Seller believes home inspections are unfair
Q. As a homebuyer, I can appreciate the obvious benefits of a home inspection. As a seller, however, there is something about the process that seems unfair. I just spent five weeks negotiating the sales price and terms with the buyer of my home. After many hours of haggling, we finally reached an agreement and opened escrow. Then came the home inspector, and the buyers began asking for further price concessions, basing their demands upon the findings in the inspection report. Now it seems that we have no deal after all. Isn't there some way to prevent this kind of double-dealing?
A. Your frustration is the common experience of many sellers. In the wake of a home inspection, renegotiation regarding property defects typically occurs. It would be inaccurate, however, to call this "double dealing," because most real estate purchase agreements are contingent upon the buyer's acceptance of the home inspection report. This means the deal you worked so hard to finalize with your buyer was tentative at best.
Fortunately, there is a way to prevent second round bargaining, but it requires you to invest in a home inspection report of your own, before you find a buyer. Presale expenses, however, are distasteful to most sellers, so very few sellers opt to hire their own home inspector.
Typically, buyers are the ones who obtain a home inspection, using the report solely for their own benefit, for assurance that the property is in good condition, and to enable a second round of concessions by the sellers. To circumvent this process, some sellers hire a home inspector of their own when the property is initially listed for sale. This enables the sellers to present full disclosure of the property's condition to each prospective buyer, before a purchase offer is made.
By obtaining a presale inspection, sellers accomplish four worthy objectives:
• All purchase offers are made with full knowledge of the property's condition. Once an agreement is reached, the sale can proceed without second stage negotiations.
• A home inspection report exceeds the legal requirements for seller disclosure. Sellers are only required to disclose what they know about the property. They are not required to hire experts for additional disclosure. By revealing a larger body of information than required, a seller can effectively limit future liability for nondisclosure.
• A presale inspection demonstrates to buyers that the sellers have nothing to hide. This promotes an environment of confidence and trust in which to negotiate the terms of a sale.
• Buyers are usually more willing to accept property defects that are initially disclosed, rather than ones that are discovered later by their home inspector.
When faulty conditions are discovered later in the escrow process, buyers often demand repairs or price adjustments.
The case for presale home inspections is a strong one. To date, only a small percentage of sellers have recognized these advantages, and few real estate agents promote seller inspections. Among prudent sellers, this reticence is gradually changing.
• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
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