- Posted by Rodney Lynch in Home Inspections
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Real Estate is a very litigious industry. Anytime you have large amounts of money at stake, people that would not generally sue someone suddenly have a different way of looking at a situation.
One common thing that that you can do to legally protect yourself in a real estate transaction is to insist on an home inspection. Home inspections bring everything to the table. After a home inspection, the current homeowner doesn’t have to worry about a lawsuit after the home buyer moves in and finds something wrong with the home. The home buyer simply protects themselves by choosing to have a home inspection completed by knowing the issues with the home before they get to the closing table.
Choosing a Professional Home Inspector
Although real estate law varies by state, in many states you can have just about anyone complete the home inspection. Since you can choose to not have an inspection at all, it makes sense that you can choose the inspector of your choice, but that doesn’t mean you should do it yourself of get your uncle that did construction work 20 years ago to complete your home inspection. When you choose a professional, licensed home inspector, they have certain rules they must abide by.
The industry of home inspectors is regulated by the American Society of Home Inspectors or ASHI. They have state and national rules and regulations that all licensed home inspectors must use. Those rules include what the inspector can and cannot inspect as well as how they report the issue of the home. Lastly, the home inspector does have certain liabilities when they complete a home inception. That means that if a professional home inspector has inspected your home and given a certain aspect of the home a clean bill of health and you come to find an issue with that item, they can be held financially responsible.
Legal Issues Avoided By the Seller
Anytime an attorney gets involved in a dispute, the amount of money that it takes to remedy the situation becomes much larger. Needless to say, there is a time and place to hire the right attorney , but most people do not want to be involved in a lawsuit of any kind. One way to protect yourself from liability as the seller of a home is to perform a pre-sale inspection. This is an inspection that you, the home seller, completes before placing the home on the market. Once the inspection is complete, you will receive a detailed report, showing everything that is wrong with the home. This gives you the ability to correct the issues with your home BEFORE it goes under contract.
Here is a popular real estate broker discussing the pro and cons of home sellers getting a home inspection.
You can read his full article HERE.
Another great reason for the home seller to have a pre-sale inspection completed is they now have a document that discloses everything wrong with the home. This protects the home seller from being sued after the home is sold under a fraud or redhibition lawsuit. Needless to say, having a pre-sale inspection completed by the seller does mean that you now KNOW the issues with the home. From a legal perspective, if you, the home seller, is aware of a defect in the home, you must disclose it.
You do not need to “fix” it, but it must be disclosed (usually on a state issued property disclosure). This is a document that is signed off on by both the buyer and seller that lists the known defects in the property. So once you are aware of any defects on the property, to stay legally safe as the seller in a real estate transaction, you should either correct the issue or disclose it on your property disclosure. This makes sure that the potential buyer is well aware of and and all of the material defects with the home.