One of my buyers wrote an offer on a new home the other day. Not a completed “spec” home, but a “to be built”. While we can write an offer for a resale home in 15-30 minutes, signed, sealed and delivered (which sometimes isn’t fast enough in this Austin market), a new to be built home is a long, arduous sit-down in the builder’s onsite rep. We were there for over three hours. And this already knowing exactly what the buyer wanted except for just a few exterior items and colors. It just takes that long to write everything up, print it and go through it all.
Anyway, at some point going through the massive stack of builder contract paperwork with my buyer, a nasty little addendum emerged, the likes of which I’ve never personally seen. “Whoa, what’s this?”, I say.
It’s a document that imposes requirements on the private third party inspector that the buyer may hire to inspect a home. It requires that the inspector sign a document called a “Access Agreement for Home Inspection”. The access agreement requires that the inspector have:
Proof of General liability Insurance of at least $1,000,000
Proof of Auto Liability Insurance of at least $100,000
Proof of Worker’s Compensation Insurance equal to the “statutory minimum”.
Proof of Employer’s Liability Insurance of at least $1,000,000
So I dialed up my new home inspector while we sat there and asked about this. He said it’s total BS. A ploy by builders to limit inspections. He doesn’t meet the requirements, nor do most Texas Real Estate Inspectors (TREC requires $100K liability, so most carry the minimum), much less the Code Inspectors you want to be using on a new build.
Does this mean my buyer can’t use my over-credentialed, highly competent and trustworthy inspector? The builder was happy to offer a list of inspectors they have who do meet the requirements. No thanks. I want my buyer to have my inspector, not yours. So now what?
As the seller of a home, do you have to read the buyer’s inspection report if the buyer presents it to you? No, you don’t.
And if you are a seller represented by the Crossland Team, we advise that you don’t look at or read a buyer’s inspection report because we don’t want you getting stuck with someone else’s inspection report, produced by an inspector you don’t know and didn’t hire, and which you’ll then have to staple to the back of your Seller’s Disclosure notice if that buyer flakes out and terminates the deal. Then all your future prospective buyers will read that report, for better or worse, and it’s best to not let that happen.
Not all Realtors subscribe to this “I don’t want to see it” philosophy. We sometimes catch flak for this from buyer agents who want to leverage inspection report items to gain price reductions during inspection periods, and they sometimes become angry when we inform them that our seller doesn’t need to see or want to see buyer’s inspection report.
Why not just look at the report?
Section 7 of the commonly used TAR Seller’s Disclosure Notice asks sellers:
Within the last 4 years, have you (Seller) received any written inspection reports from persons who regularly provide inspections and who are either licensed inspectors or otherwise permitted by law to perform inspections? lf yes, attach copies and complete the following:
Most Seller’s Disclosures say “No” on Section 7. Once you receive your buyer’s inspection report, and if the deal craters, you have to change section 7 to “Yes” and attach the report you received, whether you agree with the findings or not, and no matter what mis-characterizations and false assumptions the report might contain. This opens a huge can of worms and can affect the answers you must provide in other parts of the Seller Disclosure.
Additionally, you are already under contract for an agreed price, as-is, and there is nothing in your Texas sales contract that requires you to make repairs (unless specifically written in the initial contract) or look at buyer’s inspection. Buyer has an Option Period, usually 7 to 10 days, to examine the property and conduct whatever other due diligence buyer deems appropriate. During this Option Period, the ball is entirely in the buyer’s court. If the buyer does not terminate prior to the end of the Option Period, the deal continues unchanged.
In almost every deal, however, buyers come back and seek a price adjustment based on conditions that were not factored into the agreed contract price. These range from small and reasonable adjustments to hysterical and ridiculous demands. It is the manner and style in which these adjustments are calculated, communicated and resolved that reveal huge differences in real estate agents and how we advise clients and conduct negotiations. Is there a “right” way and a “wrong” way to go about this? I believe there is.