Home inspections are a crucial part of the real estate transaction. However, many buyers don’t know how to find a qualified inspector or what to expect from the process.
While buyers aren’t required to be present during the inspection, it is recommended. Preparing the property in advance also helps ensure a smooth inspection.
1. Shop Around
When a home seller lists their property for sale, they often schedule an inspection with a professional inspector. The buyer will usually be at the house during this time, but it is sometimes appropriate for the seller to be there too. Regardless, the property should be thoroughly cleaned and decluttered to make it easier for the inspector to do their job. Pets should also be put away to reduce odors and to avoid making the buyers feel uncomfortable.
The process of selecting a home inspector begins with getting referrals from people who have used one in the past. Real estate agents are often helpful in this regard, and they can recommend a few inspectors they trust. Once you have a few names, ask to see some sample reports of their work. This will help you determine whether or not the quality of the inspector’s work meets your standards.
Buying investment properties can be lucrative, but it’s important to take the time to do a thorough home inspection checklist before agreeing to a deal. A home inspection can uncover problems that you might not have been aware of, such as foundation cracks hidden behind paneling or outdated electrical components that could cause a fire hazard if they aren’t upgraded. Having this knowledge gives you the power to negotiate with the seller or walk away from the deal.
Home buyers typically have their own home inspection contingency in their contract, which gives them the option to back out of the deal if they aren’t happy with the findings of the professional inspection. For this reason, it is critical that you choose the right inspector for the job.
2. Be There
Most real estate professionals have home inspection horror stories to share. They include things like crumbling foundations, vermin infestations and the dreaded black mold. These stories are not only scary, but they can also make the home buying process downright overwhelming for buyers.
When it comes to property inspections, a little bit of homework goes a long way. While your agent might have some inspector recommendations, it’s always a good idea to shop around. Doing so allows you to find the best inspectors without any hints that your agent is playing favorites or attempting to steer you in one direction or another.
It’s also a great idea to ask an inspector for samples of their reports before you hire them. This will give you a good idea of their style and how detailed they are. You can even use these sample reports as a guide to help you write your own property inspection report for future reference.
In addition to a pre-purchase inspection, landlords should consider getting regular inspections of their properties. This will help them spot and address small issues before they turn into big problems that can cost them thousands of dollars in repairs.
During a property inspection, it’s often recommended to be present for as much of the process as possible. This will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of the results and what they might mean for your safety and comfort in the home.
For sellers, preparing for an inspection can be as simple as turning on the utilities, clearing items that could obstruct the inspector’s access to the home and removing pets from the premises. For buyers, a home inspection contingency can be included in the purchase contract that will allow you to walk away from the sale if the inspection reveals major issues with the house.
3. Get Sample Reports
If you want to work with a specific home inspector, ask for samples of his or her reports. These will help you decide if that person is thorough and articulate in his or her descriptions of problems. A quality report should also include detailed photos to back up the inspector’s observations.
During a home inspection, buyers should be on hand to follow the inspector around and ask questions. However, they should be careful not to get in the way or distract the inspector. For instance, if a buyer tests water flow or operates appliances while the inspector is working, it could change how the systems respond, Mease warns. Additionally, spending time checking email or choosing paint colors for the living room can divert attention away from the home inspector’s job, Golden adds.
A good home inspector will identify both serious issues that may affect the value of a property and minor problems that simply require maintenance or upkeep. A well-written inspection report should clearly state which repairs are required to prevent further damage and recommend which items may be negotiated with the seller.
Some real estate agents will offer to refer you to home inspectors, but this presents a potential conflict of interest. The inspector is paid for the inspection report and the agent wants to close the deal, so she or he may feel compelled to downplay any concerns raised in the report.
It’s important to remember that no house is perfect, and every one will have flaws. The most important thing is to have a realistic perspective and understand the difference between minor problems that can be easily repaired and larger concerns that may impact the future value of a property.
4. Get a Second Opinion
Homebuyers are responsible for arranging and paying for professional inspections, but they may also conduct informal searches of their own before making an offer. They should look at the property from top to bottom, examining floor surfaces and paint for water damage or signs of mold, checking the gutters and roof, looking inside closets and cabinets for potential issues, and considering the overall condition of the house and land. Often, they will see things that the professionals miss.
During the inspection, buyers can ask questions but should not be in the inspector’s way. “Spending the whole time checking your email or picking out the colors for your living room is a waste of your time and could distract him from finding the serious problems,” Golden says.
Buyers should also be sure to check the inspector’s credentials and experience, and do a little digging online to find out what others have had to say about him. If you’re not happy with your inspector, he or she will probably make it clear that you can hire someone else.
Sellers might be tempted to hire the cheapest inspector, but that’s usually not a good idea. Inspectors who charge less tend to be overworked and rushed, which means they may skip important details. It’s better to spend a little more on an inspector who takes his or her job seriously and has a track record of rooting out issues.
Even if a home appears perfect on the surface, it’s not uncommon for buyers to request repairs after an inspection. If the requests aren’t reasonable, it can put a real estate deal in jeopardy or cause a buyer to back out of the sale altogether.
5. Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection
Home inspections can be nerve-wracking for buyers, especially first-time homebuyers. The excitement of finally getting to cross “home” off the checklist is often mixed with anxiety about money, a house that may need significant repair costs or even a canceled sale if serious problems turn up. This is especially true in tight markets when multiple offers are competing against each other for the same property.
It’s important to work with a real estate agent who understands the intricacies of the home inspection process and can help navigate these hurdles. Real estate agents who are familiar with local inspectors have relationships they can utilize to find qualified candidates, and will be able to provide a list of inspectors they trust. However, it’s best not to rely solely on an agent’s recommendations. A well-meaning agent’s incentive to close the deal is at odds with the inspector’s incentive to do a thorough job, which can potentially skew results or even scuttle the sale altogether.
A pre-inspection can be a good way to give yourself a heads up on what potential buyers might discover, and make an informed decision about whether to make repairs or lower the selling price accordingly. It’s also a great opportunity to work with your inspector to identify and prioritize issues, so that the final report is as complete as possible.
The importance of a comprehensive home inspection shouldn’t be underestimated, and it applies to new construction as well. It’s not uncommon for builders to overlook something, simply due to human error or the fact that you’re walking through a brand-new home that is still under construction. We’ve all heard the horror stories about a sink or water heater that didn’t get hooked up, and these surprise issues can cost buyers a deal once they are under contract.