Selling a home that is built in the 1970s or earlier brings up additional home inspections that a buyer may want to consider, such as inspecting for:
· lead-based paint
· sewer lines
· soil contamination from an oil storage tank
· mold, etc.
But should a seller think twice before allowing a buyer to do these additional specialized home inspections?
Getting a general home inspection is common, and most buyers and sellers are well-aware of this practice and are accepting of it. A seller should allow a buyer to investigate the home. I think everyone on both sides of the transaction would agree that it is better to know about a problem before the transaction closes.
But what if the buyer wants to have a home inspection that is not commonplace in the market, such as a sewer line inspection? The seller didn’t have a sewer line inspection when they purchased the home, and they have no knowledge if there is a problem. If a buyer’s sewer line inspection does reveal a problem, it can take thousands to tens-of-thousands of dollars to repair. And if this buyer doesn’t go through with the purchase, the seller is now obligated to disclose this problem to other buyers. Is the seller better off not allowing this inspection to happen and let this buyer rescind? (Because most likely, the next buyer will not have a sewer line inspection because it is not a common practice in the market.)
A colleague of mine ran into this predicament. She is the listing agent of a home built in the late 1920s. The issue is the seller already needs to bring money to the closing table (but it is not a short-sale), and doesn’t know if there is a sewer line problem. If there is a sewer line connect problem, the seller cannot afford to remedy it. Should the seller allow the buyer to do this additional specialized inspection? Or let this buyer go and hope that the next buyer won’t have this inspection?
In this case, the buyer’s agent and the listing agent came up with a solution that satisfied both parties, and the transaction is moving forward.
In an ideal world, every problem of a home should be known to a buyer before they agree to purchase the home. But I’d like to hear what you think.
(And if you are a seller, be sure to consult your Realtor and your real estate attorney if you have any questions or concerns about what an additional specialized home inspection will mean to you.)