Is your home inspector a deal killer?
In my experience, if a deal goes south after the home inspection, it actually went south WAY before the home inspector ever gets hired. It is a bit like spreading tacks all over the highway 10 miles up the road. You happily drive along without a care in the world thinking nothing but good thoughts and enjoying the scenery. But no matter how enjoyable the ride, or how beautiful the view, it will not alter the fact that there is trouble ahead—you just have not got there yet!
The difference between selling a home and tacks in the road is that the ignored dangers regarding selling a home are almost always known or knowable (pre-listing inspections are looking better and better every day). Not being diligent about what is being put on the market leads to heartache for all parties involved. It is the putting-one’s-head-in-the-sand approach to selling homes.
In my opinion, and I see this over and over, it is the listing agent that typically starts this ball rolling. Now I am willing to be corrected on this but, does the listing agent have any responsibility toward what they are listing for sale? Does a listing agent have any responsibility to ask if permits were drawn for all that nice new work that has been done and that is going to be emphasized in the listing information?
If the buyer, based on the inspection report, asks to see those building permit sign-offs for all the new structural changes, electrical work, plumbing work, and HVAC work, should the buyer not be entitled to them? Who is to blame, if the deal goes south, because there are no permits to show the buyer? How can the home inspector be to blame? The home inspector was the LAST link in the chain–not the first link.
Of course if the seller is the one that did not get the permits to do the work, they would be the first link in the chain, and really should have nobody but themselves to blame for having a product that is not saleable—no matter how tasty the frosting is. They might want to blame the home inspector or even their own agent, but really they only have to look as far as their mirror.
I do wonder though, why would an agent take such a listing? If more agents would say, “Sorry Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner, but I think selling your house might prove very difficult without all the permits for all the beautiful work you have done.”
Surely the money saved by not getting the proper permits will be considerably offset by the costs of delaying a sale. It could possibly even result in having to redo some or all of the work. Of course the buyer, like a great fish on the hook, might break free and swim off to another house, leaving the fisherman to turn off his grill and to start over.
If it was not for the fact that there is a sucker born every day, people would likely always get permits. And as long as this principle is alive and well agents will still likely take the listing. I am not sure I have all that much problem with this—we do live in a buyer-beware country after all.
Just don’t blame the last link in the chain—it is the strongest link and is there to protect the buyer.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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