do I need home inspection for my Delaware home?

Do I Need a Home Inspection When I Buy My Delaware Home – Part 2

Home Buyers should definitely consider getting home inspections and be aware of your rights and responsibilities you have in the process.

In Part 2 of this installment, we continue the conversation with Kathy Sperl-Bell and attorney Heidi Gilmore of Baird Mandalas Brockstedt, LLC discussing home inspections including radon inspections, and what rights buyers and sellers through Delaware’s Agreement of Sale.

Watch below!

Transcript

Kathy Sperl-Bell:   Let’s talk a little about some other inspections, especially one that we’re hearing a lot about lately, radon inspections. So, a radon inspection is … In our standard contract, there’s always a disclosure. Most of the time it says “don’t know, don’t know, don’t know”.

Heidi Gilmore:   Correct.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:   It hasn’t been a big issue in Delaware.

Heidi Gilmore:    Well, in Delaware we’re not on bedrock, like they are in Pennsylvania, for instance. Radon emanates from rock in the ground, or certain elements in the soil. The other factor is we don’t have basements here. Radon is really in the air, that’s trapped underneath the house. So if you don’t have a basement, usually radon is not a concern.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    And increasingly, people kept asking for basements and now a lot of the builders, if they can, are providing basements.

Heidi Gilmore:   Right.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    So, especially if there is a basement, you definitely want to get a radon inspection.

Heidi Gilmore:    Right, so the radon actually tests the air to make sure it’s a 4.0 measurement or less for radon. If it’s more than 4.0, it’s hazardous. So, they need to mitigate it by putting in an airflow system to bring that level back down. It’s not that there’s anything in the home that’s contaminated, it’s typically the air is emanating that radon, which is harmful.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:   Right. And just like with other inspections, if the major defect, or an issue for safety, which radon would be, is found, and the seller agrees to remediate, to take care of the problem, the buyer needs to proceed.

Heidi Gilmore:    Right. Well let me first address, the contract of sale is setting forth the terms between both the buyer and the seller, and it’s establishing the rights that each one have to the agreement. When the buyer is granted the right to inspections, the language, by the very nature of the Agreement of Sale is going to say the buyer has the right to do all these inspections, but it also says after those inspections are received what do they do with that information?

Heidi Gilmore:     The buyer just doesn’t have the right to cancel. The information has to go back to the seller, so they’re properly informed-

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    In an addendum.

Heidi Gilmore:      Yes.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    Right, a written addendum to the contract.

Heidi Gilmore:    Right. They submit the report, they submit the request, and then that request in the form of an addendum says “These are the things we want you to do, seller, to fix these major items-”

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    Right, at your cost.

Heidi Gilmore:     At the seller’s cost, and then if the seller refuses to those repairs, and some sellers, you know, just don’t believe some of the information that comes back, or they’re not willing to invest in those repairs, they can say no. Well, then the contract of sales says, “Well, in that case, the buyer has the option to renegotiate with the seller, or if the seller then refuses to negotiate, to cancel the Agreement of Sale.”

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    And get their deposit back.

Heidi Gilmore:    And get their deposit money back.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:     However, the seller also has rights.

Heidi Gilmore:     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathy Sperl-Bell:   So, if the seller says, “Oh, my. I’ll take care of it tomorrow. I’m willing to take care of this and pay for it,” and the buyer, in that case, does not have the right to get their deposit back.

Heidi Gilmore:    Correct.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:   If they still decide, “I’m sorry, I’m not going to proceed,” then they forfeit their deposit.

Heidi Gilmore:    Right.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:     You can’t force somebody-

Heidi Gilmore:     Correct.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    Yeah, I guess the thing to understand, there are always two sides to a transaction, and especially in real estate, both sides are protected, both sides have rights.

Heidi Gilmore:    Right, and this is where the lawyer comes out in me. So, an Agreement of Sale is a two-party agreement. It’s between the buyer and the seller. So, there’s no automatic rights built in for the buyer just to say, “I want to wash my hands of this. I want to just get out.” They have to do it with the agreement of the other side. So, the whole purpose of all the inspections, from the home inspection of the termite, the radon, well, septic, all those many inspections they do, it gives the buyer the responsibility to negotiate with the seller through specific contract language.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:   Right. That’s a good point.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:     Let me ask you one thing before we finish. You had another idea that you presented to me. So, a buyer that has concerns up front, rather than be subject to the language that’s in our contract, you had another suggestion.

Heidi Gilmore:     I do. So, there are some buyers who absolutely want to go in with their inspectors and look at the property, fine-tune inspection, and especially on a house that may be being sold as is-

Kathy Sperl-Bell:   Absolutely.

Heidi Gilmore:   You want to be able to go through and inspect it, but not be tied to any negotiation with the seller for repairs.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    Right.

Heidi Gilmore:    So, you can simply propose a more general due diligence paragraph. So instead of following the home inspection, or all the other inspection language, you simply grant yourself, the buyer, the right to inspect the property, but you do a general due diligence that says, “I have the right to inspect, but in the event I don’t like anything that I find, I have the right to my satisfaction to either accept the property-”

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    Shake hands, and-

Heidi Gilmore:    “Or, to declare the contract null and void, and withdraw from the agreement.”

Kathy Sperl-Bell:   And that would normally have a relatively short period of time.

Heidi Gilmore:    Correct.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:   You know, like within the next seven days perhaps.

Heidi Gilmore:     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    I think that’s something that I’m going to make sure our agents kind of think about because especially with an older home, or a home that might be, I don’t know, in a location near wetlands … you know, that might be a good option.

Heidi Gilmore:     Right, in Delaware you have to keep in mind we have a specific performance clause in the contract where the seller can sue the buyer to buy, and the buyer can sue the seller to sell if they do not follow the terms of the agreement. The premise behind that, by law, is that all properties are unique. When you go into an Agreement of Sale, you can’t treat every house the same.

Heidi Gilmore:     Every house and every piece of ground is unique. The uniqueness of that is what gives rise to that clause-specific performance. It’s really important that when you enter into an Agreement of Sale, you go into it knowing that this home, which is a huge investment, is unique, and you want to be able to find out everything about it.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:     Right.

Heidi Gilmore:    So, whether you’re accepting it as it is-

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    That’s a good point.

Heidi Gilmore:      Or, with repairs.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    So many of our buyers, especially in coastal Delaware, are coming here from other states. It maybe extremely different than what they’ve experienced where they’re coming from. Because, real estate is governed by state law, and I have not seen any two exactly alike.

Heidi Gilmore:     Correct.

Heidi Gilmore:   Well, and let me just kind of close with one final comment. We had some major storms this weekend, with very high winds, so that would also benefit the buyer to have the right for due diligence. It’s those things that the seller may not even be aware of that could have been damaged about their home. They’re not on their roof all the time looking. They don’t realize the shingles peeled up in that high wind, or that water got in somehow. Those would be discovered. So, it’s not those things that the seller is aware of that they’re not telling you, it’s the things they don’t know-

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    They don’t even know, sure.

Heidi Gilmore:     Correct.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:      So … And we’ve just covered the basics. We could probably be here talking for hours, but if you have any questions we haven’t covered, any questions at all, just simply send me an email, broker@activeadultsrealty.com, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Heidi Gilmore:       Great, and thank you for having me today.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:    Thanks for coming.

Missed Part 1? Click here to see Do I need a Home Inspection Part 1.

Interested in buying a new or resale home in Delaware? Active Adults Realty has put together a fantastic resource for you, our BRAND NEW Buyers Guide. Go and download your copy here.

Have a question you want to be featured in our Ask The Broker series? Submit your questions directly by visiting HERE or you can email Kathy at Broker@ActiveAdultsRealty.com.