If you are buying or selling a home in Hawaii, the process should include a home inspection. Lots of times buyers get concerned when they see the phrase “as is.” When you buy a house you have the right to have the home inspected. This should be done by a reputable company that is neutral in the process. Meaning, they don’t favor the buyer or seller; they are there to make an honest evaluation of the property. They will evaluate the property and give you a snap shot of what they see and find at that moment in time.
No property is perfect and rest assured they should and will find some items to discuss. New construction is not immune either and an inspection should be done on new properties as well. The report will list major items such as leaks, foundation, and structural issue, all the way to small items such as a loose cabinet hinge or a cracked tile. As a buyer, you need to evaluate this report and decide what is really a major issue and what can be repaired easily down the road.
At times these report can be 30 or more pages, and this can cause a buyer lots of stress. Again, you need to evaluate the report and understand major versus minor issues. The inspectors can not see through walls, so its only things they can physically see and touch for the most part. This is also not a guarantee that they find everything or everything will work perfectly forever. The next day a perfectly working item may break, you just never know.
Certain items such as life safety issues or major code issue need to be addressed. If one home inspector finds something, another should as well, so a homeowner will have to deal with the issues at some point if they really want to sell. Now getting back to the “as is.” This generally means that they homeowner doesn’t know of anything more than what is on their homeowners’ disclosure statement. Unless they specifically mention in the listing they are not doing any repairs, alterations, or work on the house, a buyer still can address the findings of the inspection report.
So what happens if you find issues that need to be addressed before closing? The hope is the seller wants to sell and the buyer wants to buy, and it can be worked out. There are a few remedies that can be utilized in dealing with the report. The first being a price reduction to cover the costs of the repairs or the seller can fix the items. Sometimes it’s a compromise where a seller will take care of some but not all the items.
I would caution a buyer from being unrealistic and requesting repairs of a long list of minor items. This can be a time that both parties walk away from the transaction. You do not want to give a seller a huge list of minor items and draw a line in the sand. The big issues need to be taken into account, but smaller items really need to be considered to make sure you do not potentially have the transition fall apart. If a part of the property needs some caulking, or a cabinet hinge is loose, it’s probably not worth the fight– these can easily be taken care of once the buyer moves in.
This is a time where you should discuss these items with your agent. Make sure you understand the report and ask questions. Most of the time, it’s best to meet the inspector and your agent at the property when they finish the report so you can physically see what the inspector is listing. Discuss these findings with the inspector and your agent so they can advise on the best course of action. Most of the time, the issue can be resolved before closing.
If the seller has agreed to make repairs these must be done before closing. This will become part of the purchase contract and the seller will have financial consequences if they do not complete the repairs as agreed. A buyer will have a final walkthrough to make sure they were done, and the sellers should send completed invoices showing what work was completed. This is, again, where a good agent comes into play so they can be in touch with the other side making sure everything gets done and the transaction closes on time and as scheduled.
The overall process can be stressful for both parties, and it’s best to have an agent that understands the inspection process and how to negotiate the findings. I am more than happy to help answer any questions from my clients and suggest a best course of action.