Five Things WA State Home Sellers Try to Hide From Home Inspectors

February 23, 2021
Last updated:
November 11, 2021
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You’ve found the perfect house, and you’re excited about making an offer. Just remember, nothing is final until the keys are in your hand, and a home inspector will have to report on the state of the house before the underwriter will approve your mortgage home loan.

In This Article

Without a home inspection, you can’t be sure if the property you’re buying is your dream home or a money pit. Even worse, some home sellers will deliberately try to hide things from the home inspector. Find out what you should be on the lookout for.

Why a Home Inspection is Crucial When Buying a Home

While a home inspection isn’t required by law when getting a mortgage loan in Washington State, most mortgage lenders will recommend or require one before signing off on a loan. The inspection is different from the appraisal, which evaluates the value of the home.

While an appraiser looks at some of the same things as a home inspector, their job is making an accurate estimate of the home’s market value. An inspector evaluates the condition of the home and looks for specific problems with the home that might cause it to depreciate suddenly.

Typical areas reviewed closely by your home inspector include:

  • The foundation
  • The roof
  • Walls, floors and ceilings
  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing / water heaters
  • HVAC systems and boilers

Things like brand new appliances, flooring, wall and ceiling paint, and countertops can mask problems below the surface. Before you get too excited about a seemingly freshly remodeled home you just put an offer on, wait for the home inspection report to come back and be reviewed.

Disclosure Rules in Washington State

The home seller is required by law to fill out a disclosure statement that covers their knowledge of certain things about the home they are selling. These can be a useful starting point, as long as you are aware that sellers can and do lie on these forms, and also if they are not the original owner, they may simply mark many items “Don’t know.” Items mentioned on the Washington State home seller disclosure form include:


The source of the property’s water supply must be disclosed, such as where the water comes from (public utility or well) and whether or not the property has an outdoor water sprinkler system.

Property Structure

Material aspects of the property structure should be disclosed, such as the age of the structure, whether the foundation is cracked, and if there have ever been any roof leaks.

Sewage System

If the sewage system for the property is on-site (such as an aerobic or anaerobic septic tank), this should be noted.

Homeowners’ Association

If the property is governed by a Homeowners’ Association (HOA) the shared facilities and features (if any) must be listed. These can include fences, walls, gardens, play areas, and the like.

Environmental Hazards

Problems with the property caused by or linked to drainage or flooding problems, or material damage as a result of a fire or earthquake should be listed, along with information about the presence of lead or asbestos.

Fixtures and Systems

Disclosures should include specific fixtures and systems such as the hot water tank, electrical systems, plumbing system, HVAC and smoke alarms.

Full Disclosure

Sellers are also supposed to add information that covers anything that you as the buyer “should know about” that isn’t included in the above list, but of course, most sellers will leave this blank and hope you don’t notice any issues.

Five Things Home Sellers Try to Hide From Home Inspectors

Home sellers don’t want to put a potential buyer off, and if they know there are problems with the home, they often try to hide them. Here are five of the things home inspectors say they watch for that home sellers try to sweep under the rug!

1. Age of different features

In many cases, the home seller is perfectly aware of how old the water heater or HVAC system is, but they aren’t planning on sharing that information. Instead, they’ll say they don’t know or don’t remember – or they’ll even lie outright.

2. Former roof damage

If the roof isn’t brand new, chances are it has weathered a few storms. Minor roof damage is often left unrepaired by homeowners who prefer to pocket the insurance check and hope the home inspector isn’t keen on going up on the roof to check for missing shingles or other damage that may have been neglected or poorly repaired.

3. Leaks and water damage

Rugs can hide damage to floors near appliances in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, and so can new vinyl flooring or carpet. The subflooring should be examined to make sure there aren’t signs of water damage or rot lurking underneath

4. Pest infestations

Carpenter ants and termites can wreak havoc on a home, but the damage can be hidden by home sellers. Arrange a separate pest inspection as not all home inspectors know what to look for.

5. Mold and damp

This often tops the list of things home sellers try to hide from home inspectors. On the day of the inspection, the windows are all wide open. Candles are burning in every room, and there’s the smell of air freshener heavy in the air. Home sellers often try to cover up the smell of mold and damp using these tricks, so it can be a warning sign to check closely for signs of moisture where it shouldn’t be.

Should You Ever Waive the Home Inspection?

If a seller starts making concessions, like lowering the house price dramatically if you agree to waive a home inspection, consider this a massive red flag. What would they want to miss out on tens of thousands of dollars unless there’s that much (or more) in damage or work to be done on the home?

If they are desperate to close the sale, there might be a reason. Make one of your contingencies related to the right to back out and retain your escrow if the home inspection turns up major problems with the home. If the seller really believes there are no problems, this shouldn’t be a huge ask.

View WA State Mortgage Rates

Why Choose Sammamish Mortgage?

At Sammamish, we want your home buying process to be as smooth as possible. We also want you to end up with the best home for your money, and not to experience buyers remorse once you’ve taken possession of your new home.

We stay in touch with your agent and coordinate as many things as possible for you throughout the homebuying process, including home inspections. Ideally, your home inspection goes off without a hitch, but if not, we’ll be here to help you decide what to do next.

Sammamish Mortgage has been in business since 1992, and has assisted many home buyers in the Pacific Northwest. If you are looking for mortgage financing in Washington State, we can help. Sammamish Mortgage offers mortgage programs in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Contact us if you have any mortgage-related questions or concerns. If you are ready to move forward, you can view rates, obtain a customized instant rate quote, or apply instantly directly from our website.

Get an Instant Mortgage Rate Quote Today

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