What makes a house fail the home inspection?

Friday, July 27, 2018

It’s not like school, where you have to get a test score above a preset number to pass the exam. The pass/fail point is based entirely on the homebuyer’s expectations. Most realtors prepare their buyers by alerting them to the fact that the home inspector always finds a few defects; and it is not unusual for a buyer to accept a home with short list of defects, or to negotiate either repairs or a price reduction for part of the defects on the home inspection report. 

    Also, if the buyers have made an offer on a fixer-upper, they already know a lot of things that are wrong with the house from careful observations at the showing. What makes a “deal breaker” is unexpected and expensive defects, such as a roof that needs replacement, foundation problems, mold, or termite damage. The total dollar cost of a longer than expected list of minor problems, when it exceeds the buyer’s budget, is another thing that can sour a deal.

   But the one thing that consistently makes a buyer walk away after an inspection is when the inspector uncovers a problem that the buyer feels the seller should have known about and disclosed. As an example, several years ago we entered an attic and saw evidence that the house previously had a rather extensive fire over the garage. The damage had been professionally repaired, and when we asked the seller about it, he said “Oh, yes, that fire. I forgot about it.” That’s the moment when the deal died. There would have been no problem if it had been disclosed, since all the repairs were acceptable, but the lack of disclosure made everything else about the house questionable.

    At the other end of the spectrum, we regularly encounter first-time home buyers with unrealistic expectations that they have found a “perfect” house. When we present them with a short list of minor defects, they respond by saying: “The seller is going to fix everything, aren’t they?” That rarely happens, and a homebuyer sometimes loses out on the chance to get a very good house, and continues searching for the perfect one.

    Also, see our blog post How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection?

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  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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