When you buy a home, you should schedule a home inspection. In a home inspection, you can find out if there are any problems with the property that the seller did not disclose, as well as if there are any impending issues that may lead to expensive fixes after the sale. You are responsible for hiring a home inspector and setting up a date for the inspection as the buyer. But if you've never done it before, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here's some home inspection 101 to get you started.
How do home inspections work?
They involve a visual inspection of the property. When you're buying a house, you want to know as much as possible about what condition it's in, and what exactly you're getting. In addition to providing valuable insight, a home inspection may give you negotiating leverage. If there are issues that need to be addressed, you may be able to negotiate a reduction in the sale price.
What should a home inspector look for?
Home inspections examine both the interior and exterior of a property to ensure that everything is in good condition. There is a Standards of Practice document provided by the American Society of Home Inspectors, which outlines most of the things inspectors look for. Among them are:
Insulation and ventilation
Heating and cooling systems
Major installed appliances (kitchen and laundry)
Fireplaces and venting
Structural components (foundation, crawlspaces, wall structures, etc.)
Exterior features (doors, decks, surface grading, driveways, etc.)
Interior features (stairways, window seals, garages, etc.)
The scope of your home inspection varies based on the property. Ask the inspector what he or she plans to look for, and mention any issues you suspect (if you have any).
How do I schedule a home inspection?
Here are some tips to help you schedule your home inspection correctly and get the most from it.
1. Make sure you schedule your home inspection as soon as possible so that you have plenty of time to negotiate. Ideally, as soon as your offer is accepted. When a problem occurs during the inspection, it is perfectly fine to negotiate a new price with the seller. The purchase price is not set in stone until closing.
2. Ask your realtor for recommendations on an inspector. You can get insider information about who to hire for your inspection from your realtor. There are some home inspection companies that realtors really like and some that aren't quite as good, so be sure to ask them who they recommend. Request two or three recommendations so that you can compare and decide which is best for you.
3. Contact your preferred home inspector to inquire about their availability, process, and price. As with any other aspect of the process, you should do your research before buying a home. You should contact each company you are considering in order to find out when they can perform the inspection, how they will do it, and how much they will charge. In general, you should expect to pay about $325 for your inspection and report. Don't just choose the cheapest option without considering all factors.
4. Schedule a home inspection. You should be present during the home inspection, so schedule a time that works well for both you and your inspection company. An inspection shouldn't be rushed, so be sure to allow plenty of time for your inspector to really examine the property-you'll need between two and three hours to do it right.
During the home inspection
When touring a home with your inspector, don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Their purpose is to examine the property, but they're also there to answer your questions about its structure and features. Be sure to speak up if you see something you think might be a problem or you don't understand what the home inspector is telling you! If you're making such a large and complex purchase, it's better to ask too many questions than not enough.
What if you get bad home inspection results?
If a property is new construction or appears to be in great condition, it is not a guarantee that there will be no issues on your home inspection report. If there are problems, don't freak out, but do take action to see if there is a good solution.
Talk to your realtor as soon as possible. They should be able to give you some insight into whether it still makes sense to move forward with the purchase and, if so, what kinds of seller compromises you should look for. As buyers and sellers compete for title exchanges, sellers are often willing to make concessions based on home inspection reports. You can schedule and pay for the repairs yourself, or reduce the purchase price to account for the repair costs. These compromises sometimes require you, the buyer, to waive your liability, meaning you can't sue later if additional problems arise. Focus on major repairs when negotiating, not simple cosmetic issues that you can fix yourself.
It is possible to walk away from a purchase based on the findings of a home inspection, particularly if the seller is unwilling to negotiate. Consider it an asset that you avoided having to pay for or deal with major repairs and continue your home search elsewhere.
Don’t waive your home inspection
In contrast to a home appraisal, many mortgage lenders do not require a mandatory home inspection before releasing funds for your loan. Despite this, opting out is not a good idea. Having a home inspection provides you with important information that you might not find out about until it's too late, and the $300 or so it costs to have one is going to be less than any repairs you might need in the future. Only if you or someone who is close to you has construction experience would it make sense to waive a home inspection, though even then it never hurts to have an objective eye on a property.
In order to make a smart investment in a home, you need to schedule a home inspection. Be sure to work with a company that you trust and that comes highly recommended, and to be present and aware during the inspection. An inspection is a great opportunity to learn more about the property you’re purchasing inside and out and to find out what additional costs you may be facing in the years to come.