Ken, one more thing for you to consider. In my contract, and most others I have seen, you would have no recourse against the inspector in the event he missed items. The original purchaser of the inspection is the only person that has recourse, unless you pay an additional fee and sign on the agreement as well. So in this case you are not protected against errors/omissions. Also, keep in mind that a crucial part of understanding the inspectors findings occurs during the consultation at the end of the inspection. And, not to beat a dead horse, but inspectors note issues at the time of the inspection. If more than a month has passed, or if seasons have changed (roofs don't leak when its not raining) then the report may no longer be accurate or complete. So, I'm biased of course, but I say get your own inspection or contact the inspector, be added to the agreement, and know your protected. Hope this helps!
"We are making a new offer on a property and are being asked to sign each page of the inspection report which came from the last buyer who walked away from the deal. Is this normal? Should I be concerned? Is there risk?"
The CA Residential Purchase Agreement [Para 10B] states the Buyer, at no cost, provide complete copies of all investigative reports obtained by Buyer. The obligation to do so even survives after the termination of the Agreement. So, the Seller IS doing the right thing by providing you the report. Do not be concerned you are getting the report; however, it sounds like the contents of the report may be concerning. Your risk is really based on you not reading the report and doing the same with your own inspections performed as well.
"I mean, it seems to me that I could still ask for more consideration if we discover the costs of repairs are great, even though we were aware of them already in the report, correct?"
Absolutely, having a report that records damage is completely different than having a quote quantifying the damage via a repair quote.
The seller is obligated to disclose all reports no matter who they were purchased by or who paid for them. By you signing them, you are just acknowledging that you have seen the reports. This does not mean that you don't have the right to have your own reports done. You still have the right to ask for a credit, price reduction or repairs for items in the report as long as you have not released the physical contingencies. It is normal for a buyer to sign any and all report no matter where they come from.
I'd first ask if the seller has the right to offer you the information from another buyer's inspection report...it so, they would be following correct procedure by having you sign or initial each page as an proof that you have reviewed the content.
If this report is intended to take the place of your right to conduct your own inspection....I would be concerned....regardless of being provided with the initial inspection information it is highly recommend that you have right to conduct one of your own.
Proceed with caution....
If you review their inspection and it says for example that the roof is older and will need to be replaced soon, and then you have a report that says the same thing and you try to get a credit for it after getting into contract that is unlikely to be well received. That said, there is no legal regulation preventing you from asking for it.
Sometimes what buyers do when there are a lot of items in the report they say they didn't realize until having their own inspection how much it might cost - contractor inspections don't give $ amounts, pest inspections do - and use that to negotiate.
Also, be careful about using sellers' pest reports. We once had our own on a house that delivered a clean report and our inspector came up with over $30K. We had our own because we didn't know the inspector. There is also one company here in San Francisco that routinely misses things so when we see one of their reports we always advise buyers to get their own.
What concerns me is if there is an understanding/normal practice/precendent/whatever that keeps me from clawing back some of the costs if we later find that some fo the items in the original inspection are of more cost and effort than we had estimated for example.... or as Debbie says below "by acknowledging them, you are accepting them, as is, and will factor the repairs into your offer." - can this be true, legally or otherwise?
You can always ask for a credit, but they can always say no. Note: There are certain situations where a Seller might not be able to change a contract later on.
I think you need to clarify what the sellers are expecting by having you sign the last buyer's report.
We have buyers, in my area, sign the seller's disclosure at the time of making an offer - if, for example, it says the AC is "as is", or there is a leak in the bathroom......the buyers are acknowledging that, and can't really turn around and ask to have those irems repaired, unless their inspection reveals more extensive problems - problems over and above - than disclosed.
It may simply be that they are disclosing any defects to you........OR.............by acknowledging them, you are accepting them, as is, and will factor the repairs into your offer.
You should still reserve the right to have your own inspection, and if additional items are discovered, that's a different matter.......BUT........I'd make sure you aren't being asked to sign off on the items that are in the report.
If that is the case, then get any estimates now, ahead of time, so that you won't have any surprises later.
The seller is doing the correct thing in providing the report to you. It is a little unusual to have you sign each page but I don't see any risk in doing it. I would still recommend you hire your own home inspector.
Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker