SHOULD YOU WAIVE YOUR HOME INSPECTION ON THE PURCHASE OFFER
Yes, we hear your objection. Is it really necessary to spend hundreds of dollars on a home inspection when you are already spending a bunch of money on your home purchase? As a legal professional in the Hudson Valley Region of New York, I am going to give you a simple answer to this question, “YES!” Now, here’s why.
Home inspections can uncover potentially life-threatening problems like mold or faulty wiring. A home inspection is a critical step in purchasing a home both for safety reasons, as well as for a confirmation of the condition of your investment. When purchasing a home, the purchaser has the burden of uncovering issues or faults. The seller is not required to give you any such information regarding the property. Typically, properties are sold in “as is” condition. What you see is what you get – whether or not you actually “saw” it.
By completing a home inspection prior to entering into contract, a purchaser can often negotiate with the seller to have certain items fixed at the cost of the seller, or alternatively, negotiate a credit on the purchase price so the purchaser can make the repairs post-closing. If the seller refuses to make repairs or the parties fail to come to an agreement on a credit, the purchaser will still have the option to walk away from the transaction before entering into the contract.
Another reason why a home inspection is a vital step to purchasing a home, especially as a first-time homebuyer, is that an inspection may give you a starter 101 course in home maintenance and a checklist of items that need your attention sooner rather than later.
Here’s a simple list of reasons why waiving your home inspection is not a good idea:
- Know what you are getting into before it’s too late: A quality home inspection can reveal critical and unsound conditions of the structure itself and all improvements thereto. Completing a home inspection alerts the purchaser to repairs and maintenance which may be needed immediately or over time. If the purchaser is not comfortable with the results of the home inspection the purchaser is not required to sign the formal contract of sale. Which means the purchaser can move on to another property with a limited financial loss (oftentimes, just the cost of the inspection itself).
- May reveal illegal improvements and save you from a headache down the road: A home inspection may reveal whether an improvement, like a finished basement, deck, or shed, was completed absent the proper permits. Unpermitted work may be found later in the process during the “municipal search” if the building department flags the work as a violation. Knowing about it before entering into the contract will prepare the purchaser for delays if the seller elects to remedy the open violations during the contract timeframe.
- With safety comes peace of mind for you and your family: One of the most important aspects of a home inspection, is that it can detect safety issues like high levels of radon, the presence of carbon monoxide, mold, structural issues, etc.
- Is the property worth your investment? Just because the inspection report discloses issues with the property’s condition does not mean it’s not a worthwhile investment. However, by conducting a home inspection, the purchaser not only has an opportunity to confirm the property’s condition, but if issues are detected, the purchaser can then negotiate repairs and/or request a price reduction/credit from the seller. Many purchasers decide to take a price reduction or credit and complete their repairs post-closing at their leisure.
So then why do some purchasers decide to waive inspections despite all of the benefits of completing one prior to entering into the formal contract? Some purchasers are willing to take the increased risk due to their own knowledge and skills. Some purchasers really love the property and are nervous the seller may not accept their offer if they choose to conduct an inspection. Then what does it mean to fully waive a home inspection or conduct an inspection post-contract for “informational purposes only”?
Simply stated – it comes down to a significantly increased level of risk. If an inspection is conducted after contracts are signed and the inspection discloses issues causing the purchaser to terminate the transaction, the purchaser would be considered in default and would forfeit the contract down payment to the seller. Additionally, the closing of title is final, which means the seller will not have any liability for issues discovered post-closing. Another risk many people do not consider is that property is often sold in “as is” condition. “As is” typically means in substantially the same condition at the time of closing as it was at the time of contract. Since most purchasers complete a home inspection immediately before signing the contract, a home inspection report provides the purchaser with a detailed summary of the property’s “as is” condition. If the purchaser waives the home inspection and discovers an issue during the final walkthrough, i.e. the central air conditioning is not working, the purchaser will have no documentation proving the air conditioning was in working order at the time the contract was entered into.
This is not intended to be legal advise. You should contact your attorney to discuss your specific situation.
Rachel J. Rosenwasser is an Associate at the firm and practices residential and commercial real estate.
She can be reached at 845-764-9656 and by email.