Hopkins Could Eliminate Duplicative City Inspections Required to Sell Home

A rare win for cutting government red tape may be on tap tonight in the Twin Cities suburb of Hopkins. The city council stands ready to consider abolishing an ordinance for a city truth in housing inspection that tacks hundreds of dollars onto the cost of selling and buying a home unnecessarily.

That’s because most property owners already pay for their own inspections before putting their house up for sale, according to city hall. So tonight city councilors are expected to consider removing the duplicative requirement from the books, according to the Star Tribune.

 The Hopkins City Council is taking steps to eliminate a requirement that the city inspect residential properties before they’re sold.

The Truth in Housing inspections provide prospective buyers with information about the property’s condition, a city memo said.

Private evaluators licensed by the city complete the evaluations with the help of city staff. Buyers pay the city $200 to $500 per inspection.

If the measure passes and the expensive regulation bites the dust, home sellers, buyers and locall taxpayers should all end up better off.

But the program costs the city about $56,000 a year, and most buyers already have private inspections done.

When analyzing costs vs. benefits, officials decided the inspections aren’t needed.

“We think the risk is pretty minimal” that the cut will affect home buyers, said Ari Lenz, assistant city manager.

It’s a relatively small, but instructive example of how government drives up the cost of Twin Cities housing, which far exceeds metro areas throughout the Midwest and much of the county.  American Experiment’s recent report, Out of House and Home, identified the fundamental issue  behind the high cost of new construction here–namely, over the top government regulation.

If we look at the Midwest, MSP has the highest costs—by far. In the 10 largest metro areas in the Midwest, MSP does not just have the most expensive housing, it is 37% higher than the next highest metro area (Chicago), and MSP’s costs are more than double both Indianapolis and Cleveland.

Overall, MSP’s housing costs are 56% higher than the other largest metro areas in the Midwest.

There are multiple reasons for MSP’s high housing costs, but the ones that set us apart from everywhere else in the Midwest are all caused by the actions of government.

About a dozen cities in the metro area still require a city truth in housing inspection in order to sell a home. But at least local officials in one suburb are doing more than talking about making housing a little more affordable for its residents.