Should you waive your home inspection contingency when buying?
ATLANTA - With today’s shortage of homes for sale, it’s no longer unusual to see several offers submitted to the seller for consideration, but some buyers have decided to make their offers more attractive to the seller by waiving their right to a home inspection.
Is this just good negotiating or gross stupidity? Real estate expert John Adams is here to give us the “full inspection” of this tactic.
Q: OK, I get that buyers are wanting to make their offers as attractive as possible to the few home sellers out there. That makes sense. But giving up the right to a home inspection? Really?
A: Sounds really desperate, I agree. But as usual, there are two sides to this debate, so let’s take a look:
1. TRADITIONAL APPROACH: Making your Offer CONTINGENT on a satisfactory home inspection.
There are at least two major reasons to make your offer contingent on a so-called “professional” home inspection:
You may avoid an extremely costly surprise.
I repeat may, because the inspection comes with no guarantee of alerting you to all potential problems.
A home inspection is conducted in accessible areas only. Therefore, a home inspector does not open up the walls.
Yes, they will inspect the home’s electrical, plumbing and HVAC system, as well as the roof, foundation, attic and other structures to identify possible areas of concern.
But if the problem is not easily accessible, it will likely NOT be discovered by a home inspector. And the inspector makes CLEAR that he is giving his OPINION only based on his VISUAL EXAMINATION. No guarantee comes with a home inspection.
Furthermore, there is no licensing of home inspectors in Georgia. So any con man can set up a website and start selling cut-rate home inspections this afternoon.
But there is another, perhaps MORE IMPORTANT reason a buyer should want to make his offer CONTINGENT on the outcome of a home inspection.
The Right To Walk Away from the deal.
The typical inspection contingency gives the buyer the right to WALK AWAY from the purchase agreement, and get a full refund of the Earnest Money.
That is why home inspection issues are the number one reason that real estate sales contracts fall through. Too many buyers of resale homes expect the home to be in PERFECT condition, which is simply unrealistic. All houses have something wrong, whether it be major or minor, it’s probably there and it’s about to become yours.
Q: OK, we get it. There are real benefits to a buyer who insists on a traditional inspection contingency. So why would a buyer EVER want to WAIVE THAT INSPECTION?
1. They have lost bidding wars in the past, and will do almost anything to buy this particular house.
Today, we’re in a seller’s market, so some buyers choose to waive an inspection if they’re competing with other bidders and want to make their offer more attractive to sellers.
They reckon that the seller, recognizing that a waived inspection makes a closing (and a pay day) much more likely, will be more inclined to accept an offer with NO INSPECTION than one WITH an inspection, and they are RIGHT!
If you are a buyer who has repeatedly lost out in a multiple offer bidding scenario, you may just decide you are going to do whatever is necessary to obtain ownership of the house you want. And,
2. You just don’t care.
When you walked through the house, everything seemed to be very well maintained. Surely, the seller is not trying to trick you into buying a MONEY PIT, is he?
And maybe you decide to buy a Home Warranty that purports to cover everything that might conceivably go wrong with a house. With your home warranty in hand, you are invulnerable. Maybe. Sort of. It’s all in the fine print.
The other reason you might not care much is that you know the seller is required under Georgia law to reveal any hidden defect he knows about or SHOULD HAVE known about. These are called LATENT defects, and often escape the typical home inspection.
So if a seller hides a LATENT defect, and you later find out you can prove it, you MAY have cause for legal action to recover damages. But that’s iffy, even at best. Maybe the seller can prove that he is, indeed, just a dumb hillbilly, and can’t be expected to know about structural problems. Maybe he has a better lawyer than you do. Maybe you lose and you are out even more money.
Q: I guess you might say it depends on how determined you are to make this purchase, and your point of view. But here’s the bottom line:
THE BOTTOM LINE:
I know this is painful medicine, but here it comes: there is NO SUCH THING as the LAST HOUSE. If you are not prepared to learn all the facts that you can and to WALK AWAY from a bad transaction, then, in my book, you have no business buying a house in the first place. And if you have unlimited family money, you may ignore this advice!