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You Call That An Inspection?

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Posted On: 03/14/2012

QUESTION:

I bought a home and was told by the broker that the walk-through inspection was good. Later, I found out the inspection was done with the stove shut off, no light bulbs, cut wires and a dangling electrical box. How can an inspector approve such a property?

ANSWER:

The purpose of a “walk-through” inspection is to assure that the property at the time of closing is in materially the same condition as it was at the time the sale agreement was accepted a few weeks or months earlier.

It’s important that the walk-through is not rushed – it can take several hours – that the purchaser or a buyer broker physically attends the inspection and that the inspector is selected by the purchaser.

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Marvin Goldstein, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, says an ASHI inspector who “conducts an inspection with the electricity and gas turned off, must disclose that this condition existed at the time of the inspection, as well as what wasn’t able to be functionally tested during the inspection.”

Goldstein adds that “since this isn’t a conclusive inspection, any agreement should be contingent on the findings of a re-inspection when all utilities are turned on. Sometimes the utility companies will cooperate by turning on the utilities of a vacant house for just one day to facilitate the inspection.”

All inspection clauses do not equally protect purchasers. For instance, there may be a right to an inspection – but no obligation for the owner to make any repairs. The clause may not require an inspection that must be “satisfactory” to the buyer. If properly written, such a clause can allow a dissatisfied purchaser to end the transaction without penalty. In the usual case, the buyer continues the transaction if the owner makes repairs before closing or provides a credit to the purchaser.

For specifics, please speak with a local real estate broker or attorney.

Peter G. Miller is the author of The Common-Sense Mortgage and a veteran real estate columnist. Have a question? Please write to peter@ctwfeatures.com.

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