The Truth About Home Inspections
March 30, 2022
Do you remember the movie The Money Pit? It stars Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as a couple who buy a house they later find is falling apart. They are only allowed to view the home in candlelight, which in some situations may be flattering, but when buying a house, isn’t conducive to seeing its faults. It’s a very funny movie… but as a realtor, my first thought is, ‘why didn’t they get a home inspection?’.
Now, it’s not that home inspections are 100% comprehensive; they always are a snapshot of what’s happening at the house on that day based on that weather and that owner.
I recently came across two articles about home inspections with differing information.
Maclean’s took the point of view that buyers are not doing pre-purchase home inspections and are paying the price.
Storeys.com says that according to home inspection company Carson Dunlop, more buyers are having inspections done before they commit.
So which is right?
Based on my experience, neither.
With a few short exceptions, the Toronto real estate market has remained fast-paced for almost two decades, which means that buyers have to move quickly. Because of this, most sellers in a market like Toronto have home inspections performed before the property goes on the market. If a pre-listing inspection has already been done, buyers can submit offers without conditions.
The other advantage for a seller is the ability to troubleshoot. When a seller fixes issues that come up, and document the recent improvements/fixes they’ve done, it gives buyers more confidence than just seeing a home inspection full of deficiencies.
Once in a while, an inspection will show a major problem like a structural defect or some other equally expensive issue. I’ve seen houses and listed houses where there are serious and quite obvious structural deficiencies. If the seller chooses not to fix the problems, a solid recommendation is to get quotes from contractors to estimate the cost of remediation. Those estimates can then be presented to buyers so they can factor these costs into their offering price and so they know the sellers are taking the issue seriously and have done their due diligence.
This is much better than having the buyer’s home inspector find the problem. It can turn into a huge issue after the sale’s happened or you run the risk of the sale falling apart.
It’s always better to be transparent and not hide anything. An area rug may seem to be a good way to disguise a flaw (see photo) but it’s not going to remain hidden forever.
When can you forego a home inspection?
Sometimes a house comes on the market that has been owned by the same family for decades – and there are obvious issues. In this situation, the house would probably be sold in “as-is, where-is condition”; anyone purchasing it will be more than likely undertaking a big renovation, so they are aware that it will need to be gutted.
Alternately, if a home is almost brand new, you may opt out of having a home inspection.
You also don’t always need a home inspection on a condo or condo townhouse. Though it reads as a house, the structural elements like basement, windows and doors are all generally covered by the corporation should deficiencies arise.
While a proper home inspection is good to have and provides a buyer with a great deal of comfort, there are some issues you can see with the naked eye – you just have to know what is a red flag and what isn’t. Stay tuned for my next blog for more on that…
If you’re curious about what your home may be worth in this market or just have questions about Toronto real estate, please get in touch!