Dear Barry,

When I hired a home inspector, I expected him to help me decide whether I should buy the property and to let me know if I was paying too much. After the inspection, he gave me a detailed list of building defects, but when asked if I should buy the property and what he though of the price, he hemmed and hawed but would not give me a straight answer. What’s the point of a home inspection if the inspector won’t address these essential questions? – Diane

Dear Diane,

Home inspectors are consultants who disclose the physical conditions of property. They are not financial or investment counselors, and they are not qualified to function as real estate appraisers. A buyer’s decision to complete a transaction is a personal one, based upon numerous factors that are beyond the professional expertise and concern of a home inspector and not remotely related to the physical state of the property.

A home that is a good investment for one person might not be a wise purchase for someone else. A property defect that is a deal killer for one buyer may not be a decisive issue to another. A home inspector can provide information pertinent to your purchase decision, enabling you to make a more educated choice, but the final decision is predicated on criteria not involving the condition of the property and must be entirely your own.

Buyers who seek counsel regarding the practicality of completing a purchase should consult an accountant or investment advisor.

Dear Barry,

I’m selling my condo and am annoyed with the buyer’s home inspector. He insists on inspecting the exterior of the property, even though the outside of a condo is maintained by the owners’ association and is not included in the sale. As far as I’m concerned, the exterior has nothing to do with this transaction. Why should the common areas be included in a home inspection? – Geoff

Dear Geoff,

There are conflicting schools of thought regarding which portions of a condominium should be included in a home inspection. Some inspectors evaluate the interior only, while others also inspect the exterior. The argument against outside inspection is that the exterior is owned collectively by the owners’ association and is not being purchased by the individual condo buyer.

The opposing view regards the elimination of an exterior inspection as a risky and over-reaching omission. Although the owners’ association may be responsible for exterior repairs, it is still in the buyer’s financial interest to be informed of exterior problems. For example, a deteriorated roof could produce water damage to the interior of the condo; substandard entry stairs could result in an injury lawsuit against the individual condo owner, as well as against the owners’ association; and faulty ground drainage problems could cause rot or mold to occur within the dwelling.

Considering the direct impact exterior problems can have on the interests of individual condominium owners, and in view of the fact that each owner shares in the collective costs of the association, an exterior inspection is a reasonable part of a thorough condominium inspection.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


Send tips, feedback or a letter to the editor to or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 124.

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