I think your question and answers are a great service for our community and appreciate you sharing your knowledge. Here’s my question: Last year our home listed for sale, sold and we opened escrow. The buyer’s overzealous inspector came to the conclusion that our foundation was defective and recommended that the cripple walls be braced. When we purchased our home just five years ago, we hired a foundation inspector who did not make any recommendations. The buyer’s asked for a ridiculous credit and escrow was cancelled. We are going to attempt to sell our home again and are unsure how to handle the foundation non-issue.
I can’t recall a general inspector being so specific about a foundation issue. Typically a general inspector notes his concerns (sloped floors, cracks, etc.) and then recommends that the buyer hire a seismic expert.
In order to avoid liability you should disclose the previous buyer’s inspection report to your new buyer. And of course this report will cause concern. During the span of my real estate career, I have learned that it is best to be proactive and address issues before they become problems. Contact a reputable seismic company (you can contact me for a recommendation) and have the foundation inspected by a professional. They will issue a report and if necessary an estimate to make any recommended repairs. If repairs are needed you don’t have to make them. But you will need to disclose this report to the buyer. Now both you and the buyer will know the cost to make repairs (if any).
If the cripple walls do in fact need bracing, contact your previous real estate agent and ask her to review your prior inspections and your most recent foundation report. Ask what recourse you may have against your original seismic inspector. If they don’t need to be braced, this is simply a disclosure issue addressed by disclosing the previous buyer’s inspection and your current seismic report.