Dear Barry,

We bought our home about a year ago. At the time, we were renting and in a hurry to move because our landlord had given us notice. If it hadn’t been for the rush, we might have had a home inspection, but our Realtor said we didn’t need one because the house had been “well cared for.” That advice would be laughable if it weren’t for the thousands of dollars we’ve spent for plumbing, electrical and miscellaneous repairs. The seller omitted all these problems from his disclosure statement, but we’re especially disappointed in our Realtor for the faulty advice she gave. Shouldn’t she have recommended a home inspection, and isn’t she or the seller liable for these repairs? –Pati

Dear Pati,

You had every right to expect full disclosure from the seller, as required by law, and proper advice from your agent, as required by the Realtors’ Code of Ethics. Unfortunately, complaints such as these are not uncommon.

Competent agents know that it is unethical to discourage a buyer from hiring a home inspector. There is, in fact, no situation when an agent should advise against a home inspection, regardless of whether the home is brand-new, well-maintained, being sold as-is, or any other lame excuse. Faulty advice of this kind is an outgrowth of professional ignorance or personal dishonesty, neither of which is acceptable for a licensed real estate professional.

Your first course of action is to find the most qualified and experienced home inspector in the area and have your home thoroughly evaluated. A good inspector will find more defects than you have yet discovered: I guaranty it. Once you have the inspection report, there may be cause for legal action against the agent and the seller. That is something you’ll have to decide once you know the full extent of undisclosed defects.

Dear Barry,

My home is about two years old, and the water supply is a well. Last week, the well shut down because of an electrical problem. The people who originally installed the well said the power line to the fuse box was #14 gauge wire and should be #12 gauge. They ran a new line but said it would cost me $500 to have it buried. An electrician I spoke to said the wire should have been #12 gauge in the first place. Since this was the well contractor’s error, why should I share in the cost of repair? –Linda

Dear Linda,

You shouldn’t have to share this cost. The #14 gauge wires are definitely undersized for a well pump, and the contractor who installed the well and wired the equipment should have known this. If he debates the point, ask him to provide a copy of the pump manufacturer’s installation manual. Those instructions should specify the proper wire size for the system. Hopefully, the contractor will accept responsibility for all necessary repairs. If not, you can file a complaint with the state agency that licenses his profession. If that doesn’t work, you can seek redress in small claims court.

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

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