Colorado-based Housefax promises to provide information on properties' past
3:25 PM, May 16, 2013
7:14 PM, May 16, 2013
BOULDER, Colo. (KMGH) - Wouldn't it be nice to know if the home you're about to buy is a money pit? To know if your future dream home was ever a meth lab?
A Colorado-based company is set to launch a website called Housefax to provide that information and more.
While there is CNET for computers and Carfax for cars, for researching the biggest buy of your life -- your house -- "Nobody is consolidating all this data," said Michael Abdy.
Abdy, a Boulder, Colo., entrepreneur and CU student has said now, his company is.
Housefax.com promises a laundry list of information on a property's past within seconds, including building permits, fire history and meth lab hazards.
"On average, it would take about 34 hours and $700 to find everything that's on our report for $59," said Abdy.
On Sunday, after KSHB sister station TheDenverChannel published this story, Abdy sent them this correction to his previous statement: "While on the subject of transparency, the $700 & 34 hour line has been further researched and cross referenced and our team has now decided not to cite that statistic."
Starting later in the summer, for an additional $19.99, Abdy said, the site will provide insurance claim history covering incidents reported such as flooding, mold or burglaries.
"Should the home seller not agree to release such information, it's definitely a red flag," said Abdy.
Dale Carroll with the South Metro Denver Real Estate Association said that kind of transparency could save money and time, keeping deals from falling apart last-minute.
"Buyers are a lot more savvy about what they're purchasing in a house now, so I think this would be a useful tool," said Carroll, recalling a time that his buyers found out a house they wanted had been a meth lab.
"The contract ended up getting canceled because the work that was done on the house to convert it back from a meth lab was not up to code," said Carroll.
He has concerns, though, about how up-to-date the Housefax information is and how reliable.
There is a risk, too, that house could be stigmatized as having problems, even though the problems have been addressed.
Abdy said Housefax puts together data mostly from outside organizations, "not to be named," and he said the site will not be liable for misinformation.
"I'm not here to say this report will be 100 percent accurate 100 percent of the time," said Abdy. "The verification of this data is not our responsibility."
Abdy said the Housefax report provides a baseline to compare to the seller's disclosures, but it's not a replacement for a physical inspection.
Albert Haymer and Gracelynn Marsh are buying their first home together in Aurora.
"When I walked in, I said, this is perfect. It's everything that we wanted," said Marsh.
Still, they wanted to make sure the home was everything it seemed, so they hired an inspector to check it out.
Nathan Fairchild, of Safe Investment Home Inspections, said his job is to point out current concerns, not past problems, so the idea of a home history report intrigues him.
"For example, say the whole basement is remodeled. Did the homeowners do it or did a licensed contractor do it?" pointed out Fairchild. "Yeah, I think knowing that would be great. I think it's information that a homeowner and myself could actually use."
Haymer and Marsh agree.
"The more knowledge you have, the more secure you feel about buying," said Marsh.
To them, knowing before they buy would be worth $70, and Abdy hopes one day realtors will start including a history report at listing.
Because peace of mind can help sell houses.
The company is set to officially launch the site between May 10 and May 15.