How Not to Buy A House -- The Toilet Flushing Approach
Today, I had to call and tell a seller to turn the water back on at their property. “You see,” I explained, “the toilet flushers will think they discovered a defect if the toilets don’t flush.” Sad but true. The seller couldn’t believe my request and peppered me with questions “Do people still do that?” and then “Why do people feel the need to do that?” I didn’t have much of an answer, except that it is a definite past and present trend in home buying, and nothing can kill the vibe in an open house faster than giving instant ammunition to the toilet flushers. In this case, since the owners had first hand knowledge that the toilets in this home actually worked, I figured we might as well let the toilet flushers "handle their business."
Indeed, there is a very large contingent of home buyers that use a toilet flush as a measure of a property. And it doesn’t matter how closely I monitor people going through a home, it only takes a moment for someone to quickly flush a toilet. And interestingly, I’ve found a strong correlation between toilet flushing and the refusal to pay for professional inspections down the line. Some people just swear that they can determine hidden plumbing defects through toilet flushing, electrical defects by rapidly switching lights on and off, and structural defects by placing a marble on the floor to see if it will roll. While these common sense techniques may indeed work on occasion, they are by no means the best approach to discovering defects.
To discourage my buyers from toilet flushing when we initially view homes, I ask them “What is your plan if the toilet starts overflowing?” The typical response is “I don’t know what should we do?” My response “Not flush the toilet.” This is especially true in foreclosure properties, where there is really no telling what will happen next. Certainly once the home is under contract and we are conducting inspections, flushing all the toilets is fair game, but prior to that, indiscriminate toilet flushing can lead to a myriad of embarrassing situations and it does not substitute for a professional inspection. In fact, the most I’ve had clients ascertain by flushing, or attempting to flush a toilet, is that the chain has come undone, the water isn't on at the property, or the handle requires extensive “jiggling” to operate properly.
When the subject came up today, it made me recall a past client. He was a good man, and a smart man in his own profession, but nonetheless in his heart of hearts, he was a toilet flusher. And you know what they say, you can take the flush out of the toilet, but you can’t take the toilet ... OK, so maybe they don’t say that, but you get the gist. Anyway, despite my strong recommendations to the contrary, he didn’t think he needed a home inspection or video scoping of the plumbing lines, instead he conducted his own “homemade inspection.” However, within a couple months of living in the property, the sewer connection failed. Hard to believe, because months earlier -- all the toilets flushed.
Tni LeBlanc is an independent Real Estate Broker, Attorney, and Short Sale Agent. She is a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) and Certified HAFA Specialist (CHS) serving California’s Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.
* Nothing in this article is intended to solicit listings currently under contract with another broker. This article offers no legal or tax advice. Those considering a short sale are advised to consult with their own attorney for legal advice, and their tax professional for tax advice prior to entering into a short sale listing agreement.
Copyright© 2013 Tni LeBlanc *How Not to Buy A House -- The Toilet Flushing Approach*
Tni LeBlanc, Broker
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