Avoiding a bad home in advance.
Have you ever had a client who was a buyer “in today’s market” make an offer, get the offer accepted, only to back out after a bad home inspection? Well.. in order to limit this there are some things you as a Realtor can look for while showing the home to your client that are definitely red flags, and at least could be brought up so the client isn’t surprised by a bad report. As a home Inspector and owner of SafeHome Home Inspections (www.safetulsa.com) the easiest thing to look at for somebody who is not trained is a bad electric panel.
A “Bad” electric panel in the eyes of any home inspector means “unsafe” or less safe than other panels. It has been determined by studies, lawsuits, etc that these panels are not desirable.
Here is a list of bad panels that are very common in the Tulsa area. These panels are likely present in your local market as well, and every or nearly every home inspector will call them out in the report as in need of further evaluation for replacement: Zinsco, FPE (Federal Pacific Electric) Stab-lok, Challenger. These are the most common “bad” panels that I run into here in Tulsa.
You don’t need to do very much work to identify these panels, oftentimes they are labeled somewhere in plain sight. A word of caution though, the access door is fairly easy to open most of the time but you should never open the deadpan front cover, It’s dangerous and would require tools anyway and you might as well leave something for the inspector to do .
I could go into detail about why these electric panels are dangerous and the different studies that have been done about them over the years but why bore you with that? If you want more information you can do a quick google search on any of these brands or look up one of the main studies by Mechanical and Materials engineer Dr. Jesse Aronstein titled “Hazardous FPE circuit breakers and panels: Information for Homeowners, Inspectors, and Electricians”
While you may not have to avoid a home like this completely, letting the buyer know in advance will at least prepare them so there isn’t a shock on the report, and who knows, maybe a seller will still be willing to change out the panel “in today’s market”. If so, that’s a major win for the customer and a great value to your client.