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ASK THE INSPECTOR

In Hot Market or Cold, Caution Pays Off

April 22, 2001|BARRY STONE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Question: In my area, properties sell as fast as they are listed. Sellers receive multiple offers at full price or more, with no contingencies for repairs or upgrades. In this competitive market, many buyers are passing up home inspections just to get an accepted offer. With this pressure to secure a deal, how thorough and complete a home inspection should a buyer expect to have without blowing the deal?

Answer: Frenzied markets sometimes encourage buyers to throw caution to the wind. But rushing to buy without regard for the condition of the house is an invitation to monetary disaster and grief. It is gambling, not investing.

When purchasing commodities as costly as real estate, full knowledge of what you are buying is indispensable. In hot or cold markets, the kinds of problems likely to be discovered by a competent home inspector are the same. Turning a blind eye to these unseen conditions could saddle you with thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs or with conditions that could affect resale. of the property.

Additionally, there are the potential consequences of undisclosed violations should be considered too.

Competing offers from other buyers may prevent your making repair demands, but they shouldn't prevent your becoming fully informed before committing your hard earned dollars. Regardless of the real estate climate, it is essential to know what you are buying before you buy it. It's a simple matter of allowing prudence. to direct your investment decisions.

Builder Is Responsible For Needed Repairs

Q: We are buying a new house but have encountered a disclosure problem. The purchase contract states that home inspectors are not allowed until after our walk-through inspection. But there's a catch: Any defects or problems not found during the walk-through are not covered under the builder's warranty. This means that we can have a home inspection but that no problems found by the inspector will be repaired.Tthe builder insists that an home inspector will not find problems in a new home. Is this true? If not, what should we do about the inspection restrictions?

A: The builder of a new home is required to correct all defective conditions, regardless of who discovers them, you or your inspector; regardless of when the problems are found, before or after their walk-through inspection. This applies to conditions found at least one year after the close of escrow. In some states, builder liability extends for 10 years.

Refusal to allow a professional inspector on the property is legally questionable and ethically reprehensible. Any builder who does business in this manner is not likely to provide responsive service if problems develop after the close of escrow. As to the likelihood of finding problems in a new home: A home inspector will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of all visible and accessible portions of the premises, including the plumbing, heating, and electrical systems, the roof, built-in appliances, fireplace, etc., and will consider safety compliance, general quality of materials and workmanship, and much more. If you elect to proceed with this purchase, get some legal advice. Until you close escrow, you can negotiate from a position of strength. After the close, the builders can stonewall you. Buyer beware.!

Builder Might Have Something to Hide

Q: I am purchasing a new housme from a builder and want my home inspector to check it out before closing escrow. But the builder refuses to let the inspector on the grounds and has threatened to have him charged him with trespassing if he's seen anywhere on the property. Other buyers in the subdivision hired this same inspector, and the builder is irate because of problems that were found. In fact, the county inspector refused to pass these other homes until some of those conditions were corrected. What is your experience in dealing with new-home builders? Do they have a right to tell us whom we can use for home inspections?

A: Honest and reputable builders are amenable to home inspectionsand give inspectors free access and full cooperation. Some home inspectors have been known to make over-reaching recommendations on new-home inspections, but recent actions by the county building inspector would seem to validate the track record of your home inspector in this regard.

Your builder is not being forthright. All new housmes have defects that can be identified by a qualified inspector, and forthright contractors welcome such input. You can use legal means to enforce your right to use the inspector of your choice. However, you might also consider whether you want to buy from a builder who is unwilling to address defects. This situation might be a warning, a hint to shop in another subdivision.

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If you have For questions or comments, contact Barry Stone through his Web through his Web site, at http://www.housedetective.com. Distributed by Access Media Group.

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