Recently, a local Realtor and Home Inspector have been in the news as a Buyer has claimed that they have bought an “unlivable” home (full CBC News Story here) and the aggrieved Buyer is claiming against the Realtor and Home Inspector in small claims court. From my reading of the story and documents (as presented by CBC) there are obviously some salient points that have been downplayed or glossed over:
- The Buyer bought the home “sight unseen”
- The Home Inspection (as posted by CBC) noted:
- Damaged, rotten windows with moisture damage
- Old galvanized piping
- The house was 80+ years old
- The home inspector was unable to access the crawl space
- Major cracking in the ceiling
- Damaged sinks and freeze vulnerable piping
- Missing baseboard heaters
- Major electrical issues requiring further inspection
So the question that comes to my legal mind given these facts is “would a reasonable person think they were buying a home without major flaws?”. Obviously there are many more facts to this story which will be uncovered in the course of the court proceedings on this matter.
Whenever I discuss home inspections with Buyers I always stress that home inspections are like going to see a doctor at a walk-in clinic; Home Inspectors are generalists, they have a broad base of knowledge, but they are not specialists. The take home message for Realtors is that if there are “issues” that are discovered in a home inspection, Realtors should ensure that their clients are directed toward professionals (plumbers, engineers, roofers, ect…) who are in the best position to assess the magnitude of the problem and provide a realistic cost of repair.