Homebuyers mysteriously cancel sale after inspection

Posted3/7/2021 6:00 AM

Q: The people who were buying our house hired a home inspector. After a five-hour inspection, we were given a list of minor defects. We agreed to repair all the items in the inspection report, but the buyers canceled the purchase that very day. We went ahead with the repairs anyway but were totally dismayed by the buyers' reaction and can't understand why the deal fell through.

Is it common practice for sellers to be given this kind of runaround after a home inspection?


A: There may be no way to determine what motivated your buyers to bail out of the deal. However, rest assured, this outcome is not a common practice in the aftermath of a home inspection.

The home inspection contingency in a real estate purchase contract gives buyers the option to cancel the deal when the inspection report contains unacceptable conditions. For some buyers, however, this contingency is a convenient escape clause if they choose to walk away from a purchase for undisclosed reasons.

The truth might have been that they found another home more to their liking. Or they may have failed to qualify for a loan and were too embarrassed to say so. A relative may have decided not to advance their down payment. The value of their stock portfolio may have declined. Or they simply may not have been serious buyers in the first place. Who knows? This cancellation may even have been a blessing in disguise, given the problems that "shaky" buyers can pose after a purchase is completed.

On the bright side, you've now repaired all of the defects that were discovered by the home inspector. The next buyer, most likely, will also hire an inspector, and that report should look very clean. Best of luck with that transaction.

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Q: My home has a flat roof that causes the interior to become unbearably hot during the summer months. The air conditioner runs all day but can't keep up with the heat absorbed by the roof. A roofing contractor recommended white rocks or white paint to reflect some of the heat, at a cost of about $1,000. Would this be a cost-effective remedy, or is there something else I can do?

A: Homes with flat roofs tend to be solar collectors, gaining considerable heat during hot summer days, often at a rate that exceeds the cooling capacity of the air conditioner. A reflective surface, such as a white or metallic finish, would definitely be helpful but may not satisfactorily remedy the entire problem. Additional ceiling insulation may also be needed to minimize heat penetration. It is also possible that the air conditioner needs servicing or is simply inadequately sized for the dwelling.

An energy audit of your home would also be advisable to determine the full scope of your situation and to consider the range of potential remedies. In some areas, local power companies provide energy audits at no cost. Check with your service provider to see if they provide this service.

• 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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