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Home Inspection Questions

A home inspection is usually required by a bank when buying or selling a house. This is done to ensure the property does not possess any hidden flaws that are not being disclosed during the sale. It also helps in checking that the property has been valued at the right price. A home inspection can have many repercussions. It could end up in a buyer backing out of the deal, a buyer offering the seller a lower price, an appraiser getting a better idea of the value of the property, a banker deciding if the property is worth the amount requested in the loan, and/or a homeowner knowing what repairs need to be done.

Listed below are a few questions answered by real estate lawyers on home inspection related issues.

In Florida, do realtors have an obligation to refer three home inspection companies to prospective home buyers?

In Florida, there is no administrative rule either in the Florida Real Estate Commission or Florida statutes that states a realtor needs to recommend or refer home inspectors to buyers. So any recommendation made by the realtor would be voluntary and no alternatives need be provided.

A seller I was in touch with decided not to sell his property after he completed a home inspection. Since he broke the contract, am I allowed to recoup my out of pocket expense for the inspection and appraisal?

Unfortunately, all you can do is to force the seller to sell you the property in question. This would be an action for specific performance and you should also be able to get your earnest money deposit back. However, carefully review the default clause of your purchase and sale agreement to see if there is any way you would be entitled to additional compensation as well.

If a dead tree is found after a home inspection, can it been seen as a home defect? Would it become the seller’s responsibility to get it removed?

To begin with, a buyer has a certain responsibility to inspect the property. A dead tree would be pretty apparent so he/she could insist on its removal as one of the conditions of sale. Usually, home defects focus on the property structure itself rather than plants growing on the property. A disclosure for a dead tree is normally not needed. The following is a list of defects that usually need to be disclosed:

Points for Disclosure
  1. 1. Roof defects
  2. 2. Electrical system defects
  3. 3. Plumbing, water heater, or septic tank defects
  4. 4. Heating/air conditioning defects
  5. 5. Swimming pool defects
  6. 6. Problems like bulges, cracks, or water seepage in the foundation or basement
  7. 7. Disputes over liens, boundary lines, or other encroachments
  8. 8. Environmental hazards like the presence of asbestos, lead paint, radon, toxic wastes, underground tanks, and more
  9. 9. Pest or termite infestations
  10. 10. Location in a floodplain, wetland, or shoreline
  11. 11. Problems with any mechanical equipment or appliances being sold along with the property
  12. 12. Disclosure of pending changes in zoning, property tax assessments, or special assessments

Can I get out of a mortgage if I bought a home that was contingent upon passing a home inspection, and then later in trying to sell that same home, find it doesn’t pass inspection?

Based on the facts of your case, you can choose to sue the inspector who indicated that the house passed inspection when you purchased it, provided the statute of limitations has not lapsed.

After all home inspection tests were either performed or waived; I made a ratified contract with a buyer. Now the buyer wants to be released from the contract because an "unknown irritant" affects her in a certain part of the house. What can I do?

You could try and enforce the written contract and force the buyer to go through with the sale. She could then sue to try to rescind, but without proof of what the “unknown irritant” is she has a very slim chance of succeeding. Even if you don’t get specific performance from the court and the buyer has to complete the sale, you could still be awarded damages as a result of the lost sale and her breach of contract. Also, check if your sales contract has a provision to tax your buyer with attorney’s fees if she is found in breach. Then you can hire an attorney at her expense.

While a home inspection is extremely useful, always remember that it is not a protection against future problems. Many electrical items like heat systems and air conditioners in a house can still break down after having passed an inspection. Getting a home inspection done should not be treated as an appraisal that will help you determine the value of a property and should also not be confused with a code inspection that can pass or fail a house based on local building code compliance.
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