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20 years ago . . .

As we walked up to the 3rd or 4th house I was showing my out of town client a couple of weekends ago, my eyes gravitated to the roof and the eaves.

As she watched me, my client asked me what I was looking for as I walked up?

I explained that I am always looking for deferred maintenance. All homes need to be maintained, I continued, it’s not always about the appearance but what should have been done 20 years ago that causes the most concern.

As I said it, I instantly recalled where I had first heard that phrase. It was from a golf friend that I had bumped into again awhile back. When I saw him, he was almost covered from head to toe.

Wide brimmed hat, long sleeves, pants and dark sunglasses. I barely recognized him.

He explained he had recently had his face peeled to remove cancerous and pre-cancerous cells.

As he told me his story, he said something that has stuck with me ever since; “it’s not what I am doing now that caused the issue, it was what I did 20 years ago.” He went on to say that when he was younger he never wore a hat or sunscreen. It just wasn’t important, or so he thought.

Now as he had to endure the skin peel and likely the removal of more cancerous cells on his neck and arms he realized just how important and preventable his condition was.

I explained to my client what the seller has done to get the home ready for sale is important but what is more important is what they didn’t do over the years. Those are the things we can’t always see, yet will have long term affect.

For instance, one of the homes we viewed had a large wooden deck off the back. The home was located on a canyon and the deck reached out over it standing on wood pillars. It was in sad condition and was most likely going to have to be replaced.

I pointed out that the wood had never been painted and over time the weather and termites basically destroyed it. Had the seller just painted it or applied a stain it would have been easy to maintain over the years by just applying another coat.

A couple of gallons of paint or stain is probably much cheaper than having to replace the entire deck. Which I am sure was also negatively impacting the value of the home in the eyes of the buyer. It is hard to gauge the true cost of that deck to the home seller.

At another home, we almost tripped as we walked up to the front door because part of the sidewalk had lifted. It was caused by the roots of a large tree in the front yard. My client wondered if the entire tree would have to come down.

It was a large tree and would most likely survive the removal of the large root that caused the sidewalk to lift. However, now there was going to be the extra cost of repairing the sidewalk to remove the trip hazard.

In both of those cases, had the issue been addressed early on (probably 20 years ago) the cost would have been minimal compared to how much it was likely to cost now.

As my friend said, it would have been so much easier to wear a hat and put on sunscreen 20 years ago. When it comes to your home, it would be so much easier to put on a coat of paint or keep the trees trimmed.

Luckily, my friend is doing great. He is very conscious of taking care of his skin.

We didn’t find a house for my client on this visit but I am sure when she is settled in her new home she understands the true cost of deferred maintenance.


 

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