No home is perfect! Each can have their own quirks and imperfections, many of which cannot be seen with the naked eye. How can you tell what will affect your home value, and perhaps your property sale? That is where a home inspection comes in. When you’re buying a home, the inspection is pretty much standard procedure during the due diligence. On the other hand, it can be beneficial for a seller to get a home inspection prior to listing their property in order to identify any major issues that could be potential “deal-breakers” to would be buyers. A full inspection will cover everything from heating/air systems to the structural integrity.
Before the inspector begins their work, it is in the seller’s best interest to make sure all areas of the house are easily accessible. The home inspector will typically look over the structural components of the home as well as electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems. Unlocking the crawlspace and decluttering the mechanical room are a must so the inspector can access the HVAC system (vents, valves, and main unit) and electric panel. The seller, or their agent, will also need to ensure that the water is turned on and that the pilot light for the gas logs is lit prior to the inspection. Once the home inspector has completed inspection, they will provide a comprehensive report which details their findings and makes recommendations about whether of not certain aspects of the home warrant further investigation by a licensed professionals such as structural engineers or a roofing contractor. A good agent will take the time to attend the inspection so they can better understand the issues the inspector uncovers and will be able to explain those findings to their clients in a more informed manner. Some reports may come back with a long list of repairs to be made but some of those defects will be minor and not need immediate attention. Understanding which of theses issues could be a potential “deal breaker” will help you know where to focus your time, energy, and money!
“Who pays for the inspection?” This is typically considered to be a buyers expense but keep in mind, everything is negotiable. Once the buyer has had a chance to go over the inspection report and determine which repairs need to be made in the immediate future. At this point, the buyer may ask that the seller reimburse them for the home inspection and other subsequent inspections in the form of seller paid closing costs or as a credit for repairs on the closing statement. Either way, the buyer should be ready to pay for the home inspection, out of pocket, which ranges from $300-$800, on average, depending on the age and size of the home.
In situations where the seller has taken the time to get the home pre-inspected before the sale, it is still pertinent for the buyer to do their own inspection with their selected inspector. Experts highly recommend using someone that has no ties to the seller, though it likely that your Realtor® will have someone that they highly recommend and have worked with often.
Once the inspection has been completed, it will be given to the Buyers and their agent. Sellers can request this information, though we suggest buyers having a full understanding of the report and their repair requests ready prior to sharing this information. The Buyer’s Realtor® will help them assess the next step.
Follow up costs are always something to worry about, particularly with older homes. Aside from the normal inspection there may need to be further reports commissioned for Radon, Asbestos, Termites, Mold, Lead based items (pipes/paints), etc. These call for specific test to be ran by specialist and come with additional costs. Normally, the home inspector’s report will gauge the severity of issues and will note if a specialist is needed.
Regardless of the amount and severity of the issues, this report provides the last bargaining chip in negotiations for the selling price and closing costs. This is where it is crucial to have a good Realtor® on your team (for both the buyers and the sellers) to handle the dynamics of your pending deal.
Just as with curb appeal, first impressions can make a difference in the overall outcome of reports. Chances are if you’ve had your home on the market then it’s already set up to show with everything in place and pleasant aromas wafting through the hallways. This will attribute to a better first impression for the inspector too. A well put together home signifies owners that care for their home’s well being. Keeping your home show ready will also make it easier to spot new defects and needed repairs. This is an opportune time to get those quick and easy fixes out of the way which can save you money when it comes time to close the deal. Don’t forget to have the HVAC and other systems maintenance when due to insure they are working to their full capacity. Less red marks equals sticking closer to the asking price!
Since home inspectors are not federally regulated or even licensed in all 50 states, you will need to get a recommendation for one. Friends, co-workers, and your agent are a good place to start. You may also check with the National Association of Home Inspectors, the American Society of Home Inspectors and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. When a potential candidate is found, ask questions! Ask about their past experience, area’s of expertise, training, and if they’ve completed continuing education. Lastly ask for references from past clients that have been in their homes for a substantial amount of time, and see if any unreported issues came up.