CAUTION MUST BE USED BY BOTH SELLERS AND BUYERS WHEN USING HOME INSPECTION DATA

By
Real Estate Agent with Windermere Real Estate/West Sound, Inc.

When buying or selling a home, one of the more controversial aspects of the process is often the home inspection. The format usually followed by inspectors in our area is that provided by the Washington State Pest Control Association. The forms cover all aspects of home inspection including electrical, structural and utilities both inside and outside of the home.

Home inspections are the property of the buyer and only he can decide who, if anyone can receive a copy of the report. Most home inspections cost on average somewhere between 200 and 400 dollars in our area.

An inspection report can stop a sale in its tracks and cause a buyer to reject a home.

There are, however many things a buyer should take into consideration when examining his inspection report before he decides on what specific actions he may want to take. When using the authorized state inspection format it would be virtually impossible for an inspector not to record some number of "findings". This would include any home, whether it is one year or 50 years of age.

The inspection process allows a number of ways for a seller to respond to a buyers list of desired corrective actions. Among them may be one, or a combination of the following:

Seller agrees to repair all of the items requested, OR
Seller agrees to provide a monetary amount to the buyer, at closing, for the buyer to fix some or all of the items, OR
Seller agrees to repair only a select number of the requested items, OR
Seller refuses to perform any of the requested repairs.

The outcome of some inspection requests for corrective action is that the seller becomes so upset, because he thinks his home is in such great shape, that he chooses D, above and the sale fails.

Another extreme is that a buyer is so disgusted with the number and/or kinds of findings by his inspector that he "wouldn't touch the home with a 10 foot pole" and the sale fails.

The respective listing and selling agents have a major responsibility in assisting the parties to determine what (if anything) is major, and what actions (if any) should be taken. It is imperative that the two agents in the above situations never let responses reach such extremes. At the very least agents should be on guard to defuse inflammatory responses such that a satisfactory solution would not be achievable.

We don't believe a seller must always provide a new water tank, or a new roof, or new siding etc as some inspectors would lead a buyer to believe "might be" required. When buying a "used" home we believe a buyer should anticipate the need to replace aging components sometime in the future. That is why it is imperative that the asking price and/or the offering price take into account the worth of the existing product as it is.

Items that are non-functioning are a different case. Water, power, sewage and drainage systems for example should be functioning - unless a buyer was already aware that such problems already existed. If these kinds of problems exist they should have been taken into account by virtue of a reduction in the price of that particular home as compared to otherwise comparable homes.

Our most difficult experiences have occurred with inspection reports that list 30 of more "anomalies" in a home. Many are in fact advisory statements or comments that allude to what "could or might be" a problem in the future. Inspectors take slightly different approaches when considering what is a defect vice what might be considered normal wear.

Individuals entering into Real Estate transactions should keep in mind that the purpose of an inspection is primarily to protect the buyer. In our state a buyer; A/ doesn't need to have an inspection, or B/ can be his own inspector, or C/ can ask for additional inspections, and D/ can reject a home based "generally" upon the inspection - however in no event does the buyer need to provide reasons to the seller.

The best thing going for a seller is when he enters into a contract with a buyer that really desires the home. In these cases most often the inspection phases proceed smoothly and the actions agreed upon are usually within reason.

The most practical question a buyer should ask himself after examining his inspection report might be; would I be willing to move into this home today? If the answer is yes, that may arguably sum up the seriousness of the inspection findings.

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Rainer
67,262
David Helm
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp
Helm Home Inspections
I find that I agree with much of what you say.  As an inspector, and also a builder/remodeler for thirty years prior to going into inspections, I can say flatly that there is nothing that is not repairable.  It is important for the realtor to know his or her clients wants and needs.  Some people wish a perfect house, others intend to remodel or make it their own in other ways.  I find that first time buyers are generally much more skittish than experienced buyers.  It is important for the inspector, in my opinion, to be very thorough, but also, to put issues in perspective. If a water heater is 13 years old; we know that the "average" useful life of a water heater is 8 to 12 years (although they have been known to last 20), my way is to cite the average life span and suggest that the buyer budget for replacement some time in the future.  This keeps it out of the "must replace now" syndrome.  All things, systems have a life span.  Humans average 78 years, but some die young and some live much longer.
April 05, 2007 09:59 PM
Rainer
4,953
Lyle and Karen Hansen
Windermere Real Estate/West Sound, Inc.

David, I appreciate your comments. I only wish all inspectors would catagorize their findings in the manner you apparently do. Many buyers simply look at a large list of "findings" and think it is just too much to take on and therefore they reject the home.

 

Lyle 

April 09, 2007 02:05 PM
Rainer
67,262
David Helm
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp
Helm Home Inspections
Lyle, Inspectors, like realtors, like politicians, like any walk of life, have different degrees of training, experience, writing abilities, etc.  My suggestion is to look at reports from various inspectors, get to know them, and refer the ones who are thorough and can put things in perspective.  Maturity always helps.
April 09, 2007 02:28 PM
Rainer
4,953
Lyle and Karen Hansen
Windermere Real Estate/West Sound, Inc.
Thanks Dave, I couldn't agree more.
April 09, 2007 04:11 PM
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Rainer
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Lyle and Karen Hansen

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