‘Stop-gap measures’ in home inspections to protect potential home buyers in hot market

Competition is still fierce when it comes to shopping for a new home.

Some prospective buyers are dropping conditions like having a home inspection in their offers to win a house. Because of this temporary measures have come about to keep home inspections on the table.

Getting a home inspection done prior to purchase helps potential buyers avoid acquiring money pits or at least knowing what they’re getting themselves into if there are major repairs needing to be done.

When the hot real estate market saw that condition being dropped, two key temporary changes came about to help ensure buyers were protected.

Kevin Belanger is a realtor with Sutton Benchmark Real Estate in Greater Sudbury. He has been working in the business for six years and says this is the strongest sellers market he’s seen in that time. (Screenshot from YouTube)

“I see them as stop-gap measures to give buyers the same ammunition they had before,” said Kevin Belanger, a realtor at Sutton Benchmark Realty in Sudbury.

The first, called presale or pre-listing home inspections, calls for inspections to be done prior to listing a new home for sale. Either the listing agent or the home seller pays to have the home inspection done. 

Then potential buyers can access that report to find out about problems and negotiate a fair offer.

[Presale home inspections] sort of levels the playing field and gives everybody equal access to a home inspection report.– Kevin Belanger, realtor with Sutton Benchmark Realty in Sudbury

“It sort of levels the playing field and gives everybody equal access to a home inspection report,” Belanger said.

“But it’s also very helpful to the seller as well because it increases the chance they will see more offers that don’t have a home inspection clause, which makes it easier to accept and go forward and come to a firm offer,” he added.

The second temporary change involves potential buyers bringing along a home inspector during a showing.

Aaron Rehel is a home inspector and owner of Sudbury Home Inspections. He says lately his services have been used either for critical systems home inspections or pre-sale or pre-listing home inspections. (Sudbury Home Inspections Facebook page)

Aaron Rehel with Sudbury Home Inspections says in those cases he has 30 minutes to perform a critical systems inspection.

“You try the best you can and you kind of lay it out that you can’t look at every item that we typically look at because if you’re looking at the structure, you’re looking at your attic spaces, basement levels, and if there’s a crawl space and whatnot, and anything that is visual.”

Critical aspects of a home include the structure or foundation, mechanicals like its plumbing and furnace, its roof and electrical panels are checked over in this short timeframe.

Rehel says five months ago he was doing a lot of these types of quick home inspections, but now it’s transitioned into more pre-listing inspections.

“I was getting calls every week, and I was almost expected to jump in my truck from Friday to Sunday and start running around and helping out as many people as I can,” Rehel said.

He’s also been doing post-purchase inspections where a new home owner seeks out an inspection after closing, “to see what they kind of got themselves into.”

For those potential home buyers who are considering purchasing a house without the condition of a home inspection, Rehal warns “buyer beware.”

“I just hope that everyone understands what they’re buying,” he said. “A home or any building that they own does need maintenance; it’s going to have issues.”

Return to normal once market balances out

Both Belanger and Rehal feel that home inspections will return to being a condition of real estate sales, once the market balances out.

But at this point the market is showing no signs of cooling.

“I’ve been telling a lot of clients this might be a longer process than you had in mind, but just keep up the faith and we’ll find something at good value,” Belanger said.

“Despite the market being so hot, my personal opinion is it’s still not worth overpaying for a house.”

Morning North8:16Temporary changes help home buyers get inspections in a hot market

Temporary changes are helping home buyers in the demanding housing market, including sellers arranging home inspections in advance and providing copies to prospective buyers. We speak with realtor Kevin Belanger and home inspector Aaron Rehel to discuss the impact of the new options. 8:16