California law requires only that sellers disclose known defects, with no obligation to search them out or get expert eyes on the house, such as by getting a home inspection. In many real estate transactions, it’s the buyer who negotiates the right to conduct a home inspection after their purchase offer has been accepted but before closing.
Nevertheless, many California sellers choose to hire an inspector to evaluate the property and prepare a report ahead of time. The reason is largely twofold:
I have a point of contention with the article. In the article they say “Of course, once you get the home inspection report, you will need to supply a copy to prospective buyers.” I would interpret that as once the seller receives a pre-listing home inspection report, he or she is obligated by law to disclose its findings (i.e. now the seller likely knows about more defects with the home). And, the easiest way to comply is to simply supply a copy of the full report to potential buyers. They then further suggest that “you could request that they hire an inspector only for a verbal report” as a possible manner in which you would not need to provide a full inspection report to potential buyers. Putting aside the well-discussed can-of-worms that opens for the home inspector providing only a “verbal” report, I do not think getting a verbal report would negate the law. The seller still knows more now about the defects with the house and is obligated under law to disclose those defects, although now there is no report to share. I think sellers should get pre-listing inspections with full reports. However, I caution the seller that the problems that are revealed, that are not subsequently addressed by the seller, will need to be disclosed to potential buyers. In other words, I warn them about their obligations under CA law.
+1 and agreed.
I advise sellers to pre-inspect, repair, followup inspect, then list. They need to talk to their Realtor about what to disclose, but for my money it’s the most recent report, which represents a point in time and the best available information. The listing agents I work with will also want a list of material repairs disclosed, along with receipts and bids for that work.
These same seller’s agents will insist on all bids received, even for work contemplated but not completed.