So you’ve made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. More often than not, your agent may have made a home inspection a contingency in your purchase offer. This contingency provides that if significant defects are revealed by a home inspection, you can renegotiate the price paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or you can back out of your offer, free of penalty, within a certain timeframe. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is reviewed.
How to Choose an Inspector
Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. Realtor.com notes these 5 things to consider when choosing a home inspector.
- Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection & if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
- Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report the better in most cases.
- References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients that you can call to ask about their experience.
- Memberships –Not all states requires a Home Inspector to be licensed. However, if your state does not license Home Inspectors, there are other guidelines that are helpful to follow in selecting a good Home Inspector. One of the best ways to determine if a home inspector is truly professional is to check on their credentials such as certifications. Definitely pick a Home Inspector that is affiliated with any of the major professional organizations dealing with the home inspection field. Two of the most respected organizations include the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Often membership in one of these organizations means that there is continued training and education provided.
- Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen. A competent Home Inspector will be covered by a general liability insurance, and errors and omissions insurance policy.
What to Expect From Your Home Inspection – Your Home Inspector Should Note:
- whether each problem is a health or safety issue, major defect, or minor defect
- which items need replacement and which should be repaired or serviced
- items that are suitable for now but that should be monitored closely
A really great inspector will even tell you about routine maintenance that should be performed, which can be a great help if you are a first-time homebuyer. Ask your inspector if it’s OK for you to tag along during the inspection. That way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.
Home Inspection Shortcomings
Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof, crawling around in the attic, and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace & chimney, the foundation and so much more!
A home inspection can’t identify everything that might be wrong with the property – it only checks for visual cues to problems. Most home inspectors are generalists – that is, they can tell you that the plumbing might have a problem, but then they will recommend that you hire an expert to verify the problem and give you an estimate of the cost to fix it. Of course, hiring additional inspectors will cost extra money. A general Home inspection only goes so far. Here’s what else you might need to check. Home Inspectors do not check for issues like termite damage, site contamination, mold, engineering problems and other specialized issues.
The Bottom Line
They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money in a home of your own. A home inspection will cost you a little bit of time and money, but in the long run you’ll be glad you did it. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase. The inspection can reveal problems that you may be able to get the current owners to fix before you take possession, saving you time and money. If you are a first-time homebuyer, an inspection can give you a crash course in home maintenance and a checklist of items that need attention to make your home as safe and sound as possible. Don’t skip this important step in the home-buying process – it’s worth every penny.