A Lifetime of Homes
A Lifetime of Homes
There were 143 single family homes sold in August in the twelve Lakes Region communities covered by this report. The average sales price came in at $323,976 and the median price point stood at $222,500. And, you know, I would bet just about every home that sold had a home inspection done as part of the purchasing process.
you are a real estate agent and have been in the business at least ten years or so then you most likely know Bill and Faith Tobin of Waterloom Home Inspections in Sanbornton. If you have bought or sold a home in the Lakes Region (or beyond) in the last fifty years there’s a pretty good possibility that Bill and Faith might have been in that home to do a home inspection. Bill estimated that he has inspected well over 10,000 homes in his career. That’s a bunch! Faith called to tell me that they were hanging up the clipboard and retiring so I went out to talk with them this past week about their long careers as home inspectors. You know there’s gotta be a story or two or three there for as long as they have been doing this!
Bill grew up down the Concord, Mass area. At the ripe old age of fifteen his father, who was an auctioneer, would buy houses to sell and send young Bill in to inspect them and see what they needed to have fixed. Since there were a lot of older homes in the Concord, Littleton, and Acton area Bill gained a lot of on the job training and specific knowledge about old and historic structures which is something he has been know for throughout his career. Bill’s first formal inspection occurred when he was in the Air Force and went out to inspect a “test-home” before they blew it up. He was trained as an air traffic controller and worked in the tower in Boston and then moved up to the FAA center in Nashua before giving that up for the much less stressful profession of home inspecting.
He started out inspecting homes in and around Concord, Mass and helped write the building codes in Massachusetts. (He also, more recently, as a NH State legislator helped with establishing rules for licensing inspectors.) He moved to the Lakes Region in 1961. Back then, he recalls, there might have been only one other inspector in the entire Lakes Region. Modern real estate practice was kind of in its infancy and Bill and Faith were pioneers in it. Waterloom was born and it has always been definitely a team approach. Bill gives much of the credit to Faith as she did all the scheduling, reports, and the hard work of keeping Bill on track (that’s my own observation.) They were the consummate team that gave home buyers an honest, unbiased assessment of the property without being alarmists. They understood, for example, that if an old home’s floor or ceiling was crooked…well that’s just the way it was after 200 years. It doesn’t mean the house is falling down. He has also given lots of free advice to would-be homeowners on how to fix something or he might just take care of it himself right then and there if it was a quick fix. Bill said his loyalty was always to the integrity of home he was inspecting and that while owners may change the structure remains the same.
Stories? You bet! One of their favorites was about a home they were inspecting that had a dug well in the basement. When Bill pulled off the cover to look in he saw a pair boots bobbing up and down with an obvious body below water! That will tend to startle you just a bit. With the shocked buyers looking on (and following the home inspector’s strict guidelines for removing a body from a well) he discovers that a mannequin in full fireman’s gear had been stuffed in the well! No CPR had to be administered… to the mannequin or to Bill…
How about dreaded dark attics? Bill was reaching up through an attic scuttle in one house to pull the chain on the light that he could barely make out in the darkness and as he did a large boa constrictor fell and wrapped around his arm! Luckily, it was dead…and Bill was not. (A testament to Bill’s hardiness.) Apparently, the owner’s pet boa had escaped its cage, slithered to the attic and somehow electrocuted itself on the light. After another attic inspection Bill climbed down from crawling around covered with a collection of “sticky” mice traps all over his sweater with a throng of both dead and live mice flailing about.
Attics can also be dangerous. Bill once was climbing into an attic space and put his hand down on the floor right into a very large, powerful muskrat trap resulting in a broken hand. Who knew he should get hazardous duty pay? When he went to check a circuit breaker box recently he was thrown across the room from the shock. Turns out the box was not grounded…except by Bill when he touched it! Not good for a guy that has a pacemaker! At another home (a nice one) Bill was walking across the living room and fell into basement through a hole in the floor covered by an oriental rug!
Bill says he can also “sense” things about old homes…whether there is a good presence or bad presence in the structure. He can just feel it when something is “wrong” with a house and there have been a few. After 10,000 homes, I believe him. At one residence they went to in Brookline, NH he got to the front door and could not go inside to do the inspection. Bill wasn’t even going to open the door! He said the agent thought he must had lost his mind but he told him he was not going in. It turns out there were two murders committed in the home and there was an overwhelmingly bad feeling coming from in the home. Conversely, over in Franklin, they inspected a home with a presence that was extremely comfortable and pleasant. I guess that one passed inspection…
Bill and Faith never had to advertise in all their years of business and they were always busy. I guess that speaks to how well they did their job. Old fashioned personal service and word of mouth works wonders. And even though Bill is retiring as a home inspector he will continue to fill in as the building inspector as needed for the City of Laconia and Towns of Belmont, Gilmanton, and Gilford as he has done so for many years. He also intends to do some consulting along the way. So, we will still see Bill and Faith around…which is just the way we like it!
Data compiled using the NEREN MLS system.