Should Buyers Hire Their Own Inspectors

Dated: 09/26/2016

Views: 319

TOPIC: In Wisconsin, buyers typically hire their own home inspectors. When their home inspector recommends a special inspection of the roof or foundation, buyers typically hire those inspectors as well. However, it appears typical for buyers to rely on well water, well system, and septic system reports obtained by sellers. This is a big mistake in my opinion. Inspectors hired by the sellers will presumably act in the sellers' best interests. Buyers may not even have a legal claim against inspectors hired by their sellers. I always recommend that buyers hire their own well water, well system, and septic system inspectors.


A: Interesting post... but could do a better job of explaining the details. In terms of a home inspector, you are 100% correct. While a seller may hire a home inspector to perform a pre-inspection, the onus is on the buyer to hire his/her own inspector to protect his/her own interest. If that inspector recommends additional inspections, that should also fall on the buyer as part of his/her due diligence. Is it common to have a home inspector state that the furnace needs cleaning, for example? Sure... and we'll normally negotiate the seller having the system serviced, "... by a licensed professional regularly in the business of..." performing said work and we also a request a copy of the invoice, with the professionals contact and license information, be supplied. If it's something more, then we may either have the buyer hire their own licensed professional to get their own opinion of the issue, or we negotiate a credit at the closing for the buyer to have the item(s) addressed post closing (to avoid the seller hiring the cheapest professional possible). 


As for well tests - in my area of the country (south of Boston) some towns require the seller to provide water quality, and sometimes water quantity, test results. Some towns do not require the seller to do so. In those instances where the town does not require it, if I represent the buyer, I make a water quality/quantity test part of my offer to the seller and put the burden on the seller. If I represent the seller, while I may recommend the seller do the testing prior to listing the home for sale in order to remove potential hiccups down the road, it is really the buyer's responsibility. In my area, the company doing the quantity testing does not need to be licensed. Quality testing is performed by certified labs... so the lab has to stand behind the testing results. 


When it comes to septic systems, inspectors are licensed by the state and we have a 17 page state form that must be filled out and returned to the Health Department in the individual town/city. The form requires all sorts of measurements of water and scum layers, etc. I can't see the buyer hiring their own septic inspector (what we call a MA Title V inspection) as the inspector filing the report can be putting his/her license in jeopardy by filing a false or unsubstantiated report. 


Naturally, we should explain all of this to our clients and allow them to be the final arbiter. Thanks for bringing up the topic. We can all do a better job of explaining all of this to our clients. It's second nature to us because we deal with it all the time.


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