What Buyers Should Know About Home Inspections
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What Buyers Should Know About Home Inspections

Buying a new home can be both exciting and stressful. Once your offer has been accepted, you’ll have a million things on your to-do list — and home inspection should be at the top of your list.

While a home inspection is optional, it’s an important step in the home buying process. Unless you’re purchasing a condo that is maintained by an association, you should have your home inspected. Yes, even a new construction should be inspected to make sure it’s up to code. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re planning a home inspection.

You’re Responsible for the Home Inspection

As the buyer of the home, it’s your responsibility to hire a home inspector, schedule the inspection within a reasonable about of time and cover the cost of the inspection. This is for your benefit, because it prevents the seller from falsifying the report in order to rush the sale or get out of making necessary repairs. The average cost of a home inspection is between $200 and $500. While that might seem like a lot, it can end up saving you money on costly repairs in the future.

Ask for Disclosures Before the Inspection

In some states, sellers are required to disclose certain information about the home, including details about the condition of the home and potential hazards on the property. It’s a good idea to have these disclosures handy during the inspection, so the inspector can examine the known issues.

Find the Right Inspector

Many home buyers make the mistake of hiring the inspector with the lowest rates. It’s important to make sure your inspector is licensed and experienced. Before choosing an inspector, ask about their license, credentials and professional affiliations. If you’re not sure where to find a professional home inspector, ask your real estate agent for a referral.

Know What the Inspection Covers

Different inspections cover different parts of your home and property. For example, some inspections don’t cover other buildings on the property, like a garage or shed. Check with your inspector to see what will be covered in the inspection. The American Society of Home Inspectors recommends checking the following areas:

  • Foundation and basement
  • Additional structural components
  • Interior plumbing and electrical systems
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Windows, doors and door frames
  • Floors, walls and ceilings
  • Attic and visible insulation

Consider Special Inspections

Depending on the condition of the home and where it’s located, you may want to request special inspections for things like flood and earthquake hazards, mold, asbestos or lead. It’s also a good idea to hire a licensed pest control inspector to look for termites and other wood-boring insects, as well as dry rot and fungal conditions.

You should also be present during the inspection to see potential problems for yourself and ask the inspector any questions you might have. Be prepared for the inspection to take between two and three hours.

Request an Inspection Report

After the inspection, the home inspector will send the inspection report directly to your real estate agent, but it’s a good idea to request a copy for yourself. This report will outline any potential problems identified in the inspection and provide pictures of damaged areas.

Know That Repairs Are Negotiable

After going on the inspection and getting your copy of the inspection report, you’ll be ready to negotiate repairs with the seller. The seller is not required to make all of the repairs. With a VA or FHA-guaranteed loan, the seller must make certain repairs. However, for others, you have three options:

  1. The seller can make the repairs before the settlement.
  2. The seller can credit you money for the repairs in the settlement.
  3. You can make the repairs yourself.

You Can Change Your Mind After the Inspection

If the inspection reveals problems that are too extensive to repair, such as toxic mold or severe structural damage, you don’t have to go through with the settlement. Just make sure you contact the seller within the inspection timeframe and provide a legitimate reason. The seller may keep your initial deposit as collateral. You can also back out of the settlement if the repair negotiations go on for too long and you’re unable to reach an agreement with the seller.

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