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An American realtor buys a home in Azores

As a potential home buyer, we always have lots of questions about the property we are considering for purchase. And among those questions, one of the top ranking questions is "are there any problems with the house?”. Unlike real estate law in North America, an Azorean seller nor their real estate agent are bound to an ethics law requiring all problems and past repairs be disclosed to the buyer at any portion of the purchasing phase. In fact, the buyer is not likely to learn anything about the property’s past or present problems without doing their own due diligence.


So, how does a buyer protect themselves from buying a home with costly problems, which likely will need attention the moment you’re handed the house keys. Are you financially prepared to start schilling out lots of cash for unknown problems like leaky roofs, poor water pressure, no hot water, plumbing leaks, faulty electrical outlets and breakers, sewage smells in the bathrooms, hazardous conditions, etc? Many buyers will probably be ok with spending money on repairs that they knew about in advance. Such as from seller and agent disclosures provided to them or a Home Inspection Report. It’s the unexpected repair expenses that make buyers curse under their breath. No one enjoys unwelcome, costly, surprises. Especially after a buyer has just spent thousands of hard-earned euros to make that home purchase. So, I ask again, how can a buyer protect themselves from buying a money pit, or possibly worse? Especially, if you’re residing in another country while purchasing your future Sao Miguel home. Have a detailed home inspection performed on your future home!


 

I’m a licensed real estate broker from California. I enjoyed a successful real estate business for 17 years before moving to Sao Miguel in 2020. I had very loyal clients and lots of referral business because of my work ethics, knowledge of building and safety regulations, as well as understanding the importance of proper disclosure to the home buyer. When I began contract proceedings on my future Sao Miguel home, I had an optimism that the real estate professionals that I was working with understood what my expectations were and how I expected them to represent me in my purchase. After all, we had a common ground, our real estate careers. I handled the majority of my transaction from California and I placed a lot of trust in my real estate representatives to handle this purchase as if they were buying this home for themselves and to keep me informed.


To my disappointment, my expectations weren’t even remotely met. The possible language barrier may have been one bottle neck. But the largest bottle neck was my not fully appreciating my agent’s repeated response of “It’s done differently here” to my every question. Where’s my seller disclosures about the house? Where is your inspection report? When will I receive a termite inspection report? Would you please arrange for a Home Inspection for me? These and many more questions received that same answer with a follow up of “No we don’t do or offer that here”. I finally asked, would you at least walk through the house for me and make notes of all the defects or issues that you can identify. The answer was….. well, you know the answer. But I was also reassured that houses on Sao Miguel can’t be sold with structural problems or unpermitted additions. Plus, I was informed that termites don’t exist in the village that I was buying in. What? How is that even possible? Sao Miguel termites know not to pass this invisible line and travel to villages beyond Ponta Delgada?


 

Well, I finalized my purchase. Received my house keys and then learned what I had inherited with my home purchase. My new place had several roof leaks, mold in many rooms, 30% of the electrical outlets and light fixtures did not work, many areas in the house that were intended to have light fixtures only had bare wires hanging out of the walls or ceilings, electrical issues with the main and sub breaker panels, no functioning water heater, in operable garage door motors, all three bathrooms had water leaks from the showers and tubs, unpermitted additions to the property and the house, termites in the garage, and the main entrance gate did not always open with the remote. The heavy gate rollers were so worn out that the ball bearings had fallen out leaving just a bare rusty axle for the rollers to spin on. My list is longer. But I believe you have the general idea.

How could this happen to me, I kept asking myself with frustration and anger. My background, experience, my thorough inspections that I performed for all my clients. The impeccable disclosures that I provided to the buyer of my California house. How could I have blindly trusted agents who aren’t even required to pass real estate ethics or best practices exams in order to become licensed.




My point of this is that if this could happen to a California real estate broker veteran, then it can happen to any other buyer. Don’t be the victim that I was. If you’re going to buy a home on Sao Miguel, then you are going to have to do your own due diligence. The first step in satisfying your due diligence is to hire Professional Home Inspection to perform your home inspection. This will be the ONLY way you’re fully informed as to the true condition of what you’re buying. I, Scott da Rosa, have a background in Architectural and Structural Design and Real Estate. I have 17 years of experience working with home inspectors, reviewing inspection reports, and performing my own inspection report on every single home I ever sold. My partner Edmundo Estrela, native to Sao Miguel, has a background in mechanical engineering and the management and maintenance of Sao Miguel vacation rentals. He knows the language so the sellers and agents can’t prey on the ignorance of the language barrier. He knows all the common quirks that homes on this island have. The good and the bad. Together, we are quite a force to be reckoned with. We know what to look for in these homes and we know what you expect from your home inspection report.


Eliminate the unwelcome and unexpected house repair surprises. Get a home inspection performed for peace of mind and use Professional Home Inspection company to have the job done right.




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