After what could be months of browsing online, numerous home showings, and countless updates from your real estate agent about new listings, you're ecstatic to have finally found the home you want to buy. You put down an offer, and the seller has accepted. All the hard work is done, right? Not so fast! Before you make a significant financial commitment, it’s best to know exactly what you’re buying. And the last thing you’d want is to fall in love with a beautiful home that actually has major problems lurking beneath the surface.
This, is when the home inspection should take place. Home inspections are among the most crucial aspects of the real estate process. The report can give you an in-depth examination of the property’s structures and systems, including the roof, electrical, plumbing, foundation, etc.
Since the results of the inspection can make or break a sale, it's extremely important to pay attention to this process, no matter how confusing and nerve-wracking it can be. We’re here to give you insight on some of the most common mistakes many buyers make when it comes to inspections and the best ways you can avoid them.
Some home buyers are tempted to waive an inspection so they can get an edge on the competition, especially if they're in a hot sellers’ market where there are far more buyers than listings and homes are getting multiple offers. But no matter how flawless a home looks, it could secretly have a laundry list of issues that could go unnoticed by an untrained eye. The same goes even with a new construction home.
A home inspection is critical because it tells you the condition of the home and its issues. It can uncover potentially hazardous items on the property that can compromise your family’s health and safety. The last thing you’d want is to buy your dream home, only to deal with costly problems down the road, such as termites and other pests, structural issues, or even mold. When these major defects are noted in the inspection report, you’ll have the opportunity to walk away from a potential nightmare. And even if the home doesn’t have any major defects, you can still use the inspection report to negotiate repairs on any items or concerns listed.
Likewise, don’t skimp on additional inspections that might be needed for your specific property, including mold, radon, lead testing, sewer, or septic system inspection, among others.
Since buying a home is a huge financial burden, who wouldn't want to save money in one way or another? However, looking to save some dollars on a home inspection isn’t a bright idea. Not all inspectors offer the same level of service. Those who advertise very low prices could signal that they’re new and inexperienced or they are not utilizing the latest equipment on the job.
Of course, we’re not saying you should never opt for an affordable inspection. We recommend before hiring to do a little research. Aside from your experienced real estate agent, a trusted home inspector should be part of your team that will help you achieve your dream home. Read online reviews or ask for recommendations from friends, family members, and your agent. Then contact at least two or three inspectors so you can compare their fees, levels of experience, and service.
Ask potential home inspectors about their backgrounds, years of experience, and number completed. Verify their certifications and credentials, and make sure they carry the proper insurance. Moreover, find out what is and isn’t covered in the inspection and if they utilize the latest technology. You can also ask for a sample report so that you have an idea of the kind of home inspection report so you can compare the style and level of detail provided. Hire someone who is not only trustworthy and competent but whom you can be comfortable with when you ask numerous questions about your potential home.
While attending the home inspection isn't actually required, don’t be tempted to skip it and just read the report later. Even a detailed report with pictures is not the same as being present. So make every effort to be on-site during the inspection as this is a golden opportunity for you to learn more about the property, such as taking a closer look at the home’s systems and appliances and even find out where everything is located.
If you can’t be there during the entire inspection, at least be there towards the end so the inspector can sit with you to explain things and answer your questions. If you absolutely can’t make it, ask if you can schedule a time to meet in person or speak by phone to go over the report in detail.
On the other hand, it's possible to be “too present” or “too involved.” Remember that if you tag along with your inspector, shadow them around the home and listen to what they discover. Do not get in their way by avoiding spending too much time chatting over cosmetic issues, as they might get distracted when looking at important areas of the home. Lastly, don’t try to do the inspector’s job in an effort to help, or do anything that might jeopardize your or the inspector’s safety.
Believe it or not, no home is perfect. There's not a property that comes with zero issues, even a new construction home. Since the home inspection report is very detailed, it uncovers a large number of flaws, both minor and major. Don’t be alarmed by these deficiencies, when in fact, flaws in a home are to be expected. The last thing you’d want is to be that buyer who demands that the seller fix even the smallest issue to make the home perfect. This could result in the seller rejecting your offer.
Once you’ve received the inspection report, the most critical thing to do is understand which problems require minor fixes and which will require extensive and expensive repairs. Try to focus on these major issues to make your potential home more livable and worth the investment. Your real estate agent can help you decide if and how to approach the sellers about making repairs or reducing the price of the property, but don’t expect the sellers to address every minor item on the list.
The reason you hired the inspector is for their professional expertise, so don't be shy about tapping into it. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions when there’s something in the inspection report that you don’t understand, and to understand the scale of each issue discovered, as it can help you plan out repairs in the future. Avoiding asking questions can make you uninformed about major issues that could greatly impact your home purchase.
Just remember: don’t bother asking for advice from your home inspector whether or not you should buy the property, because they won’t be able to answer that question for you. Instead, use the information provided in the report to make an informed decision. Besides, that’s where your experienced real estate agent should be able to help you with your biggest purchase.
Apart from requesting receipts to prove that repairs have been completed, take it further and have the negotiated repairs re-evaluated by your home inspector or another qualified professional. You want to make sure that the seller did the job correctly and not just a quick fix. Even if there's additional cost, following up with a reinspection will give you peace of mind to avoid paying to redo those repairs later.