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  • Writer's pictureBeth Campbell

What's Under the Hood?

Have you ever heard the terms “patent” or “latent” defects? If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, it’s a good idea to figure out which is which and what needs disclosed. Upon my initial visit with a buyer or seller, I look the home over carefully!


When I go in for the first time, I point out items that I think would alarm a buyer or seller or even a home inspector! One seller claimed a home inspector wouldn’t find anything at all wrong with the home and stated he would not do any repairs……until the home inspection report came in! Once he realized the deal would fall through without those essential repairs, he was busy for a week having things fixed! One buying couple loved the artwork, paint, and flooring but the basement walls were bowed and the furnace was ancient! So, what’s a patent defect versus a latent defect, and what must be disclosed? If there’s a big crack in the driveway cement or old windows or visible water in the basement, those are examples of “patent” defects that may or may not be disclosed by the seller. Is the roof on its last leg, is the furnace non-functional, is the hot water tank 30 years old?  Those are considered “latent” defects that the buyer will most likely not see or can’t discover. Those items should be disclosed by the seller. If they are, a buyer can’t ask for those items to be repaired or replaced. If they are not disclosed (or most likely were not known to the seller), repairs on those items can be requested.


So, how do you find those “latent” defects? A General Home inspector can help find those defects.  It is designed to inform the buyer of the overall condition of the home, the mechanicals, structural integrity, roof condition, etc. The inspection is NOT a tool to renegotiate a purchase agreement with. It is very common to ask for repairs, but certainly not visible defects you should have noticed. It is essential that your agent at least tries to point out the visible issues during the first visit before you write an offer. And remember, a General Home Inspection does not happen until after an offer has been accepted. The Ohio Division of Real Estate now issues licenses for General Home Inspectors. The buyer generally pays for the inspection and chooses the home inspector. Contrary to popular belief, lenders do NOT require them! But, unless you are well-versed in everything “construction”, it’s a good idea to get one! And, an Appraisal does not discover defects, it only determines market value.


All homes have issues, whether they be caused by deferred or preventative maintenance. Good observations up front by the buyer and real estate agent and honest disclosures by the seller will help make the transaction go smoothly!


Published in Louisville Neighbors 03/2024

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