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Your Rights When Buying a Home “As Is”

Curiale Hostnik PLLC  July 13, 2023

While looking for a new home, you may have the option of buying a house “as is.” If you choose to go this route, it is vital to understand what you are getting yourself into.  

A real estate attorney can give you invaluable guidance on buying a home “as is,” helping you weigh your options, and advising you on the particulars of real estate law. If you’re considering going through with the purchase in Washington, call us at Curiale Hostnik PLLC. We are here for you as you embark upon the sometimes-complicated journey. 

Our team proudly serves clients in Tacoma, Pierce County, Puyallup, Gig Harbor, University Place, and Lakewood, Washington. 

What Is Buying a Home “As Is”? 

If a seller lists their home “as is,” they do not have to provide the buyer with a Seller’s Disclosure detailing problems with the home, such as hazards and damage; it is the buyer’s responsibility to conduct their own inspection. The seller also benefits as they are not responsible for paying for repairs to the property—the buyer will have to pay for these out of pocket.   

The entire house might not be sold “as is”; indeed, the seller can list part of the home or specific appliances within the home “as is.”   

Benefits of Buying a Home “As Is” 

You might be wondering how the buyer benefits from buying a home “as is.” Fortunately, most “as is” properties are priced lower than they would be otherwise. If you’re thinking that only homes that need extensive repairs are listed “as is,” this isn’t the case—a home can be listed “as is” for many reasons. For example, a house could be in foreclosure, or a family might be selling the house of a deceased loved one and may want to get it on the market as soon as possible. Buying a home “as is” could make financial sense, especially if the market is competitive. 

Pitfalls When Buying a Home “As Is” 

One example of a pitfall includes being financially responsible for any needed repairs to the house. Also, you can run into some other problems. For example, if you are taking out a loan, your lender might require the home to meet “minimum property requirements” (MPRs). These are minimum livability standards that most loan types require—and some homes that are listed “as is” qualify as unlivable.   

Your Options and Rights  

You Are Still Entitled to Disclosures 

What are your rights when you buy a house “as is”? You are still entitled to certain federal- and state-mandated disclosures and inspections that can reveal problems. In Washington, for example, you are entitled to information about:  

  1. The home’s title  

  1. The home’s water sources  

  1. The home’s sewer system  

  1. Certain structural problems, such as leaks and foundation issues  

  1. Problems with the home’s fixtures (electrical, plumbing, etc.)  

  1. Whether the home is governed by an HOA  

  1. Damage due to weather or contamination 

As you can see, you are still entitled to know a great deal about a home being sold “as is.” 

Also, if your inspector reveals a problem with the home that requires disclosure under Washington law, the seller will have to disclose this issue to all future buyers. You may be able to negotiate with the seller based on the inspection; the seller will most likely not want to try to sell the home again if they are now required to disclose the issue and may lower the price.

Speak with a reliable attorney to help with these negotiations for the best possible result. 

The “Where Is” Specification 

The “where is” specification can be added to the “as is” specification. This means that you are accepting the house in its current condition and current location, with all known and unknown defects, as of the purchase contract. You may be able to back out of the sale if the house’s condition deteriorates (for example, if a tree falls onto the house) before you close. 

Steps to Take When Buying a Home “As Is” 

When you are interested in a home that is being sold “as is,” you’ll want to line up a home inspection and make sure that you will be financially able to cover any needed repairs to the house. However, the first step you should take when buying a home “as is” is to enlist the help of an experienced real estate attorney.   

An attorney can make sure that you receive all required disclosures and can represent you if, after closing, defects are found that the seller was required to disclose. For example, an attorney can advocate for you if the seller tried to hide a known problem in the home from inspectors or if the seller knew that a problem with the house was impossible to find during an inspection. 

Questions? Reach Out to a Real Estate Attorney 

At Curiale Hostnik PLLC, we are dedicated to helping your real estate transaction proceed as smoothly as possible. Our real estate attorneys, Charles R. Hostnik and Phillip A. Curiale pride themselves on their extensive litigation experience and client satisfaction. Call us today for a consultation.