OREGON PROPERTY BUYER ADVISORY
A CONSUMER INFORMATION PUBLICATION
OF THE OREGON REAL ESTATE AGENCY
A real estate licensee is vital to the home buying process and can
provide a variety of services in locating property, negotiating the sale
and advising the buyer. A real estate agent is generally not qualified
to discover defects or evaluate the physical condition of property;
however, a real estate agent can assist a buyer in finding qualified
inspectors and provide the buyer with documents and other resources
containing vital information about a prospective new home.
This Advisory is designed to assist home buyers in meeting their
obligation to satisfy themselves as to the condition and desirability of
property they are interested in purchasing. Common issues in real
property transactions that home buyers often decide to investigate or
verify are summarized in this Advisory. In addition to investigating or
verifying these common issues, the buyer should tell the licensee with
whom they are working about any special concerns or issues the buyer may
have regarding the condition of the property or surrounding area. Such
special concerns are not addressed in this Advisory.
Professional Home Inspections
OBTAINING A PROFESSIONAL HOME INSPECTION IS THE SINGLE MOST
IMPORTANT THING A BUYER CAN DO FOR THEIR PROTECTION. A professional home
inspection report will provide the buyer with detailed information
about the home’s physical condition, its systems and fixtures and
usually note any potential future problems. The buyer should carefully
review an inspector’s proposal to determine the scope of the inspection.
Some home inspectors may not inspect heating and cooling systems, the
roof or other systems or components. A home inspection should be done by
a home inspector or contractor licensed by the Oregon Construction
Contractors Board (CCB). To inspect two or more components (i.e., roof,
siding, structural), the home inspector must be certified and either be a
licensed construction contractor or work for a licensed construction
company. Also, a home inspector is not allowed to perform the repairs
within a twelve-month period following the inspection. Buyers can review
state home inspector requirements and standards of practice for
inspectors on-line at: http://ccbed.ccb.state.or.us/WebPDF/CCB/Publications/hi-s-sop.pdf. Additional information about inspections and inspectors is available from the Oregon Association of Home Inspectors at:www.oahi.org or the InterNational Association of Certified Home Inspectors at www.nachi.org.
Inspection of property is beyond the scope of expertise of a real
estate licensee, but real estate licensees can provide buyers with a
list of local inspectors. Licensees ordinarily will not recommend a
specific inspector. Before hiring an inspector, the buyer should check
with the CCB to determine the inspector’s current license status and
whether there are any past or pending claims against the inspector. This
can be done by visiting:https://ccbed.ccb.state.or.us/ccb_frames/consumer_info/ccb_index.htm.
Buyers should not rely upon reports done for others (previous buyers
and/or sellers), because the report may not be accurate and buyers may
have no recourse against an inspector they have not retained. Most
residential sale contracts contain a clause that allows the buyer to
withdraw from the agreement if a professional inspection they have done
shows defects in the property. You will want to take advantage of this
important right by obtaining your own professional home inspection
report from a licensed professional inspector within the time frame
specified in the sale contract. Unless otherwise provided for in the
Sale Agreement, the cost of the inspection will not be refunded should
you withdraw from the Agreement.
If any repairs are being required during the transaction, the buyer
should insure a licensed construction contractor is doing the repairs.
After the repairs have been done, the buyer should consider having a
re-inspection done to assure the repairs were done properly.
Well Flow Tests: If domestic water is supplied by a private
well, the buyer should verify to the extent possible whether the well
provides adequate water for domestic needs. It is strongly recommended
that a well flow test be conducted prior to the purchase of any property
that depends on a well for domestic water. Careful attention should be
paid to any disclosures or representations by the seller. Buyers should
review all available well records. More information on well logs is
available at: http://apps2.wrd.state.or.us/apps/gw/well_log/Default.aspx.
Buyers are advised to have well flow tested by a professional. While
real estate licensees are not trained and do not have the expertise to
test wells, they may be able to direct you to the appropriate well
professionals. Even when wells are inspected and tested, it is
impossible to guarantee a continued supply of water. Catastrophic events
can and do occur that can change the well quality virtually overnight.
Other events, such as development and drought, can affect the quality of
an aquifer over time. Any test of a well is merely a snapshot in time
and is not an indication of a well’s performance in the future. Any kind
of well report should be viewed in this light. PROFESSIONAL INSPECTION,
WELL LOG REVIEW AND FLOW TESTS ARE ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL IN DETERMINING
THE CONDITION OF A PRIVATE WELL.
A buyer who knows or suspects that property has an underground
storage tank should take appropriate steps to protect his own interests,
including seeking information from the Department of Environmental
Quality (DEQ) and, if necessary, consulting with an environmental
hazards specialist or attorney. BUYERS ARE ADVISED TO HIRE APPROPRIATELY
TRAINED ENVIRONMENTAL PROFESSIONALS TO INSPECT THE PROPERTY IF AN
UNDERGROUD OIL STORAGE TANK IS FOUND OR SUSPECTED. Oil storage tank
inspection, decommissioning and cleanup requires a special license from
DEQ. A list of licensed providers can be found at http://www.deq.state.or.us/lq/tanks/index.htm or ask your real estate licensee for assistance in finding the proper professional.
Oregon law provides a “just compensation” right for some Oregon
property owners if a public entity enacts or enforces a land use
regulation that restricts the use of property and has the effect of
reducing the value of the property. The law allows, but does not
require, governing bodies to modify, remove, or not apply land use
regulations in lieu of paying compensation. Property that has been in
single ownership or held in a family over a long period of time may have
more development potential and, therefore, value than has a neighboring
property purchased more recently. At the same time, some property may
be less valuable because of the potential for un-zoned, property
specific uses on neighboring property. Real estate licensees are not
trained to predict the contingent and uncertain potential effects of
complex laws like Oregon compensation laws. Clients who believe their
decision to sell or purchase Oregon real estate may be affected by
Oregon’s property compensation laws are advised to seek the counsel of
appraisers, attorneys or other land use professionals.