Real estate agents typically pray for nice weather when taking buyers on property tours, but Claude Boiron prays for rain.
“I’m a big fan of taking buyers to see properties and pointing out the things that will change,” Boiron told REP. “For example, where’s the snow going? I’m in touch with buyers for, often, more than a decade after they’ve bought their properties and these are the things that come up. It may be odd to say this, because many brokers pray for good weather, and I hate to be a contrarian, but I pray for rain. In the GTA, we have a lot of old products in the housing stock and one of the biggest issues is how the foundation holds up. If it’s not professionally waterproofed with receipts and warranties to prove it, then a really, really rainy day is the best time to see a basement.”
Boiron is a real estate broker, author, university instructor, and founder of Boiron Group, who is concerned that the rise of quick and easy online realtors will diminish the service quality received by the public.
“When experienced brokers visit a property, our radars are on before we even park. Are we seeing a large tree? Is the slope of the land in a direction that might encourage water problems with the property? Is the orientation of the window space going to allow a lot of nice natural light in, or is it going to get crazy hot from the direction of the sun hitting the windows?”
So, he has some advice for agents about delivering top-notch service this spring.
Check the insulation
Insulation compresses in as little as a decade and heat escapes the edifice. A house that isn’t well-insulated and that has poorly installed vaper barriers in the attic won’t “breathe” properly.
“Then mould forms,” said Boiron. “In 20 years, I’ve seen dozens and dozens and dozens, maybe even hundreds, of instances where mould forms on the roof deck, creating a massive problem but the homeowner was none the wiser.”
It can also be more innocuous than that, added Borion.
“It’s quite common for the insulation to open, whether because it’s low quality or there’s been a severe weather event. It can also be caused by disconnected washroom venting. Venting goes through the bathroom ceiling and out through attic by way of a roof opening. If the venting disconnects, you’re venting moist, hot air into the attic. I probably see that in every one out of 10 or 12 home inspections.”
Check the house’s siding
Siding is an inexpensive way to cover a house, but it’s frequently installed on older houses with deteriorated exteriors, and rather than spend money rebricking or repainting, it’s affixed to make the house look presentable. But just because it may look good, it doesn’t mean it’s efficient.
“It’s a ‘nice’ way to make the exterior look more attractive and, to a degree, protect the structure from additional wear and tear from the elements. If siding is installed well, I’d be curious to get a peak because in a couple of years it will pull away from the wall and it’s not that difficult for a home inspector to take a flashlight and peer inside the siding. Always ask why it was installed—is it just for the look, or is something being covered up?
Beware of tree roots
Buyers typically see old, large trees and immediately worry that its branches could fall on their cars, even their roofs, but the source of potential damage is more disquieting than that.
“The tree’s roots can be incredibly destructive to the home’s foundation and, as importantly, to its plumbing,” said Boiron. “Understand the type of tree and how extensive the root system is.”
A good rule of thumb is to follow the City of Toronto’s lead on how to protect a mature tree and outline its crown—that is, the circumference reaching the end of the branches.
Buyers have a penchant for being swept away by spring optimism and, according to Boiron, therein lies an agent’s value proposition.
“There’s a lot of value in having a broker come out to the property,” he said. “It doesn’t replace a home inspector, but it’s the first step to being a cautious and educated buyer.”