip to homeowners/potential sellers: keep your home on an annual pest inspection and maintenance schedule. Pest maintenance is worth the investment to avoid the property damages that you must disclose at the time of sale on Form 17.

Old oil tanks: This is very common with older homes. It’s great if a new home has a new furnace, yet you need to know if the old tank was buried (this is VERY common). The oil commonly leaks under ground and this type of problem now involves the Dept. of Ecology to find a remedy due to the potentially serious effect on ground water. Such a leak may negatively impact salmon, and with the state’s involvement this could cost the new buyer thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to mitigate the leaking oil. If you are looking at a home that is more than ten years old ask if there was ever an oil tank and if there was one how was it removed. My advice is that if there is a buried oil tank run from purchasing this house. 

Roofs. Here’s a little good news for both buyers and sellers, even really bad roofs can often be repaired and receive an additional five years on the life of a roof.   I recommend Western Exterior Maintenance, www.westernexterior.net, for roof repairs, which can save many if not most roofs. (360-658-5439)

Appliances: Another great tip to protect both buyers and sellers-get a home protection insurance policy (this could be a carrot for the seller); the cost is around $550. While it won’t pay for all new appliances it will pay for repairing such items as your furnace, washers, dryers... even the hot tub.

Cheers, Tami Michaels