You’ve gone through all of the steps in the house-buying process – from attending open houses to making appointments with sellers to finding the home of your dreams. Now it’s time to make an offer, negotiate the final price, and of course, go through the home inspection. You might think you’re finally able to relax now that you’re at the last few steps before your dream home is yours. But keep in mind, the home inspection is an essential element. It’s a scary, nerve-racking time for the buyer and the seller involved in the transaction.
If you think you can forego an inspection because they’re buying new construction, think again. Many new construction homes still have issues, and it’s important to make sure you’re not skimping when it comes to inspecting the property – from the actual home itself to anything else, such as pools or septic systems. So how do you, as a buyer, handle home inspections to make sure you’re covering everything?
There are likely tons of inspectors to choose from but don’t choose the cheapest one available. This could indicate a lack of experience. It’s great to save money, especially when you’re in the process of such a huge purchase, but do your research and find an inspector that has the right credentials. Your real estate agent will be able to help you find the best inspector for your budget.
If you can, make sure you’re able to be present for the inspection. Don’t simply let the inspector do their job and report back to you later. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions about potential issues and find out what’s really a concern and what’s not. If you can’t carve out three or so hours, which is how long the typical inspection takes, at least arrive at the last hour to go over everything.
Always prepare for the worst, and whatever you do, don’t expect a perfect report. Every home, no matter how new it is, will have some minor issues. Many of the deficiencies found in the inspection will be relatively minor and easily fixable. If there are big-ticket items, ask about negotiating the price of the property to help offset the cost of repairing them.
Before you’ve booked the inspection, talk to your real estate agent and have them arrange to ensure all areas of the home are fully accessible. Inspectors are usually not permitted to move furniture in the event that damage occurs. You’ll want to ensure all areas, including the attic and furnace area, are fully accessible so the inspector can do their job properly.
As mentioned above, don’t expect or hope for a perfect report. You can’t stress every minor issue that comes up. Focus on significant red flags, such as issues with the foundation, roof, HVAC systems, and other expensive problems. You don’t want to negotiate the price based on minor issues. It’s more important to focus on anything that’s a huge undertaking when it comes to repairs.
Now that you’ve got a few helpful tips to keep in mind throughout the process, let’s review the steps you need to take to complete the home inspection:
1. Include a Home Inspection Contingency in the Sales Contract
Make sure you’ve included a home inspection contingency, also known as a “due diligence” contingency, in the sales contract. This will give you a specified period of time to have the property inspected.
2. Hire the Best Home Inspector for Your Budget
Find a home inspector that fits your budget and make sure they’re experienced and certified. They should be up-to-date on all necessary training and have a full insurance policy.
3. Take a Look at the Inspector’s Checklist
Chances are, your inspector has a standard home inspection checklist. Ask if you’re able to review it to ensure they’re covering everything necessary. Some inspectors go above and beyond what’s required but make sure the basics are there.
4. Review the Complete Home Inspection Report
After you’ve gone to the home inspection and your inspector has compiled a report, go through the report. It should include a section for each room or area of the house. Note what repairs are urgent and what repairs can wait.
5. Schedule Additional Inspections If Required
Use the home inspection report to guide you in terms of what other inspections should be performed. If there is potential mold, schedule a mold inspector to evaluate the property and give you more information.
6. Make Your Final Choice on the Home
Are you willing to move forward and get any minor issues resolved? Or does the report show larger issues that would cost too much? You can go through with the deal or attempt to renegotiate it based on the report’s findings.
7. Confirm All Repairs Have Been Completed
If you choose to have the seller make repairs based on the report’s findings, make sure you’re walking through the home once those repairs are made to ensure they’ve been completed. You may want to have the inspector come back out to review.
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