It’s getting aggressive out there. After the Labor Day reprieve, my phone is ringing hot. Everyone wants an inspection on Saturday, which book up fast. The biggest motivation driving most, if not all, of my clients (buyers) is the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers that expires on November 30. This means that in order to qualify, the purchase must close escrow prior to that date. A 45-day escrow would then put us slap dab in the heart of October. If this holds true, activity will peak then. I take my vacation in December.

With the rate of home foreclosures continuing unabated, more and more home buyers are forced to deal with the less-than-buyer-friendly terms extended by bank real estate contracts. These contracts impose a ridiculously short window, ranging from a few days to 17 days max, to remove contingencies.

 In order to meet the bank’s tight deadlines, it is essential that buyers are aware of a simple, yet often overlooked, requirement for getting the home inspected: make sure the seller has left all utilities on and all pilots are lit.

A home inspection cannot take place if the gas, electrical, and water utilities are off, nor can the inspector light any unlit pilots. It is the seller’s responsibility. Buyers are strongly advised to flip light switches, turn on water faucets until the water runs hot, and turn up thermostats to ensure the utilities are on before contacting a home inspector. Failure to do so may result in losing precious time in getting the home professionally inspected.

In the recent weeks, there been an upsurge in demand for FHA final inspections from developers for new construction. Multiple orders have been placed from different developers throughout San Diego County. All were attached dwellings consisting of townhome units. Developers are offering aggressive incentives to close out existing phases. Target clients seem to be first time buyers who are also taking advantage of the $8,000 tax credit. Developers appear to be turning a corner. New phases are actively underway. Another developer initiated discussions for new construction inspections to meet FHA guidelines. Two of the developers have shared that their corporate office are exploring for raw land for future developments.