Not too long ago, we represented one of our clients on the purchase of a new home in San Elijo Hills. It was a beautiful home, offering all the standard features they wanted. The only obvious catches:
- Builder wanted clients to use their lender, even though Bank of America at that time offered lower rates and closing costs. In exchange for using their lender, they agreed to pay FHA closing costs and provide some minimal upgrades.
- For some reason, the builder’s contract would not allow any outside inspector to enter the home on behalf of the buyers prior to close of escrow. (?)
With significant negotiation, we were able to prevail with lender issues and upgrade incentives, which saved our client a few thousand dollars. The home inspection, though, proved to be a more difficult challenge. While the builder’s staff was sympathetic to our wish for an independent inspector to go through the home prior to close of escrow, they said it was the builder’s policy to disallow professional home inspection prior to closing.
Once recovered from our shock, we encouraged our clients to have a professional inspection–as we do in all our San Diego real estate transactions. They agreed, and their professional inspector posed as a relative who had come to see the home–and a truncated inspection was accomplished (no exterior ladders were brought out to inspect roof or eaves).
This inspection turned out relatively clean, but other new home inspections have revealed electrical wiring pierced by metal staples, stoves not bolted to the wall, leaks and other items that warranted repair before buyer closed on the property.
Our recommendation? NEVER, ever close on a property without a professional inspection–even if it is a new home. The inspector may discover issues that may not haunt you until years later, when recourse against the builder may not be possible.
And as our wise mothers always advised: Better to be safe than sorry!
And for what it’s worth, our son Mark Murphy recently returned from extensive training in Canada with Pillar to Post Professional Home Inspections and relishes the idea of catching builder boo boos and flaws. He can be reached at 760-828-8828.