If you’re buying or selling a home, it’s important to understand what a home inspection entails and how it affects the sale or purchase of a house.
What Is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the structure and systems of a home by a neutral third party. Basically, it shows you what’s wrong with the property and if it is serious enough to prevent a sale. (Note: An inspection does not concern code violations and therefore does not guarantee that the home is free of them.)
The four main points of the inspection are
1. to evaluate the physical condition of the home
2. identify items in need of repair or replacement and
3. estimate the remaining useful life of the major systems, equipment, structure and finishes.
4. educate the buyer on proper future care of the home they are purchasing
An inspector cannot report on defects that are not visible, such as defects hidden behind finished walls or beneath carpeting, and inaccessible areas. Seasonally inoperable systems (swamp coolers, air conditioning, furnaces) will not be turned on during the inspection.
Hiring an Inspector
To hire an inspector, get recommendations from your Realtor. It is important that your inspector know the difference between large and small ticket items. There is nothing worse than an alarmist inspector calling out minor items to prove his knowledge. You want to be sure he is thorough and does not miss something important but more importantly, that he educates you about the home you are purchasing
It’s a good idea to be present during the inspection for a few reasons: you can ask the inspector questions during the inspection.
Making Suggested Repairs
The seller is not required to make any repairs or replacements. However, the buyer can use the inspection report as a negotiating tool. For instance, if certain repairs or replacements are made, the buyer might offer to pay more, or if they’re not, the buyer can bid lower.
Costs and Time Involved
The inspector’s most important priority is accuracy, and accuracy takes time. The chances of mistakes are more likely if the inspector rushes through. Your inspection may take between two and five hours. Older homes take longer than newer ones.
Making Repair Reuests
Your realtor should have a firm grasp of construction and systems and should be able to intelligently guide you through the process of deciding what to ask of the seller in the way of repairs or credits. An uninformed agent can be detrimental in this stage of the negotiations.
Expect your inspection to cost from $200-$500 depending on size. It may be one of the most important investments you make when buying a home.