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HOME INSPECTION LEADER EXPANDS TO CANADA, AS CONCERN ABOUT DISCLOSURE SPREADS; HOUSEMASTER CHANGES NAME TO REFLECT INTERNATIONAL GROWTH

 BOUND BROOK, N.J., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- HouseMaster of America, the largest and oldest nationwide U.S. home inspection company, has changed its corporate name to HouseMaster to better reflect its current business, according to Kenneth T. Austin, chairman. The company makes this move as it officially enters the international real estate market with the opening of its first office, in Manitoba Province, Canada. Additional Canadian offices are planned.
 "As the cost of housing rises around the world, countries such as Canada are getting more sophisticated about the home-buying process," Austin said. "We believe this trend will continue along with the growing concern about disclosure."
 According to Craig Merriam, owner/director of the new HouseMaster Manitoba office, "Disclosure is the main issue forging the home inspection industry in Canada. While many real estate boards here are looking at official regulation and rules on disclosure, the consumer is no longer willing to take a seller's word on the condition of a house."
 In the United States, home inspections have been gaining momentum over the last two decades, but have only become a standard part of the process within the last 10 years. Many in the industry believe that about 50 percent of homes sold today involve an inspection by an independent professional. Most of these are performed for the purchaser of the home. However, a growing number of home sellers are retaining inspection firms to check out a house at the time of listing.
 The trend toward "listing inspections" directly addresses the recent focus on disclosure in this country. Presently, 19 states have mandatory seller disclosure rules, but legislative efforts are soon to pass in 2l more states to adopt similar requirements. In addition, many real estate firms in non-compliance states are opting to use their own disclosure statements, which are largely based on the mandatory documents in use.
 HouseMaster's Austin says that disclosure statements increasingly request disclosure of any "significant defects or malfunctions" in the property's interior walls, ceilings, floors, insulation, roof, windows, doors, foundation slabs, driveways, electrical systems, plumbing or septic systems and other structural components.
 According to reports by the National Association of Realtors -- a group which has actively lobbied for official disclosure -- standardized disclosures place legal liability for misrepresentations about the condition of the property more squarely on the seller's shoulders, away from the Realtor.
 "Many home sellers are not technically knowledgeable enough to make the kind of assessment these disclosure statements require. If a seller is required to do this," Austin said, "the best protection comes from having a professional inspection of the property by a reputable company. This transfers much of the liability to yet another party in the transaction, the home inspection company."
 According to a recent report in the Financial Post of British Columbia, several members of the Canadian Real Estate Association require property condition disclosure statements. Eventually, it is believed, this type of disclosure will become mandatory across Canada.
 "Disclosure will continue to be at the forefront of real estate concerns, both here and abroad," said Austin. "Increased public awareness, a growing propensity toward lawsuits and protective legislation are contributing factors to that trend."
 HouseMaster has 146 offices in the United States and Canada and is often credited with bringing a comprehensive and professional approach to the home inspection business.
 -0- 10/25/93
 /CONTACT: Robin Leedy of Robin Leedy & Associates, 914-241-0086/


CO: HouseMaster ST: New Jersey IN: CST SU:

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 25, 1993
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