WILL THAT HOUSE YOU'RE BUYING PASS OR FAIL THE INSPECTIONS?
One of the more common misconceptions I hear while out working with home buyers is "I wonder if the house will pass inspection." Many times people look at me in shocked amazement when I explain that it's completely up to them whether the home passes or fails.
In the Kansas City real estate market there is no governmental mandate on the condition of homes. With rare exceptions being transactions that include certain down payment assistance programs. By and large inspections or for the buyers knowledge. The lenders send appraisers, and they do a cursory inspection of the house and not an inspection.
So, when the inspector says this house is great except for the electrical panel that is likely to catch fire. If you as the buyer are OK with the risk of losing the house to fire before you can replace the panel, then you're free to accept the home. Of course, in those instances I'd always recommend asking the seller to replace the panel ;)
Radon and lead based paint are two area's that differ, but only if the buyers care about those issues. Radon has a safe level threshold set by the EPA and they also say lead based paint is dangerous. So if you do a radon test and the level is too high (> 2.0 pci) it's expected (though not mandated) that the seller will mitigate for radon.
By the same token if you do a lead based paint test and find lead based paint present it's typically the case that the seller that will correct that condition. Once again however, they're not mandated to. They can simply refuse to fix it and then again it falls back to you and whether you still want the house.
Inspections in our market are for the buyers knowledge. Many times significant problems are addressed by the sellers but there is no requirement for that to happen. Please never go into contract on a house thinking that the inspection report will strong arm the sellers into making all of the repairs you deem required. That's a recipe that ends in disaster 92% of the time.