Washington State requires sellers to file a disclosure statement (Seller's Disclosure Statement, Form 17) regarding certain conditions about the place to be sold unless the buyer specifically waives this. It is the seller's responsibility and not that of the realtor; this places financial burden upon the seller not the realtor and hiring a licensed home inspector is the best way to avoid any serious financial repercussions or penalties. The form does have a space for "do not know" for certain items, especially title and land related; but there are important sections where a home inspector's report can provide documentation of the structure's physical condition as well.
Get familiar with listed items on a home inspector's report
The list is fairly extensive and most homeowners will not be familiar with many of the things that are listed; an experienced home inspector will be. In general, home inspectors will evaluate: foundations, basements, and underneath the floor area, exteriors, roofing, attic areas & roof support and framing, plumbing, electrical systems, HVAC, fireplaces and chimneys, and the building's interior features.
These are common areas that may have issues
These areas are where the most likely deficiencies will be seen, or repairs and replacements needed. These would be passed on to the new owner unless documented in the report and may even be the cause of safety issues or fire damage and danger. By having an evaluation of these areas, the seller can adjust the selling price to account for the condition of the entire building and arrive at a proper market value and avoid any legal conflicts resulting from a non-disclosure of known and pre-existing conditions.
The best home inspection report should be a narrative; it should contain detailed descriptions with photographs, and have a summary. In short, they should be readable, clear and avoid any confusion on the part of the reader and result in legal action or violation of law.
Always examine the Disclosure Form
Failure to examine the Disclosure Form closely has resulted in financial issues for buyers in the Seattle area. Home buying is an emotional issue and when the right buttons are pushed by the seller, serious construction issues can be overlooked since the buyer has already made up their mind. Weather can be an issue since many defects and problems are aggravated by moisture. Land issues as well can be a problem with drainage and other expensive conditions, such as septic and gutters.
Where there are a large number of "unknowns" on the form, these should alert the potential buyer to investigate further to avoid taking financial responsibility for them and other remedies. If the seller declines to have a home inspection performed and the buyer is still interested, then the buyer can offer to pay for an inspection. The resulting report can be used to re-negotiate the sale price.
Can you fill in Form 17 by yourself? Yes. Do you have to have a home inspection by law? No. Is it worth the risk? No. The potential for financial problems that could void a sale, result in legal action and the future sale of the property far outweigh the reasonable expense (based on the size of the property) of a professional home inspection. The re-evaluation of the property from an exemplary report could also result in a higher price. One way or another no one can afford not to have a professional home inspection.
Living the dream in a new home
2018 shows much economic potential for many. A surging economy, raises and bonuses and opportunities are positive signs of growth. If you have dreamed of buying a home this is the time to make that dream come true. Having a plan, doing your homework and working with a professional realtor in a proactive way will open up that front door to a new home. Contact a realtor at the link below and find out all that the area offers prospective home buyers.