Ordering a home inspection is one of the most important steps you can take in the due diligence process. Few of us have the skill-set necessary to spot the problems that a licensed home inspector can. In every case t is money well spent. Fees vary by state and square footage, but normally run around $300-$350 total for the 3rd party inspection. Make sure to verify the company online and only use licensed home inspectors. Your real estate agent will recommend a couple different home inspectors, and while you can use anyone you want, it’s often a good idea to stick with their recommendation since they have a track record of reliable work.
It’s almost always the case that first time buyers panic when they read through their first home inspection report. They might think at first glance that the house is a dilapidated mess and shouldn’t be purchased. To be clear, the job of the home inspector is to go through the home with a fine tooth comb and find as many things legitimately wrong as he can. The report is then used by your agent as a negotiating tool to have repairs done by the seller or to have the sales price reduced to cover necessary repairs. Some of the things listed in the report may be things you can live with, others may not. The report lets you know the condition of the house inside and out before purchase so you can make an informed buying decision.
Understand that it is the job of the home inspector to find enough necessary repairs to justify his fee, if not more. The inspector requires that all the utilities be turned on so they can check the appliances, A/C and heating systems, etc. They also check the condition of the roof, go up in the attic and check for leaks and also for rodent infestations and mold. They are however restricted to visible damage. That is to say, if there is a leaking pipe inside a wall and there is no external evidence of the leak, their report will not include it and they are not liable for leaving it off. They draw the line at visible damage.
It’s important to know that every property, even brand spanking new ones, will have some defects. We purchased our home new about 10 years ago and did not have an inspection done at the time, relying instead on the builder’s warranty (mistake). A friend who purchased in the same tract at the same time had a home inspection done, and the inspector came up with 2 pages of defects. Fortunately for us, the builder did take care of the few problems we had without any hassle, but it could have been a problem with a less reputable builder or if we didn’t catch it before the warranty expired.
Before jumping to any conclusions about the home inspection report, talk to your Realtor and/or Real Estate Advisor. Most defects are an easy fix by a skilled contractor and don’t cost a lot of money. Roofs and air conditioning systems can be costly. Through negotiation, the seller will normally repair the defects or adjust the sales price to cover the repairs. Always order a home inspection and when possible try to negotiate a 1 year home warranty to be paid for by the seller for additional peace of mind.
Guest Blogger: Eric Lorimore, Marshall Reddick Real Estate Network