An inspection contingency may be included in a contract for the sale of a home or residential property. Contingencies are conditions that must be met in order for closing to occur. Thus, with an inspection contingency, closing cannot occur until the home has been subjected to a thorough, detailed, and neutral inspection by a home inspector.
In most cases, it is the buyer that is requesting the home inspection contingency. That is, they will often seek to ensure that they have a right to have the property inspected at least once or a few times prior to signing the closing papers. In other cases, it may be the seller or a mortgage or insurance company seeking the inspection contingency.
The type of inspection specified in the contingency will vary depending on the needs of the parties. In most cases, the aim of the inspection is to discover any potential defects or issues that might lower the home’s value. Again, details of the inspection may vary, but they can cover:
- Dangerous conditions on or near the property
- Toxic substance, such as lead in paint
- Rodent/infestations or damage
- Environmental dangers, such as a risk of landslide/mudslide, earthquake conditions, or hurricanes
- Structural defects/property structures in disrepair
- Issues with neighboring properties and boundaries
- Zoning and land use violations
For new homes or homes in progress, an inspection may also be done during the construction phases, to monitor the progress of the building. Again, these will all depend on the details specified in the contract.
Failure to obtain or allow a home inspection according to a contingency can result in the sale being delayed, cancelled, or voided. In such cases, the breaching party may be subject to a lawsuit in which they pay damages to the other party for losses caused by the breach.
Other issues such as home inspection fraud can also lead to lawsuits or legal penalties. For instance, if a seller knowingly collaborated with an inspector who misrepresented information from an inspection, it could lead to legal damages as well.
Real estate inspections can often influence the selling price of a home. You may wish to hire a real estate lawyer in your area if you need help with any contract contingencies. Your attorney can help negotiate terms and can make sure that your interests are well-represented. Also, if you must file a lawsuit for damages, your attorney can help you with your claim and can provide representation in court.