Well, Septic and Termite Inspections: Who Pays? Buyer or Seller?

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Real Estate Agent with Long & Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA VA License # 0225089470

I had an interesting exchanve a couple weeks ago with one of my buyers.  She had done some internet research and read that in Vriginia, it is customary for sellers to pay for well and septic inspections.   She was upset that I had suggested she and her husband, as buyers, pay for these inspections in their purchaes offer.  She didn't understand what difference it made, other than the hundreds of dollars that she was about to expend.

It has been my feeling since beginning my real estate career that inspectors are loyal to the people who pay them.  Furthermore, being in charge of the payment of the inspection also puts the client in charge of hiring the inspector.

As a buyer, when you ask the sellers to pay for inspections, how do you know you are getting a thorough inspection?  I have heard stories of sellers blowing through inspectors until they found the one that was willing to pass a termite inspection...or turn a blind eye to an obvious defect in a septic system.  Is the seller hiring someone they have known for 20 years as a personal friend?  Are they hiring a relative?  You have no say, no knowledge if you have given the seller the power to choose and to pay.

The object of these inspections is to uncover defects in a home that you may not be able to remedy, or may be too costly for you to remedy.  The results of these inspections can be deal breakers.  When working with my buyers, I always recommend they pay for their own termite, well and septic inspections.  Spending a couple hundred dollars to have a thorough inspection is well worth the money spent.  Having the sellers pay, and save yourself that couple hundred dollars could be the most costly mistake you ever make.

Finally, I can assure any buyer in Virginia that there is no set custom as to who pays for well, termite or septic inspections.  That's why we have check boxes in the regional contract that allow clients to choose who will pay for the inspections.

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Topic:
Home Buying
Location:
Virginia Prince William County
Tags:
buyer paid inspections
who pays for inspections
well and septic inspections
termite inspections

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Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

I personally think since the buyer is moving in they should pay for it PLUS the loyalty factor you mention Chris Ann. But everything is negotiable. Maybe the buyer can pick them and the seller can pay for them.

Jun 20, 2009 03:59 PM #1
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long & Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

Gary:  You make an interesting point. One I've tried to work out before.  Buyers picking, sellers paying.  Besides, in our market right now, buyers are getting about all their closing costs paid by sellers.  Seems greedy to continue to shake them down for money. 

Jun 20, 2009 04:54 PM #2
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Richard Weisser
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Coweta Newnan Homes for Sale

Chris Ann...

Our contracts shifted a year or two ago to make the buyer responsible by default for the termite inspection. That's really better, because of the reasons you mentioned, including loyalty to the customer!

Jun 20, 2009 05:36 PM #3
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Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

It's customary for the seller to pay for a pest inspection in Sacramento; however, if that inspection returns a lot of work to be completed, I often suggest that the buyer pay for a back-up inspection. I know an excellent pest inspector who leaves no bug unturned, LOL. He often finds more work, and once the first pest inspection company turns in the completion certificate, they have to go back out and do the work my pest inspector finds because they are liable.

Sacramento short sale agent

Jun 21, 2009 10:12 AM #4
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long & Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

Elizabeth:  It's such a great thing to have those types of inspectors in your head ot hand out to folks as needed. And the cost out here is super reasonable.  $35.  Is a buyer can't afford $35, we're already off on the wrong foot.

Jun 21, 2009 05:37 PM #5
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long & Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

Richard:  I love that we think alike!

Jun 21, 2009 05:37 PM #6
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Alan Gross
PrimeLending, A PlainsCapital Company - Bethesda, MD

As a buyer I want to know the inspections were done correctly. The only way to assure that is to hire the inspectors yourself. There's a reason lenders don't accept appraisal ordered by the seller or owner of the property.

Jun 22, 2009 03:23 AM #7
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long & Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

Alan:  Another great point.  Thanks.

Jun 22, 2009 08:54 AM #8
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Chris Ann Cleland

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