One of the most important steps of the home buying process is getting a home inspection. In most cases, getting a home inspection is a condition written into the purchase agreement to ensure that the buyer knows what they are getting into.
Often confused with a home appraisal, the home inspection process involves hiring a licensed professional to come take a look at the house in question to determine any faults or hazards. Home inspectors typically look for defaults in:
- Electric/heating systems
- Built-in appliances
- The surrounding land
Some sellers will try to provide the buyer with an inspection report, but this report may not be reliable. It’s always best to find your own licensed professional to come perform the inspection.
Before inspecting, get any disclosures
Certain states, like California, require the seller to disclose any significant information about the property’s condition or its potential hazards. But not all sellers are aware of the problems that may lie within their house. These disclosures, however, could be useful to the home inspector.
When Does the Inspection Take Place?
The inspection typically takes place once the contract to purchase the purchase agreement has been signed. However, the purchase agreement should allow the buyer to back out of the purchase should the results of the inspection be unfavorable. The inspection is usually arranged, scheduled and paid for by the buyer, since the inspection is conducted for their benefit.
Hiring a Professional Home Inspector
An inspection usually takes between 2 and 3 hours, and could cost you between $200 and $500. Of course, this depends on the size, location, and type of home. It’s best to tag along with the inspector as they examine the house. This will give you the chance to ask questions as they pop up, giving you a better sense of the condition of your house. The inspector will provide you with a detailed, written report of their findings, but the information might seem confusing if you haven’t already been exposed to it during the inspection itself.
If you choose to use a real estate agent, they may have recommendations for which home inspector to choose. However, you should consider that your agent has financial interest in you closing on a home. So, they may be inclined to suggest an inspector who is less thorough. Ideally, you want a detailed inspector who won’t pass over minor issues.
Consider an Additional Pest Report or Specialized Inspectors
In addition to your regular inspection, it’s recommended that you also hire a licensed pest inspector to run a more detailed examination for damages from fungus or wood-boring insects such as termites. Some general home inspectors will also offer pest inspection services for an additional cost.
If certain aspects of the property are of greater concern, you may want to consider hiring an inspector that is specialized in that field.
What Happens After the Inspection is Complete?
The inspection report typically takes 3 to 4 days to complete. Once you’ve received and gone over the report, you can decide how to proceed.
If the inspection does not reveal any significant hazards, you can proceed with the purchase of the house. Should the inspection report reveal a myriad of issues, and it was written into your purchase agreement, you could negotiate for a lower purchase price, request the seller pay for repairs, or back out of the purchase altogether. Your real estate agent can help you determine the best option for your situation. Escrow accounts are commonly used to pay for repairs.
No Home is Perfect
It’s important to remember that no home is perfect. There will be issues on the inspection report — possibly dozens. The quantity of these issues should not be your concern, but rather the severity of these faults. Hopefully, the majority of these faults will be minor, and won’t even require your attention. But some issues may not make the home a good choice.