During the process of purchasing a home the residential purchase contract allows for the buyer to have a period after the terms of the contract has been accepted to go into the house to have the home inspection. In Arizona, it is normally 10 days, although it may be extended as an additional term of the contract. This is the only time that the buyer may “peek under the tent flap” and take a free look at the property. It is now that the buyer will use these inspections to determine if the condition and value of the property meet expectations set forth in the contract.
This inspection period may pass quickly, so management of the time and order of inspections is imperative. The first person to inspect should be a good reliable home inspector licensed to do this type of work. They will do a complete overview inspection of plumbing, electrical, structural, drainage, roof condition, mechanical and appliances. If qualified they can also inspect for termites and inspect pools and spas. One thing to be aware of: they cannot pull apart, cut open or dig down to inspect the home. For example: if there is evidence of a possible leak in a wall they are not allowed to cut open the wall to make sure. In addition to the general inspector, a termite inspector and a roof inspector need to follow up, or any additional inspections to follow up anything unusual found in the general inspection. These inspections are to confirm the condition of the property.
If the buyer is purchasing the home with cash, they may want an appraisal done to verify the price/value of the property. The lender for the buyer using financing will order an appraisal, but this appraisal is part of the loan process and doesn’t fall in the inspection timeline. The inspection period is the time for a cash buyer to go forward with an appraisal if needed to confirm the value of the property.
Once this information has been gathered by the buyer, the buyer decides which items found in the inspection are troubling enough to be brought to the seller’s attention, and to request the seller repair those items as a condition of going forward with the contract. This can be a delicate negotiation and both Realtors need to balance being an advocate for their clients and a mediator as well. Buyers need to realize that when they viewed the property before putting in their offer they likely built into the offer the age and general condition of the property, and the seller may have taken the condition and age into consideration when they priced the property in the first place. Sellers need to realize that an unknown expensive hidden repair (such as the condition of an air conditioner on the roof) now brought to their attention needs to be addressed. I have counseled buyer clients that a low-ball offer accepted by a seller will have little tolerance for repairs. On the other hand, a buyer’s offer close to asking will produce a buyer expecting repairs to bring the home value up to the offer price.