Buyer's agent attempts home inspection
Q: When I bought my home, my Realtor said he and I could do the inspection. So, I ignorantly agreed, not realizing the importance of hiring a professional home inspector. The agent and I did a 45-minute, walk-through inspection, finding a dripping faucet, some peeling paint, and two doors out of adjustment. When it came to the attic, the Realtor crawled inside and said that it looked good. I asked, "Does the insulation look good?" He said, "Yes." Additionally, he went into the crawl space under the house. He said that also looked good and that it was not wet.
However, since closing escrow and moving in, I've learned that portions of the attic have no insulation at all and that the ground under the building is wet because of drainage problems. I wish I had hired a home inspector, but my Realtor said it wasn't necessary. Was he at fault in giving me that advice, and do I have any recourse?
A: It is hard to imagine, in today's world, a Realtor so ignorant and professionally incompetent as to have done what you have described. Since the 1980s it has become the standard of practice for agents and brokers to recommend the services of a professional home inspector to all homebuyers. The degree of expertise and experience necessary to conduct a thorough home inspection is far beyond what any Realtor could possibly be expected to do.
For example, when inspecting an attic, a home inspector looks not only for the presence of insulation but the condition of the wood framing, the adequacy of attic ventilation, evidence of roof leakage; conditions pertaining to the electrical wiring, water pipes and drain vent pipes; fire clearances at chimneys and flue pipes, and miscellaneous damages of any and all kinds. It is definitely not a quick, look-see inspection. The same goes for the inspection of the subarea below the building.
The number of potential defects on a home inspector's radar is nearly limitless, involving foundations, framing, drainage, electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, etc.
The fact that your Realtor told you the insulation was OK, when it was not fully installed, raises questions of honesty and ethics, aside from issues of professional incompetence.
My advice is to hire a highly experienced home inspector to do a thorough report on the actual condition of your home. And be prepared for a list of defects that may surprise you. That is what happens when a competent home inspector makes a thorough evaluation. Based upon the findings of that inspection, you may have a strong legal case against your Realtor. However, whether you pursue him legally or not you need to know the actual condition of your home.
• 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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