Real estate is practiced differently from state to state, and it is critical for Virginia home buyers to understand that the Commonwealth believes in caveat emptor.
Latin for “let the buyer beware.” A doctrine that often places on buyers the burden to reasonably examine property before purchase and take responsibility for its condition. Especially applicable to items that are not covered under a strict warranty. —The Legal Information Institute
Although I have always recommended to my clients that a home inspection is essential, I will be recommending that more inspections get done during the inspection(s) period.
Did you notice that?
The old NVAR home inspection contingency had a specific focus about hiring a “professional home inspector,” and not Uncle Fred.
Today’s Addendum, with Caveat Emptor in mind, has been broadened to allow multiple licensed inspectors during the inspection(s) period as a way for a home buyer to hire any specialist if necessary. A good example is a chimney inspector or a termite inspector.
Here’s an actual example
Termite inspections are covered in the NVAR Residential Sales Contract in Paragraph 19, and states that a lender required WDI (wood destroying insect) Report needs to be within 30 days of the closing.
But, if you are really concerned about termites, then hiring a pest inspector to come out during the inspection(s) contingency period probably is a good idea. No harm done and you will know now if there is a potential issue… and it is totally fine to get this done during the inspection(s) period. Probably costing you about $50.
I exchanged emails recently with a Virginia homeowner who discovered extensive termite damage in his new (old) house. He had Googled the topic and landed on a termite inspired blog post that I wrote a couple of years ago.
He was asking for help because someone had missed the obvious termite damage.
So, I recommended looking through his files since his lender would have required a WDI Report from a licensed pest inspection firm.
His response was shocking…
He had purchased the home with cash, which means there isn’t a loan and therefore it wasn’t a lender requirement. And, he had assumed that the listing agent was taking care of it. The agent, who was working for the seller, responded that she just didn’t do it.
There are multiple mistakes that were made by this home buyer:
- In 1990’s, the Commonwealth of Virginia defined buyer agency and this buyer did not have his own agent.
- He assumed the Seller’s agent would take care of the inspection, when that was not her duty to the buyer.
- He did not understand the implications of Caveat Emptor.
(If you want to learn all of the Virginia Real Estate Regulations (11/1/2015) then go ahead.)
In my opinion, this buyer really has a tough road ahead of him especially if he wants to claim that the seller had actual knowledge of extensive termite damage. Since termites leave tubes and tunnels that are visible to a trained eye, he appears to have neglected his responsibilities to hire a licensed professional and protect himself.
This real life example may be rather sobering to you. My point is that having a “buyer’s agent” to give you strategic advice is especially important in Virginia where it is the buyer’s responsibility to be satisfied with the condition of the property or community.
Want another example? Your due diligence is required with publicly available information like the Sex Offender Registry ~ http://sex-offender.vsp.virginia.gov/sor/
Plan ahead to pay for specific real estate inspections
My new recommendations for 2016 will be to have an inspection period of 10 days. And recommending, during that period, to have a professional home inspector come out asap, have a check for termites, test for radon gas, add any additional inspections if deemed necessary, apply for the new homeowners insurance policy, and submit the “ratified contract” to the title company for a title search.
There is a lot to do in a short period to cover yourself as a smart home buyer in Virginia in 2016.