Reuben Saltzman

Magic wand? I’d change the home inspection contingency form.

If I could wave a magic wand to make my job as a home inspector easier, I’d change the home inspection contingency form. Dig.

When someone buys a home in Minnesota, they typically include an addendum to their purchase agreement, called the Inspection Contingency. This is typically a one-page form that says the buyer wants a home inspection. It gives the buyer the option to cancel the purchase of a home without any penalties if they’re not happy with the inspection results. I’m simplifying things a bit here, but that’s the gist of it. The form is very basic but does have a spot for the seller to check a box to say whether or not they’ll agree to allow the buyer to perform intrusive testing or inspections.

home inspection contingency form

If I were in charge, there would be several more boxes on this form that the seller had to check. This would force the seller to actively acknowledge their responsibility to make their home accessible for home inspections. This home inspection checklist would look something like this:

Seller _DOES  _DOES NOT agree to make the attic(s) and crawlspace(s) readily accessible for inspection.

Seller _DOES  _DOES NOT agree to make the electrical panel(s) readily accessible for inspection.

Seller _DOES  _DOES NOT agree to make all appliances readily accessible for inspection. This includes items such as the furnace, water heater, boiler, etc.

Seller _DOES  _DOES NOT agree to make the garage readily accessible for inspection.

I believe that a tremendous amount of time and effort could be saved by having some simple language like this added to the home inspection contingency form that almost everyone in Minnesota uses. If the seller doesn’t agree to anything, negotiations take place right there and then; not while the home inspector is at the house. Of course, the term “readily accessible” would need to be defined, and some cover-all statement added to make the rest of the house readily accessible. I’d copy the definition right out of the Home Inspection SOP Glossary created by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI):

Readily Accessible Available for visual inspection without requiring moving of personal property, dismantling, destructive measures, or actions that will likely involve risk to persons or property.

This has been the focus of my last two blog posts, which have simply been building up to this post.

I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I really can’t see any downside to this. Do you agree? Disagree? Please share your thoughts.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

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8 responses to “Magic wand? I’d change the home inspection contingency form.”

  1. Laura Bracklein
    April 18, 2017, 12:18 pm

    You get a big “AMEN” from me Reuben. I wonder if you could submit these form suggestions to the Minnesota Assoc. of Realtors forms committee. It’s reasonable to expect that sellers make a thorough inspection possible. The one area that can be tricky is the garage. For a lot of sellers that ends up being the dumping ground for all the excess they need to get out of the house.

  2. Brad Reiland
    April 18, 2017, 12:21 pm

    Recommend this to the forms committee at the realtor association of Minnesota.

  3. bill
    April 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    It would be very helpful to see the form. The one I found on the MNbar.org site )https://www.mnbar.org/docs/default-source/sections/addendum-to-purchase-agreement-buyer%27s-home-inspection-contingency-(rpf-18).pdf?sfvrsn=0) is from 2005 and does not have these check boxes.

    I would not make them into check boxes saying they will or will not. Just a declaration
    The seller will agree to make the attic(s) and crawlspace(s), electrical panel(s), appliances, and garages readily accessible for visual inspection without requiring moving of personal property, dismantling, destructive measures, or actions that will likely involve risk to persons or property. An inspection that cannot be completed for any of these reasons will be considered as an “unsatisfactory condition”.

  4. Paul Douglas
    April 18, 2017, 2:37 pm

    This would not be a bad idea. I know that in my search to purchase a house I have been in more than a few that made it virtually impossible to even really see the house due to personal property stacked and sometimes boxed everywhere. One house which we might have bought had we been able to see the property had the stock from the gentleman’s store stacked around everywhere literally leaving only small paths around the house. A good or even mediocre inspection would have been impossible.

  5. Bob Mesna
    April 18, 2017, 3:32 pm

    It is totally reasonable what you propose. Anyone that doesn’t make these items available tells me they have something to hide.

    However, the present townhome we bought, we passed on the seller providing an inspection. There was a line of people interested in this place as a rare find, and at a good price. I have done lots of work where we lived previously for 41 years so I felt comfortable skipping an inspection. We offered cash and got this place after being on the market only 12 hours.

  6. Ron Leaf
    April 18, 2017, 4:27 pm

    The form makes it too easy for a buyer to cancel a transaction. The form should include a provision that the cost of repairs must exceed a specified cost threshold before the buyer has the right to cancel.

  7. Brian Krantz
    April 21, 2017, 7:26 am

    I certainly agree 100%. As a home inspector on the border of IL and IA there are many more regulations involved with working in both states. I send confirmation emails to both the listing realtor and the buy side realtor requesting these exact things and still I will arrive to the water shut off or the attic access obstructed. Plus many other obstacles. When I encounter this obstacles I give a courtesy call to ask if the owner or representative can take care of any obstacles. It usually doesn’t get done. No person involved in the sale of the home wants an incomplete inspection and no one more than myself. So the more reminders and information to realtors, home buyers, and sellers is never a bad thing.

  8. How a Better Contingency Could Grant You Better Home Inspection Access - Home Inspection Training & Certification Online
    June 16, 2017, 2:00 am

    […] to Rudy Saltzman of StructureTech inspections, many contingencies explicitly state that the seller doesn’t allow intrusive testing […]

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