Go Ahead Skip The Condo Inspection Or Should You?
Over the past 36 years, I’ve been asked this question over a hundred times. Biggest reason this question is asked is because potential condo buyers have been told by friends and real estate agents that an inspection is not necessary because the condo association takes care of the common property. This is true, but only to a limited extent. Most potential condo buyers fail to realize that they will own part of the building or buildings and share in the common property expenses.
Speaking from over 3 decades of experience inspecting condos, I can testify that the majority of major defects and deficiencies uncovered during a condo inspection are not found within the confines of the condo unit itself, but at or within the common property areas. If a condo association is not well managed, ignored maintenance issues can go on to become huge financial problems for the individual owners. One of the most notable cases was several years ago in Boston, Massachusetts at the Harbor Towers. A special assessment was levied on the owners that varied from $90,000 to over $300,000. These assessments were required to be paid in a very short amount of time. Click the link below for important condo buying advice from a prominent Boston Attorney.
Other than the actual condo buildings themselves, there have been cases where I have discovered evidence of undisclosed underground fuel oil tanks or have uncovered evidence of leaking underground fuel oil tanks. The cost of removing such tanks and contaminated soil and monitoring the surrounding ground can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Insurance usually does not cover this type of issue.
One condo building I had the privilege of inspecting several units in many years ago was Seal Harbor in Winthrop, Massachusetts. In addition to numerous window leaks, I found water leakage and corrosion issues at their underground garage. The owners faced multi-million dollar repairs.
Another issue that has plagued many condo developments, is termite damage. Although the condo unit you’re contemplating might not have a termite issue, you will be contributing to the treatment cost and repairs elsewhere in the condo complex. Although common property areas usually are not part of any state standards of practice for home inspections, most good inspectors will look beyond the individual condo unit for evidence of termite issues and other potential common property issues.
Home inspector since 1983.
Waving The Home Inspection: For the past year or so, I’ve seen a disturbing trend, just like I did back in 2005 & 2006, the last time the home selling market was on fire. Home sales in the metro Boston area have been brisk and in many cases selling for more than the listing price. The adverse side of this is that inspection demand is down because real estate agents are advising buyers to waive the inspection so that their offer stands a better chance of being accepted. I hear this first hand from potential buyers who call me in a confused state. The sad part is that these are “buyers” agents giving out this advice. These agents claim they are working in the best interest of their home buying client by getting their buyer to waive the inspection because having an inspection will jeopardize the deal.
Well, those home buyers back in 2005 & 2006 overpaid for those houses and some of them who had to sell in 2009 & 2010, took a double beating. One, the market values crashed after their purchases in 2005 & 2006. Two, the potential buyers for their homes in 2009 & 2010 were having home inspections and finding issues further eroding the selling price.
I’m pretty sure history is repeating itself.
Professional Home Inspector Since 1983
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Massachusetts Home InspectorsUpdate 01/09/2019
Like most home inspectors who have been around a while
We have encountered real estate agents who have tried to either undermine, down play, minimize or argue away many of the defects or issues found during an inspection. The more issues found, the more negotiations that may be required to finalize a sale or worst the sale may fall through. Many inspectors, especially new ones, find themselves perplexed when finding serious defects, for fear future inspection client referrals from the agent may be in jeopardy. As a result many inspectors learn to approach the home inspection with “kid gloves”, using calm and non-alarming language to explain away serious issues.
As independent home inspectors our job is to uncover and disclose defects, safety issues and other items that could cause harm or present the client with unanticipated expenses. We should be educating our clients to the best of our ability about the property condition. We should not be minimizing issues by making statements like; “a lot of homes have this issue”, nor should we be; “blowing stuff” out of proportion. Inspectors should clearly and accurately convey to the client the actual observed property conditions. Dealing with the findings is up to the parties involved with the sale, not the inspector. If the buyer, seller and agent can’t come to agreeable terms for the sale, it’s not the fault of the inspector.
So do you want an inspector who’s more concerned about future agent referrals than one who reports, without reservation, the actual property conditions? Hiring a “real” independent home inspector is one way to insure you will receive such an inspection and report. For more information concerning the importance of hiring an independent home inspector, be sure to visit: www.independentinspectors.org
Dennis Robitaille MA License #007 NH License #111
Evan Robitaille MA License #801 NH License #405
Inspecting homes in MA, NH & ME since 1983.
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