There have been times this year when my services have been cancelled because the buyer wants to save money, and I have been told by my clients that they originally did not intend to have an inspection; however, I am now seeing a push to have home inspections become mandatory or at least required for the sale of a house.
One of my inspections this month came about not from my clients desires to know that they were buying a sound home, but for the reason that their lender would not go through with the loan until they were satisfied that the home would not present problems which could cause a financial strain on the clients. They were in particular worried about some statements from the seller about the roof. In the past, my main connection with lenders had only been one of hopes of cross promotion. They never told their clients that an inspection was absolutely needed, but lenders have made a 180 degree turn in this belief when it comes to homes that may have issues. Appraisers were generally all they needed for an assessment on the condition of a structure. Lenders are concerned that possibly large expenses may prove to be detrimental to a client’s ability to pay a mortgage, so many lenders are considering the soundness of a property in further detail. The kind of detail which a real estate inspector provides.
The next trend has not led to more inspections all around, but it is starting to force homeowners to build wisely. A large part of our country has homes not built to any kind of standard due to the fact that building departments which insure quality home construction only exist in large metropolitan areas. Even then, homeowners may not seek the proper permits for expanding or remodelling their homes. After the situation in Hutto where several subpar homes were coming apart, Texas moved forward on a plan to have new homes in all sections of the state inspected before they are sold. To counter homeowners who did not seek approval for their home modifications, cities are using planes to photograph homes for appraisers, so changes to the structure can be spotted. These aerial programs have increased in the last two years.
Point of Sale Inspections seem to be most prominent in Ohio and Minnesota, but you can find them in many parts of the country. Usually a city council decides that they want to have a way to check that the quality of their older homes are guaranteed. One reason is to keep the historical character of a community, while another reason is to make sure that buyers are obtaining a quality product. With these inspections, the cities require that repairs be made prior to sale or that the seller should have an escrow account set up to pay for these repairs. City councils are trying to find ways to protect their neighborhoods, but many residents have been vocal to their opposition to such measures. The issue where I find a problem is when someone needs to move out of a home that they just purchased a few years ago, and now they find that to make the sale will cause them a significant loss. All inspections are visual. Items like the septic system or foundation can never be fully investigated; however, a good inspector should be able to make a reasonable determination. What if the inspector missed a sign that there was a needed repair? What if the buyer(who may become a future seller) chose not to have an inspection? In both cases, the seller faces a financial burden when required to make repairs which may have been needed in the home when they bought it. I am thinking of a person who may have moved to a town for a job, but then was transferred to another location three years later. Little equity would have been built up, if any at all, so the seller will loose money on the home sale.
As an inspector, I am quite happy with any plan that would increase my business, but I do have my reservations over the point of sale inspection rules. I feel that repairs and quality of the home should be settled through negotiation between buyer and seller, and that cities should be careful not to impose too much of a burden on the sellers to ensure that neighborhoods remain protected.