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Dec. 07, 2020 | Gerald Vander Pyl

Buyer beware: how to proceed when your home inspection turns up serious issues

You've found what seems like the perfect home, but before you close the deal, the inspection turns up some problems you can't ignore: what are your options?

Lucas Kirsch, owner of 20/20 Master Home Inspections in Calgary, says an inspection is a crucial stage in the homebuying process, as most buyers do not have the expertise to spot many common flaws in a home, including potentially major ones. He has done inspections that have revealed structural problems, holes in roofs and even foundations dug too deep.

Justin Havre, a Calgary REALTOR® with RE/MAX First, says it's common to include a property inspection condition in any offer to purchase.

"There's no such thing as a perfect home, so go in with the expectations that there are probably going to be minor maintenance issues or minor things to address," he said.

"But what we're really looking for are big-ticket items or major structural issues, and if there are such things, we need to address them with the seller."

In any case, if flaws are detected during a home inspection, there are options other than simply walking away from the deal.
"There's no such thing as a perfect home, so go in with the expectations that there are probably going to be minor maintenance issues or minor things to address." - Justin Havre, RE/MAX First

Havre says if only minor maintenance issues are identified, the buyer might decide to address them after the deal closes, such as a leaky faucet they would prefer to replace with one of their own choosing.

For major issues, however, he says the buyer might want to bring in an expert.

"Have the professional come in to further inspect the issue and maybe also give a quote on what it would cost to fix it," said Havre.

Depending on the results, the buyer's Realtor can then try to negotiate a reduction in the purchase price or see if the seller will agree to fix the problem.

"(But) if you choose to have the seller remediate it, make sure you have a proper term written in the contact that will protect the buyer and ensure that the repairs are done to the buyer's satisfaction," said Havre.

He says the term should be very specific and include who is doing the work and when it is going to be completed. It should also include a holdback that would be returned to the buyer if work is not completed on time or at all.

In these situations, Havre says it is often a good idea to have a real estate lawyer review the term to ensure it is properly worded and sufficiently detailed.

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