Did Sellers lie about new roof?
What could be worse than getting enthusiastic about purchasing your first home only to find out that you are actually being scammed by the seller? For many, home buying is a huge lifetime goal. You graduate from kindergarten, have your first kiss, learn to drive, go to university, land your dream job, get married and you guessed it.. buy your first home. Needless to say, its a time of wonder, amazement, and sheer terror. Finding a home that fits your needs and budget is difficult on it's own, but then you have your inspection and appraisal. What will the inspector find, will the home i'm emotionally invested in pass? It's not an easy time and for the most part, we inspectors try to make it easy and painless.
One of our inspectors recently came across what we categorize as a horror story. These stories are typically shared amongst inspectors hoping to get a good laugh or educate some newbie in the field (no personal information shared of course- we value our customers privacy). This inspector had completed what would be known as your average country-esque home in Miami; Large back yard, one story, 1700 sqft, single garage home. The home was pretty standard in terms of overall condition with some obvious wear and tear. The home was from the early 90s so it was time to get this bad boy some much needed tlc. Nonetheless, our inspector shared his comments with the client and they were beyond satisfied with the inspection experience. Their agent quickly brought up a concern with the roof saying that the listing agents (who had been hiding out in their vehicle for the majority of the inspection) were claiming that the roof was relatively knew and installed five years prior. The inspector explained that there was no way that the roof could be six years old. He showed the agent and her client the drone roof photos and outlined the obvious roof repairs and present wear to the tile material. Aside from the worn tiles, stains, and patches the cracks helped paint the picture that the roof was worse for wear.
But what would this mean for the client? Do to the present pandemic, the housing market has proven itself rather volatile. There isn't much inventory in terms of homes for sale and sellers are being extremely aggressive in their asks. It goes without saying that sellers know they have the power in a transaction and can refuse to give a buyer credit or repair any inspection findings. So looking to have a roof credit granted has to be dealt with carefully.
The inspector let both agent and client know that he would do his homework and track down all available permit history do identify whether his initial assessment was incorrect. The permit information was pulled and indeed there was a permit for the roof from 2015. The inspector knew something was amiss and continued searching through the records. The permit lacked detail and didnt provide any additional information as to what roof work was done. Due to his experience, he knew that some home owners go the extra mile to pull permits even for the simplest of roof repairs (certainly not a normal practice). So he wrote the requested insurance reports with the information he believed the be accurate.
The next day, the client's agent called to say that the sellers were sticking to their story about the roof replacement and were unwilling to budge. No surprise there. The realtor was stressing the situation as it could be a matter of $30,000 and the entire sale itself. The realtor has spoken to her broker and both believed it was an error on the inspector's fault. The roof looked bad but if the county has a roofing permit than what else could it be?
The inspector went the extra mile and contacted a local roofer to come and review the home to give his opinion. At first, the roofer agreed that the agent and her broker may be right. Possibly the tenant living in the home had done a heavy pressure wash and worn out the tiles? The inspector called the realtor back and asked if she knew of any such pressure washing work. And of course, the tenant had made a previous comment about having gone up the roof with his industrial pressure washer and cleaned the roof. At this point the inspector felt that must have been the cause. He had his reservations but what else could he say? The adds were stacked against him.
Shortly after, the roofer calls the inspector and said that he had stopped by the house. To his surprise the roofer said that there was no way the roof was from 2015. He said he would do some digging in the county inspections and call him back. Not even ten minutes later, the roofer said he not only knew the roofing contractor who worked on the house but managed to get the city inspectors notes. The city inspector clearly wrote in his notes that NO TILE WORK was done on the house. The notes also stated that the permit was for repair work to be done on 200 sqft of roof for a cost estimate of about $1200.00 (definitely not a $30,000 new roof). This was great news and certainly a breath of fresh air for the inspector. He wasn't going crazy!
The inspector obtained the information and presented it to the realtor and client. This ultimately saved the client thousands of dollars in roof replacement cost. The seller unfortunately was not the bad guy in the story as they were out of town sellers. The tenants were also uninvolved as they had not been living in the house in 2015. Whether the selling agents were confused or misunderstood the roofing details, it is always important to hire an inspector that has the experience and work ethic on their side. Hiring a good home inspector could save you a ton of money!