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How many times have you looked at a Multi-Family or Commercial property and wondered; "Hey, this building looks like it's in good shape but is it really?" Egypt "This place looks really run down, what other problems are there that I do not know about that could come back to bite me later?" There very well may be things that you do not know that could be a problem later or there might not be, but the not knowing is what really makes people nervous.

There is a way to know what those things are. That is to have a good, thorough general visual inspection done that lists out the true condition of the site along with solutions to those problems. Then you will know what the hidden problems are and what can and should be done about them.

The yardstick in the industry for commercial and industrial real estate inspections is the ASTM – The American Society of Testing and Materials. This is the standard used by most professional commercial real estate inspectors.

A trained professional inspector looks at the entire site while paying particular attention to the Plumbing, Electrical, Heating and AC, the Structure and Roofing. The inspection should also cover immediate drain issues. The inspector should also look for material (meaning of significant importance or great recognition to the property) defects and safety issues. It's also a good idea from a buyer's perspective to ask the inspector to estimate the remaining expected useful life of the systems per industry standards. Most professional inspectors provide a written report of their findings and the best inspection reports also contain pictures that show what was found.

Most inspections are purchased by the buyer at the point the building is being sold. But what about the owner / seller of the property?

Peace of mind is hard to put a value on. If the seller has an inspection done he then knows what is going on with his property without any sugar-coating or biased views. More importantly, he / she now knows what a buyer is going to find out about the building. This gives the seller time to go over the options with his agent and find out what solutions there are or the best way to proceed: give a credit toward the repair or get the work done now.

For example, if the roof is bad and the seller knows what cost parameters exist then he / she is not left with a big unknown. If the seller knows ahead of time and discloses it to the buyer then the buyer feels more comfortable dealing with the seller. This may be the difference between a deal that goes through and one that falls apart.

During this challenging economic time I am finding that the deals that fall apart do so because of the unknowns. Anything from the bank changing its policy at the last minute to underground problems with the sewer lines or old HVAC equipment, etc. The purpose of a real estate inspection is to eliminate some of those unknowns. It's cheap insurance for both the buyer and the seller.

The point here being that if you have the information you need, you can make informed decisions that can save a lot of money. By doing a good, thorough general visual inspection, the seller can increase the value of the site by taking care of problems as well as having the peace of mind of knowing the true condition of the building. In addition, both you and the buyer will know what costs you can expect over the next five years, other than routine maintenance. For the cost of an inspection you can acquire all of this information.

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