It's fairly ubiquitous today to hire a licensed home inspector when purchasing a home. This is a good thing. For most folks a home purchase represents the largest amount of money to be spent in their lifetime. The home inspection contingency is typically one of the "big three" contingencies in an offer to purchase.
While specific language and format will vary, the basis of a home purchase agreement has, in essence, three components from the buyer's point of view.
We will purchase your home if...
- You agree to our price
- We can acquire appropriate financing
- Upon inspection(s) the home has no defects which we deem unacceptable
If any of those contingencies are not met, the buyer has an out and will likely be able to recoup any money paid into an escrow or trust as a deposit.
I guess this is where I should put my disclaimers.
I am neither an attorney nor a home inspector - this post is to be construed neither as legal advice nor specific recommendations on any construction, structural, etc issues regarding a home you wish to purchase. Any similarities to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental. One offer per household and finally - employees of Rick Schwartz Homes, any affiliates, wholly or partially owned subsidiaries or related companies are not eligible.
The question I'm posing, as a Realtor is this: Should it be assumed, by the buyer, that the seller should bear the cost of repairing any and all defects uncovered during a home inspection?
My purpose in this discussion is to raise the issue for thought as to why we do home inspections and should the buyer plan to use this moment to renegotiate the purchase price of the home.
We do home inspections in order to uncover defects in the home that might not be noticed during the shopping process. Things that might not be visible during a routine walk-through. Most defects are fixable. There is obviously, a cost involved in any remedy. The key point, in my opinion is one of expectations. The purpose of the inspection is to uncover things that were not likely to be apparent when you are in "shopping" mode. Examples:
- If you see water dripping into a large puddle in the center of the basement directly under the kitchen, you should not be surprised when a home inspector reports a plumbing issue.
- If you see scores of rodent traps on the floor in several rooms, you should not be surprise if the inspector hints that there might mice present.
- If there is black tape across the front of several electrical outlets, you should not be surprised if the inspector recommends that an electrician check the place out.
- If the front view of the house looks more like the one on the left in the image below, rather then the one on the right, you shouldn't be surprised at anything the inspector finds.
Serious point here is that your own walkthrough which happens long before you negotiate price should give you a general idea of the condition of the house. If you have a feeling that there are issues yet to be discovered, say so early on. Have your Realtor let the listing Realtor know that you are making a lower offer because you saw, this or that or the other. Take the condition of the house into account before you decide what you want to pay.
Your home inspection is, without a doubt, going to reveal some items that need to be corrected. If they are minor, put them on your list of things to work on when you move in. If they are major safety, health or structural issues, then either ask the seller to pay for repairs, split it with them or use your contingency to pull out.