Buying a home is both exciting and terrifying for many people. Today, 8 out of 10 non-homeowners indicate that owning a home is a part of their dreams. For good reason, a homeowner has a net worth 30 times higher than a renter, and that makes sense. But the process can be overwhelming. As a home purchaser, you want to have a team of qualified experts to assist you in making a good decision for your family and for your financial future. One part of that team should be a well-qualified and well-reviewed home inspector. Below are 5 reasons why having a home inspection report will add to the information you will use to make your home purchasing decision.
- Beyond the Wrapping Paper: A home inspection is structured to not look at the cosmetic or aesthetics of the house, but to look for safety items and defects that would affect you, your family, or the value of the house. A home inspector will look at all major systems of the property, this would include the electrical system, the HVAC system, and the plumbing and structural components. Many times, there are parts of systems that homeowners have “upgraded” themselves with varying degrees of success. There maybe systems that are failing that the current homeowner is not aware of or that was not readily apparent at the time of your showing. There may be parts of the house that are just impractical for you to visually inspect like the crawl space, the attic, or the roof. These are good reasons that a home inspection should be part of your purchasing process.
- Save Money: A home inspection can save you money. The cost for an inspection can be as low as $225 for a small condo or townhouse or up to $1000 for a very large home of 10,000 sq. ft. But when you weigh that against the cost of not finding an electrical issue (more common than you might think) or a structural concern or window issues or leaks in the plumbing, it makes having a home inspection vital prior to your purchase. No one wants to be surprised with unplanned bills, especially after the expense of a home purchase.
- Negotiate: Another major reason for an inspection is that you can use a third-party evaluation as the basis for your negotiations with the seller. Your broker likely helped you find the property, but their value is most important in the negotiation phase. They can use information in the inspection report to possibly lower the purchase price due to items the inspector found.
- Seller’s Repairs: Another part of the negotiations that your broker will assist you with is requesting items to be repaired by the seller. Normally (depending on the real estate market at the time of your purchase) these will be limited to health and safety items or issues with major systems. For example, the home has several steps on the back deck that are loose (safety item), there is evidence that the HVAC system has not been well maintained (major system), the sub-panel has not been correctly bonded (safety item), or the home is old enough that the main electrical service panel is old and past is service life or of a manufacture type that has safety concerns. These are items that your broker will help you to use in your negotiations. They will help protect your family and help your purchase make more financial sense.
- Know What You’re Buying: Your inspection report will help you to get to know your home better as well. The inspector will be looking for as many items as they can at the property, and you will want to divide them into two lists. One, you will negotiate for the seller to fix or replace. The other will be your to-do list. If your list is too big for you or beyond your ability or financial resources, you may want to discuss that with your broker to make the best decision that you can for you and your family.
There are other benefits and considerations of a home inspection prior to your purchase. For instance, you may not have spent very much time at the property prior to your offer. A home inspection can be 2 to 5 hours long depending on the size of the home. You should use that time to do your own inspection of the property and to ask the inspector questions that are important to you and your family. The inspector should show you each of the major items that will be on the inspection report and explain why they are going to be there. This is important because it will give you better context to that report. It’s during that time you can also think about how you will use or furnish the home, measure rooms and doorways for possible furniture issues, and consider improvements, this is the time for you to really flesh out any concerns you may have or to reinforce your purchasing decision.
Additionally, the home inspector will have optional services that you will want to consider adding to the process. You should give serious thought to a sewer scope inspection. This is an inspection of the sewer system from the home to the city’s main sewer line or to the septic tank(s). Because the pipes are buried, you can not see what condition the lines are actually in. You will receive a report and a video. This inspection is vital for all homes but especially for older ones. If there are any issues, the fixes can be in the $1000’s of dollars. You may also consider a radon test. The EPA and the NRPP (National Radon Proficiency Program) has set a level below 4.0 pC/L as the recommended cut-off for occupancy. If the test comes back higher, it is generally considered a safety item and is added in the objection list in your negotiations with the seller to install a radon mitigation system. Systems can run between $600 and $1,500.
Purchasing a home is a big, BIG decision. Gathering good information and having a capable team around to help you gather that information or assist you in your decision will help make your choice a successful one. A well-qualified, well-reviewed inspector that can supply you with a quality report that will part of your due process and the road map to a successful home purchase.
By Jeremy Strouse 12-14-2018