Brookfield officials are poised to say goodbye to between $60,000 and $80,000 in revenue by getting out of the home resale inspection business.
On Aug. 24, village administrators pitched a proposal to the village’s board of trustees to have the village’s building inspectors stop performing resale inspections — which are inspections done before residential properties in the village change hands — and instead mandate that homebuyers get private inspections done prior to purchasing a home in Brookfield.
Village Manager Keith Sbiral said that due to the number of resale inspections completed by village inspectors each year — about 330 last year — that task alone could be a full-time job.
And while such inspections may have been desirable in the past in order to make sure properties were maintained, the housing stock is in better shape and such detailed inspections by the village are no longer needed.
“The question is, once we’ve accomplished that mission, does it make sense to keep it as-is or change it moving forward?” said Nicholas Greifer, the village’s director of community and economic development.
Sbiral called the recommendation to change the way the village treats resale inspections “probably long past due.”
Greifer said that more than 50 percent of homebuyers in Brookfield have a private inspection done in addition to the village’s and that the private inspections tend to be more comprehensive.
The village warns homeowners that the village’s resale inspection program does not constitute any sort of warranty on a house. The village’s resale inspection form states that it “covers obvious life safety items and is not intended to replace an extensive inspection by a state-licensed inspector.”
Brookfield charges home sellers $200 for a single-family residential resale inspection. Good private inspections can run in the area of $400. Greifer said the village is proposing to mandate that firms hired to do private inspections be state licensed to conform to national standards with their inspections.
Greifer and Sbiral said the village would continue to do its own resale inspections for multifamily residential buildings (four or more units).
Sbiral said he wants to better match the resources he has available in the building department with the village’s needs. He said he’d much rather have building inspectors respond to and find existing property maintenance problems and un-permitted building activity before those properties are sold.
Since most resale inspection requests come between the months of March and July, said Greifer, inspectors who could be dealing with property maintenance issues or un- permitted work are instead tied up with resale inspections.
“Right now with limited resources, we want to plow through some of the more pressing problems,” Sbiral said. “We find non-permitted work all the time. It’s one of the number-one reasons we want to make this change. I’d rather have our inspectors on the streets to catch it before it’s closed up.”
Village Attorney Richard Ramello said he expected to have a proposed ordinance for village trustees to consider by Sept. 14. If the village can’t mandate private resale inspections, it could seek to simply do away with the resale inspection program.
Not every community does resale inspections. Some, like Melrose Park, focus on multifamily buildings while others, such as LaGrange and Western Springs, don’t provide them at all.
Riverside charges $200 for what’s called a “zoning compliance inspection” to make sure a building is being used for what it’s zoned for. That inspection does not look to flag other code compliance issues, said Jose Rivera, the village of Riverside’s building inspector.
Brookfield Trustee Ryan Evans said he’d be comfortable simply discontinuing the village’s practice of providing resale inspections.
“I think I’d stand behind this even if we can’t legislate private inspections,” Evans said. “Part of this is the homeowner’s responsibility to look out for what they purchase.”
Any change in the village’s resale inspection policy would become effective Jan. 1, 2016, Sbiral said.