Once an offer on a property is accepted, most home buyers hire a certified home inspector to assess the condition of the home. After the inspection, the inspector will provide a detailed report to the buyer which will help the buyer decide how to proceed with the purchase.
If the home inspection report reveals some hidden problems, the buyer has a few options; cancel the contract and terminate the purchase; ask for the seller to complete repairs; or request a price reduction or purchase credit from the seller to cover repairs.
Often however, the buyer doesn’t understand the importance of a home inspection and down the road discovers some problems with the home that could have been revealed ahead of time in the inspection report.
Keeping the factors below in mind can help ensure that you get the most value from the process:
It’s a Good Idea to Attend the inspection
It’s a huge mistake for home buyers to decide not to attend the home inspection. Your real estate agent can do it for you, however if you miss the inspection you are not going to hear the inspector point out problems that might be an issue down the road.
Many buyers let their real estate agent handle the process and don’t even attend the inspection. This is a huge mistake. Most real estate sales professionals are going to do a great job for you, but if you rely on them to handle this process alone, then you aren’t going to hear the inspector point out any issues that might cause you to think again about whether it is the right property for you.
Ask to see the Home Inspector’s credentials
In many states across America, a home inspector doesn’t need formal inspection education and they might not even have to be licensed or bonded. However, in order to make sure the home inspector is competent and capable, you might want to do a little research on your local state’s requirements, certifications and professional designations. Then before you hire a specific inspector, verify their experience and knowledge. If you don’t, you might get a really bad inspection report that fails to find important issues.
Start on the internet, go to the home inspectors website and look for their certifications and memberships, then go and make sure the home inspector actually has the certifications and memberships. Another good idea is to google the [inspectors name or business name] along with the word [reviews] and check out the feedback from clients.
Inspect the home for yourself
It is always a good idea to take the time to look at the property objectively. Take along a friend or family member for a 2nd set of eyes.
Foundation: Look at the base of the walls and the ceilings in each room. Are there obvious cracks or apparent shifts in the foundation? Do the same around the outside. Are there any trees butted up against the foundation?
Lot: Are there any obvious soggy areas? Does the drainage appear to be away from the house?
Roof: What is the overall condition? When was it last replaced? Are there any curled, cracked or missing roof tiles?
Exterior: What condition is the paint in, does it need to be repainted soon? How about the gutters and downspouts, are they firmly attached? Do you see any loose boards or dangling wires? Is there asbestos in the exterior material, which would require added costs if it needed to be repaired or replaced?
Attic: How does the interior of the roof structure look? Are there any signs of leaks?
Interior evidence of leaks: Check ceilings and around windows in each room, any evidence of water leakage?
Basement: Is there dampness? Adequate insulation? (If there’s a crawlspace instead of a basement, you might want to leave this for the professional home inspection.)
Electrical: Does the panel need to be updated? Is there room in it for additional circuits? Do the switches work? Are there any obvious malfunctions? Have the outlets been grounded?
Plumbing: Run the water and flush the toilets, are there any unusual noises or malfunctions? It is a good idea to have the sewer line scoped to check for potential cracks?
Appliances: If these are included, what is the age and condition of the stove, dishwasher or refrigerator?
Heating/cooling system: Run the furnace and air conditioner, does it seem to do the job? How old is the furnace? If the system has been converted, are the old systems or tanks still in place?
Odor: If there is an odor in the home, can you detect what it might be and whether it could be fixed? Beware of musty odors which could signal mold and water leaks.
If you see something that makes you second guess whether this is the right property for you, you’ll be glad you found it before you close of escrow. After all, this is the most expensive purchase you will ever make – doesn’t it make sense to inspect the property before you make the final purchasing decision?
Make a list of potential costs for making the repairs
For your own peace of mind, you should make a list of the necessary repairs and add up the cost for those repairs. Adding up all those costs, plus getting bids and estimates to make those repairs and upgrades, will give you a better feel for how much you will be spending on the property once you take ownership. You may need to enlist the services of residential contractor to get a better idea of what these repairs may cost
Negotiate the repairs and necessary home improvements
With the home inspection report in hand, plus your list of needed improvements and the probable costs, you can ask your Realtor to request that the seller make the repairs. The seller may say ‘no repairs’ or offer to repair some of the items, or possibly give you a purchase credit. The more detailed your list, the better chance you have that the seller will give a little – or maybe a lot.
If you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.