Inspection Mania

inspections

I’ve got these great clients that are relocating from San Diego and they always seem to remind me just how differently we do things around here. First of all…the prices are sure a whole lot higher than just about everywhere else. Maybe that goes without saying, but there are many other ways we’re extraordinary. Take the disclosures and inspections for example. These folks were not familiar with the local custom of disclosure packets for buyer review prior to writing offers and so I gave them some history. Once upon a time when you looked at a house, and had interest in it, you made an offer that included contingencies which allowed you to inspect the home. After you ratified a contract you got the sellers disclosures and you initiated those inspections…which you paid for. If and when you found something troublesome on a report you wrote an addendum to the contract that asked the seller to repair or resolve said issues.

When this market started to really heat up, maybe 10 years ago now, listing agents realized that they had quite a bit of leverage over this process. When multiple buyers were competing for a house there would be a reasonable expectation that the buyer could enhance their offer by accepting the property in “As Is” condition. In order to facilitate that possibility sellers began initiating the inspections themselves and placed them, along with all of the other mandatory disclosures into an envelope (and later online) that interested buyers could examine prior to writing their offer. The sole purpose of that detailed disclosure was to extract the cleanest possible offer from that buyer…who would know going in whatever issues were present at the home.

As it turned out, this worked pretty well for the seller. In fact, a seller would make a significant mistake not to have their own inspections up front. In those cases when the seller elected not to do their own inspections the leverage shifted clearly to the buyer. If a buyer ratify’s with that seller, does their own inspections and finds issues that need resolution the seller often could need to address those issues and fix them. If they don’t, and the buyer backs out, the seller has to put the property back on the market and disclose this new information…often to the detriment of the value of the property. In my mind it’s better to know in advance what’s going on with the property and negotiate from that position.

Of course, as a buyer you still have the opportunity to do your own inspections. If it makes you sleep better at night, go for it. My experience is that there’s not that many pest and property inspectors around this area. It’s not an uncommon experience for me to see that a seller has used the same inspectors I always use and it’s kind of hard for me to recommend that a buyer I’m working with get more inspections (a total expense of about $750.00) when the seller’s already used my guys. Anyway, it’s up to you. Just a little history today.

Comments

  1. It probably comes down to how good/complete the seller’s inspection report is. As you mention, it is in the seller’s interest to have a decent inspection done and show all the issues that may exist to prevent any surprises after an offer has been accepted. But during our hunting we had several cases where seller’s inspection reports were present and ‘glorified’ the home as if it were perfect. We all know that no house is perfect. If you as a buyer can find deficiencies in the home that are not listed in the inspection report, chances are you will benefit from a buyer’s inspection done by a good professional.

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