The Importance of Inspections and Walk-Through

July 20, 2022

By:  Irma T. Barrios, Esq.
A buyer must know the risks of purchasing “sight unseen” because it can lead to disappointment. When buyers purchase a property relying only on photos and online tours without an inspection, problems can arise if the home doesn’t meet their expectations in real life.

Florida Law defines home inspection services as “a limited visual examination of the following readily accessible installed systems and components of a home” performed by a licensed home inspector.  Those items include:

  • The Structure of The Home
  • Electrical System
  • HVAC System
  • Roof Covering
  • Plumbing System
  • Interior Components
  • Exterior Components and Site Conditions that Affect the Structure
 Every standard residential real estate contract in Florida has a provision giving the buyer an inspection period to determine if the property is acceptable to the buyer. This provision is invaluable to a buyer; however, it is only helpful if the buyer exercises his or her rights and performs the inspections and reviews the inspection reports thoroughly. The buyer is entitled to ask the licensed home inspector questions regarding the findings in the report and the possible cost to repair or replace the item or items in question. A licensed home inspector may discover non-disclosed items that materially affect the value of the property.

Below are five reasons why a Florida home buyer should obtain a home inspection before purchasing a home:

  1. Written Opinion- A licensed professional home inspector must provide a written professional opinion of the condition of the home being inspected. All of the systems and components of the property are examined and the condition of each of the items is discussed, including an estimate of the cost to repair or replace an item.  This written inspection report is important to a buyer not only for purposes of learning the condition of these systems and components but also to negotiate repairs/replacements, or repair credits, with the seller.
  1. Hidden Defects- Sellers, and their real estate agents, are legally required to disclose any issues with the home that they knew or should have known about, but this does not mean that the seller will comply with the legal duty to reveal hidden defects to the buyer.  Having a written home inspection is the best way to verify any information the seller provides about the condition of the property and it helps the buyer discover defects the seller may not even be aware of at the time of contract.
  1. Home Inspections Are Not Expensive- Many buyers are concerned with keeping closing costs as low as possible.  Being financially prudent in a home purchase is smart, however, buyers should know that hiring a professional home inspector is not that expensive. The cost of an inspection can be based upon the age of the home, its location, size, and any improvements like docks, pools and pilings. A basic home inspection, one which inspects the items mentioned above, should range between $250 and $500.
  1. Mold Inspection- Mold is a real concern for homeowners in Florida because it can not only destroy the structure of the building, it can also bring many health issues to the people around it. There are specific licenses issued to professionals who inspect for mold and mold damage in residential property. They are called “Mold Assessors” and they are educated in sampling for mold in the home or condo, as well as giving a written opinion on (1) whether or not any mold is present in the property; (2) the type of mold discovered; and (3) the level of mold existing there.
  1. Termite Inspection- Homeowners in Florida should be mindful of the destruction that termites can bring to a property. It is important to find a company that will diligently examine the property, and rid the property of the pests, if needed, to avoid further damage to the structure of the home. A specific license is required for those who inspect for termites or “wood-destroying organisms.” They look for insects and fungi and must work for a licensed pest control company.  They should have a valid Florida identification card, with a state license number, stating they are certified as “a pest control operator.”
Having an inspection of the property before closing on a real estate purchase is always a wise decision. Trained professionals going through a property with an expert eye can expose all sorts of things that the buyer may not know exist and save that buyer headaches (and expense) down the road.
A final walk-through is an inspection performed by the buyer prior to the close of escrow on a transaction. The purpose is to ensure that the property is in substantially the same condition as when the purchase agreement was made.

Purchasing a home sight unseen can help you avoid a bidding war and buy your new home more quickly, however, a sight unseen purchase increases the odds of an unfavorable outcome for the buyer. You may be saddled with some undisclosed defect that can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

So take certain precautions. You should have the home professionally inspected and you should perform a walk-through inspection prior to closing, make sure you’re satisfied with the inspection results, and consult closely with your real estate attorney, agent or broker throughout the process.

Irma T. Barrios, Esq. is a managing real estate attorney with the law office of Glantzlaw, a title agent for Members’ Title Services, Inc., and has over 23 years of experience in real estate law. She enjoys helping our LegalShield Members with their real estate transactions. Irma also enjoys fishing and farming.