Originally Posted By: gjohnson
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Town might inspect homes
By PAUL RUPPEL
Citizens selling their homes or businesses may someday host one more walk-through before settlement.
Township officials are kicking around the idea of conducting inspections on all properties when they are sold.
These could be as simple as checking from the street for sidewalk cracks and a visible address, or more-involved inspections to ensure compliance with various health and safety codes.
Council seemed to be in favor of the suggestion, and members said Monday night that they would like to hear more details.
"Various municipalities in the area have or are considering establishing inspections of properties upon turnover," explained township manager Michael McGee. "...There are varying degrees throughout the region. Some just require sidewalks and curbs. Some actually get inside for other equipment issues, like smoke detectors and making sure that sump pumps are not connected to the sanitary sewer system."
Among the local towns with such inspections are Abington, Ambler, Montgomery Township, Upper Dublin and Warminster.
"It is an intrusion," McGee said. "It's an area where we have never gone, and no doubt will be another burden on people changing properties."
On the other hand, it's a way to maintain the township's home values and aging infrastructure, he said. Horsham's first ordinance requiring curbs and sidewalks was passed 35 years ago.
The inspection would be conducted at the seller's expense.
"I think it's a good idea and we could, in making a checklist, decide how tough we want to be," said Councilman Mark McCouch, a real estate agent by profession.
McCouch added things to the list for consideration, including checks on heaters and air conditioners and making sure electrical outlets near plumbing fixtures are properly grounded.
If the seller knows what things are going to be up for inspection, Councilman Gregory Nesbitt said he believes they'll go get their chimney swept or hot water heater checked.
Councilwoman Joanna Furia asked to see the impact on township staff in terms of time availability and costs.
McGee said staff would look at how many properties change hands each month, on average, and what fees other towns charge for inspections before reporting back in August or September.
"It is another burden," he said. "Sellers will probably view it to be a negative, and the buyers will see it as a positive."
McCouch replied, "But from the township standpoint, the way I look at it, you know that every property being sold is up to date and up to standards. You have that assurance."
Peggy Cordrey of Re/Max Action Realty in Horsham said most buyers today follow recommendations to get home and termite inspections. Some also test for radon or even mold, she said, usually at their own expense.
The cost of a home inspection is about $250 to $350, she estimated. Termite inspections are about $50 to $80, and the prices for radon and mold checks can vary.
Cordrey said more and more towns do some kind of inspection prior to sales, and sellers seem to expect them.
One frustration can be when towns charge to come back out and re-inspect, but that can be avoided if they provide a good checklist of things that need to be in order.
"I, personally, don't look at it as being repetitive because people are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for these homes," Cordrey said of the property inspections. "To me, it's better to be safe than sorry."