Demand Inspections and Disclosures
You can never be too trusting when it comes to buying real estate. The buyer is entitled to know what he/she is getting for their money. The buyer should insist on an inspection and full disclosure of the house being purchased.
Why Do You Need an Inspection?
An inspection is an opportunity to have an expert give you an oral and written report as to the condition of the property you are purchasing.
After researching recent sales in the area, you decide that 30 year old home for $180,000 is worth the money. You make an offer which is accepted. The next step would be to hire an inspector. The report shows that the concrete foundation is cracked. The roof and plumbing need to be replaced. The cost for repairs adds up to $40,000. Your inspection contingency would let you back out of this deal or negotiate.
Remember to accompany the inspector during the visit. He/She will give oral comments that give more specifics as to the problems of the property. When writing a report, the inspector must abide by certain legalities on paper. He/She will be more open in person.
Why Do You Need Disclosures?
In most states, the law requires the seller to disclose any knowledge about the condition or history of their home to the buyer. For example a seller would disclose information ranging from a leaking roof to their house being built on a sacred Indian burial site.
Disclosure contingency gives you protection. Upon discovering the roof needs replacing, you can either back out of the deal or renegotiate for the cost of repairs.
It also makes the seller responsible legally. A seller may go on record saying nothing is wrong with the house. You move into your newly purchased house only to discover that cracks in the foundation that were filled in and painted over. A court of law can view the disclosure statement as evidence that you had no prior knowledge. The seller is held liable for the repairs.
How Do You Get an Inspection?
The inspection is written in as a contingency in your offer. Many real estate contracts automatically have an inspection written into the terms.
The buyer is responsible for the inspector's fee. Ask your real estate agent to recommend a list of local inspectors. Please check references carefully. This type of service may not be regulated in your area. A retired city or county building inspector may be your best bet.
There are two national trade organizations. One is the American Society of Home Inspectors(ASHI) or the National Association of Home Inspectors(NAHI).
How Do You Get Disclosures?
In California, the law states that a disclosure statement be provided to the buyer who then has three days to approve or disapprove. If the buyer does find the defects acceptable then the agreement is broken.
Your agent or attorney can clarify the laws pertaining to disclosures in your state.
If there is no statutory procedure in your area, the buyer must request it as a contingency in the list of terms. Your investment is not worth being jeopardized. Insist on a home inspection and full disclosure. Make your purchase contingent on approving the results of both.
A "final walk-through" is not a home inspection. Structural problems are only revealed with a home inspection. A walk-through is designed to make sure the seller has not damaged the property since your first visit.