Home buying or purchasing an investment property can be the most expensive type of investment you will make in your lifetime. One important thing you need to be aware of when you submit your offer is that the contract is contingent or subject to change based on an home inspection. Of course, you have to pay for it. It will be your very first investment into the home before signing on the dotted lines at closing.
But are inspections important? Can I just skip it?
Inspections are very important and I strongly advise all of my clients not to opt out on getting one unless they plan on demolishing the entire home and starting over from scratch.
“But I can tell that the home is in good condition.”
Well, unless you are a contractor and have built and repaired homes for a long time, you are not qualified to tell if the home is in perfect, great, good, fair, or poor condition. You and your home inspector see things differently. What may be insignificant to you, a home inspector may see red flags. Unless you want a money pit, it’s best to hire a professional who can thoroughly inspect the home, give you a detailed report so that you can make an informed decision which will allow you to negotiate the terms of the contract if work needs to be done. Most contracts allow some time for you to hire an inspector to inspect a home. Be sure to check with your attorney that the contract allows you to walk away from the home if you cannot come to an agreement with the seller regarding the terms of the contract based on the inspection or if the home has way too many red flags that you want to deal with.
So, how do you find a good inspector?
There are many ways to pick your inspector. Most of the time, people choose their inspector based on their real estate agent or broker’s suggestion but you may also ask your friends, relatives, and co-workers if they know anyone who has worked with them before. You can also research online who you may want to work with but please do remember, you don’t have an infinite amount of time to pick someone. You are only given several days in order to do an inspection, so time is of an essence. Most inspectors are part of the American Society of Home Inspectors, although membership in this organization doesn’t ensure that the inspector knows what they are doing. Many states do require home inspectors to be licensed.
Call a few inspectors, compare their rates, find out who can schedule the inspection appointment quickly. It’s best to hire inspectors that can do specialization inspections as well such as mold, flood, and infestations by annoying pests.
While you’re at the inspection…
You will need to sign a contract or paperwork with the inspector noting what the inspector will be inspecting. It’s just common practice and covers their liability as well as giving you an idea what to expect during the inspection. During the inspection you can ask about things that may concern you and take note on what repairs that will need to be done. You will be able to figure out what terms you can negotiate with the seller in order to either get the issue fixed or lower the sales price so that you can take care of it with your extra funds.
What does inspections cover?
They focus on the condition of the house as well as structural issues but generally they look over:
- Heating and air conditioning
- Water seepage
- Toxic chemicals
- Insect or rodent infestations
- Code violations
- Construction defects
After inspection – Negotiations
After you get your final report and estimates from your inspector, you can give that information to your attorney and your attorney will discuss negotiations with the sellers attorney. Negotiations can be either:
- The seller repairs the issues and gives credit (discount on the home)
- Canceling the contract and getting your down payment back
You could also just buy the property with the issues and not bothering to negotiate anything. The choice is yours. Sellers do not have any obligation to fix anything if they don’t want to but if they want to get rid of the house ASAP, they may be willing to work something out in your favor.
If you have a great real estate agent or broker as well as a great attorney by your side, you will have no worries in finding a great inspector and getting everything rectified. Just keep in mind, you may have to walk away from the home if the seller doesn’t want to budge.
Also, if you notice that your inspector is being pressured to give a fair inspection by your real estate agent, I suggest that you hire a more neutral inspector. You never want to pick someone who may seem to be influenced by any of the parties involved in purchasing your home. This will be your house, this will be your money that you are investing into your house, you don’t want a lemon!