Well known Seattle home inspector, Dylan Chalk, recently wrote a great blog post on pre-inspections, Limited Pre-Inspection?. He raises the question and awareness of how pre-inspections have are changing, at least in the Seattle market. It is a good read for anyone in the market right now and is doing, or considering doing, pre-inspections.
The problem is this: housing inventory is at a record-low, and so are interest rates. Seattle is full of eager buyers that are entering into fast-paced bidding wars for houses and sellers are expecting that buyers will inspect homes before writing an offer instead of writing an offer that is contingent upon a home inspection.
One result is verbal, pre-offer consultations. These are not real or thorough home inspections, but instead a brief look at the property so that a buyer can preemptively waive their inspection contingency. However these are not true home inspections and as Chalk points out, not all problems in houses are obvious – thus they cannot be found or disclosed properly in a verbal inspection. Not to mention, if you take a looks Washington’s home licensing laws, there are contradictions in definition that may raise some cause for concern if you are a home buyer.
Chalk writes, “the important thing for home buyers to understand is that the state does not define the scope of this pre-offer consultation. The scope of this inspection is defined by the pre-inspection contract; it’s unknown what you will receive or what you should expect for your verbal consultation dollars.”
Unfortunately, it appears there is still no solution in this urgent market. Buyers want to move and act quickly, even if their inspection isn’t thorough or complete. But remember, maintaining a home is expensive. Stay educated and thoughtful throughout your home buying journey and, in our opinion, complete an entire home inspection whenever you can.