The House Detective: Buyer didn't read the inspection report

Finding defects after you move in can be a hard and costly lesson, but you're not alone. The thrill of buying a first home has caused many novice buyers to rush ahead, without watching for signs and road hazards.
By Barry Stone Certified Building Inspector Published: June 22, 2013
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DEAR BARRY: In the excitement of buying my first home, I glanced over the stacks of paperwork and never even read the home inspection report. Instead, I trusted my agent's opinion that there were no major problems. Big mistake! Now I've got a leaky roof that was clearly disclosed by my home inspector. If I'd just read the report, I could have gotten the seller to repair the leaks. Do I have any recourse?

Jason

DEAR JASON: Finding defects after you move in can be a hard and costly lesson, but you're not alone. The thrill of buying a first home has caused many novice buyers to rush ahead, without watching for signs and road hazards.

The numerous pages of loan documents, escrow instructions, preliminary title reports and so on can be overwhelming to first-time buyers who obediently sign here and initial there, as instructed by their real estate agent, escrow officer or attorney. Important decisions are thus made with unwise haste and needless risk, especially when the home inspection report is not carefully reviewed.

A home inspection is a personal event that requires slow and thoughtful deliberation. Your inspector is your personal disclosure advocate whose job is to advise you about the condition and safety of the property you intend to buy. You pay hundreds of dollars for this service, and unless you avail yourself of the disclosed information, the inspection fee might as well be flushed. In your case, it was a mistake to rely on your agent's interpretation of the inspection report. Instead, you should have been present at the inspection to discuss the finding with your inspector and to get answers to all of your questions.

But the fault here was not entirely your own. Your other professional advocate, your agent, should have advised you to attend the inspection and should have made sure that the interpretation of the inspection report was provided by the inspector, not by the agent. Whether you have legal recourse is uncertain and is a question for an attorney.

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