Recent news reports in the Marin IJ confirm that the City of Novato is making efforts to normalize the home inspection process. All homes sold in Novato are required to go through inspections prior to the close of escrow (and sellers are also required to provide a copy of the report to buyers). These programs are designed to ensure that homeowners (and the buyers of these homes) comply with building codes, obtain permits, etc., with the primary objective being enhanced safety (it is not merely an artifice for revenue generation).
While home inspections are not unusual in Marin, Novato's process has occasionally resulted in delays and inconsistencies. At some points in the past several years while the real estate market was extraordinarily hot with sales totals exceeding any ever experienced before, obtaining a city inspection report could take well over a month. Meanwhile, sellers who did not get the inspection prior to going on the market were unable to provide the report to buyers (who were writing offers set to close in 30 days or less).
In addition, there were concerns over the kinds of findings the inspection reports would deliver. For example, a certain type drain valve may be found acceptable in one instance and not in others. For obvious reasons, such inconsistencies proved problematical for owners, buyers, and their agents.
Recent changes, including an increase in the amount of home sale inspections (currently $274 for single family homes), have been aimed at eliminating the delays of the past by allowing the City of Novato to hire additional inspectors. Regarding inconsistent reporting practices, the City of Novato is now considering options, including an appeals process for owners who feel the inspection report is inaccurate or otherwise problematical.
Hats off to the Marin Association of Realtors, the City of Novato, and its Community Development Department for taking the time to recognize the issues and working to make the process easier and more efficient for current and future residents of Novato.