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House Inspection Warning for Owner-Sellers

September 14th, 2009

House inspection could be used by prospective home buyers to force owner-sellers to spend more money for unreasonable house repairs, so if you are a homeowner planning to sell your home, make sure that the home inspection portion of the purchase contract signed by the buyer is fair towards you and your buyer and that it complies with your state regulations.

According to a real estate lawyer, owner-sellers should also see to it that the term whole-house inspection is not used in the contract. The correct term should be inspection of major components because, he said, all parts of the house cannot be possibly inspected in a regular home inspection. There are also parts and systems of the house that are not inspected in regular inspections, as described in the codes of conduct of national home inspection associations.

The case of a recent house inspection in northeastern Pennsylvania illustrates the challenges faced by owner-sellers after home inspections. In this case, the buyer asked for a whole-house inspection, which the seller granted. The buyer’s real estate agent later gave a response, with a request that a certified heating contractor inspect the furnace further.
The seller agreed and the leaking problem was repaired, with the repair receipts given to the buyer’s realtor.

But three days before closing, the buyer hired another heating contractor to make a walk-through house inspection and demanded another $450 to fix further the furnace. Now, the owner-seller is upset that the buyer seemed to be taking advantage of her desire to sell her house and her willingness to overlook standard practices about purchase contracts and closing.

Real estate lawyers said that in most states, once the home inspection results have been accepted by the buyer, the contract to purchase or contract to sell can already be carried out. They explain that the seller can refuse the requested repair request and still make the buyer obliged to comply with the provisions of the purchase agreement.

In Indiana, the home inspection and the response to the inspection should be done within 15 days of the signing of the purchase agreement.

Lawyers also explained that after the requested repairs have been accomplished by professionals, buyers can ask for reinspection of the repaired parts or systems to make sure they are properly repaired, but they can no longer add other repair requests to the original list of requested repairs. They said further that a potential buyer cannot use a third-party to conduct another house inspection long after the original inspection and response have been accomplished.

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