Physical Conditions For Which A Buyer Should Check

In buyers, inspection by admin

1        Repairs, Remodeling and New Construction

The seller may have made repairs or added a room to the property. The buyer should feel comfortable that the work was properly done or have an expert evaluate the work. Request copies of permits, invoices or other documentation regarding the work performed. (10 Tips for Hiring a Contractor) (National Association of Remodeling Industry – Phoenix Chapter) (National Association of Remodeling Industry – Southern Arizona Chapter) (City of Phoenix – Building Permit Records)


2        Square Footage

Square footage on the MLS printout or as listed by the county assessor’s records is often only an estimate and generally should not be relied upon for the exact square footage in a property. An appraiser or architect can measure the property’s size to verify the square footage. If the square footage is important, you should have it confirmed by one of these experts during the inspection period in a resale transaction and prior to executing a contract in a new home transaction. (Arizona Board of Appraisals –List of Appraisers)

(Board of Technical Registration – List of Appraisers)


3        Roof

If the roof is 10 years old or older, a roof inspection by a licensed roofing contractor is highly recommended.

(Arizona Roofing Contractors Association) (Hiring a Licensed Contractor)

4        Swimming Pools and Spas

If the property has a pool or a spa, the home inspector may exclude the pool or spa from the general inspection so an inspection by a pool or spa company may be necessary.

Barriers: Further, each city and county has its own swimming pool barrier ordinance. (AAR)

(Arizona Department of Health Services) (Arizona Revised Statutes)



5        Septic and Other On-Site Wastewater Treatment Facilities

If the home is not connected to a public sewer, it is probably served by an on-site wastewater treatment facility (septic or alternative system). A qualified inspector must inspect any such facility within six months prior to transfer of ownership. For information on current inspection and transfer of ownership requirements, contact the specific county environmental/health agency where the property is located or the Arizona Department Environmental Quality (ADEQ). (ADEQ) (File a Notice of Transfer Online)


6        Sewer

Even if the listing or SPDS indicates that the property is connected to the city sewer, a plumber, home inspector, or other professional should verify it. Some counties and cities can perform this test as well.


7        Water/Well Issues

You should investigate the availability and quality of the water to the property. or (Wells & Assured/Adequate Water Information)


Adjudications: Arizona is undertaking several Stream Adjudications, which are court proceedings to determine the extent and priority of water rights in an entire river system.

For information regarding water uses and watersheds affected by these adjudications, and the forms upon sale of the property, visit the Department of Water Resources online.

(Department of Water Resources – Adjudications)


Additionally, the Verde Valley Water Users assists members in matters pertaining to the Gila River System Adjudication. (Verde Valley Water Users Association)


CAGRDs: The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD) functions to replenish groundwater used by its members, individual subdivisions (“member lands”) and service areas of member water providers (“member service areas”). Homeowners in a CAGRD pay an annual assessment fee which is collected through the county property tax process based on the amount of groundwater served to member homes.

(Central Arizona Ground Water Replenishment District)


8        Soil Problems

The soil in some areas of Arizona has “clay-like” tendencies, sometimes referred to as “expansive soil.”

Other areas are subject to fissure, subsidence and other soil conditions.

Properties built on such soils may experience significant movement causing a major problem. If it has been disclosed that the property is subject to any such soil conditions or if the buyer has any concerns about the soil condition or observes evidence of cracking, the buyer should secure an

independent assessment of the property and its structural integrity by a licensed, bonded, and insured professional engineer. (ADRE – Overview of Arizona Soils) (Arizona’s Swelling & Shrinking Soils) (Area Maps) (Information on Land Subsidence & Earth Fissures) (State Certified Engineers & Firms)


9        Previous Fire/Flood

If it is disclosed there has been a fire or flood on the property, a qualified inspector should be hired to advise you regarding any possible future problems as a result of the fire or flood damage and/or any subsequent repairs. For example, if the property was not properly cleaned after a flood, mold issues may result. Your insurance agent may be able to assist you in obtaining information regarding fire, flood, or  other past damage to the property.


10    Pests

Cockroaches, rattlesnakes, black widow spiders, scorpions, termites and other pests are common in parts of Arizona. Fortunately, most pests can be controlled with pesticides.

Scorpions: Scorpions, on the other hand, may be difficult to eliminate. If the buyer has any concerns or if the SPDS indicates the seller has seen scorpions or other pests on the property, seek the advice of a pest control company.

Bed bugs: Infestations are on the rise in Arizona and nationally.

Roof Rats: Roof Rats have been reported in some areas by Maricopa County Environmental Services.

Termites: Consumer Information available from the Office of Pest Management (OPM).

Bark Beetles: OPM reports bark beetles have been reported in some forested areas. (Information on Scorpions) (Information on Bed Bugs) (FAQ’s)

(Bed Bugs: Get Them Out and Keep Them Out) (Maricopa County Roof Rats) (Termite Information)

(Bark Beetle Information)


11    Endangered & Threatened Species

Certain areas in the state may have issues related to federally listed endangered or threatened species that may affect land uses. Further information may be obtained on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website or by contacting the appropriate planning/development service department. (Arizona Ecological Services)

(Arizona Endangered Species)


12    Deaths and Felonies on the Properties

Arizona law states that sellers and real estate licensees have no liability for failure to disclose to a buyer that the property was ever the site of a natural death, suicide, murder or felony.

This information is often difficult to uncover; however, the local law enforcement agency may be able to identify calls made to a property address. (Arizona Revised Statutes)


13    Indoor Environmental Concerns

Mold: Mold has always been with us, and it is a rare property that does not have some mold. However, over the past few years a certain kind of mold has been identified as a possible contributor to illnesses. Allergic individuals may experience symptoms related to mold.

The Arizona Department of Health Services, Office of Environmental Health, states:

“If you can see mold, or if there is an earthy or musty odor, you can assume you have a mold problem.”

Chinese Drywall: There have been a few reports of Chinese Drywall used in Arizona homes. Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website for more information.

Radon Gas and Carbon Monoxide: Radon gas and carbon monoxide poisoning are two of the more common and potentially serious indoor air quality (IAQ) concerns. Both of these concerns can be addressed by the home inspector, usually for an additional fee. For information on radon levels in the state, visit Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency online.

Drug labs: Unremediated meth labs and other dangerous drug labs must be disclosed to buyers by Arizona law. A list of unremediated properties and a list of registered drug laboratory site remediation firms can be found online.

Other: For information on other indoor environmental concerns, the EPA has a host of resource materials and pamphlets online. (Indoor Air Quality Info Sheet) (EPA) (Publications & Resources) (Mold Information) (Drywall Information Center) (About Radon) (Asbestos Information)

(Unremediated – Search Public List and for Remediation Firms)


14    Property Boundaries

If the property boundaries are of concern, a survey may be warranted. For example, a survey may be advisable if there is an obvious use of property by others (i.e., a well-worn path across a property and/or parked cars on the property) or fences or structures of adjacent property owners that appear to be built on the property. For more information, visit the Arizona Professional Land Surveyors online. A list of surveyors may be obtained online from the Board of Technical Registration. (AZ Professional Land Surveyors) (AZ Land Surveyors)




15    Flood Insurance/Flood Plain Status

Your mortgage lender may require you to purchase flood insurance in connection with your purchase of the property. The National Flood Insurance Program provides for the availability of flood insurance and established flood insurance policy premiums based on the risk of flooding in the area where properties are located. Changes to the federal law (The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014,  in particular) will result in changes to flood insurance premiums that are likely to be higher, and in the future may be substantially higher, than premiums paid for flood insurance prior to or at the time of sale of the property. As a result, purchasers of property should not rely on the premiums paid for flood insurance on the property previously as an indication of the premiums that will apply after completion of the purchase. In considering purchase of the property you should consult with one or more carriers of flood insurance for a better understanding of flood insurance coverage, current and anticipated future flood insurance premiums, whether the prior owner’s policy may be assumed by a subsequent purchase of the property, and other  matters related to the purchase of flood insurance for the property. You may also wish to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for more information about flood insurance as it relates to the property. (Flood Advisory) (Flood Preparedness) (Maricopa County) (Floodplain Information -Maricopa County ) (Tucson Flood Information) (Santa Cruz County Flood Control Information)


Other Arizona Counties: Consult County Websites. (Floods & Debris Flow) (Flood Map Service Center) (National Insurance Program)


16    Insurance (Claims History)

Many factors affect the availability and cost of homeowner’s insurance. Property owners may request a five year claims history from their insurance company, an insurance support organization or consumer reporting agency. (AZ Department of Insurance) (Home Seller’s Disclosure Report)


17    Other Property Conditions

Plumbing: Check functionality.

Cooling/Heating: Make sure the cooling and heating systems are adequate.

(Air Conditioning Contractors of America – AZ State Chapter)


Electrical systems: Check for function and safety.