Home Sellers are often encouraged to have a home inspection performed prior to listing time so that any potential issues can be addressed and resolved prior to an offer being submitted. This often does not occur however, leaving the Seller and the Buyer to discover the condition of the property through the course of the home purchase.
So- what exactly is a home inspection? A home inspection, quite simply, is an assessment made to determine the home’s condition. A home inspector is chosen by the Buyer, taking into consideration his credentials, tools/technology used, and years of experience.
Although it’s considered ‘optional’, real estate agents recommend Buyers hire a professional inspector to assess the property they wish to purchase so the Buyer has a full understanding of the condition of the home before the transaction is finalized.
The Buyer’s written request for a home inspection is included in the purchase agreement, which states how many days the Buyer has to have the home inspection completed. To protect his interests, a Buyer must have the home inspection completed within the time frame established in the accepted contract.
Home inspection costs are typically an out of pocket expense and vary anywhere from approximately $200-$500, depending on the size of the property and the scope of the inspection to be completed. Some inspectors offer varying service levels, but most inspections take several hours to complete and include a review of:
Heating and cooling systems
Plumbing and piping
Electrical and wiring
Attic (if accessible)
Foundation and structural integrity
Walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors
When a home inspection is completed, the inspector will prepare and provide a report to the Buyer including his opinion as to the condition of the home and its components. Sometimes- an additional inspection by another inspector who specializes in areas such as pest, chimney, sewer, or septic systems may be necessary. These additional inspections may be optional or they may be required by the lending institution financing the Buyer’s mortgage. While the costs are a separate charge from the general home inspection, these additional specialty inspections are often included with the Buyer’s closing costs.
When a Buyer has ordered a home inspection, it’s important for him/her to understand that the home inspector will find ‘problems’- which may be minor- and may be major.
Most often times a minor repair(s) needs to be made or a minor component(s) needs to be replaced. In these instances, the Buyer and Seller, who share a mutual interest in proceeding to closing, work together to determine the associated repair costs and execute a specific plan of resolution.
Other times, a major issue is discovered during a home inspection that may dramatically impact the Buyer’s desire to complete the transaction. In these instances, if the Seller is unwilling to 1. proceed with satisfactory remedies for the newly discovered defect or 2. reimburse Buyer for the related expenses so Buyer can execute the remedy, the Buyer has the opportunity to “walk away” from the deal and have his/her earnest money returned to him.
Buyers are encouraged to discuss home inspection results and concerns with their real estate agent, who has experience in home inspection resolutions and is familiar with the Buyer’s purchase contract.