We are selling our house at the moment, and it is quite the process (as many of you know) for other people to see, like, and then actually go forward and offer to buy something of great value (by great value, I mean something they have to get a mortgage for, as opposed to a smaller purchase made with cash or even credit cards).  Once we had formally listed our home, we (our realtor) showed it to several people, and other realtors also brought people through our home to try and pique their interest.

Side note: we purchased our home and participated in major renovation projects (brand new kitchen and appliances, dining room, laundry room, 2 bathrooms, flooring [carpet and tile], and paint), installed a new A/C unit, and replaced the furnace) – which have added value to the home (from an appraisal standpoint, and from an atmosphere/living standpoint).  We put a lot of work (sweat, tears, time) into this home and we feel that we did ourselves and this home a service in the process.  These renovation projects took the better part of 6 months and occupied way too many hours to even count. 

The obvious purpose of these ‘showings’ was to get one of these families to make an offer on the home in order to take the next step towards actual purchase.  Once an offer was submitted to us, we negotiated price, inclusions, exclusions, etc. and obtained signatures from both parties.  Then came the part of the process that I found particularly insightful – the inspection and the appraisal.

As part of the purchase agreement (and really any real estate purchase agreement), the buyers included in their offer a ‘due diligence’ date, or a date in which they could talk to an inspector, have him look at the home in order to identify any potential problems that would make the buyers reconsider their offer (or even withdraw it).  In addition to this, the bank that will be providing the financing also requires an appraisal, to verify that the purchase price does not exceed the market value of the home.  In essence, the inspector comes to look for, identify, and highlight what may be wrong with the home, and the appraiser comes to look for, identify, and report on the overall value of the home (all things considered).

The Inspection

The inspector came into our home and spent 2 full hours scouring every single nook and cranny of our 23-year-old house.  He turned on every light, every ceiling fan, every faucet (hot and cold), every shower, and flushed every toilet.  He tested every single electrical outlet; he walked into and around every single room.  He checked the paint for scrapes, he checked the ceilings for cracks, he walked the entire foundation of the home (inside and out), he checked the porches, the siding, the roof, the windows, the driveway, the garage, the trees on the property, the floors, the walls, and even the attic (where nobody ever goes).  He checked the pipes under the sinks in the cabinets, he flipped the breakers, he was the epitome of thorough – and it’s likely that he looked at things that I haven’t even looked at since we have lived here and the only thing he was looking for was problems.  His whole goal was to provide the buyers with a list of every singe thing in the home that didn’t work perfectly.   He found exactly what he was looking for – problems.

He prepared his report, which as you can imagine included some potentially significant things like:

  • Small crack in foundation wall
  • Hose pipe is missing turn valve (hose bib)
  • Siding is damaged on south end
  • Stairway leading downstairs is missing a railing

These things (when buying a home) seem insignificant to me. 

But, what surprised me (at least a little) is that he reported about 35 additional items that were (in my mind) anything but substantial.  Some of these items included:

  • Bathtub in master suite has a scratch
  • Dirt is touching the bottom rung of the porch
  • Electrical outlet under the kitchen sink (in a cabinet) is missing a cover
  • There is debris (trash) in the window wells
  • Some tree branches are touching the roof
  • There are ‘typical cracks’ in the concrete garage floor
  • Humidifier is unplugged
  • There is a cracked tile on the fireplace hearth
  • The sink drain is slow

This list seemed to go on and on and on – and as I read the list, I thought to myself, I wonder if this house is worth $5.  The way the inspection report makes it sound nobody would ever want to buy this house, because it isn’t perfect, in fact, it has about 35 things that are not perfect about it and it’s likely to completely fall apart and crumble any minute now– and then this list is what he gave to the prospective buyers.

The Appraisal

The appraiser came, and happened to ask me what we’d done to the home to ‘improve’ it over the past while, and I ran down the list of everything I wrote in the side note above, to which he said, “Ok, thanks”.  I left and he went ahead with the appraisal.  I returned a while later when he happened to be on his way back to the car, and he complimented me on how much the home had been improved, how good the renovations looked, and how much more ‘homey’ it felt inside.  He was very complimentary and went on his way.

His report will include and highlight all of the ‘good’ that the home has to offer (new kitchen, flooring, carpet, paint, appliances, A/C, etc.) and as a result of these improvements, a value will be assigned to the home that indicates the level or work (past vs. present) that has taken place in the last year or two.  In a sense, overlooking the problems focusing on the positive elements and their overall value.

In terms of what any of this means to any of you, the inspection process reminded me of exactly how Satan views us, and wants us to view ourselves – completely full of problems.  Problems that should be highlighted, exploited, and put on a list for any prospective buyer to see.  No matter what room we go into, or which facet of our life we inspect, if we look for what’s not perfect, we will find it.  If we only look for what’s broken, we may walk right past the brand new kitchen and notice the outlet cover under the sink is missing.   Because all of us live in a house (body) that has been through the ringer the past several years, and as part of mortal life – some stuff is going to get banged up and/or damaged.

This holds true for what we choose to see in other people as well – are we inspecting them, or are we appraising them?  Do I look for and find all the little ticky tack things that are wrong with or broken in others, and then use that list as a reason to not be friends, not try and help them, or do I focus on the improvements they’ve made in the past little while and compliment them on their hard work and progress?   Do I continue my search for the perfect house/body (imaginary), or do I see a ‘fixer-upper’ and envision the end result after some TLC?  I think these are valid questions for all of us to ask ourselves.
On the other hand, the appraisal process is more like the way that our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ (and hopefully our leaders) view us.  They look at all the things that are good or that have been improved.  That’s not to say that they don’t notice the creaky floor, or the small cracks, because they do, they just don’t focus on them until it’s time to fix them.  They encourage you to keep moving forward, and see the overall value it the home, and as a most happy thought – they know exactly what can take place during the process and at the end when all of the little projects are improved.  They know our potential and are happy to go through the improvement process with us.

The last connection I’d like to highlight is the fact that none of us are able to complete these projects (improve upon them, or help them be repaired) on our own – even if we have identified them without the help of a formal inspector.   We all have the same need for an outside contractor to come in and repair what has been broken (either by misuse, abuse, lack of maintenance, external events, etc.).  We rely on Christ to help us identify and fix our problems, and the only productive reason that we have in recognizing them, is to ask for his help in fixing them.  This helps us to appreciate not only the help, but also the end result of that help.   Remember that in D&C 88:33 that in accepting (receiving) that help, we can rejoice not only in the gift (that which is given), but also in him, who is the giver of the gift.