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Real Estate Attorney: Apartment Buyers Should Get Inspections

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While home inspections are common, apartment inspections for buyers are not, something one real estate attorney says needs to change. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.

When looking for a house, most buyers would never move forward without a home inspection. But in apartments, inspections are not as common.

East Side real estate attorney Ron Gitter, the founder of CoopAndCondo.com, says in some cases an inspection is a must-have tool for apartment buyers.

"Buyers find themselves in a weird position," he says. "We have an aging housing stock and at the same time we have a lot of new buildings that were not constructed properly. So for very different reasons, in many cases the buyer is well-advised to get an inspection."

For an inspection, you need either a qualified home inspector, an architect or an engineer. That person will look at the structure and all systems in the apartment, as well as a roof or terrace.

Gitter says anyone looking to buy in a small building should consider an inspection.

"The smaller the building, the greater the likelihood that an inspection might be required," he says. "Minutes are sketchy in small buildings. An inspector will have the opportunity not just to look at the apartment but to look at the building itself. That will be good information for the buyer as to whether capital improvements will be required in the future."

The same goes for people buying in new construction. In those cases, a buyer may want an architect to make sure things are as they should be based on the offering plan.

In addition, if a buyer knows the apartment has had problems in the past, it is a good idea to have an inspector check that it was repaired properly and won’t be a reoccurring problem.

Also consider an inspection if the seller did a major renovation.

"One thing that comes up invariably with inspections is how often the seller has done things to the apartment that are not done to code," Gitter says. "In most cases, the problems are easily identifiable and in many cases, the seller will fix those problems prior to closing."

It’s also good to have an inspection if a buyer is planning a major renovation. This way, one can know whether the apartment can handle the work.

Inspections can run anywhere from $500 to $1,000 on average, depending on who is doing it. They should always be done before you sign a contract, because once you sign, what you see is what you get.

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