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Best of the hotline: Inspection contingency

By: Goldsmith, James on in

If a buyer relies on a previous home inspection report, without conducting their own, are they waiving their inspection contingency?

In this situation, the sellers accepted an offer contingent on a home inspection. The home inspection was performed timely and a copy of the report was given to the sellers. For reasons not relating to the inspection report, the buyers terminated the Agreement of Sale and the property’s status went from pending to active.

Fortunately, the sellers received a second offer in very short order. The new buyer (buyer #2) was aware that the property had recently been inspected and asked to see a copy of that report. Her offer, too, included an inspection contingency. This buyer, however, did not engage a home inspector, but prepared a corrective proposal based on the findings of the inspection report performed for the previous prospective buyers.

Did buyer #2 waive her inspection contingency by relying on a report issued to others without engaging their own inspection? 

Probably. Okay, yes. But does it or should it matter? The inspection contingency is based on the results “of any inspection elected in Paragraph 12(C) (Buyer’s Due Diligence/Inspections). Since buyer #2 did not have any inspection that was elected from that paragraph, the contingency was waived.

Advising buyer #2 that she has waived her contingency and is therefore buying the property in its present condition may be counter to the sellers’ objective of selling their property. In other words, telling buyer #2 she is stuck with the property might result in the buyer finding some other way, legitimate or not, of terminating the agreement.

The advice given to the listing agent was to sit down with the sellers and advise that buyer #2 had not complied with the contingency provisions, but that a corrective proposal has been submitted which deserves attention. After all, if the sellers can make peace with buyer #2 and sell their property, that may be much better than rubbing buyer #2’s nose in a technical failure.

Keep in mind that licensees do not have the authority to make decisions for their clients. Buyers and sellers need to know when there is a technical failure, but also need to be counseled on choosing a path that best meets the needs of the respective client.

As an aside, a buyer who is relying on a previous inspection is at risk. If the inspection report that is relied on turns out to be flawed, the buyer will not likely have a cause of action against the inspector for the damages sustained. This is because the buyer did not engage that inspector; rather, the buyer relied on a report prepared for another person pursuant to a contract between the inspector and the other person. Do not expect legal recourse against a home inspector you did not engage and did not pay.

When a Sale Is Terminated, What Happens to That Inspection?

The Pennsylvania Seller Disclosure Law requires sellers to disclose known material defects of a residential property to potential buyers, but it does not matter how a seller learns of that material defect. This includes material defects identified through a buyer’s inspection when the transaction does not ultimately close. In this situation, the seller’s property disclosure must be updated.

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Home inspection specifications

According to anecdotal evidence I’ve collected, the inspection period is one of the most anxiety-inducing times of a residential sale. There are so many factors involved, from timelines to multiple outside parties, and don’t forget that once the inspection is finished negotiations can start all over again. A home inspection can make or break a […]

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Comments (6)


  • John Collins   May 2, 2017 at 7:51 am

    Great article. As a buyer agent it would seem that the best course of action would be to advise a buyer to get their own home inspection, regardless of whether or not a prior inspection report is available. Is that right?

    Reply to John Collins
  • Debbie Wills   May 2, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Good article. I agree with the previous reader. Have your buyer get an inspection regardless. Knowledge is power. And you have recourse if you need it.

    Reply to Debbie Wills
  • brian kugler   May 2, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Why didn’t the Seller make the inspection report available to the Buyer before the Buyer wrote the agreement of Sale?
    Line 510 to line 513 of the property disclosure states:
    After completing this form, if Seller becomes aware of additional information 2. about the property, including through inspection reports from a buyer, the Seller must update the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement and/or attach the inspection(s).
    Had the Buyer been provided the inspection report prior to writing the offer, the Buyer could have included the repairs in the offer.
    If Seller refuses to do the repairs, could the Buyer go back on the Seller for non disclosure of the known deficiencies?

    Reply to brian kugler
  • Jim Goldsmith   May 2, 2017 at 11:18 am

    That’s right, John.

    Reply to Jim Goldsmith
  • Wray, Michele   May 28, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Jim:
    I know this is an older article but still relevant. Can I ask a little more specific questions about it:
    1) If you are selling an estate and initially aren’t liable to complete the disclosure, if there is a home inspection completed and that deal falls apart, shouldn’t the seller now have to disclose what they do know because as of Paragraph 13 sub paragraph B, the buyer WILL provide a copy of the inspection to the seller whether they accept, terminate or negotiate….. is this correct?
    2) As per the paragraph noted above…are we to understand the the buyer MUST always provide the seller with a full copy of the inspection reports, are there ever any exceptions to this?

    Thank you!

    Reply to Wray, Michele

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