What The House? What is a Banister?

What the House is That??We found out the hard way that one missing banister could hold up the closing on the sale of our house. I mean my husband and I bought the house without one, so we assumed that we could sell it that way too. Our assumptions were wrong. But let me back up a little, because it would be disingenuous of me to pretend that I always knew what a banister was. Or even the difference between a banister and a baluster.

This could be on my mind strictly because I recently put myself through the torture of pulling up the carpet from the stairs in our new home and trying to restore them. I was not qualified to restore anything in that bad of condition and eventually I resorted to painting my stairs (which should have taken a few weeks, but I managed to drag it out 5 months).

Stair terminology

Now I know that a banister is the same as hand rails and baluster is the spindle or stick that holds up the banister. And believe it or not having stairs without a banister/hand rail in place or having stairs that are in rough shape can actually stop you from selling your home.

Unless you are selling to a cash buyer it’s likely your home is going to have to meet the standards of the loaning institution that the buyer is borrowing from. When you have a buyer in place that has been approved for a loan that is only part of the approval process; your home will have to meet the standards that are set in order to have the loan approved. During the appraisal process the lender will need to ensure that the home is worth the amount they are loaning (they will need to sell it if your buyer defaults) and in some cases they will require specific improvements be made before they will approve the loan.

Typically Federally backed mortgages, like FHA-insured versions, feature specific home-appraisal requirements that take into account safety and security issues. A home that’s being sold to a FHA borrower will be required to meet certain safety standards, and building-code violations like missing stairway railings are noted on the appraisal. When you Realtor asks you what kind of loans you will accept from potential buyers, this should be a consideration. Because sellers accepting FHA-insured mortgages also agree to allow FHA-specific home appraisals. It isn’t unusual for FHA home appraisals to note repairs that need to be corrected before those sales can go to closing.

The home we were selling in 2009 had an interior staircase that had walls on either side of the stairs, but our buyers appraisal noted a required addition of the banister before they would approve the loan. Just because you were able to buy a home that is not up to code (even if you didn’t know), it doesn’t mean you will be able to sell it without making the upgrades or repairs. With that being said, you might as well make those changes in order to have an easier time selling your home.


Are you considering buying or selling a home in New Braunfels? Give me a call – I would be happy to meet with you to discuss your dream house.

Clair Devers
Keller Williams Realty-Heritage
Licensed Realtor
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Article Name
What The House? What is a Banister?
What is a banister and how can it hold up the sale of your house?

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