Shopping for a new home is both fun and frustrating. When you finally settle on your dream home and the seller accepts your bid, the rest of the purchase process brings yet more frustration and stress - especially when it comes time to have the home inspected.
A quick word here about your purchase agreement. Most savvy agents will place a contingency in the agreement that the sale is predicated on an acceptable home inspection report. Never take for granted, however, that your agent has done so. Make sure the contingency exists in the contract.
The home inspection is one of the most important aspects of the home buying process. A variety of very costly problems may not be apparent to you but will be to the inspector’s trained eye. The home inspection is your protection against these flaws. Whether the news from the inspector is good or bad, it’s value is incalculable.
What Exactly Is a Home Inspection?
While it’s important to understand what is covered in a home inspection, it is equally as important to be clear on what is not covered. The home inspection doesn’t offer insurance against future failures, it merely points out apparent problems at the time of the inspection. A home inspection is not an appraisal of the home’s value nor will the inspector offer an opinion of such. The home inspector does not verify whether the home, or improvements are up to code.
A home inspection is a visual investigation of a house’s physical structure and systems with a keen eye on safety. Note a key concept here: “visual.” The home inspector can’t tell you what lies behind the walls or under the floorboards - she only inspects what she can see.
These inspections may turn up problems that require immediate attention, such as faulty heater venting. Keep in mind that all homes have problems, so expect a few to pop up on the inspection report. A typical home inspection covers the following:
- Central air conditioning and heating system
- Doors and windows
- Electrical system
- Heating systems
- Interior plumbing
- The basement
- The foundation
- The roof, attic and any insulation visible
- Visible structure of the home
- Walls, ceilings and floors
Any problems found during home inspections are detailed in the home inspection report. Inspectors may recommend further evaluation of problems.
What Happens if The Home Has Problems?
First, don’t panic. Identifying the trouble spots in the house is a good thing. Obtain a bid from a licensed tradesperson to determine the cost of fixing any problems. With this information your real estate agent can reopen negotiations with the seller, requesting that either the problems be rectified before the close of escrow or that the seller pay for the repairs at closing. Not all sellers are willing to negotiate on repairs. In this case, you need to make a decision: Either pay for the repairs yourself or walk away from the deal.