In the heat of competitive bidding on a property, prospective buyers looking for any slight edge they can get – especially if they’ve already lost out on other homes – may be tempted to waive their right to a home inspection prior to signing a contract. As a professional Realtor, I would never advise any buyer client to do so. Here’s why.
Let’s start with what a home inspection is meant to achieve. The true purpose of a home inspection is to identify the condition of the home, thereby allowing the buyer (and seller) to make informed decisions. It is an educational process as well, allowing the buyer to learn as much as possible about the systems and operation of the home they’re about to live in. Why would any sensible buyer choose to forego that opportunity?
Unfortunately, some home buyers view the home inspection as a tool to chisel down the sale price of the home. Many home sellers have, understandably, become fearful of the process, wondering what minor (or major) defects might be uncovered that will reduce their net sale price. As a result, an offer with no inspection contingency might sound attractive. So how can we get buyers, sellers, home inspectors, Realtors and attorneys all working together to achieve everyone’s desired outcome?
Sellers who have honestly revealed any material defects they’re aware of shouldn’t have need to worry about a home inspection. Minor issues can usually be dealt with quickly and easily to alleviate any concerns the buyers may have. It is almost always less expensive for a home seller to make necessary repairs prior to closing than to escrow an estimated amount for those repairs to be done afterwards. A savvy seller can also choose to do their own home inspection prior to listing the property for sale. This gives the seller the chance to make recommended repairs before the buyer even walks in the door. When buyers see even minor issues such as a light switch that doesn’t work, or drawers that don’t close properly, they quickly start wondering what other bigger issues they aren’t seeing. A pre-listing inspection and subsequent attention to the minor things can earn the seller much more than the cost of the inspection and repairs.
In 2005, it became law in NYS that anyone providing home inspections for compensation must be licensed, or must be an architect, engineer, or code enforcement official acting within the scope of their profession. Experienced, knowledgeable home inspectors are not in the business of creating fear for buyers or sellers. They understand the true purpose and strive to educate their clients about the home, providing information and consultation. The same is true for real estate professionals and real estate attorneys. Ultimately, the goal is to negotiate sensibly and armed with facts pertinent to the transaction so that everyone feels like they got a good deal, with no surprises, and no need to sacrifice an important part of the process.
By Gail Fattizzi, Executive Director of Westchester Real Estate, Inc., Lic. Real Estate Broker