Should sellers hire their own home inspector?

Q: I built my home 30 years ago and have been the only occupant. I've maintained it well, replacing the air conditioning, water heater and appliances as needed. Now that I'm planning to sell, would it benefit me to get a home inspection prior to putting it on the market? I understand that defects found by my home inspector would have to be repaired or disclosed to potential buyers. Is this a good idea, or should I just wait for the buyers to hire their own home inspector?

A: Most homeowners never consider the option of hiring their own home inspector in preparation for listing their property for sale. In nearly all transactions, it is the buyer who hires the inspector. However, there are four advantages for sellers who engage a presale home inspection of their own.

• A competent home inspector can alert the seller to defects that might be discovered by the buyers' inspector. When you wait for the buyers to get their own inspection report, you typically have to renegotiate the terms of the sale based upon the buyers' demands or requests. A pre-inspection of your own can eliminate the need for such negotiations and price reduction.

• A pre-listing inspection enables the seller to make needed repairs of major problems, leaving only minor defects to be disclosed to buyers.

• Presenting a home inspection report as part of the seller's disclosure statement builds confidence in the minds of buyers, because it shows that you, the seller, have nothing to hide.

• A home inspection report enables you to sell your home as is, because you have provided full disclosure of unrepaired defects.

Given these advantages, it is surprising that so few homeowners obtain their own home inspection prior to listing their homes for sale.

Q: Water has been seeping up through cracks in my basement floor and in the next door condo's as well. The homeowners association is aware of this and has tried to find a solution. Building managers keep checking the downspouts and gutters, and they had a plumber come out to check for possible leaks. What they are ignoring is the fact that the condos are built over a natural spring. Long story short, they want each owner, at our own expense, to seal the cracks in the basement floors to prevent water from coming up! I told them this would not fix the problem. Is there anything I can do to make them address this properly?

A: If water is percolating through cracks in the basement floor, no amount of sealant is going to correct the problem. What you apparently have is a ground water problem that needs to be evaluated by a drainage expert, such as a geotechnical engineer. That is not a condo owners' responsibility. It needs to be addressed by the HOA. The association should understand that this is not a patch and seal problem. You and your neighbors should join forces and insist that the HOA hire experts who are qualified to address the situation.

• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

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