Home Buying in Concord>Question Details

Susan Carter, Both Buyer and Seller in Concord, CA

My realtor/broker, acting as my agent when I bought a 60 yr old home, didn't have a home inspection done.

Asked by Susan Carter, Concord, CA Fri Nov 28, 2008

As a result, there was no inspection report provided for my review so I had no idea of the extent of serious problems with the property. I now know there are many costly structural (and other) issues I was not aware or advised of. As my representative, did my broker have an ethical or legal responsibility to have the property inspected and reported to me prior to purchase and close of escrow? I know nothing about construction, plumbing, etc., so I would not see a problem even if it were visible to other people. There are so many problems I don't know if I would have bought the house. The broker/agent has been a real estate professional in this area for at least 30 years. Please advise!!
Thank you.

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6
Is this Concord California? If so, your Purchase Agreement had two full pages behind the contract called the Buyers Inspection Advisory. Also included in the contract was a section specifying who paid for which inspections (Pest, Property, Roof etc), Section 1 or 2 work from the Pest report to be completed prior to COE etc.

Was the Seller a private party or a Bank or Probate Trust? Was this an auction property?

Also you were provided, unless a bank or probate sale, with a Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS), a Statewide Buyer Seller Advisory (SBSA) and possibly a Seller Property Questionaire (SPQ) and even an Supplement to the SPQ. On what basis did you NOT have a property inspection completed? Did you have a Pest Inspection but not a Property Inspection? Did you purchase the property "AS IS"?

If your Broker actually advised you AGAINST having any inspections completed then seek the advice of a real estate attorney immediately.

If you are in California and you contact me directly I will review your situation with you over the phone and refer you appropriately.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 29, 2008
Your broker had fiduciary responsibility to look out for your interests. I assumed he was paid for services rendered. It DOES NOT matter what paperwork were signed. Signed papers do not protect anyone against intent to defraud or harm caused by omission of duties. If you were not aware of material defects in the home; you may be entitled to serious monetary damages from the seller who should've known and/or did not disclose and from you broker/agent who is paid to make sure the transaction has your interests in mind.

I would advice you to hire a good real estate attorney and bring litigation against all the parties involved. DO NOT let them off the hook. Especially, the real estate "professional". A civil suit can also be brought against the parties and with good representation and evidence of financial damage to you; you have a good chance of winning. If you think that the parties were involved in any type of cover up or conspiracy or gross negligence you can sue for punitive damages.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 29, 2008
Your agent had an ethical responsibility to advise you to have a home inspection done no matter how old the property is. However it is your responsibility to actually order one and have it done, not your agents. since liability varies from state to state you should check all the paperwork you signed to see if it included a notice to you to have it done or if you signed a waiver of responsibility. If not then you should consult a real estate attorney to see if you have any legal recourse.
In your question you mentioned that your agent has worked as a real estate professional for 30 years. Back in the day most brokers were intimidated by home inspectors since they held the finality of the deal in their hands. Home inspections were not as common and brokers felt relieved if a buyer didn't order one. Your agent may still think in the 'old school' way. Most brokers and agents now prefer a home inspection so that any potential problems are identified before you close not after. That way if there is any problem it is still the sellers problem and the agent does have to deal with the ramifications later. The focus these days is to build a long term relationship with clients so that you will come back to them later for your real estate needs. We also hope that you are satisfied with the experience and will refer business to us. Good luck---Allen
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 28, 2008
Did you order a home inspection or request an inspection at the time you signed a contract?

The broker has responsibilities with respect to the paperwork you sign and other duties in connection with the contract.

It is highly advisable for buyers to hire their own home inspectors. There was a lawsuit in New Jersey some years ago and a court ruling in favor of buyers whose agent recommended a home inspection company. There were charges of collusion between the real estate company and the home inspection company, prompting many risk management concerns about real estate agents recommending home inspection companies and subsequent to that ruling many real estate agents stopped attending home inspections.

Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance is a type of insurance coverage that real estate brokers and agents carry that is similar to physicians' malpractice insurance. Some E&O carriers ask real estate brokers to stipulate that their agents will NOT accompany buyers and home inspectors as a risk management precaution and a condition of coverage.

The agent is required to disclose known defects of the property.

Were you working with a buyer agent who owed you special fiduciary care, or were you working with an agent for the seller? A buyer agent relationship gives you an advocacy edge that you do not enjoy when you are working with an agent for a seller or a dual agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 28, 2008
Yes, your realtor had a fiduciary duty to advise and suggest that you have a home inspection and many times a chimney, roof and other inspections, at your cost. However, if you signed a waiver of responsibility for these, then the agent is in the clear. I would advise you to consult a real estate attorney if you were not made aware of the importance of such inspections.
Good luck!
Suzanne Looker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 28, 2008
As you are probably aware, there is a myriad of paperwork to be signed by both seller and buyer. Check your documents to see if there is a form advising you to obtain inspections. Generally, it is the buyer who pays for most inspections and obtaining estimates for work to be done. When reports have been made they would be reviewed by seller, buyer and agents involved.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 28, 2008
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