By Mitch Kuffa
Let’s talk about the job descriptions of different people you’ll work with when purchasing/selling a home.
The REALTOR is a person (or group) who is hired to handle all the technicalities of buying/selling land together with the buildings, trees, water, etc., on it. They represent the buyer/seller. Their main functions are to provide the myriad of paperwork (you will never sign more papers in your life) and basically act as an administrator in this large real estate “investment”. The condition of the property they become involved in is not usually a major concern to them, because they cannot dictate to the owner on how to maintain property AND many buyers want to take advantage of the lower price of a “fixer-upper”.
The APPRAISER represents the lender (and is sometimes referred to as the “bank inspector”). He looks at the house structure from a value standpoint. Quite simply, his job is to verify to the lender the true value of the house and property. If the sale price is $100,000.00, that it is worth $100,000.00. If you are asking for an $80,000.00 loan, that the house value substantiates that size banknote. That if the house is listed as being all brick, having 3 bedrooms and 2-½ baths, that in actuality it has those items (which again impacts value). During the appraisal process, if the appraiser runs across a construction item which he finds questionable, he may note it on his report and ask for backup data or further investigation by an expert.
The FHA INSPECTOR only looks at the house if there is an FHA mortgage involved. The FHA in actuality is a Guarantor. They again are basically responsible to the lender. They are saying that this transaction makes sense, is viable and meets the perimeters of their requirements (which in actuality are quite basic in reference to their construction related guidelines).
The MUNICIPALITY CODE OFFICIAL (or more commonly known as the City Building Inspector) and his department (the building department) are obviously answerable to the municipality and superiors, but in essence also answer to the Michigan Department of Labor (and if complaints are made concerning a specific building project also to the Michigan Department of Commerce). The function of the code official is to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the public overall. There have been court decisions that indicate that this office is not specifically responsible for any individual, but rather to the public in general as it relates to health, safety, and welfare.
The PRIVATE HOME INSPECTOR is basically employed by the person that pays him, which is generally the homebuyer. This person represents his client and looks at the house and related property in their best interest. He evaluates the major systems (site, foundation, framing, mechanical systems, etc.) and verifies to what degree they are functional. He looks at the entire real estate investment through the eyes of a builder and tells you what condition it is in; has it been maintained and if it has been updated. Quite simply, he represents and answers to his client.
The REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY is a very essential and important entity and as the home inspector, is basically employed by the person that pays him (buyer/seller). The real estate attorney advises his client and will want to review the purchase agreement prior to signing. He/she will review the closing package which includes the proposed deed/land contract, title insurance commitment and a breakdown of all the costs and fees.
Please don’t think for one second that the appraiser does the code officials job, or that the code official does the realtor’s job or vise-versa. They all have distinct obligations, separate jobs and represent different entities. If you are buying a house (or selling one), it is important for you to understand what all the different people do, who they answer to, AND WHO DOES WHAT FOR YOU!
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Mitchell J. Kuffa Jr. has been in the construction industry since 1967. In that time, he has worked as a construction superintendent, general superintendent, and construction manager for several large developers in the state of Michigan.
He has been a licensed Michigan residential builder since 1977, was an incorporated general contractor for 11 years and has built and/or run the construction of approx. 3,500 residential houses, apartments, commercial structures and/or light industrial buildings.
In 1981 he started the first private home inspection agency in Michigan and to date has personally performed approx. 16,000 inspections for a fee.
Since 1981, Mr. Kuffa inspects properties and acts as a construction consultant for the Michigan Department of Mental Health (group homes), UAW Legal Services, numerous lenders, several non-profit organizations and for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mr. Kuffa is a federal housing fee inspector and FHA 203K mortgage loan consultant, works with several attorneys’s as an “expert witness”, has been appointed by the Michigan circuit court system to act as a Receiver in several cases concerning construction litigation and teaches a series of construction classes (for misc. school districts, community colleges. Michigan state housing authority, etc.).
Mr. Kuffa has been a member of the National Association of Home Inspectors, in good standing, since 1983.