Often it may occur that the property you are buying, upon inspection, reveals a problem that needs correcting. The problem may be a leaky faucet, sagging floor, termite damage, defective roof, or any other problems from small to substantial. In the haste to close escrow, a Buyer may agree to let the repair work be done after the escrow has closed. Is there any damage in that? Will the Buyer be protected?
Generally a purchase agreement between Buyer and Seller contains a provision for an inspection of the property, to be made by the Buyer. The Buyer then has a specified period of time, such as ten working days, to approve or disapprove the inspection report. The Buyer most often still wants to go ahead with his purchase, but wants certain defects corrected by the Seller. Some defects the Buyer may be willing to accept.
The best solution is to have the seller correct the problem or defect before escrow closes. Once escrow has closed, it may be very difficult to get the Seller to perform the necessary repairs. The answer to this problem is to have money held back in escrow at closing time. The escrow holder acts as the stake holder of the money, and this money is then be released only after the repairs have been made.
Provision for holding funds in escrow is done by amendments made to the escrow instructions. These amendments must be signed by both the Buyer and the Seller. The escrow closing agent can prepare these amendments for you. The Buyer and Seller could negotiate to split the repair costs, or the Seller may agree to lower the purchase price of the property or the Buyer could agree to accept the property “as is”, thereby accepting the items found in the inspection report.
A word of caution is that once escrow has closed, it may be very difficult to go back after the Seller for repairs. Once the deed is recorded, the Buyer becomes the legal owner of the property and responsible for the property in it’s condition at that time. Title insurance will not cover building defects. A home warranty policy will typically cover only certain items which are found defective and of which the Buyer was not aware existed before the close of escrow.
Will the inspection report cover building department permits?
Typically an inspection report will cover only the physical findings of the home inspector, not building permits. If the report does not include an examination of building permits, you can ask that this be done, or you can do it yourself. Building permits are public information. Ask the home inspector to pull all the permits on the property. If there is any new construction which is obvious on the property, and a building permit was not taken out for the work, the construction could be substandard, or you may be required to bring the non permitted work up to code, if you decide to do further renovation work.
Copyright © 2000, 2004 Sandy Gadow. This column may not be resold, reprinted, resyndicated or redistributed without the written permission from Escrow Publishing Company.