By Kay Wilson-Bolton
August 20, 2005
There is never an occasion when a buyer should waive his or her rights to inspect a home prior to completing a purchase. Recently a broker from San Francisco represented a buyer of a condo he had never seen, and because of the market area he works in, he told the buyer to offer $5000 over the asking price. He also told them to waive their rights to a home inspection and termite report in order to insure that their offer would be accepted.
Accepting this offer was difficult for the seller because they felt the buyer was getting poor advice—and they were.
The purchase contract prepared by the California Association of REALTORS® provides for home inspections and time frames to protect buyers and provide ample opportunity for the study of disclosures and conduct additional research.
Recently, a buyer bought a home without a home inspection and without receiving a disclosure from the seller, only to learn after the close of escrow that the home had a bath and a bedroom that was unpermitted and had to be demolished.
Every buyer should take advantage of the home inspection protocol, and every seller should take time to complete the disclosure forms that make the buyer aware of the condition of the property.
This checklist could be helpful when you visit a home and talk to the listing agent. Sellers can use the list in preparing the necessary disclosures.
- What is the visible condition of the property? Poor exterior condition may spell problems inside.
- Does the house require major repairs or replacements? Major repairs, such as a new roof, can be costly. Consider these costs if you decide to make an offer.
- How old are the mechanical systems? Consider the cost of replacing older systems if you decide to make an offer.
- Has the house been well maintained? Ask if the sellers have kept any maintenance records and review their disclosure documents.
- Where is the house located on the block? Corner lots can be spacious, but exposed to more traffic and noise. Interior lots can be quieter but too close to neighbors.
- How is the house sited on the lot? Be sure the area around the house is graded properly to provide good drainage.
- Are there noteworthy architectural features? Front porches, gables or other details add value to the property.
- Are there noteworthy landscaping features? Established trees, shrubbery and perennials add value to the property.
- What is the condition of the houses on either side and across the street? If neighboring properties are too run-down, they may affect your resale value.
- What is the surrounding neighborhood like? Look for evidence of a sense of identity and pride of ownership in the other homes. Ask if the neighbors have any annoying habits.
- How close is it to shopping and schools? Nearby services can also add value.
- Are there community amenities nearby? Parks or recreation centers can add value to the property. Is the facility a homeless shelter or a community center?
- How long has the house been on the market? A long time on the market may indicate problems with the house or neighborhood that you need to know.
- Why does the seller want to sell? If there’s a problem with the house or the neighborhood, assess the situation carefully.
If you are asked to sign forms you don’t understand, don’t sign them until you do. Don’t be pressured into accepting conditions that bother you.
The Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® offers the services of an Ombudsman Committee to assist with problems or questions you might have. You should speak with your REALTOR® first, then the broker or officer manager. The Association office number is 981.2100.