A home inspection is an important part of the buying process. Potential buyers bring in an inspector to check the foundation, wiring, plumbing, and overall structure of the house. The inspector will look at everything from the tiles on the roof to the support systems in the kitchen cabinets.
Understanding the home inspection process is important if you are a home buyer or seller. Here are a few common questions people ask about inspections that can help you prepare for yours.
#1) Why Do You Need a Home Inspection?
Buying a home is one of the biggest expenses you will ever have, but it is also an investment. When your home value appreciates, you can sell it for more money than you paid for it. At the very least, the value of your home will help you afford your next home. Home inspections protect you, the buyer, from investing in something that could cost you money.
For example, if you buy a house that has been eaten away by termites or is on top of a sinkhole, it could be unsellable or you could end up selling it for a loss. Your inspector will alert you to these risks.
Home inspections also protect the seller. The condition of the house is in writing, so the buyer cannot claim that they didn’t know about certain problems after they buy.
#2) What Is the Cost of a Home Inspection?
The cost of your home inspection varies by state and by the size of your house. Naturally, larger homes will cost more to inspect because there is more to look at. A small, one-bedroom condo has less to check on than a five-bed, six-bath estate.
That being said, you should budget a few hundred dollars for a home inspection, typically no more than $500 for an average home.
#3) Can a House Fail an Inspection?
A home inspection is not a pass-fail experience, and the house won’t receive a grade like a health inspection. The purpose of the inspection is to evaluate and describe the physical condition of the home to alert buyers to what they are getting into.
For example, an inspection might determine that a pool has a leak that needs to be sealed. Buyers (particularly first-time home buyers) who aren’t up to any home improvement projects or renovations might be put off by this, while others might not mind the extra cost that will come with fixing the pool.
#4) When Do You Call a Home Inspector?
Most home sellers will call a home inspector shortly after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed. The responsibility falls on the buyer to call an inspection.
Before you sign the purchase agreement, make sure you have an inspection clause in the contract, which means the final sale is contingent on the results of the inspection. (In layman's terms, this means the buyer has rights to either renegotiate or back out if the inspection isn’t something they are happy with.)
#5) What Can You Do If the House Needs Work?
You do not need to back out of the buying process if the house needs work. You can request that the seller make repairs and work through a list of items that need to be updated or changed. For example, you can ask the current owner to replace the roof if it leaks or to update the electrical wiring if it is outdated.
You can also renegotiate the price of the house based on what you learn in the home inspection. Rather than have the seller fix the issues, you can request a decrease in price to cover the extra costs. This puts the cost and effort of repair on the home seller, so you can buy the house in a better condition.
Naturally, this is all part of the negotiation process. Working with a professional Realtor® can help you push reasonable requests to the seller and know when you are asking too much or too little after the inspection.
#6) How Do I Know Which Home Inspector to Choose?
A home inspector is just one of the many people involved in a real estate transaction. Realtors® regularly work with home inspectors so they will likely be able to recommend a home inspector for you, or you can look one up in your area.
Start with the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), a non-profit professional organization for home inspectors across the country. They have a search tool where you can find inspectors in your city or zip code. This is the best way to make sure you are working with a dedicated and qualified home inspector.
Do not try to conduct the home inspection on your own. Not only do you not know the detailed requirements to maintain a house, but most people are unable to stay objective during the inspection process. They want their future home to be perfect and are more likely to overlook or undervalue issues. Hire an objective professional to help you.
Prepare for Your Home Inspection With a Quality Realtor®
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