Since 1993 I have inspected homes full time. I never kept a count of exactly how many Seller Disclosure Forms I have seen.
There are a few things I can tell you about the hundreds or may be even thousands of forms I have seen.
Just about every time an answer to a question was left “blank” there is a reason why it was left blank. Rarely if ever does a person filling out a form that important forget to answer a question. Even if the home seller did forget to answer a question their spouse usually looks over the form as does their real estate agent. Each and every single time an answer was left blank or N/A or ? there was a very good reason the question was not answered. Any and all questions that do not have 100% complete answers should set off an alarm in your head. Immediately demand a certified statement from the owner detailing the answer to the question.
The most common problems in homes center around water damage. Water damage from water infiltration into the basement or water infiltration through the roof and exterior finishes are by far the most common problems with homes and the most frequent cause for complaints against home inspectors. I can tell you exactly how many times to date I have seen a sellers disclosure indicating problems with water infiltration into the basement, water infiltration through the roof and exterior finishes. That answer would be NEVER.
NEVER is a very strong word. Perhaps I should have written NOT YET, however, after over 25 years of dealing with real estate inspections I think it is fair for me to draw the logical conclusion – if it has not happened yet it is not likely to happen when you are buying a new home for you and your family to live in.
Many times I have had home buyer clients who just fall in love with the home sellers. To the home buyers the home sellers are just the nicest people in the world. Many of these same home buyers believe the seller when they tell the buyer the home inspector is being cautious and that they never had water or other problems. It is very unfortunate how often I get calls from home buyers after they are in the home who are shocked as could be that problems were found which the home seller discounted.
If you are one of the few home buyers out there fortunate enough to hire a skilled home inspector who works for you listen to what the inspector tells you and writes in the report. Your home inspector should be working just for you. Home inspectors should not be working as part of the sales team. Home owners get a huge check the day you buy their home and are motivated to get the home to close title as quickly as possible for the most amount of money while performing few if any repairs.
Greed is a terrible thing. As one of the original sins it is not likely much will change soon. Skilled home inspectors are out to protect our home buying client from being taken advantage of. Listening to what we have to say can prevent you from getting stuck with expensive to cure problems after closing of title.