By Christine Groves
As we know, a home inspection is a voluntary process, but as agents, it is our fiduciary responsibility to strongly recommend them to our buyer clients and prepare our seller clients for the inevitable.
With that in mind, here are three points you should cover with your buyers and sellers when it comes to home inspections.
3 Points For Buyers:
1. A home inspection is not insurance, but it will help to ensure you know more about the home before proceeding to buy then you yourself could ever know, even with a long showing with “your friend who is a contractor.”
For instance, a $400 inspection is worth potentially avoiding a $20,000 problem you are not ready for. It can help to confirm whether you are getting what you are paying for in a home. Remember, even if you are looking to purchase a property “as is,” you should do a home inspection to determine whether you will proceed with the purchase or cancel the deal.
2. Be prepared for a list of items that your home inspector will most certainly find, which is their job (that way, we avoid those “alarmist” inspectors). Every home, whether new or existing, will have such a list, as no home is ever perfect. It is crucial to determine which are typical maintenance issues, health and safety issues, major structural or mechanical, as well as potential costs and timelines. Once the list is narrowed down by importance and cost, it usually is not as bad as it appears.
3. If your offer is not for an “as is” property, be sure you (typically through your attorney) request immediate issues to be repaired prior to closing, especially health and safety issues. Gas leaks, electrical hazards, mold, elevated radon, infestations, etc. are all examples of issues a reasonable seller should acknowledge and correct.
3 Points For Sellers:
1. Most buyers will elect to have a home inspection done at their expense on your home, especially during the time in which they can legally void/cancel their offer contract. You can greatly reduce any surprises by having your own home inspection done prior to listing. This will give you the opportunity to correct any deficiencies that would possibly detract a buyer. There is one major caveat – once you have knowledge of a material defect, especially ones included on a legally binding residential disclosure form, you must disclose that defect, especially if you do not sufficiently correct the problem.
2. You can include in your offer negotiation the “as is” condition in your contract, or a good faith understanding that you are not willing to repair or provide monetary credits at closing of any major cost. Also, certain items can be included in your listing “as is.” For example, if an appliance is not in working order, that should be mentioned in the listing if you do not intend to fix or replace it.
3. If a buyer’s home inspection does reveal a major and costly material issue, you can request a second opinion at your expense. Don’t make any hasty decisions to either reject an inspection report or decide not to repair/credit the defect. If you lose that buyer, you now have to put your home back on the market with knowledge and disclosure of the defect. It could be much more costly to not work things out with your initial buyer.
Navigating buyers and sellers that we represent through this process is another service that we offer as knowledgeable representatives in our field. Home inspections can complicate or even kill a purchase transaction, so some education and preparation can go a long way.
Christine Groves is a licensed broker/Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Wheaton. She can be contacted at:
Phone: (630) 346-3272