It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of purchasing a home. But one important step before making a long term financial commitment is to make sure the home you have chosen is the best choice for your investment. One of the major processes in this decision making process is your home inspection.
You want to hire a professional home inspector that can provide an in-depth examination of the home and the systems it needs to function properly. This investment can save you money both in the short and the long term, either by steering you away from a bad property or providing you with a list of bargaining chips to negotiate with the sellers. The report also will include a list of minor repairs that need to be made to maintain your home, long term. A good report may also include estimated remaining life on important home systems like, roofing, heating and air, etc.
Many buyers make a few common mistakes during the home inspection process. We will identify a few main ones that you can avoid to minimize your risk, protect your investment and give you a little peace of mind on your purchase.
#1: Don’t Skip Your Own Inspection
A lot of buyers rely on their home inspector to point out issues with their selected property. But by doing your own visual inspection before you make an offer if an important step not to skip. Inspect the ceiling and walls for cracks in the drywall which could point to foundation issues. Look for yellow spots indicating water damage to the drywall, also black spots, which could be black mold. Look at the basement walls for white powdery deposits from water seepage.
Check the plumbing by turning on a bathroom sink or tub and then flushing the toilet, check for drop in water pressure or a gurgling sound coming from the pipes. You can also run water in the tub and sinks and see if it drains within normal times. Always looks under sinks for signs of water leakage and drain pipes that go into floor instead of wall.
Check windows for dampness. Examine shingles on roof, curled or cracked shingles are a sign that it needs a replacement. Check siding, decks and structures for signs of wood rot.
Does the home look well maintained?
Your real estate agent will work with you to factor in repair and update costs when determining your offer price.
#2: Don’t Hire the Cheapest Inspector
We all love to save money, but not all inspectors are created equal. Before you hire one, do a little research. You may even want to start shopping for an inspector before you complete your home search. Inspection periods are typically short, so it never hurts to be prepared.
You can start by asking around for recommendations. Check with friends and family members, as well as your real estate agent. Then contact at least two or three inspectors so you can compare not only price but also levels of experience and service.
Ask about their background, years of experience, and the number of inspections they have completed. Verify their certifications and credentials, and make sure they carry the proper insurance.
Find out what is (and what isn’t) covered in the inspection and if they utilize the latest technology. Ask to see a sample report so you can compare the style and level of detail provided. Finally, make sure you feel confident in the inspector’s abilities and comfortable asking him/her questions.
#3: Don’t Miss Attending the Inspection
Make every effort to be on-site during the inspection. Buyers who aren’t present during their inspection miss out on a great opportunity to gather valuable information about their new home.
If can attend the inspection, don’t spend all your time picking out paint colors or chatting with your new neighbors. Instead, use your time there to shadow the inspector. It’s the perfect chance to find out where everything is located, ask questions, and see first-hand what repairs and updates may be needed.
Of course, if you do choose to tag along with your inspector, exercise good judgment. Don’t get in the way, become a distraction, or do anything to jeopardize your (or the inspector’s) safety.
If you can’t make it to the inspection, ask if you can schedule a time to meet in person or speak by phone to go over the report in detail. It will give you an opportunity to ask questions or request clarification about issues in the report you don’t fully understand.
#4: Don’t Skim Over the Report
Inspection reports can be long and tedious, and it can be tempting to skim over them. However, buyers who do this risk missing crucial information.
Instead, you should read over the report carefully, so you don’t miss anything significant. Now is the time to address any areas of concern. You have a limited window of time to request repairs or negotiate the selling price, so don’t mess it up.
Your inspector may also flag some minor items that you wouldn’t typically expect a seller to fix. However, ignoring these small issues can sometimes lead to bigger problems down the road. Make sure you read everything in the report so you can take future action if needed.
#5: Don’t Forget to Ask Questions
Some buyers are too embarrassed to ask questions when there’s something in the inspection report they don’t understand. Afraid they might look foolish, they avoid asking questions and end up uninformed about important issues that could impact their home purchase.
The reality is, questions are expected. You hired your inspector for their professional expertise, so don’t be shy about tapping into it. For example, you might ask:
● Would you get this issue fixed in your own home?
● How urgent is it?
● What could happen if I don’t fix it?
● Is this a simple issue I could fix myself?
● What type of professional should I call?
● Can you estimate how much it would cost to make this repair?
● How much longer would you expect this system/structure/appliance to last?
● What maintenance steps would you recommend?
Don’t bother asking your inspector if you should buy the property, because he/she won’t be able to answer that question for you. Instead, use the information provided to make an informed decision. A skilled real estate agent can help you determine the best path.
#6: Don’t Expect a Perfect Report
Some buyers get scared off by a lengthy inspection report. But with around 1600 items on an inspector’s checklist, you shouldn’t be surprised if yours uncover a large number of deficiencies. The key is to understand which problems require simple fixes, and which ones will require extensive (and costly) repairs.
Your real estate agent can help you decide if and how to approach the sellers about making repairs or reducing the price. Whatever you do, try to focus on the major issues identified in the inspector’s report, and don’t expect the sellers to address every minor item on the list. They will be more receptive if they perceive your requests to be reasonable.
#7: Don’t Forgo Additional Testing
There are times when an agent or inspector will recommend bringing in a specialist to evaluate a potential issue. For example, they may suggest testing for mold or consulting with a roofing expert.
Some buyers get spooked by the possibility of a “red flag” and decide to jump ship. Or, in their haste to close or desire to save money, they choose to ignore the recommendation for additional testing altogether.
Don’t make these potentially costly mistakes. In some cases, the specialist will offer a free evaluation that takes minimal time to schedule. And if not, the small investment you make could provide you with peace of mind or save you a fortune in future repairs.
#8: Don’t Skip Re-inspection of Repairs
Most buyers request receipts to prove that repairs have been correctly completed. However, it’s always prudent to go a step further and have negotiated repairs re-evaluated by your inspector or another qualified professional, even if there’s an additional charge.6
While the majority of sellers are forthcoming, some will try to save money by cutting corners, hiring unlicensed technicians, or doing the work themselves. A re-inspection will help ensure the repairs are completed properly now, so you aren’t paying to redo them later.
To avoid having to go back to the sellers, be specific when requesting repairs. Identify the problem, how repairs should be completed, who should complete the work, and how the repairs will be verified.7
Some buyers prefer to avoid this step altogether by completing the work themselves. They either request that the seller fund the repairs or reduce the selling price accordingly. Whichever path you choose, protect yourself and your investment by ensuring the work is done properly.
LET US HELP
A home inspection can reduce your risk and save you money over the long-term. But to maximize its effectiveness, it must be done properly. Avoid these eight common home inspection mistakes to safeguard your investment.
While these are some of the most common missteps, there are countless others that can trip up home buyers, cost them time and money, and cause undue stress. Fortunately, we have the skills and experience to help you avoid the potential pitfalls.
If you’re in the market to buy a home, we can help you navigate the inspection and all the other steps in the buying process … typically at no cost to you! Tap into our expertise to make the right decisions for your real estate purchase. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!