Congratulations on getting your offer accepted, now comes the part of the process where attention to detail is of the utmost importance: the home inspection. Getting through the home inspection portion of the transaction is often seen as a daunting task, especially for first time buyers. This is where I come in.
Through the years of doing real estate I’ve encountered nearly every home inspection situation. I’ve found that if buyers follow these few simple tips, their inspection is a better experience that nets more long-term value. Here are my 5 things every buyer should know about home inspections.
1) Schedule the inspection for more time than you need– I’ve seen inspections last anywhere from 1-3 hours (industry average time is 2-2.5 hrs) , mainly based on the complexity of the structure or if major issues have been discovered. An inspection is not something that you want to hurry through. Don’t make the inspection a “lunch-time” appointment.
2) Be prepared to learn— This is especially true for first time buyers. You’re paying the inspector to do two major functions: 1) Inspect the home for flaws and, 2) Introduce you to the home’s “guts”– the electrical panel, plumbing system, heating systems, smoke detectors, etc. Take notes on maintenance items the inspector points out.
3) Ask Questions— In the same vein as #2, make the inspector expand on items that you either don’t understand or have a general interesting in learning more about. Have the inspector explain the process of preparing the home for the different seasons. For example: have the inspector explain the steps to take before leaving on an extended vacation.Other example questions:
Steps needed to take for storm season
Preparing home for summer/winter
Yearly maintenance chores
Recommendation of different tradesman
Expected life span of current appliances
Online resources for easy fixes
4) The report is your bible– Throughout the inspection the inspector will be taking notes and pictures on issue areas. This information will be entered into a report which will be sent to you. These notes will serve two purposes: 1) Evidence for future negotiations and, 2) A checklist of issues for you to complete post closing. The second value you’ll receive from the inspection is when it’s time for you to sell– the future buyers will greatly appreciate seeing the previous inspection and all the items that you completed while you owned the home. The transparency sets the tone for the next transaction and often can result in a higher offer price.
5) Inspections start round 2 of negotiations– Many first time buyers aren’t aware that there are actually multiple negotiation points in the home buying process: the first being at the initial offer and the second after the inspection is completed. Due to each home being a unique situation, I’m not going to give a blanket statement about re-negotiating the price of the home based on inspection results, I will say that it’s important to understand what a material adverse fact is and how it relates to the seller disclosure documents. A materially adverse fact is defined as:
• Significantly and adversely affecting the value of the property.
• Significantly reducing the structural integrity of improvement to real estate.
• Presenting a significant health risk to occupants of the property.
Think of an inspection as the second interview with a potential employer– you know a good amount about the home, but it’s time to do a little digging into their past. It’ll be a whirlwind of information and terms for a couple of hours, followed by what could be multiple forms going back and forth with the seller. The most important thing to remember is that both you and the seller have the same goal: to get the home sold.
As always, if you have any questions about the process or want help in buying or selling your home, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Happy Housing!!