Josh and Debby found the home of their dreams in a quiet suburb, north of Chicago. Jack, a licensed plumber by trade, waived the home inspection, figuring he could easily handle any problems that might pop up. He performed a cursory inspection, declared the house in good shape and he and Debby closed the purchase. Less than a year later, during the first storm of the season, Debbie noticed seepage in the basement. As the rains poured down, the seepage turned into over a foot of standing water. On top of sinking their entire savings into the purchase of the home, Josh and Debbie were now faced with thousands of dollars in repair work.
Problems like this can be avoided by having a house inspected before you sign on the dotted line at the closing table.
Choosing a Home Inspector
Your real estate agent may recommend a home inspector, but generally it’s best to arrange for a home inspection independently. The possibility of a conflict of interest may exist when agents recommend inspectors, and you want an unbiased evaluation of the home’s condition.
In some states, home inspectors can perform repairs on problems that they find with a home. Other areas prohibit this as a conflict of interest. If your state allows inspectors to do repair work, consider telling the inspector that you only want a home inspection and will not be hiring him or her for repair work after the house closing process is over. (If the inspector impresses you, you can always change your mind and offer the repair work at a later date).
Not all states require that home inspectors hold a license. In fact, some states don’t even require the home inspector to have experience inspecting houses to become certified, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). The first question to ask a home inspector is for a copy of his or her state license. The license should certify that the inspector is qualified to inspect residential property. Check with the state licensing board to ensure the license is active and there is no pending disciplinary action against him.
If you have trouble finding a licensed home inspector in your area, look for one that is a member of ASHI and ask for references from past clients.
Home Inspection Costs
The buyer usually pays home inspection costs, although in some cases the seller may choose to purchase his own home inspection to facilitate the home buying process.
It’s difficult to estimate home inspection costs, as rates vary widely across the country. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), home inspection coststypically range from $300 to $500. Rates may be higher in some regions. No matter how much you pay for it, it’s worth at least twice as much simply for the peace of mind it provides.
Why Would Sellers Pay for Home Inspection Reports?
Sellers do not usually pay for home inspections. However, the occasional seller may order a home inspection before putting the house on the market. This allows the seller opportunity to repair any serious problems, and also provides buyers with more information about the house.
Buyers should insist on paying for their own home inspection even if the seller provides a home inspection report. It’s possible the seller’s home inspection favors the seller, so an independent inspection is always recommended.
Accompanying the Home Inspector
A home inspection should take two to three hours, and in many cases the written report is available within 24 hours. It’s a good idea to be present during the inspection; going through the house with the inspector provides you with valuable information about your possible new home.