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June 29th, 2011 (Modified on July 1st, 2011)

“Show me the BuildFax!”



iStock_Blue PrintsBy now, most of us have heard of CarFax, the vehicle history report that enables prospective car buyers to view a vehicle’s history of accidents and repairs. Now, the same is being done for homes.

BuildFax essentially provides prospective homebuyers with a background check of a property, detailing any major renovations and repairs done to a particular home. While a BuildFax report typically runs $39.99, it’s being offered at no cost through July 31, 2011.

While BuildFax has typically been marketed to professionals like Realtors, appraisers and insurers, the reports are now being targeted to both homebuyers and sellers.

How does BuildFax work?

From the New York Times:

The service, based in Austin, Tex., has compiled a database of permit information from building departments in more than 4,000 cities and counties. It mines that data by address to create a summary report showing major renovations or repairs done on a home, like roof replacements, additions or systems work like plumbing or air-conditioning. Consumers receive a report that shows the dates and scope of the project, as well as the contractors who worked on the property.

The reports can help sellers prepare accurate disclosures and help home buyers evaluate whether the seller’s disclosure is complete. Discrepancies between what the building permit says and what the seller says may raise red flags, or at least provide points for negotiation on price.

Get your report

If you’re interested in a free BuildFax report, visit their websit, fill out the form (which BuildFax promises will take only 30 seconds) and they’ll send a report directly to you.

Here’s what BuildFax can do for you

Getting a BuildFax report on a home you’re considering buying or your existing home that you’re trying to sell, can work to your advantage in several ways:

1. A complete home report: BuildFax is meant to compliment the home inspector’s own report, providing both buyers and sellers with a clear picture of the home’s current condition.

2. Specific details: The report doesn’t just list past renovations and repairs, it details the dates and the scope of each job, as well as the contractors who worked on the projects.

3. Discounts: Perhaps the main draw from a BuildFax report is the potential to save you serious money. If a buyer finds out that, let’s say, the home’s cooling system is much more outdated than the seller let on, the buyer can renegotiate repairs or a lower asking price.

Also, details dug out by the BuildFax report could lead to other discounts: “The reports can also help identify new systems that may make the home eligible for insurance discounts,” writes Ann Carrns of the New York Times. “Some insurers, for instance, will offer discounts on homeowners premiums if a roof is less than five years old, [Holly Tachovsky, BuildFax’s co-founder and president] said.”

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About the HSH Blog

HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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