Remember to do this before inspecting a property

Our agents have got pretty busy helping people buy apartment buildings, so I have been spending more time than usual advising on deals.

One of the issues that keeps popping up is around inspections.

As a buyer, it is imperative you personally inspect each and every unit in any building you intend to purchase. After all, as the new owner, you will be taking responsibility for providing safe, habitable units to the tenants; you don’t want to take on that responsibility without knowing what problems you’re facing.

But here’s the thing: You would be shocked at how many seller don’t have keys to their own apartments. Usually, the tenants have changed the locks at some point and not given the owner the new keys.

If you have not prepared for this eventuality up front, you can find yourself standing outside a building with the inspectors you have paid for standing around because they can’t get inside to do their jobs.

So, here’s what we do: At the time inspections are scheduled, remind the listing broker that the seller needs to (a) give all the tenants 24 hour notice of the inspection; and (b) bring keys for the all the units.

If the seller admits to not having keys, we simply schedule a locksmith to accompany us to the inspection.

Remember, the seller has the absolute right to enter the apartments for a legitimate purpose (in this case, allowing buyer to inspect), so long as he provides 24 hour notice. So there is nothing wrong with having a locksmith open the doors, if the tenants are not there to provide access.