Times are tough for homeowners seeking to cut their losses and move on to a new home, and greedy bureaucrats in some cash-strapped municipalities are trying to cash-in before sellers move out. Increasingly, local governments are mandating that sellers submit to pre-sale residential home inspections that bureaucrats in at least one city readily admit “are not for the benefit of buyer or seller.”
BigGovernment.com’s Tom Steward reports that at least fourteen municipalities in Minnesota’s Twin Cities have passed ordinances requiring sellers to pass rigorous home inspections conducted by city-paid inspectors to find potential code violations. The inspections cost homeowners $50 to $200, with all proceeds benefiting local governments.
On its website, Steward notes, the City of Richfield states “inspections are not for the benefit of buyer or seller, but are a community effort to maintain the quality of Richfield’s houses and neighborhoods.” Homeowners intending to list their homes as ‘handyman specials’ will be shocked to learn that code violations cited by Richfield inspectors include “bare wood, peeling paint, missing or deteriorated window glazing, and clogged gutters,” forcing sellers to invest in repairs they’d otherwise leave as-is.
Homeowners in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park who take their homes off the market or find their homes are not attracting buyers are still obligated by city law to correct code violations. City officials remain intent on citing homeowners who are staying put with “property deficiencies” that must be remedied immediately.
The city’s “Point of Sale Inspection Program” webpage explains, “This program is designed as a public service to help maintain property within the City of Brooklyn Park.” So if you’re planning on selling a home in Brooklyn Park, make sure you’re going to follow through with the sale or at least have money in the bank to make repairs if you reconsider.
Brooklyn Park Community Development Director Robert Schreier doesn’t seem to grasp the concept that unless they’re new construction, homes are ‘used’ and often require minor to extensive repairs by buyers upon purchase. Some homebuyers purchase ‘handyman specials’ because of the great deals on fixer-upper homes being sold at a fraction of the cost of neighboring homes, which for many, is an incentive — not a disincentive — to buy these homes that stand to fail absurd pre-sale city inspections.
Despite this logic, Schreier says the pre-sale inspections are “providing a service to the community. We never hear complaints from people buying the houses. The people that are moving in are glad for the inspections.” Note that he has no concern for the seller and the inconvenience posed by pre-sale inspection requirements. And, that’s because without the mandatory inspections, his city won’t pull-in free money generated by this revenue-generating scheme.
“I don’t think it’s accurate if you want to talk about too much government,” Schreier added with regards to the insinuation that Brooklyn Park is butting its nose in a place it doesn’t belong.
Ever heard of local governments pulling this stunt outside of Minnesota or in your neck of the woods? Help us shed light on greedy bureaucrats who are exploiting homeowners already struggling to sell their homes in our lousy economy.