Home Inspections

Many people are confused about the purpose of a home inspection. People often view an inspection report as a mandatory repair list for the seller.

The fact is, sellers are not required to produce a flawless house. They have no such obligations by law or by contract.

With a home inspection, most repairs are subject to negotiations between the parties to a sale.

Typically, buyers will request that various conditions be repaired before the close of escrow, and sellers will usually acquiesce to some of these demands.

But with most building defects, sellers make repairs as a matter of choice, not obligation: to foster good will or to facilitate closing the deal.

Sellers maintain the right to refuse repair demands, except where requirements are set forth by state law, local ordinance, or the real estate purchase contract.

Legal obligations include things like smoke detectors in specified locations. Contracts usually stipulate that fixtures be in working condition at the close of escrow, that windows not be broken, and that there be no existing leaks in the roof or plumbing.

Before making demands on the seller, evaluate the inspection report for the big problems. Look for conditions that compromise health or safety or involve actual leakage. Most sellers will fix problems affecting sensitive areas such as the roof, fireplace, gas fixtures or electrical wiring.

If the house is not brand new, it is unreasonable to insist upon correction of all defects. You risk alienating the seller and blowing the sale.

The purpose of a home inspection is to know what you are buying before you buy it. If you can't re-negotiate the contract to your satisfaction, you can disapprove the home inspection and cancel the sale without penalty.

As always, having a knowledgeable, local agent representing you is the best security.