When buying a property, you may have to sign a contract which includes a voetstoots clause. This means that the house is sold “as is”. You may also be asked to sign a “Disclaimer” document from the estate agent.
You should sign neither of these documents as they give away your rights to claim for hidden defects.
Defects – what are they?
A patent defect is normally an easily identified visual defect e.g. broken or cracked windows, broken or cracked wall or floor tiles.
A latent defect is normally a defect not easily identified. For example; damage to roof trusses, rising or weather damp, or structural problems that require expertise to recognize.
However, you may have to sign either or both of the documents to be able to buy the house. In that case, make sure you put the following clause in the offer to purchase: “The sale is dependant on a satisfactory home inspection”
Imagine what could go wrong with your home purchase! Houses are made up of hundreds of different parts and materials from a nail to a roof tile and much, much more!
New or used, the home purchase will most likely be one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make! Therefore, with this type of investment, it only makes sense to have a professional home inspection done beforehand.
If you’re thinking, “Why do I need to spend the time and money on a home inspection?”
My question to you is “Why take any unnecessary chances with your hard-earned money?
Protecting your home purchase
An inspection and report will give you a clear, concise picture of the important components and systems of the home. Therefore, you can make an informed decision on the purchase of the home. In doing so, you avoid buying a new home only to spend thousands of rand on unexpected or unforeseen problems.
My thorough, impartial inspection will let you identify any minor or major repairs or maintenance issues. Furthermore, the inspection report is a valuable tool in the bargaining stage to address any issues before finalising your home purchase.
Moreover, you will have a highly trained, experienced and dedicated professional on your side. My report will help you make the right decision with your property purchase.
Don’t make the mistake so many other home buyers are making over and over again!
Protect your investment by having a home inspection!
Put a Home Inspection Contingency in Your “Offer to Purchase”
Home Inspection Contingencies
If you don’t believe in having a home inspection you should realise that your investment is at risk. In reality, a home inspection contingency is your only safeguard where the voetstoots clause forms part of the sales contract.
In South Africa, the voetstoots clause is part of the purchase contract in most of the property sales. But, unfortunately, you will not find any home inspection contingencies in any purchase contracts.
You may not consider that a home inspection contingency is a big deal! In that case, ask yourself why a seller will refuse to consider your offer that contains a home inspection contingency. It has occurred to some of my clients! I told them to consider it a lucky escape!
In addition, a seller selling a house below market value most probably has serious defects. Don’t fall for reasons like the seller is leaving for overseas or retiring to the coast.
A home inspection contingency should be added as part of the purchase contract when you have a home inspection. It means you can cancel the sale or try to negotiate repairs based on the results of the inspection.
In most instances, you should negotiate for at least a week to conduct a home inspection. The time can be shortened or increased during offer negotiations.
An example of a home inspection contingency
“The Buyers’ offer is contingent upon a satisfactory inspection within 7 (or _____ ) days. Upon receipt of the results of such inspection, the Buyers may request in writing at any time within the agreed period that the Sellers make certain repairs or that the Sellers reduce the sales price to compensate for such defect(s). Such a request to repair or reduce the price does not terminate the contract and the Sellers shall have _____ days from receipt of such request to agree to make such repairs or reduce the sales price. If the Sellers do not agree, the Buyers shall have _____ days to waive the contingency and accept the property “as-is” or to declare the contract null and void. “
The home inspection contingency expiry date
Setting the date that a home inspection contingency should be released depends on the contingency you negotiate with the seller. It may not automatically expire unless you take a specific action such as signing a contingency release. That is if a release is part of the contingency agreement. Therefore, if it expires before you have it inspected, you lose the right to have the home inspected.
When your sales contract has a home inspection contingency, it is important to conduct the inspection as soon as possible. I may recommend that you call an electrician to do further investigation of the wiring in the ceiling space. However, for example, you might have to contact several electricians before finding someone available in the time frame you need.
Therefore, it is very important to keep the seller and agent in the picture of what is happening. You should advise the seller on your decision to continue or withdraw from the purchase contract before the expiry date. If you don’t you may have to honour the conditions of the sale.
Types of Home Inspections
A home inspection involves many components, which are primarily structural and visual. However, if I discover defects beyond my area of expertise I will recommend that you consult an expert.
For example, if the home’s water pressure is low, I will recommend an inspection by a licensed plumber. There could be a blockage the water supply system, or the plumbing pipes could be corroded. I may not be able to identify such defects by noticing the low water pressure. If I recommend further inspections in the report, you may wish to call a specialist for advice.
Specialist inspections include any of the following:
Pest and termites
Serious structural cracks
Heating and air conditioning
Foundation and basement
Sewer or septic system
Trees and vegetation
Water systems and plumbing
Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Real estate procedures and documents may vary. Consult a real estate professional in your area if you have specific questions about this subject.
When you’re buying a home, you don’t want to skip the home inspection step. Home inspections are an important part of the home buying process. An inspection by an InterNACHI certified home inspector can prevent you from purchasing a home with serious issues such as mould, structural defects, faulty plumbing and more.
Firstly, you should insert a contingency in the “Offer To Purchase” which states that the sale is dependant on a satisfactory home inspection. In addition, you should also agree on an “Inspection Contingency Period” which will give you time to have a home inspection done. Furthermore, this period should be between four to seven days depending on how soon you can get an appointment with a home inspector.
Based on the results of a home inspection, the contingency will then give you the right to cancel the sales agreement. In addition, you can walk away from the transaction without recourse if you are unsatisfied with the seller’s response to a request for an inspection and inspection contingency.
You lose the right to have the home inspected and to negotiate over defects found in a home once the contingency period ends.
What is a home inspection?
As a home buyer, it is your right to have your future home inspected for potential faults and defects. Therefore, don’t skip this step!
When Estate Agents Should Insist On An Independent Inspection
The EAAB (Estate Agents Affairs Board) encourages buyers to have a home inspection. However, which buyer ever reads the articles on the EAAB’s website? Maybe estate agents read the articles and the EAAB encourages estate agents to advise buyers to have an independent property inspection?
Most estate agents prefer not to have an independent property inspection, mostly because of concerns over defects that may make the sale fall through and because of the cost involved.
Estate agents should know better! Insisting on an independent property inspection may save the agent from strained relationships with both sellers and buyers. Furthermore, an independent inspection will prevent damage to their reputation or possibly even costly liability later on, should problems occur with the condition of the property.
An independent home or property inspection doesn’t kill a deal by forcing sellers to disclose defects that they wouldn’t otherwise have known about. Any defect that is serious enough to kill a real estate transaction is best discovered before it can kill the deal or result in litigation at a later stage.
The Bill was supposed to finally provide buyers (consumers) more protection in the secondary housing market.
However, it appears the Minister of Human Settlements and his staff and the National Assembly totally missed the point!
Here is that portion of the Bill:
Mandatory disclosure form
A property practitioner –
may not accept a mandate unless the seller or lessor of the property has provided him or her with a fully completed and signed mandatory disclosure in the prescribed form; and
must provide a copy of the completed mandatory disclosure form to a prospective purchaser or lessee who intends to make an offer for the purchase or lease of a property.
The completed mandatory disclosure form signed by all relevant parties must be attached to any agreement for the sale or lease of a property and forms an integral part of that agreement, but if such a disclosure form was not completed, signed or attached, the agreement must be interpreted as if no defects or deficiencies of the property were disclosed to the purchaser.
A property practitioner who fails to comply with subsection (1) may be held liable by an affected consumer.
Nothing in this section prevents the Authority from taking action against a property practitioner or imposing an appropriate sanction.
Nothing in this section prevents a consumer, for his or her own account, from undertaking a private property inspection to confirm the state of the property before finalising the transaction.
This is the protection this Bill offers to buyers (consumers) who buy properties from sellers.