How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

How do I find out what was on a previous home inspection report?

Friday, February 14, 2020

You can ask the seller or the seller’s realtor for a copy of the previous inspection report, but they may not have it. Some homebuyers do not release the report, and others share only a few items verbally, or nothing, with the other side of the deal before moving on to look at other properties.

    If you know who the home inspector was, you can ask him or her for it. The inspector may have left a sticker on the door of the electric panel with contact info and the date of the inspection. But, again, there’s a problem. Most home inspectors include a clause in their contract that states that their report is the exlcusive property of the homebuyer that paid for it. That's because many homebuyers hate the idea that they may pay hundreds of dollars for a report, walk away from the deal, and then someone else gets all the info for free. So the inspector usually has to get permission of the person that purchased the report, and they may decline or might ask for money to release it. Also, most people want to ask some questions of the inspector after reading the report, and the inspector is not going to spend time reviewing the report for free with another customer.

    Another thing you should consider is that the home inspector only has liability for errors to the person that ordered the inspection. Many inspectors have a statement to that effect at the bottom of each page of their report.

    How old is the report you’re going to receive? More than once, we have talked with customers that found out that their free inspection report from the seller was the one from when they purchased the house several years earlier. “But we’ve fixed everything and done lots of improvments since then."

    And, finally, you don’t know how competent the original inspector was, or what limitations were put on the scope of the inspection by the original purchaser. Some realtors have favorite inspectors that “go easy” on a property, and love to hand out their reports to prospective buyers if the deal doesn’t go through. 

    Theoretically, the seller is required to modify their property disclosure statement if an inspector finds any significant items that were unknown previously and asked about in the disclosure form. But that rarely happens. So it’s always best to do your own research to find a good home inspector that you pay to report on the condition of the home at the time of your offer, and who will spend time discussing any issues found with you. 

    Also, see our blog post Is a seller responsible to disclose defects found in a previous home inspection to a new buyer? and Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

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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?

Can I do my own home inspection?

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

If we already looked at the house very carefully, do we still need a home inspection?

    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 do I need to know about buying a foreclosure? 

What should I look for when buying a former rental house?  

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 should I look for when buying a house that is being "flipped" by an investor seller? 

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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