Does a homebuyer need to ask the seller's permission to do additional inspections after the initial one?
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
The FARBAR “As Is” contract, which is the one most often used in our area, specifies that the homebuyer has the right to “have such inspections of the Property performed as Buyer shall desire during the Inspection Period.” There is no limitation for the number or type of inspections, and the buyer is not required to get permission for any inspections.
The are several obligations, however, including that the “Buyer shall be responsible for prompt payment for such inspections, for repair of damage to, and restoration of, the Property resulting from such inspections, and shall provide Seller with paid receipts for all work done on the Property.”
Another clause further down in the contract states the Seller must provide access to the home, after being given reasonable notice, and have the utilities on for both the inspections and the final walk-through before closing. What length of time meets the standard of “reasonable notice” is not defined.
There are several exceptions to these standards that are generally allowed, along with arrangements which are subject to negotiation, and other things that are not permitted, such as:
- The probing of soft areas of wood rot on the exterior of a home to determine the extent and depth of the rot is allowed, and not considered damage. The process involves digging out some of the rot with a knife or screwdriver and will leave holes in the wood. Damage of solid wood is not allowed.
- While the contract terms state the buyer can do any inspections desired, and is simply required to repair any damage done and restore property to original condition, it is not realistic to expect that a seller will allow the buyer to open up walls without permission or do any invasive inspections that require more than minor follow-up repair without their approval.
- Unless it is written in the contract terms agreed by both parties, the seller cannot decline to allow a particular inspector on the property.
- Occasionally, a seller will try to limit the duration of the inspection after it has begun, because “nobody told me it would take this long and I have an appointment in 15 minutes.” This makes the buyer suspicious, and the inspector requires an additional fee for a return visit to complete the inspection. Who pays the inspector’s fee becomes a contentious issue.
- Although the seller’s presence during an inspections is a distraction for the buyer and can sometimes lead to heated disagreements over the inspector’s findings, along with long-winded homeowner dissertations about “let me tell why it is that way,” the homeowner is not required to leave while the inspection is taking place. Some sellers feel their presence is necessary to answer any questions about the house that may come up during the inspection, but being available by phone works fine.
- Sometimes a seller will simply not allow inspection of a particular room or appliance, for reasons such as “it’s locked and I don’t have the key” or “my husband works the night shift and we can’t disturb his sleep” or “I’m telling you it works just fine and I don’t want you messin’ with it.” We honor the seller’s wishes on these occasions and advise the buyer to expect the worst possible scenario when finally able to get access. Deals often die after one of these situations.
Scheduling several inspections in a cluster on the same day is always good idea, if possible. For example, the home inspection, termite inspection, and pool inspection could be scheduled over the course of a single afternoon. This enables the buyer to get key information all at once and is less disruptive for the seller.
There are several specialty inspections, however, that are probably best left until a day or two after the home inspection. A radon test and septic tank evaluation, for example, will be wasted money if the home inspector finds major defects that cannot be resolved with the seller.
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To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:
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