Home inspections in a hot market
Q: In a past article, you wrote: "It is the height of professional irresponsibility for any real estate agent to advise a client against having a home inspection."
In most cases, I would agree with your advice. But in a hot market, purchase offers that call for a home inspection are often rejected by sellers. Wouldn't you agree there are exceptions to your rule, when as-is offers are more likely to be accepted?
A: In a hot market, it is understandable that a seller would stipulate an as-is sale. In such cases, it is essential that the meaning of "as-is" be fully understood. Buying a property as-is means accepting whatever defects may exist, without requiring repairs or a price adjustment by sellers.
However, it does not mean accepting a package of unknown and undisclosed defects, to be discovered after the close of escrow.
The prudent approach would be to have a home inspection for the sake of buyer information, without the transaction being contingent upon the findings of the home inspector. In this way, fully informed buyers can make a reasonable as-is purchase.
It helps to remember home inspections are not exclusively beneficial to buyers. Full disclosure provides liability protection for everyone in the transaction. Foregoing an inspection for the sake of obtaining an accepted offer exposes sellers and agents to significant liability. When major undisclosed defects are discovered in the aftermath of a "hot-market" purchase, job opportunities are created for four attorneys: one for the buyer, one for the seller, and one for each of the agents.
This is one more reason why "it is the height of professional irresponsibility for any real estate agent to advise a client against having a home inspection."
Q: I've owned my home for six months now, and I hired a home inspector before buying it. Now I'm having trouble with plumbing, and two plumbers are blaming my home inspector for not reporting these problems. Do I have any recourse?
A: The plumbers may be correct in alleging your home inspector was negligent, but there are many situations in which contractors and tradespeople incorrectly assume what is within the scope of a home inspection. A two-point test should be applied to determine whether the inspector should have disclosed the plumbing problems. No. 1) Were the problems visible and accessible at the time of the inspection? No. 2) Were the problems within the specified scope of the inspection, according to the inspection report and the standards of practice of the home inspection industry? If the answer to both questions is yes, then the inspector is probably liable.
To enforce this liability, your first step would be to notify the home inspector of the problems and to allow a reinspection before you make repairs. Most home inspection contracts stipulate that the inspector must be allowed to see the problem before it is repaired, or the inspector is then absolved of liability. If your plumbers have already completed the repairs, you may no longer have recourse against the inspector.
• Email Barry Stone at email@example.com.
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