Imagine for a second buying your first home. You've just finished moving everything in. It starts raining, and you make the unfortunate discovery that your brand new home has a leaky roof. No one wants to be in this position and this scenario is precisely why home inspections exist. You might be surprised to know that a home inspection is not required by mortgage companies. But, it is most definitely in your best interest to have an inspection completed before investing in a home. In this article, we'll discuss:
- Why are home inspections important?
- What is a home inspection?
- What makes a good inspector?
Why Are Home Inspections Important
A home inspection ensures that a home buyer won't get "stuck" with pre-existing issues. Depending on the contract it could be the seller's responsibility to fix the problems. However, if you choose to forgo inspection and purchase the home, any issues that arise are now your responsibility.
Think of an inspection like a property survey. Both provide an added layer of protection for you as the buyer. The average cost for a home inspection is typically between $300 and $500. At that price point, it really would be silly not to take advantage of this additional security.
As a buyer, your agent can add an inspection contingency to the offer. When putting in an offer, it can be contingent upon the results of the inspection. This essentially means you have the right to back out. A contingency is arranged by your real estate agent when submitting an offer, not during the transaction. It can also include a clause guaranteeing you’ll receive your deposit back should you choose not to buy.
What Is A Home Inspection
A home inspection is completed by a real estate professional otherwise known as a home inspector. They will come to the property in question and inspect it from top to bottom, inside and out. The goal of this inspection is to undercover any potential issues or problems the prospective buyer might have to fix down the line. As a prospective buyer, it's recommended that you attend the home inspection. You can also bring your real estate agent if you'd like an extra set of eyes and ears. Once the inspector finishes inspecting the home, you will receive a written report with all of their notes and issues they discovered.
During an inspection, the inspector will follow their list of things to inspect. Most will take a look at the home's roof, attic, structure, plumbing, garage, electrical, furnace, air conditioning and more. Now, this is not a comprehensive evaluation. A home inspector will not bring equipment with them to test for things like termites, mold, asbestos, or lead paint. You will need to hire specialized inspectors for those jobs if you'd like to have those things checked out as well.
Also worth mentioning, a home inspection is different from an appraisal, meaning you will not be given the value of the property. To learn the value, you'll have to hire an appraiser. While a home inspection isn't required, an appraisal is to obtain a loan.
What Makes A Good Inspector
Look for home inspectors who are members of organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). While most states don’t have official certifications or licensing programs, being a member of this organization does carry some weight. While your Realtor can recommend a home inspector, it's best if you find one that doesn't have any vested interest in your purchase. Find a reputable nonbias party to evaluate the home so you know you're getting an honest answer.
Keep in mind, reports will look different depending on the inspector since there is no typical licensing process. Your inspector will give you a general overview and comprehensive analysis of the home in question. However, this does not mean they will take note of every tiny little thing like a scratch on a banister. Be upfront with your inspector about how thorough you'd like your report to be.
While a home inspection isn't required, it is most certainly recommended. Keep in mind, no home is perfect, the inspection will undoubtedly reveal some issues that need fixing. But with this knowledge, you have the power to decide what you can and can't work with and the ability to walk away. Give yourself the peace of mind and schedule a home inspection when it's time for you to buy.
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Additional Resources About Home Inspections
- Once a buyer goes under contract the next step is to hire a home inspection. However, before you even pick up the phone you need to come up with all of the questions to ask a home inspector. Questions like what exactly do they inspect? How long will it take? How much does it cost? Will you need any other type of inspector, such as termite, mold or for the swimming pool? Being prepared ahead of time and knowing what questions to ask will certainly alleviate unnecessary stress.
- If you're considering buying a fixer-upper you will definitely not want to skip the home inspection. The same holds true if you plan on buying a vacation rental. While an inspector can't see through walls they can let you know if the costly items need to be replaced. Items like the roof, HVAC unit, water heater, major appliances, possible plumbing and electrical.
- Buyers need to keep in mind most sellers will prepare their home for sale. That means a seller might cover things up, such as painting over mold, which a visual inspection will never find. However, an air quality test performed by a mold specialist will at least be able to detect mold is in the home somewhere. Then it comes down to finding it. Are the levels higher in one room compared to another? Is there bubbling in the paint?