By Bruce Cathcart

You have finally found the house of your dreams and in this crazy “seller’s market” you were the lucky bidder that managed to get your offer accepted. Congratulations! Chances are you only spent 15 minutes in the house trying to make sure that it had most of the features you had on your wish list before racing back to your real estate agent’s office to write an offer. Now is the time to go back and take a serious look at what you just agreed to buy.

The good news is, assuming you used the standard CAR (California Association of Realtors) Residential Purchase Agreement, that there is a provision in that form that gives you the buyer 17 days (unless modified) to “complete all buyer investigations” of the property. The investigation that I am talking about in this article is the buyer’s physical inspection of the property. This is the buyer’s opportunity to verify the condition of the property (including the structure, appliances, mechanical systems, etc.). Since this is a contingency of the buyer’s contract the buyer must either approve the home’s condition and move forward with the transaction, disapprove the home’s condition and cancel the transaction, or disapprove of the home’s condition and submit a “Request for Repairs” to the seller and negotiate what will and will not be fixed before the seller and buyer can move forward with the transaction.

In my experience many buyers feel that they are qualified to make their own inspections. I mean how hard can it be to turn on a few faucets, flush a few toilets and run the air conditioner? Wrong, wrong, wrong! For about $300.00 do yourself, your agent, and even the seller a favor and hire a professional, certified Home Inspector to inspect your property.


A certified Home Inspector must pass either the National Home Inspector Examination or the California Home Inspector Exam. I look for the CREIA (California Real Estate Inspection Association) affiliation for the Home Inspectors that I recommend as they require their inspectors to meet their Standards or Practice, Code of Ethics, and annual continuing education requirements. There currently is no license required to be a home inspector. The average home inspection takes the inspector around 3 to 4 hours to complete. They then provide the buyer with a 30 to 40 page report (with photos and a summary of “must fix” items) that covers the concrete slab to the roof and everything in between. These inspectors really earn their fee. I have seen them crawl into a fiberglass filled attic in 110 degree weather to inspect for leaks, wiring, sound structure and even an AC unit if that is where they are located! I have only seen a few buyers in the last 30 years even stick their head through the crawl space “just to take a peek”.

Having a copy of the Home Inspection Report will let you know in great detail the condition of the home you are purchasing. You will be able to use the results of your report when making your “Request for Repairs” to the seller. I find that sellers are more inclined to believe the findings of a professional, certified Home Inspector over Uncle Charlie who thought he heard a funny noise coming from the dishwasher! In addition, many home warranty policies do not cover pre-existing conditions (things that were broken before the policy was put in place). Having a Home Inspection Report showing a particular item was working prior to the close of escrow has really come in handy for many of my buyers and helped them resolve this issue.

So ALWAYS spend the money to hire a professional, certified Home Inspector and get a full report as to your home’s condition before completing your purchase. You will be glad you did!

This week’s real estate tip: Always get a Home Inspection Report from a professional, certified Home Inspector. Your trusted real estate agent should be able to make recommendations for inspectors that they have successfully worked with on previous sales. Look for the CREIA designation on their business card, brochure or website.

Bruce Cathcart is the Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty, “Your Friendly Professionals” and can be reached by email at or visit his website at