City Inspections vs. Buyer Home Inspections

“Needs extensive rehab or possible teardown. Not a bank-owned home. Very fast response to offers. Minimal T-I-H required repairs.”

–MLS listing

How can something be a possible tear-down, and yet have “minimal Truth-in-Housing (TIH) required repairs?”

Isn’t that an oxymoron?


As I tell my Buyer clients, the scope of most city inspections is much more limited than a private home inspection.

The focus of the former is simply whether the home is safe to occupy, and secondarily, whether the home poses any health threats to other homes or municipal systems.

Safe to Occupy vs. Repair-Free

So, cities often require sealed wells, backflow preventers or other devices protecting municipal water supplies from possible contamination from private homes/property.

Another city inspection focus:  whether the home’s boiler or forced air furnace is safely working.

By contrast, a Buyer’s home inspection — or at least a good one — reveals material defects that pose long-term threats to the home, and will (eventually) require big bucks to fix.

Stuff like cracked foundations, leaky roofs, non-operational windows, etc.

It can be odd, though, to see a falling-down home with exactly one required city R&R (repair or replace) item:  ‘basement stairs needs handrail’ (or something equally trivial, relatively speaking).

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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