Keys to a Successful Home Inspection
The housing market is very active right now and many home purchasers are buying a home for the first time. In THOR’s May 2018 blog post (https://www.thorwealthmanagement.com/first-time-home-buyer-how-to-make-an-offer), we mention that one of the items all home buyers should complete before removing the contingencies from the purchase contract is a home inspection.
A home inspection is initiated once your offer has been accepted by the seller, but you still have a period of due diligence before the closing date on the home. Typically, the buyer is responsible for finding a home inspection company, scheduling the date and time of the inspection, and paying for the service. Your home is one of the most expensive items you will ever purchase so do not shop for a cheap home inspection service. Typically, a good home inspector will charge between $400 and $600 for a whole home inspection. Additionally, most reputable home inspection firms will have one or more certifications which can indicate a significant level of expertise. Some certifications to look for include the following:
- The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) (https://www.nachi.org/)
- Board Certified Master Inspector (CMI) (https://certifiedmasterinspector.org/)
- ASHI Certified Inspector (ASI) (https://www.homeinspector.org/)
As the buyer, you will want to accompany your home inspector to the inspection. Home inspections usually take 3 to 4 hours to complete so make sure you have allocated sufficient time in your schedule. By walking through what you are hoping will be your new home, you will learn a lot about the home itself. A good inspector will familiarize you with the structure and systems of your new home while pointing out areas of concern. Among a lengthy list of items that will get inspected, some of the major areas include:
- House Exterior and Foundation
- Structural Components
- Chimneys & Fireplaces
- Roofing Systems & Flashings
- Attic & Ventilation Systems
- Doors & Windows
- Kitchen Fixtures, Cabinets & Appliances
- Electric System
- Plumbing System Components & Fixtures
- HVAC Systems
Many home inspectors are certified to do termite/wood destroying insect inspections and will include the cost of it in the base price of the whole home inspection.
Once the inspection is complete, you should receive a written and/or electronic report of the results. A good report will not only have a description of each concern, but it will also include pictures specifically highlighting the identified problem area(s). Most home inspection company websites include sample reports that you can view to determine if they meet your expectations.
As you complete the inspection process, keep in mind that home inspection reports by nature focus on defects and may seem very negative. Often, this can create stress for the buyer as you are learning about the existing issues with your new home. But the key is to relax. Unless you are buying a fixer–upper, most of your home’s systems should be in excellent condition but will not have been mentioned in the report. Many of the items listed in the report are simply maintenance recommendations. Keep in mind that no home is perfect.
In most cases, the home purchase is contingent upon a successful home inspection. If there are serious issues with your home, you will either be able to renegotiate with the seller of the home or simply withdraw your offer. However, keep things in perspective. You do not want to kill your deal over things that do not matter in the long run. Small issues and deferred maintenance on various equipment will likely be your responsibility. Negotiations with the seller should focus on the more expensive fixes for which you don’t want to incur the cost.