Home inspection could save homebuyer money

A Colorado homebuyer may have committed a $1,200 mistake that could have been prevented had he sought out a qualified home inspection service sooner.

Bruff Shea recently put down $1,287 to purchase a $120,000 foreclosed home from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to a report from KMGH-TV, Denver's ABC affiliate. As with every HUD sale, the government agency inspected the property during the sales process. Its inspector found no significant problems beyond some missing appliances and normal wear.

However, Shea's independent inspection service later identified mold in the home's attic and in a utility closet. Many homeowners, Shea included, do not want to deal with mold because of the high cost of cleanup and its known negative health effects on home residents.

As such, Shea backed out of the deal. Unfortunately, part of his signed agreement dictates that, "The purchaser will forfeit 100 percent of the earnest money deposit for failure to close, regardless of the reason."

A HUD spokeswoman told the station that HUD homes are sold as-is. Because testing for mold and conducting other more involved inspection processes are not part of HUD's services, the agency recommends that homebuyers enlist their own home inspection service to conduct a more detailed assessment of the property.

But even though Shea did exactly what HUD recommended, he still may be out some money. The legal process is still ongoing, as Shea has found a provision in his agreement that allows for a refund due to "special circumstances."

To avoid situations like Shea's, homebuyers should conduct their own home inspection before any finances are exchanged. Shea's mistake seems to be that he committed to a payment before inspecting that home thoroughly. Still, the hands of some homebuyers may be tied because some Realtors require of payment before an inspector will be allowed in the home.