Dear Barry,

In a past article, you wrote, “It is the height of professional irresponsibility for any real estate agent to advise a client against having a home inspection.” In most cases, I would agree with this advice. But in a hot market, purchase offers that call for a home inspection are often rejected by sellers. Buyers hoping for an accepted offer sometimes must forego a home inspection, particularly when there are competing offers for a home. Wouldn’t you agree that there are exceptions to your rule, when as-is offers are more likely to be accepted? –Marc

Dear Marc,

In a hot market, it is understandable that a seller would stipulate an as-is sale. At the same time, it is essential that the state of “as-is” be fully defined. Buying a property as-is means accepting whatever defects may exist, without requiring repairs or price adjustments by sellers. It does not mean, however, accepting a package of unknown and undisclosed defects, to be discovered after the close of escrow. The prudent approach here would be to have a home inspection for the sake of buyer information, without making the deal contingent upon the findings of the home inspector.

It should be remembered that home inspections are not exclusively beneficial to buyers. Full disclosure provides liability protection for everyone in the transaction. Foregoing an inspection for the sake of obtaining an accepted offer exposes sellers and agents to significant liability. What happens when buyers, in the aftermath of a “hot market” purchase, discover major undisclosed problems? Answer: Four attorneys, one for the buyer, one for the seller, and one for each of the agents, become gainfully retained.

This is just one more reason why “it is the height of professional irresponsibility for any real estate agent to advise a client against having a home inspection.”

Dear Barry,

I’ve owned my home for six months and hired a home inspector before buying it. Now I’m having trouble with plumbing, and two plumbers have said the inspector was negligent for not reporting these problems. Do I have any recourse? –Bryan

Dear Bryan,

The plumbers may be correct in alleging that your home inspector was negligent, but there are many situations in which contractors and tradespeople incorrectly assume what is within the scope of a home inspection. A two-point test should be applied to determine whether the inspector should have disclosed the plumbing problems. (1) Were the problems visible and accessible at the time of the inspection? (2) Were the problems within the specified scope of the inspection, according to the inspection report and the standards of practice of the home inspection industry? If the answer to both questions is yes, then the inspector is liable.

To enforce this liability, your first step would be to notify the home inspector of the problems and allow a reinspection before you make repairs. Many home inspection contracts stipulate that the inspector must be allowed to see the problem before it is repaired or the inspector is then absolved of liability. If your plumbers have already completed the repairs, you may no longer have recourse against the inspector.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.

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