In today’s market, foreclosed homes for sale may have been sitting empty for up to a year or more which makes a home inspection even more important. However, this can make the process of buying a home stressful. A home inspection is supposed to give you peace of mind, but often has the opposite effect. You will be asked to absorb a lot of information in a short time. This often includes a written report, checklist, photographs, environmental reports and what the inspector himself says during the inspection. All this combined with the seller's disclosure (if there is one) and what you notice yourself makes the experience even more overwhelming. What should you do?
Relax. Most of your inspection will be maintenance recommendations, life expectancies and minor imperfections. These are nice to know about. However, the issues that really matter will fall into four categories:
- Major defects. An example of this would be a structural failure.
- Things that lead to major defects. A small roof-flashing leak, for example.
- Things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy or insure the home.
- Safety hazards, such as an exposed, live buss bar at the electric panel.
Anything in these categories should be addressed. Often a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property (especially in categories 2 and 4).
Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection. However in this foreclosure market, banks are not able to provide disclosures and it’s up to the buyer to learn all he can from the home inspection. Realize that sellers and banks are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report. No home is perfect. Keep things in perspective. Do not kill your deal over things that do not matter. It is inappropriate to demand that a seller address deferred maintenance, conditions already listed on the seller's disclosure or nit-picky items.
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