For anyone buying or selling a home in Minnesota, heads up: the Minnesota REALTORS® Forms Committee has revised the Inspection Contingency form, which is typically what gets used when writing an offer on a home. This change took effect yesterday, August 1st. If you're a first time home buyer, the whole process of signing a bazillion forms will be a foreign process to start with, so this change probably won't mean much to you. If you're in the real estate business, however, or you buy a bunch of houses, this new form has some important changes that you should be aware of.
Before I get into explaining the changes, let me take a quick step back for anyone who is unfamiliar with the home buying process. When someone buys a house in Minnesota, they begin the process by submitting a purchase agreement to the seller. Along with the purchase agreement, they typically submit an addendum to that purchase agreement, called the Inspection Contingency. The Inspection Contingency gives the buyer a window of time to have a home inspection and gives the buyer the right to cancel the purchase or negotiate after the inspection.
The old, or current Inspection Contingency form gives buyers "X" number of business days to get the inspection done, which excludes weekends and federal holidays. After the inspection is done, the buyers have "X" number of days to respond to the seller. The sellers also get "X" number of days to respond to that response. The most common numbers that I see on purchase agreements is 5 days to get the inspection done, 2 days for the buyer to respond, and 2 days for the seller to respond to the response; those in the know call this a "5-2-2", or something like that. I'm only kinda sorta in the know. I hear the lingo, but I'm not responsible for understanding it. I just need to get my inspection reports out right away.
The new Inspection Contingency form gives a much simpler timeline; buyers will now have "X" number of calendar days to have all inspections, tests, and resulting negotiations completed. Calendar days includes holidays and weekends. No more of this "5-2-2" business, or what have you. It's a much simpler timeline. I've heard a rumor that the most common timeline that will be used will be 10 calendar days, which is what is typically used with relocation companies and foreclosure contracts.
Another important change for real estate professionals to be aware of is that the old form said the purchase agreement was cancelled if the buyer submitted a counter offer after the inspection, and the two parties could not come to an agreement. The new form says that the purchase will proceed as originally planned if the parties can't come to an agreement. This won't affect my job, but it's important for any real estate professionals to be aware of this very meaningful change.
Attics must now be made accessible
The change that I'm very happy about is a new line in the Inspection Contingency that says "Seller will provide access to attic(s) and crawlspace(s)."
That's huge! Accessing attics with covers that are sprayed or painted over has always been a point of contention during home inspections. According to Susan Dioury, Senior Vice President of the Minnesota Association of REALTORS®, the purpose for this addition was to make it clear that attics and crawlspaces are absolutely things that should be included in a home inspection.
What prompted this addition was the number of cases where sellers got their panties in a bunch because the home inspector opened a sealed panel, or home buyers were upset because the home inspector didn't open a sealed panel. I've blogged about this topic many times, with my first post on the topic back in 2009: Break The Attic ‘Seal’? Yes, Every Time.
Of course, now there will be several more questions that will come up, such as what to do about attic spaces that don't even have access panels... but I'm not complaining. This new language is clearly a step in the right direction. For more information about the new form, as well as some other changes that aren't home inspection specific, check out the following document: 2016-forms-changes-coming-soon.
Also, special thanks to Debbie Nelson Scheffler at Edina Realty for letting me know about these upcoming changes.
Author: Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections