By Carl Brecht
The purpose of a home inspection is to help the buyer discover any defects in a property, before the buyer purchases a property for the agreed price. An unknown defect not disclosed nor discovered before the purchase agreement was signed can now be renegotiated, or the buyer may have grounds, depending on the severity of the defect, to now walk away.
The seller’s discloser form, which is presented to the buyer from the seller before signing a contract to purchase, tells the buyer all defects that the seller knows about. The inspection is protection for the seller and the Realtor as well. If an inspection was not made, and down the road a defect is discovered that either seller or Realtor should have known about, there could be liability. Realtors will have you sign a form that says that a buyer has waved an inspection for all parties protection from liability to he buyer. This would also be the appropriate time to mention that anyone can be sued for anything, and it costs money to defend yourself. A home inspection will put most of the liability on a home inspector if a defect during the home inspection is overlooked.
I cannot stress more that a seller be upfront and honest when filling out the Seller’s Discloser Form. Once I sold a house and the buyer — a few months after purchasing the house — had a problem with the sewer line going to the street. When the buyer discovered he had a problem, he called a local company to find out how much it would cost to make the repair. The contractor told the new owner that the whole sewer line had to be replaced because of tree root damage. He told the owner that the problem at the house was the same when he was called out a few months ago. The previous owner never mentioned that there was a problem with the sewer line. The contractor even provided the $5,000 estimate to the previous owner. The previous owner was legally obligated to pay for the repair because he had fraudulently not disclosed the problem. Read your home inspection to see if the home inspector has limited his liability when it comes to certain areas he was not able to inspect.
Realtors are now suggesting that a seller order a home inspection and make any repairs needed. In today’s market, a seller can have peace of mind that any subsequent inspections will not prevent a home from selling. A seller now has a home on the market in perfect condition. A seller may also give a buyer the inspection to save him or her the cost of a new inspection. I do have a suggestion that as a buyer, there are times you may want an architect, plumber, electrician, roofer, builder, foundation engineer or mold specialist. If you have a concern about any aspect of the home you are buying, hire a specialist. All advice given here is based on my personal experience, and the start of my 35th year in the business. For peace of mind, avoid as much risk as you can, and have inspections.
Next week: How can you stay in your home when age or health become an issue?
Edmonds resident Carl Brecht has been licensed to sell real estate since 1977 and currently works at Coldwell Banker Bain in Edmonds. With a background in both residential and commercial sales, Carl has worked throughout the U.S. and in Germany, has owned his own brokerage and has spent two years in law school, studying property and contract law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 425-368-8246.