Dear Barry,

We recently purchased a bank-repossessed house. When we made our offer, our agent advised us not to get a home inspection since it was just an additional cost to us and the bank would not fix anything anyway. In hindsight, we realize that we should have had an inspection because the roof leaks and we get standing water around the foundation during wet weather. Do we have recourse or did we just make a huge mistake in not getting an inspection? –Barbara

Dear Barbara,

Let me begin with a message for everyone who may consider buying a home and for every agent who is reading this column: Any agent who advises a client not to have a home inspection, regardless of the circumstances of the transaction, should be placed in stocks, as was common punishment for disgraceful behavior in 17th century colonial America.

Advising a client to forego a home inspection is the height of misrepresentation. It is a major ethical breach — the act of a “slick” salesperson or of someone who is inexcusably naive.

The purpose of a home inspection is not to prepare a repair list for the seller. Your agent’s reasoning, therefore, was irrelevant. A home inspection is meant to inform you of the condition of what you are buying. A home inspector does not merely report on conditions that the seller might repair, but on conditions that you might have to repair or on safety violations that could have life-threatening consequences.

Your agent is clearly in need of re-education as to the meaning and intent of real estate disclosure. Whether you have recourse is a legal question that can be answered only by a real estate attorney. In the mean time, it would be wise to have an after-purchase home inspection to learn what additional defects await discovery. And be sure to find a highly experienced home inspector with a reputation for comprehensive thoroughness.

Dear Barry,

We bought our home six months ago and had it professionally inspected. At that time, there were no apparent problems with the swimming pool. But two weeks after moving in, we could tell that the pool was losing water. Sure enough, a leak detection company discovered leakage in the underground piping, a condition no home inspector could have discovered. The sellers reimbursed the $200 leak detection fee but refused to pay for repairs. They claim no knowledge of any previous leakage, but this does not seem plausible to us. Do we have any recourse? –Matt

Dear Matt,

It seems highly unlikely that the pool level only began to recede when you took possession of the property. The sellers, it would seem, must have known the pool was losing water, because periodic refilling would have been necessary to provide a full pool at the close of escrow.

Depending upon the cost of repairs, you might try testing this case in small claims court. In preparing your case, you should ask the neighbors if they are aware of any problems with the pool. Additionally, you should call as many pool maintenance companies as are listed in your phone book to see if any have worked on your pool and if their records show that this problem was diagnosed.

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

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