A home inspection is one of the most important items on the home buying checklist. However, many people don't fully understand what happens during a home inspection or what they need to do after to get the most out of it. As a potential buyer, an inspection is a win-win. It's a way to have an expert third party evaluate all the systems in the house. From the foundation, to the roof, to the heating and cooling systems, everything is looked over. Furthermore, having any issues documented puts pressure on the seller to fix major problems before the buyer ends up footing the bill.
Before going through the process of a home inspection, regardless of whether you are the buyer or the seller, there are a few tips you are going to want to know.
Get your checkbook out
An inspection is typically hired through the homebuyer and their real estate agent when the buyer and seller have agreed on a price and the contract phase begins. More than likely, the buyer will be responsible for the cost, which is due to the inspector the day of the inspection. The cost generally ranges somewhere between $350 and $500, a minimal expense when compared to unforeseen repair costs that may pop up after the sale.
Plan on carving out a few hours of your day to be at the inspection
The inspection is a one-day affair that takes about three to four hours. Only by being there and participating, can you learn about the home you are about to purchase. After the inspection you will get a written report. This report must, for legal reasons, must be full of disclaimers and statements referring you to other licensed experts. These experts could include structural engineers, electricians, and plumbers. It is not meant to scare the buyer away, it’s about shedding light on potential liability.
Know the critical issues that arise
In an inspection, the things that matter are often listed in order of importance. This list consists of the home's foundation, plumbing, roof and any mechanical aspects, such as the heating or cooling system. Cosmetic flaws are considered next.
All of these issues will likely be told to the buyer during the inspection, but will also be documented in a detailed report on the condition of the home, as well and any recommendations for improvement. This document is given to both the buyer and the seller. For further protection, your RE ALTOR® may suggest a home warranty, to cover the costs of any breakdown of home systems -- such as air conditioning, electrical or appliances -- after the closing.
Discuss all the issues that came up during the inspection with your Realtor
A good REALTOR® will understand the inspection document as well as any issues that may have been recorded about the home. They can help you devise a strategy to get the most critical issues addressed, and will be able to advise you about which issues are not worth worrying about.
Be prepared to Negotiate
Once you have the report, you have looked over it, and you have talked about it with your realtor, it’s time to negotiate the issues found and attempt to repair any unforeseen issues with the home. This negotiation can be in the form of a repair, a credit, or nothing at all. Your REALTOR® is the best source to guide you through which issues to negotiate. Asking for too much may result in a stubborn seller who may end up not wanting to do anything at all. However, asking for too little may leave money on the table and needed repairs left for you to take care of. A good realtor will help you find the sweet spot.
And through the whole process, patience is key
Just like other parts of the home buying process, patience is a virtue. Negotiating home inspection issues may require additional inspections by other professionals. Structural engineers, mold specialists, and pest inspectors may be recommended, and just like anything else, they will cost money. This too requires negotiations and the assemblage of multiple estimates on both sides. It’s important to be patient and to try not to get emotional. After all, this is business, and it can often times be the hardest part of the transaction. It’s also the place where many deals go to die, and where thousands of dollars are at stake.
Home inspection, with the right expectations, can go very smoothly. When done right they can be a rewarding and educational experience. Lastly, it is suggested that both parties have the right partners on board before they begin.