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Disclosure requirements for sales of real estate in Maryland and Virginia, as a matter of law, require that a seller disclose any known material defects in a home. The disclosure form asks questions about the heating and cooling systems, water heater, appliances, roof, basement and structure. However, sellers can also provide a "disclaimer" meaning they don't have to disclose any information about the house. We, as buyers agents, do not rely on owner disclosure for property condition and we don't believe you should either. Your best protection is to have a home inspection performed quickly following contract acceptance. Then you'll really know the condition of systems, structure, maintenance of mechanicals and age of roof and systems.

Home inspections are not required. If you feel comfortable buying a home without a home inspection, your offer to buy homes in stiff competition with other buyers will be viewed favorably. A home inspection is a contingency on the contract in the Maryland real estate Contract of Sale. The fewer contingencies on a contract, the more attractive an offer will be to a seller. You, the home buyers will have an opportunity to test and operate all systems, appliances, electrical and plumbing prior to settlement. So, even without a home inspection, in Maryland and Virginia, the "walk-through" property condition paragraph still protects you, the home buyer.


You, the home buyer may select any home inspector you wish. You may get recommendations from family or friends. If you wish, agents in Maryland and Virginia will recommend home inspectors that have performed well in the past. and our agents receive NO benefit or payment from home inspection company recommended. We meet new inspectors regularly when our buyers use their services and keep the names of those that perform a thorough job with good explanations to our home buyers. ASHI member home inspectors are recommended. However, we have used the services of home inspectors who were ASHI members who performed poorly and inspectors who were not members of ASHI who performed superbly. Home inspectors in Maryland and Virginia are not licensed by the state, although that licensure is in the planning stage.

A home inspector will not only inspect a home for defects, they will also help our buyers learn how to operate systems, the average useful life of the systems in a home, the anticipated repairs in the first year, five years in a home. We recommend a home inspection. The home inspection is performed as soon as practicable after a contract of sale is ratified by the buyer and seller.

A good home inspector will examine and test the operation of all systems in the home you are considering buying, including but not limited to:

Water Heater
Electrical System
home inspections

If any defects or improperly operating systems are found, the home inspector will report the defect, usually in writing, and inform you of the cost of repair or replacement of the item. Then a written report of deficiencies is presented to the seller. At that point, the seller can elect to repair the items, counter the repair list with another offer or refuse to do anything. The Maryland real estate Contract of Sale provides that, if the home inspection shows serious defects, the buyer can elect to void the contract. This protection is not available as easily in Virginia.

Maryland and Virginia real estate contracts clearly state that homes are purchased "as is", which means that the seller can advise you of any defects or require that you purchase the property "as is".

However, our contracts also state that all mechanical systems and appliances must be in good working order prior to the "walk-through inspection", performed usually the day of or day before settlement. If, during the walk-through inspection, a dishwasher, refrigerator, disposal, etc. is found not to be operating properly, and you have not accepted that item "as is", the seller must repair the item or pay you sufficient money to make the repairs yourself (negotiable).

So, even if the seller refuses to make desired repairs pursuant to the home inspection, the item, if it is mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc. must still perform in the manner in which the manufacturer intended at the walk-through inspection. Our agents will make sure your interests are represented at the home inspection and the walk-through pre-settlement inspection.

Costs: Most home inspectors charge according to the purchase price of the home. The home inspection fee for a $200,000 contract will be approximately $300. For a $400,000 home, the fee will be approximately $450. The entire process will take from two to four hours or more. This is a time consuming process, but can save you many dollars and lots of heart ache following settlement.

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Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Broker
Broker: Lenn Harley
Serving home buyers in Maryland and Virginia
Phone: 800-711-7988
Copyright 1999 Lenn Harley

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