Professional Property Inspection

A professional inspection of a home is not required. Every buyer must determine whether such an inspection is advisable under the specific circumstances. Issues such as the age of the home, the apparent condition of the home and the knowledge and experience of the buyer should all be taken into consideration. In addition, the Property Condition Disclosure Statement provided by the seller may disclose certain conditions that warrant an inspection. In making this decision, keep in mind that the purchase of a home is one of the largest purchases a person makes in a lifetime, in addition to which, a house is a large and complex structure. It is often well worth the additional expense of an inspection for the information and peace of mind it can provide.

Again, this is a determination that must be made by each individual buyer. If a buyer has a specific issue or concern, the inspection may be limited to that concern. Typical examples of these are a well inspection, septic inspection, radon testing, furnace inspection, roof inspection, chimney/fireplace inspection, termite/pest inspection or environmental inspection. If the buyer is concerned about the general condition of the property or is interested in a professional evaluation of the entire property, a more general property inspection is required (which may or may not include some of the specific types of inspections referred to above). The cost of inspections vary widely and will depend both on the extent of the inspection and the experience and qualifications of the inspector. Be aware that there are no licensing requirements in New York State to entitle someone to call himself or herself a home inspector. Therefore, it is extremely important to determine an inspector’s credentials and the intended extent of the inspection before you hire him/her. Your attorney and/or real estate agent may have had experience in working with various inspectors and may be able to assist you in this regard.

The best way to locate a qualified inspector is to obtain a referral and recommendation from someone you trust. Ask your friends and relatives who may have had the need for an inspector in the past. Your attorney and/or real estate agent may be able to assist you in this regard. Once you have obtained the name of a potential inspector, you may wish to check out his/her reputation through the Better Business Bureau and/or the Better Contractors Bureau. You may also wish to obtain references from the inspector and contact people who have used his/her services in the past.

In the case of a general home inspection, this is typically scheduled by the buyer, often with the assistance of the real estate agent. In the case of the more specific types of inspections, such as well, septic or environmental inspections, the ordering of the inspection is usually coordinated between the buyer, the seller, their attorneys and their real estate agents.

Absolutely. This may well provide the inspector with valuable information to assist in the inspection.

Yes. Typically the inspector will provide you with a written report, outlining exactly what was inspected, what was observed and often any suggestion or recommendations for repairs or further inspections.

Although you are not required to be at the inspection, it is highly recommended. While the report will disclose the inspector’s conclusions, much valuable information and understanding can be obtained by accompanying the inspector, asking questions and listening to his/her comments and suggestions, which may not necessarily be reflected in the final report.

It is always helpful to have another person to hear what the inspector says and to ask questions. However, the seller should not be present at the time of the inspection since the inspector may not feel as free to talk to you in the presence of the homeowner, especially regarding observations of improper maintenance or repairs. If you are buying the house with another person and you can’t both be present at the inspection, you may wish to carry a portable tape recorder with you and record the comments of the inspector during the inspection, for later review and discussion.

If the problems affect your willingness to purchase the property under the terms of the contract, you should advise your real estate agent or attorney immediately. You will need to discuss how you wish to address your concerns. In the most severe cases, you may wish to cancel the contract and walk away from the deal. However, if the problems are less severe, you may wish to require various repairs to be made by the seller prior to closing or you may wish to negotiate a reduction in the purchase price, in exchange for which you would assume responsibility for any necessary repairs. In any event, these issues should be addressed promptly. If the problems are minimal and/or were anticipated when you made the offer, you may wish to simply accept the condition of the property without regard to the inspection results.

Depending on the nature of the problem discovered, you may have the right to pursue reimbursement from the inspector for the oversight. However, not all problems or defects are within the scope of an inspection, and it may not have been the inspector’s fault for failing to discover the problem. If the problem was intentionally hidden from you or misrepresented to you by the seller, you might have the right to sue the seller. Otherwise, you are probably out of luck. Therefore, it is important that you inspect and investigate the condition of the property to your full satisfaction before you buy. Remember: “Buyer Beware!”