What items should you be inspecting in a home as a buyer? How do professional home inspections work? The biggest question for home buyers is, or at least should be, what am I really buying? You can create your own home inspection checklist to help you with your shortlist of houses, though should be familiar with the basics of professional home inspections as well.
Home Inspections 101
You should have a general idea of the condition of the property you are interested in buying before going on your home search. Are you looking for a fixer upper or a brand new model home complete with furnishings? Or are you willing to go with something in the middle, as long as the home only needs basic cosmetic upgrades?
When you first walk through a home you’ll be able to get a reasonably good idea of the overall condition. It is new, slightly outdated or begging for a historic renovation or teardown and rebuild?
Of course, most of the most significant and expensive repairs are those you can’t spot right away and are hiding behind the scenes. That’s where professional home inspectors come in. It’s their job to investigate and report on dozens of factors, so you know exactly what you are getting, and not.
The Need for a Home Inspection When Buying a Home
If you’ll be financing this home purchase with a mortgage loan, your lender will want to be protected with an appraisal, title search, insurances, and a mandatory professional home inspection. They want to know what they are really lending on and are getting as collateral, and what it is really worth.
Even if you aren’t that picky or are fine taking a year to repair and renovate your new home, it is really important to know what you are getting into. Why?
Discover flaws and urgent repairs
Identify items that may require building permits
Get peace of mind of what’s okay
Get an estimate to make needed repairs
Understand the true value of the property
Be alert to potential maintenance issues in the near future
Without an inspection, you really have no idea if this house is going to be livable, a giant money pit or downright dangerous. Or it may be in a lot better condition than you thought. You just need to know.
When to Get a Home Inspection
Traditionally, a home buyer will order and pay for a professional home inspection right after they sign a real estate contract agreeing to the terms with the seller. Your purchase and sales contract will specifically detail how many days you have to inspect the property.
If you are buying a home ‘as-is’, with no repair contingencies (which is most common today), you should still have the right to inspect the property. You may also have a repair limit on the contract. This can be either a dollar amount or percentage of the purchase price.
For example; you may specify you will buy the property as-is, providing the needed repairs found in the inspection do not exceed $2,000 or 2% of the purchase price.
If there are $3,000 of repairs to be made in this scenario, you may have just 7 to 10 days to find an inspector, arrange the inspection, get the report back, review it, and have your Realtor renegotiate to deal with this overage. You can back out of the contract. Or they may offer a $1,000 concession to help with those costs.
More recently, the trend has been sellers demanding that buyers have an inspection done before going to contract. They don’t want to be tied up in a contract with a buyer that may not follow through. In this case, you’ll need to get an inspection, then make your offer.
The faster you move the better as you don’t want to be spending on inspections on properties which are bought by someone else during the time you wait for your report.
Fortunately, home inspections are normally pretty fast, only cost a few hundred dollars depending on the home, and can be done in 1-2 days.
Home Inspection Checklist for Home Buyers
If you want to do your own preliminary home inspection, then here are the main categories and items a home inspector will look at.
Roofs: tiles/shingles, flashing, trim, gutters, leaks
Foundations: trees too close to the house, visible exterior cracks
Yards: proper drainage, condition of driveway and walkways
Appliances: function and ageStructure: fire damage, water stains, insect infestations
Electrical: working outlets and switches, age of the electrical panel
Plumbing: noisy pipes, leaks, water pressure
General: condition, updates neededSpecial features: garage, pool pumps, etc.
You can also take a look at a professional home inspectors’ checklist here, from the International Association of Home Inspectors.
When to Freak Out & Not
First time home buyers can find their first home inspection report quite scary.
A good home inspector will be very detailed and highlight every minor detail which could be improved upon. That can look scary and sound like a lot of money. However, it is important to differentiate between what is urgent and what is nice to have that is a normal defect and may be fixed later on.
According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, the most common issues found are:
Faulty Wiring: Wires without wire nuts, open junction boxes.
Faulty Plumbing: Low water pressure, water stains on ceilings.
Poor Drainage: Soggy areas in the yard, leaks in the basement.
Bad Gutters: Clogged gutters, basement dampness.
Foundation Flaws: Small cracks, sticking doors and windows.
Poor Maintenance: Chipped paint, worn shingles, cracked driveway.
These are described as problems that “can be easily fixed with the right contractor, and shouldn’t be deal breakers.”
Home buyers should always have a professional home inspection. If you’ll be financing your home with a mortgage, it will be mandatory. You can get a good feel upfront by knowing what inspectors typically look at, but it is worth every cent to have one professionally done too.
*The following content was provided by Upnest.com