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7 things every buyer should know about home inspections

house photoFinding that perfect house can be like falling for Prince Charming. You picture your kids playing in the backyard, your couch would fit perfect right there and you can already imagine hosting Thanksgiving dinner for your family. But sometimes reality can throw a bucket of cold water on those visions. Every house has problems, but some of those problems just need some caulk and a little touch-up paint, while other problems need a backhoe and a team of construction workers. Doing your best to know what’s in store for your “Prince Charming” is what having a home inspection is all about.

1) What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is an in-depth checkup on the condition of a home. It is usually performed by a certified inspector at the request of a potential buyer. After looking at several homes, a buyer eventually decides on one that suits their needs. Before the deal is finalized, however, the buyer will have a chance to have a home inspection performed on their potential new home. The inspector will spend quite a bit of time going over every inch of the house and making a list of each problem area. Once the inspector is done, they’ll present you with a final report detailing all the areas that need to be addressed. From there, you can consult with your real estate professional and both of you can discuss which, if any, of the issues need to be addressed with the sellers before closing the deal.

2) Where do I find an inspector?

Finding your own qualified inspector can be tricky since it’s likely a service you’ll only need a handful of times in your life. Your real estate agent has certainly scheduled many home inspections, and can help guide you to the right person. In fact, here at McInturf Realty we keep a list of professionals in several fields that we’ve worked with personally and have consistently performed well. Of course, you can also ask friends and relatives who have recently bought homes for their recommendations also.

3) The inspection will take awhile.

time photoWhen the inspector shows up, he’ll need long enough to cover all built-in appliances, all mechanical, electrical, gas and plumbing systems, the roof, foundation, gutters, exterior skins, windows and doors, among other things. This isn’t a quick look around. Budget several hours, particularly if the home is large or getting older.

4) You can tag along.

While certainly not every inspector loves having a homeowner over their shoulder the entire time, it’s more than expected for you to follow along and take a look at things yourself. After all, you’re paying for this inspection. As you tag along, ask questions about what you’re seeing. It’s very likely that once the inspector sees your interest, he’ll start pointing out areas that need attention. This is a great time to find out about what maintenance issues your new home might have from a trained professional. But do be ready to poke and crawl into some areas that you might not normally go to on your own. Of course, if you’d rather just leave the details to the professionals and wait for the final report, that’s fine too.

5) Your Realtor can help you make sense of the report.

confused photoAfter the inspection is completed, the inspector will give you a fairly lengthy written report. If you’re comfortable with home repairs and construction terms, this report might be all you need, but if the words non-conforming, stab-lock breakers and romex don’t mean anything to you, you might want some help deciphering the inspection report. If you have friends or relatives in the home construction or repair businesses, their insight could certainly be helpful, but don’t overlook a resource you already have with you. Your real estate professional has likely looked at dozens if not hundreds of reports like this and is in a good position to tell you which areas of concern are serious and which are just part of owning a home. Don’t be afraid to ask them for their insights.

6) Don’t expect the seller to address every item on the report.

Depending on what is actually found in the inspection, certain loans won’t be allowed until some repairs are made. Depending on which organization is issuing or guaranteeing your home loan, they may not be willing to issue the loan until the house meets a certain standard. Some may require major repairs, like plumbing or electrical, and some require things like proper handrails on the stairs. Either way, if those repairs are standing in the way of the loan, the seller may have to make the repairs to save the home sale. Additionally, you may decide to negotiate with the seller to include certain other repairs before you’ll go through with the purchase. But despite these circumstances, some of the items from the report likely won’t be addressed before the sale. For example, the inspector may note that you need new weatherstripping around the front door or that there are pet claw marks on the molding in the kitchen. And you may decide that these are issues you’ll address after you move in. Either way, knowing what the house will need before you put down your money is only a good thing.

7) Home inspectors aren’t magicians.

magician photoWhile a comprehensive inspection will catch most major issues, it’s important to realize that home inspectors aren’t magicians. They can’t see inside the walls or check out the outside of the foundation (which is likely buried under several feet of dirt and rock). A good inspector will do the best job he can to make sure that you know all the issues with your new house, but he’s still bound by the laws of physics, so there may be things wrong with the house he just can’t see. Since you can’t be sure that every possible problem will be caught, keep in mind that any home could need repairs and plan ahead for that possibility.

A thorough home inspection is well worth the money if you’re serious about buying a new property. Doing your best to minimize any unpleasant surprises will help make your new home the apple of your eye rather than the rotten apple that you forgot was in the back of the crisper drawer.



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