by Mark Cohen, J.D., LL.M., InterNACHI General Counsel, and
Nick Gromicko, InterNACHI Founder
Some sellers – often, those working without an agent – want to sell their home “as is” so they don’t have to invest money fixing it up or take on any potential liability for defects. There is nothing wrong with buying a home “as is,” particularly if you can buy it at a favorable price, but if you are considering buying an “as is” home, you should still hire a competent home inspector to perform an inspection. There are several reasons for this.
First, you don’t know what “as is” is. Sure, you can walk through the home and get an idea of its general condition. You may even spot some defects or items in obvious need of repair. But you won’t obtain the same detailed information you will receive if you hire a home inspector. Home inspectors are trained to look for things you are not likely to notice. InterNACHI inspectors, for example, must follow InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice and check the roof, exterior, interior, foundation, basement, fireplace, attic, insulation, ventilation, doors, windows, heating system, cooling system, plumbing system, and electrical system for certain defects. Armed with a home inspector’s detailed report, you will have a better idea of what “as is” means regarding that home, which means you’ll be in a better position to know whether you want to buy it. You may also be able to use information from the home inspection to negotiate a lower price.
Second, many states require the seller to provide you with written a disclosure about the condition of the property. Sellers often provide little information, and a few even lie. A home inspection can provide the missing information. If an inspector finds evidence that a seller concealed information or lied to you, that may be a sign that you don’t want to buy a home from that seller.
Finally, if you buy a home “as is” without hiring a home inspector and then later discover a defect, all is not lost. A home inspector may be able to review the seller’s disclosure and testify as to what the seller knew or should have known about. The inspector may find evidence that the seller made misrepresentations or concealed relevant information from you. Even the seller of an “as is” home may be held liable for misrepresentation or concealment.
But the better choice, obviously, is to hire a home inspector first. Remember: The cost of a home inspection is a pittance compared to the price of the home. Be an informed consumer, especially when buying an “as is” home, and hire an InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector®.