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The Aftermath Of Waving A Home Inspection

Someone you know bought a lemon and now it’s too late. Here’s how to help them cope.

With the housing market in an uber-froth, you probably know someone who bought a house without performing a home inspection. This new buyer is like the starry-eyed bride or groom on “Married at First Sight.” Like the marriages that are made on that show, your friend’s new purchase can go wrong in an unlimited number of ways. It’s just a matter of making some popcorn, sitting in a comfy chair, and watching what hits the fan first.

When it hits, ixnay on the judgement. Yes, buying a home without an inspection may not be the wisest choice. Like you’ve never made a bad decision. Please. So rev up the compassion machine and let’s get started.

Here are the stages of uninspected-homeownership, and what you can do to make it less traumatic for your friend or loved one

Stage 1 – Love: The honeymoon phase will be short-lived, so help your loved one revel in it. Only the memories of this early stage, when they simply adored the home, will help them survive what is to come.

What you should do: Ooo and aaah appreciatively at the crown moldings. Shake your head with amazement at the wide pine floors, the extra large hot tub and the conservatory off the back. Smile at the quaint electrical outlets and cast-iron radiators the size of SmartCars. Oh look! A “working” fireplace. The home is magical indeed. At least today.

Stage 2 – Discovery: Your friend won’t mention it when they first start discovering things that are wrong with the house. They might not even admit it to themself. It’s like finding out your brand new spouse is actually much, much older than they claimed on the marriage certificate and is from Wichita, not Paris. Can this be anything but the tip of the deception iceberg?

What you should do: When your friend casually mentions that every time they start the oven, the entire house loses power, make noises like it’s NBD. Then offer the name of an electrician who is probably available within the next six months.

Do you think forgoing the home inspection is a good buying strategy? Or a recipe for disaster?

Stage 3 – Confusion: One day, it will rain hard and your friend’s conservatory will turn into an aquarium. They will be absolutely baffled by how this is possible because when they asked the real-estate agent that sold them the house if it leaked, the agent smiled and said “would I sell you a house that had a leaky conservatory?” Turns out he would. This will come as a shock to your friend, who apparently has never had anyone lie by omission to land a sale. Your friend is now trying to remember what other questions the agent answered with another question.

What you should do: Help them dry out or sell all the new Restoration Hardware stuff that was in the conservatory.

Stage 4 – Blame: When the hot tub turns out to be nothing more than a large, pink plastic vat with knobs that don’t work, your friend decides to rip the Bandaid off. They hire a proper home inspector and learn the following: the roof needs to be replaced, the electrical wiring needs to be replaced, the conservatory needs to be demolished, the house has termites and the support beams are severely compromised, the foundation is cracked and there is radon in the basement. Your friend will be righteously enraged. They might throw stuff. Possibly at the glass panels in the conservatory.

What you should do: Keep them away from the broken glass and offer them a place to stay until the radon thing gets sorted out. That stuff is bad.

Stage 5 – Remorse: Once the righteous enragement wears off, your friend will admit they own a lemon of a house and that the situation could have been avoided if they’d insisted on an inspection. They, correctly, blame themselves for this turn of events.

What you should do: Instead of agreeing with this, point out the number of people right now who are making the same disastrous decision. It won’t change things, but your friend will feel less alone. Stock their liquor cabinet for them when they’re at work. They’re gonna need it.

Stage 6-Renovation: Your friend will decide to fix their house, rather than try to sell it and buy something else cause they just can’t go through that hell again. They have vowed to do whatever it takes, and it will take a lot: money, time, money, patience and money.

What you should do: It will also take friends (read: you) who are willing to let them use the guestroom for months and months while their contractor essentially builds them a new home. Your friend will never be able to pay you back for your kindness, so don’t expect it. They might not even be able to muster the energy to thank you. But know this: Your unselfish support is paying it forward to another day, that day when you are selling your house and praying, hard, that the buyers waive their inspection.