One of the major components of the real estate transaction is the buyer’s home inspection. Being prepared and being present are necessary for a successful inspection
What to know about your home’s inspection
A home inspection is a critical part of any home-buying process, but what exactly is it and why is it so important?
A home inspection is an examination of the major components that make a home function safely. Conducted by a certified home inspector licensed by the state, an inspection includes an assessment of the home’s structural elements, including the foundation, along with its roof, water heater and heating, cooling, plumbing, drainage and electrical systems.
Typically held after the buyer signs a contract, the inspection is important because the contract is contingent upon the inspection’s outcome.
Prepare for your inspection
It’s the buyer’s responsibility to hire and pay the inspector (between $100 and $500), and that money is well spent. Buyers should set aside several hours to attend the inspection, along with his or her agent and the listing agent. An inspector, who is often referred to buyers by their agent, will identify any major or minor problems that the buyer needs to know about in order to decide what steps to take next.
There are two reasons for the buyer to be there. First, the buyer will know of any potential problems with the home immediately and be able to ask questions, and, second, the buyer can use the inspection as an opportunity to learn all he or she can about the home, including how to maintain it.
Prior to the inspection, a buyer will receive a property disclosure from the sellers that lists needed repairs or problems known to the sellers. The buyer should study the disclosure beforehand and be ready to ask the inspector questions. Following the inspector throughout the house during the inspection will give the buyer information beyond the disclosure – about problems the seller wasn’t aware of.
To the buyer’s advantage
When the inspection is complete, a report of the findings will tell the buyer if there are any serious repairs needed or issues to be resolved. Depending on what is found, an inspection can lead to further negotiations and amendments to the contract or, in some cases, cancellation of the contract.
A buyer and his or her agent can discuss whether to ask the sellers to make a repair or give the buyer a credit – money off the sales price – to compensate for the buyer footing the cost of the repairs. If the inspection reveals major issues, the buyer can be let out of the contract without any penalty.
Inspect early and gain an advantage
If a buyer is seriously considering a home and there are other buyers interested, a buyer can pay for an inspection before making an offer. This shows the sellers that the buyer is a strong contender, and it gives the buyer all the information he or she needs to make an offer based on solid facts and little or no need for negotiations.