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Santa Monica Dirt: Property Inspections

Posted by John Hathorn on July 1, 2016
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If you are a client of mine, you have heard me explain that these days even though, all homes are sold “as-is”, buyers are highly encouraged to perform due diligence and carefully consider anything that might affect the enjoyment of the home they are about to purchase. 8 or 10 years ago, the time period after a contract was mutually agreed upon was called the “Physical Inspection Contingency Period”. The current California Association of Realtors Purchase Agreement refers to the inspection contingency as the “Buyer Investigation Period”. The number of days allowed for this contingency is negotiable by the Buyer and Seller and is typically between 10 and 14 days for most of the homes we sell.

It used to be that a homebuyer would call a single home inspector and then, based on the home inspector’s findings, they might call in a specialist or two. For instance, a roofer might be consulted, a mold inspector or a heating and ventilation person might be called.

These days, on most of the upper-end purchases, inspecting a home seems more like a forensic investigation with buyers spending $5,000-$10,000 to determine the quality of the home’s systems, structure, components and the past history of the property.

It is not uncommon for a buyer to call not only a general inspector but a chimney and fireplace inspector, sewer inspector, roof inspector, a mold inspector, a radon inspector, structural engineer, a geologist, a surveyor, a pest control inspector, HVAC expert, a foundation contractor, drainage inspector, electrician, plumber, a pool inspector and more!

In Northern California, owners contemplating selling their home have many of these inspections done for their own benefit (and at their own expense), prior to putting their home on the market. This is a wise decision in my view as it limits the number of surprises that can derail a home sale 2-3 weeks into an otherwise normal escrow period.

With the prevalence and ease of use of digital photography, inspectors and their clients have the benefit of easy to assemble photographs of problem areas, thus making the inspection reports detailed and easy to understand. Camera scopes up the chimneys and camera scoping down the sewer pipes add to the photo and video pictorial and buyers and sellers are sometimes shocked and dismayed at the findings.

Failing sewer pipes are one of the most common recurring problems lately in older neighborhoods such as Santa Monica. Original old clay pipes or cast iron pipes are breaking down all over this city and as they are discovered are being slowly replaced with plastic ABS pipe. Unfortunately, some sellers are surprised to learn that the quality of their past sewer line repair is not so great. Some repairs stop short of the connection point at the city line. Santa Monica city lines are often 8-10 feet deep in the middle of the alley and connection to them requires both Building and Safety and Public Works department approvals. These are costly and necessary repairs that nobody likes paying to have completed.

Even newly constructed homes are often picked apart by careful inspectors. Quality developers usually attend to all the items that the home inspectors take issue with but it can be very stressful for buyers and sellers to learn that a brand new multi-million dollar home is not 100% perfect on the day that inspections take place.

To read an example of an actual inspection report from one of our recent closed transactions, check out

Here is the latest and greatest 90402 real estate news of the past 2 weeks.

One new listing came to the market:

706 10th Street3 bedrooms + 2 baths.  $2,895,000.  This was a FSBO that left money on the table by not using a broker. A developer just closed last month for $2,450,000 and is flipping it with no added value.

Here are the new sales:

370 20th Street –  5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms.  $5,995,000.  Renovated in 2016.  Great indoor and outdoor flow.  Huge living room opens to front patio and formal dining.  Chef’s kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, breakfast booth, family room with fireplace, plus guest/office.  Master suite with fireplace, bonus room and luxurious master bath with his/her vanities, freestanding bath tub.  Private lush yard with tiled patio, room for a pool, 3-car garage. Last sold in November 2013 for $3,420,000.

2550 La Mesa Way –   4 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms.  Listed by Pence Hathorn Silver. The price is $6,250,000 and the property is Huge! 19,700+ square feet lot on renowned La Mesa Way.  House is nearly 6,000 square feet.  Features high ceilings, archways, elegant crown moldings.  Living room with fireplace, formal dining, large master suite.   Lovely backyard with covered patio, pool, tennis court. Last sold in December 1997 for $1,679,000.

425 11th Street 5 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.  $4,699,000.   This was originally listed by another firm in July 2015 for $5,200,000. A new broker and a lower price were inevitable. The home is over 6,000 square feet with a full basement includes wine cellar, gym or 5th bedroom, bar and large family room.  Solar panels cover most of the energy costs.  Last sold in May 2001 for $979,000.

369 22nd Street –  5 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms.  $4,095,000.  Listed by Pence Hathorn Silver.  Beautifully maintained and updated.  Hardwood floors, high ceiling and large windows.  Living room with vaulted ceiling, formal dining, chef’s kitchen with white marble, stainless steel appliances, butler’s pantry.  Spacious family room, lovely backyard with outdoor kitchen.  Bonus room off of the 2-car garage. We sold this last July and the owner took a job transfer before he even had a chance to move in! Best in class home.

551 Lincoln Drive  5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms.  $3,495,000.  This is a relist last July 2015.  Lots of old world charm. 1928 Spanish with tasteful details: beamed ceilings & archways. Large living room with lovely fireplace leads to formal dining room.  Kitchen with French tiles, large center island that opens into step-down family room.  Master suite with wood burning fireplace with en-suite bathroom.   Beautiful backyard with brick patio, fountain and lovely guesthouse. Last sold in February 1996 for $850,000.

One closed sale this week:

603 25th Street5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms.  $5,106,000

Call me for a couple of upcoming attractions that are not yet listed in the MLS, priced from $1.9 million to $8 million.  And….here are a few that we have listed in the MLS:

421 23rd Street – 5 bedrooms and 6 baths $6,195,000

416 18th Street – 5 bedrooms and 5.5 baths $5,400,000

369 22nd Street – 5 bedrooms and 6 baths $4,095,000

1012 2nd Street Unit# 2 – 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths $3,895,000

1023 S. Bundy Drive – 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths $2,395,000

2623 Arizona Avenue – 3 bedrooms and 2 baths $750,000


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