Home insurance

Unlicensed man inspects dozens of Oregon homes

Thursday, April 20, 2017by  Jon Osterberg

young man inspects edge of roof on old brick houseAn unlicensed Oregon man has been fined more than $80,000 for inspecting 52 homes illegally, according to a Bend Bulletin article.

The unlicensed inspector used the name and license number of another Oregon contractor, said an Oregon Construction Contractors Board manager. The deception could have been detected had the home-shoppers or their realtors simply checked the man's license. The Board provides an online contractor-license search, much like what's provided by Washington's Dept. of Labor & Industries for state-licensed contractors. (An L&I employee told me that unlike in Oregon, Washington home inspectors are licensed by the city, not the state.)

Home inspections are not legally required to purchase a home. Rather, they're agreements between buyers and sellers. Often they reveal shortcomings that, when reported to the buyer and seller, enable the buyer to negotiate for repairs or for an adjusted sales price.

Then again, not always.

man holding flashlight inspects floor behind refrigeratorMy wife and I found a cabin years ago that we loved, the perfect relaxation spot on the sunny side of the Cascades. I hired a licensed inspector named Dave who drove all the way from Seattle to spend hours scrutinizing the place, after which he gave us his half-inch-thick report complete with color photos. Dave found several concerns, none of them showstoppers, but all valid.

I shared Dave's report with the seller, expecting to get several concerns corrected. Instead the seller said, "That's all nit-picky stuff. I helped build this place, I know it's solid. If you're not interested, that's fine. I have friends and family who would buy it in a heartbeat if you pull out."

In the end, the seller knocked a mere $2,000 off his price, and we bought the place and fixed the shortcomings ourselves. The point being, a home inspector's report is advisory only. It's not a legal precondition for a sale.

In our case, the seller was confident he had market demand on his side, and our transaction foreshadowed what's transpired in the Puget Sound area since the tech boom. Watch for the May edition of our Perspective newsletter to learn about a startling trend with local home inspections.

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