Market Wise Q&A: Inspections, Reports & Disclosures Do Not Match Up

Pat Kapowich for the San Jose Mercury News

Q: We just made an offer on a house that was accepted without a counteroffer. The house was nicely remodeled and appeared to meet all our expectations. However, we were stunned upon receiving the seller's home inspection report as it reads like it was done on a different house. There are dozens of items -mostly in the attic, crawl space, garage and about the grounds - that need to be corrected. The agents involved act as if it's a like-new house regardless of flaws and that we are lucky to be the successful bidder. Our demands for a price reduction are not going over well. Now what?

A: Welcome to "How not to sell a house." Seller reports and, one would hope, any needed repairs should be posted online prior to potential buyers touring a property, let alone making an offer. All too often sellers and/or their listing agent rush a home to market without disclosures, or worse, they state, "inspections to follow." That is asking for fewer offers, less desirable terms and, frequently, built-in renegotiations.

In your case, most preprinted contracts allow for a mechanism where buyers are allowed to ask for property defects to be corrected. This list needs to be initiated during the investigation phase of the contract. The seller is allowed so many days to respond and then the burden is back on you to either cancel the sale or move forward. Issuing a repair list on a fully disclosed or lender-controlled property is deemed undeserved.


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