Should you hire a home inspector when the township issues a U&O?
On Philadelphia's Main Line, many townships require a seller to have a township inspection before settlement. This is so that a use and occupancy certificate can be issued. This must be done before settlement. Pennsylvania Law requires a municipality to issue a conditional use certificate that gives the buyer 18 months to do repairs in cases where a home might be being sold "as is" perhaps by an estate, a short sale, a foreclosure or a bank owned property.
In fact, here in Pennsylvania we have been hearing rumors that banks and mortgage companies are not accepting conditional use and occupancy certificates, this article from PAR Just Listed outlines the issues. But that is really another issue although related.
The main difference between the two inspections is this, one the inspector is working for the township, and they look for different things between townships, usually safety issues, for example sidewalks that are cracked or broken, some townships accept an affidavit from buyer and seller that the home has smoke detectors on each floor and in each bedroom, others require a physical inspection by a township or even a third party inspector. You cannot rely on this inspection because there is no legal liability from the township if the inspector misses anything. Do you really want to rely upon the township to let you know if the house is SAFE?
Now, the home inspector is working for you the buyer, his responsibility is to you the consumer, not the township. He has a legal liability, even with an inspection company's disclaimers there is still a level of liability, to you the consumer. Also, a home inspector takes you through the home explaining how everything works, what you need to maintain in the next few years, how long this is most likely going to last, which way the filters need to be installed in a heating system for example. By the end of the inspection, you know how the important items within your home work and how to maintain them and when to maintain them. Often the inspector will leave you with information along with his report about the home.
Can you rely on a home inspections done for the seller prior to listing it for sale. My question here is to whom does the inspector give his liability to. Not to you the buyer, but to the seller. Whilst most inspectors will all discover the big issues, what if on moving in you discover this inspector missed something important, but you have no legal recourse.
Recently, we have also seen appraisers making comments on appraisals about mold or peeling paint, lack of hand rails etc. These were common with many Veterans and FHA loans many years ago, but recently appraisers are being asked by banks to mention these things again. Again, this is not an "inspection" and you should not rely upon the appraiser to let you know the house is safe.
So, when buying a Main Line home, you should have your own inspector go through the house with you so you are educated about the house. Do, not rely on township inspectors, appraisers or even a home inspection done prior to listing the home by sellers.
If you are buying or selling on or around Tredyffrin Easttown or along the Main Line we can help you, contact us or connect
Feel free to subscribe to our blog to stay up to date with our latest posts and information on the Tredyffrin Easttown and Main Line Real Estate Market.