It's hard to imagine someone walking into any kind of property that is in an obvious state of dis-repair or has a lot of deferred maintanence, and not paying $300 to $500 to a contractor for a property inspection. Another $500 will get you a "Pest" inspection which not only looks for termites, but is looking for mold and dry rot. But I did recently hear of a women who did just that, and once in her condo discovered numerous defects that she blamed on everyone but herself. Normally you'd expect to still have a claim against the Seller for failure to disclose known defects, but in this case the Seller lived elsewhere and used it as a place for his relatives to crash whenever they visited San Francisco. Whether he knew about the mold and dry rot damage that the Buyer found after moving in is nearly impossible to prove. This Buyer also purchased directly from the Listing Agent without getting the free advice of a Buyer's Agent. While the Listing Agent is required to disclose any defects they're aware of, and are required to do a reasonable visible inspection, they also have you sign a disclosure stating that they are not experts in this very area. And you sign other disclosures that clearly state that they recommend you get inspections done. This Buyer chose to sign all of these disclosures, yet ignore all of the advice. While it is no longer a "buyer beware" rule of law and the motto of agents and sellers these days is "when in doubt, disclose, disclose, disclose" you still can't bury your head in the sand when buying and just trust that it will be all right in the end. Hire a Buyer's Agent when buying, and take heed when they recommend you get inspections, especially on obviously older properties in poorer condition.
Posted by This site's author at 2:50 PM