Well done! Now that they accepted your offer and you are ready to be a homeowner, it’s time to celebrate a bit.
So just go and make the necessary phone calls to inform your mates about the success of yours and pour yourself a couple of winner-drinks. However, after that, you will have to continue further with your buying process, so it’s time to take the next step in the journey through the home buying process, which is the home inspection.
It’s perfectly understandable if you have bad feelings about a property inspection, especially if you haven’t experienced such a procedure before. If we double the effect by the omnipresent reality that became twisted in home-building reality shows, one may get the trauma even before starting the process.
Fear not, as we are here to help you with the list of 10 things you should know about home inspections. Have a look at it, scan it first, and then, read it thoroughly. We are going to debunk some of the most popular myths about home inspections, specifically the ones that dread us most.
1. Inspections are not mandatory
If you consider yourself a rookie buyer when it comes to the real estate market, you may fall into the misconception that a home inspection is a must. Moreover, what we see in reality shows – the image of having all the inspections done one after another – this element of a home buying procedure may seem out of space. In reality, it is up to you to decide if you want any inspections. And if you do, you can point out the ones that stay in the area of your interests.
With that said, we can tell you that inspections may be fabulous. They will highlight your home’s problems before you purchase it and, 9 out of 10, you will be able to bargain with the dealer or the home seller for covering the costs of some repairs. More importantly, they will tell you if you have the essential means to maintain the property or if you should reconsider your choice.
However, there are some problems connected with home inspections that are common in condos and other living areas where the majority of home maintenance is owned and managed by an association. Therefore, apart from conducting the inspection, you may have to ask the association for necessary repairing permits, without which you will be exposed to facing legal consequences. What’s more, a home inspection with all flaws in your potential home indicated on a list can be required by a bank as one of mortgage conditions.
2. The responsibility for inspections lies upon buyers
If you are a first-time buyer, you may not have realized that you are responsible for the inspections. To elaborate more on that matter, we should mention that, should you want to get to the settlement table, you must agree to hire the inspector, complete the inspections within a fair amount of time, and cover the cost of the operation.
Before you decide on choosing the inspector, give yourself some time to consider the best option possible to be brought ought to see the property. Inspections are not to be made on the spur of the moment and are nothing to be rushed through recklessly. The time you spend on working on that thing is so essential because you’ll transform it to the legal document you sign after everything is done.
As inspection services aren’t done by charity organizations, you will have to estimate the budget for them. While you might wonder why the seller won’t cover the cost of the inspection, it’s actually in your favor to cover the costs.
Let’s explain it this way: The home inspector does the job for you, not for the seller. He or she is there to point out all the prospective issues with the house. In fact, it would be disgustingly unfair to let the seller hire the inspector, for there is a possibility that these two may work together, or that the former will bribe the latter in order to achieve the satisfying price for the property. On the other hand, when the seller has no influence on the inspector you pick, you will have the sincerity and accuracy of your reports assured.
3. You should ask for the inspector’s certificate
You must distinguish a contractor from an inspector since these two are not the same thing. A contractor may know how to fix the existing problems by nature, but home inspectors, on the other, are trained on how to identify them, even if they are not visible at face value and thus neglected by amateurs.
Although every country has its own standards for home inspections, there is one universal feature of a professional, which is the certificate. Of course, certified inspectors will be more expensive than contractors but their price is well grounded in respective documents.
The easiest way to find a qualified professional is to ask your real estate agent. He or she should have even a short list of trusted contacts from their past deals. If this option fails, we suggest you to check the Internet. Whatever choice you make, be sure to ask for the certificate and any education credentials that confirm your inspector’s skills.
4. What is covered by home inspections?
Generally speaking, a home inspection can be compared to a visit to your shrink. Your doctor takes a look at your body as a whole, as well as at its individual components, such as blood pressure, medical history or reflexes, to determine your health condition. Home inspectors are our real estate shrinks.
Because buildings differ between one another, the specific conditions that can be checked may also vary. Nevertheless, the American Society of Home Inspectors has come up with the checklist of qualified inspectors areas of work:
- Extra structural elements
- Interior plumbing and electrical systems
- Windows condition
- Floors, walls, and ceilings
- Doors along with frames
- Other visible flaws
5. What is not covered by home inspections?
It goes without saying that it’s impossible to cover every single aspect of your prospective new home, so there are certain limits you will meet when working with your inspector. Sometimes, you will need to consult a more niche specialist who will take you through the specific details of the problem.
Here’s the list of areas that may require the work of other professionals:
- Wells, sheds, and other elements that stay separate from the house
- Septic tanks
- Areas inside the walls
Although a home inspector might not cover points from this list, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be inspected. You just have to turn to other sources, such as your realtor, so that you have the confidence of going smoothly for the rest of the deal.
6. You can take an active part in inspections
Most inspectors recommend the prospective owners to attend the property inspection. It makes an opportunity to answer any questions buyers ask in terms of the insultations. More importantly, your inspector will also provide you with respective instructions on how to maintain your new home after you settle in.
You have to face the fact that the inspection can become frustrating with all the imperfections popping up time and again. With that said, you have to respect your inspector’s time and not be too emotional about the discovered flaws. Simply try to ask brief questions and refrain from going wild on little details. You will negotiate the repairs with your seller later on.
What to bear in mind: The inspector is responsible only for identifying the areas that need to be repaired. It’s considered rude to ask him or her to perform any handy work. The responsibility is upon the buyer, so all repairs should be covered by you or a professional.
7. Always ask for a report
It is one part of the inspector’s job to make an appearance at the property and examine the building, and it’s the other part to provide you with an official report from the inspection, in which all details about findings are presented in the document. Moreover, they should include pictures of the damaged sectors.
After you receive the report, you should pass it immediately to your real estate agent. So, once you have the report in hand, make two copies – one for you and one for the legal record. It’s always good to remain cautious.
Before you negotiate the cost of repairs, read over the document and ask questions if the report is endowed with a form that lets you leave the feedback. Grab a highlighter and note the important sections of the report in order to refer back to these points when you discuss repairs and maintenance in the future.
8. You can negotiate repairs after the inspection
Paying for inspections is obviously a buyer’s responsibility. However, when it comes to repairs, there are three possible outcomes. The first is that the seller will cover the repairs. The second option will involve the seller crediting your money for the procedure. The last one, in turn, will have you becoming responsible for repairs.
The best technique that you can incorporate into negotiations with the seller is to prioritize. If you send him or her a long list of nuances, the seller may be less willing to perform any changes and will burden you with the responsibility, instead. On the other hand, if you focus on a few, essential points from the report, they will assist you or may be even willing to cover repairs.
Of course, there are few exceptions that refer to the condition, in which the home is being marketed ‘As is’. The term ‘as is’ means that the seller is unable or unwilling to maker repairs, whatever the reason. In such a case, you should persuade the seller to accept the lower price for his or her property, as you will have to include the additional budget for potentially extensive repair expenses.
9. You can reject the offer after the inspection
Imagine that the feedback from your inspection report features some disastrous insultations like severe structural damage or toxic mold. The less brutal scenario is that you are stuck in negotiations with the buyer and you can’t reach the compromise.
Fortunately, buyers have the advantage in this matter. Unless you respond to the seller after the inspection timeframe and come up with ridiculous reasons to justify your fussiness, you will not face any legal consequences and will be able to walkaway with no damage at all. However, there may be some ‘collateral’ damage caused to you by sellers, which is your initial deposit being taken as a compensation for the time spent on inspections and negotiations with a negative response.
The other side of the coin is when you decide that you don’t like the property and want to reject the offer after signing off the inspection papers and accepting the foregoing conditions. In the end, you’ll be able to terminate the transaction but you will suffer a much more painful loss and face serious legal repercussions. With that said, you’d better take your time so that you feel convenient after the bargain and before signing any binding agreements.
10. Keep the documentation for completed repairs
Let’s say you’ve finished with negotiations and you both have a long list of repairs to be done at the property. This means that one or both of you may have to perform these repairs and pay for them. Although you and the seller might be tempted to call for a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-father’s-cousin who is the jack of all trades, we don’t recommend you going this way. It’s better to hire a professional for any bigger task than a clogged sink.
As well as working with certified professionals, you have to remember about collecting all necessary documentation, which includes estimates and invoices, as proof for the work. These documents are often required by banks and mortgage companies and, if not provided, a company is entitled not to grant you the deed to your prospective real estate. If you don’t want to pay for a follow-up visit – should any repairs be broken or done wrong – it’s best to keep the repair invoices after you settle in.
Home inspections can be overwhelming, it’s true. There are plenty things and qualities to consider along with extensive negotiations, which can eventually overburden you with too much work. Let alone having something truly wrong in the home of your dreams.
Fortunately, with our list of 10 home inspection essentials, you won’t be bothered with the process and you’ll be able to make informed decisions after reading this article.