My salesperson suggested I should make my offer on a certain home (it’s a gorgeous old Victorian) conditional on it passing a home inspection. Do I really need to do that?
It’s entirely your decision to make, but I strongly recommend taking your salesperson’s advice so you have a sense of the home’s overall condition. The Real Estate Council of Ontario sometimes hears from consumers who were so eager to buy a particular property they did so without first having an inspection performed, and regretted their decision later.
Speaking from personal experience, I found the results of my home inspection were incredibly beneficial when I had to plan and budget for identified repairs after I took possession of my house.
Just to clarify: making your offer conditional means that you might be able to exit the transaction if the home inspection reveals the property has serious problems. Should that happen, the seller could agree to make necessary repairs before closing, or possibly offer you a price reduction, but you may have the option to walk away. Be aware that if you do exercise your rights under a home inspection clause you must do so in good faith and not as an excuse to get out of a deal because you have cold feet.
A home inspection is an on-site, in-person examination of visible features of a property. An inspector will examine the home’s features and any visible parts of major systems and then provide you with a report on their findings. Some inspectors may be qualified to provide additional services, such as checking the indoor air quality or testing for mould.
Remember that a typical inspection doesn’t involve poking holes in the structure, and even an experienced home inspector can sometimes miss a critical problem if it is well masked. Oil tanks, wells, septic systems and other special items should only be examined by someone who is qualified and knowledgeable in conducting those types of inspections.
Your salesperson should be able to recommend a competent and reputable home inspector, but you would be well-advised to ask them a few questions about their training, accreditations and work experience before you sign any contracts. In your case, you’ll certainly want to know if they have examined any Victorian homes, and if they possess a good understanding of that type of property.
You’ll also want to know if they carry both general liability insurance, which is important in the unlikely event that anything gets broken or damaged during the inspection, and errors and omissions insurance in case the inspection overlooks a major problem.
Remember to request references and a blank copy of the inspection report/checklist they will use, and to insist upon a written contract just in case you have a dispute that can only be settled through legal action.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.