Dear Barry,

The people who were buying our house hired a home inspector. After a five-hour inspection, we were given a list of minor defects. We agreed to repair all the items listed in the inspection report, but the buyers cancelled the purchase that very day. We went ahead with the repairs anyway but were totally dismayed by the buyers’ reaction and can’t understand why the deal fell through. Is it common practice for sellers to be given this kind of runaround after a home inspection? – Elaine

Dear Elaine,

There may be no way to determine what motivated your buyers to bail out of the deal, but be assured this disappointing outcome is not a common practice in the aftermath of a home inspection.

The home inspection contingency in a real estate purchase contract provides buyers the option to cancel the deal when the inspection report contains unacceptable conditions. For some buyers, however, this contingency is a convenient escape clause if they choose to walk away from a purchase for undisclosed reasons. The truth might have been that they found another home more to their liking. Or they may have failed to quality for a loan and were too embarrassed to say so. A relative may have decided not to advance their down payment. The value of their stock portfolio may have declined. Or they simply may not have been serious buyers in the first place. Who knows? This cancellation may even have been a blessing in disguise, given the problems that “shaky” buyers can pose after a purchase.

On the bright side, you’ve now repaired all the defects discovered by the home inspector. The next buyer, most likely, will also hire an inspector, and that report should look very clean. Best of luck with that transaction.

Dear Barry,

My home has a flat roof that causes the interior to become unbearably hot (as high as 95 degrees) during the summer months. The air conditioner runs all day but can’t keep up with the heat absorbed by the roof. A roofing contractor has recommended white rocks or white paint to reflect some of the heat, at a cost of about $1,000. Would this be a cost-effective remedy? Is there anything else I can do? – Marie

Dear Marie,

Homes with flat roofs tend to be solar collectors, gaining considerable heat during hot summer days, often at a rate that exceeds the cooling capacity of the air conditioner. A reflective surface, such as a white or metallic finish, would definitely be helpful but may not satisfactorily remedy the entire problem. Additional ceiling insulation may also be needed to minimize heat penetration. What’s more, the air conditioner may need servicing, or the system may simply be inadequately sized for the dwelling.

An energy audit of your home would also be advisable to determine the full scope of your situation and to consider the range of potential remedies. In some areas, local power companies provide energy audits at no cost. Check with your service provider to see if they offer this service.

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


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