The Home Inspection Process for Home Buyers
The home inspection process can be an extremely stressful and emotional experience for everyone involved. Understandable, considering the amount of emotional attachment both sides can have on the home during the process. Nobody wants the home in question to have any major problems, but the possibility is always present. That is why, as a home buyer, you need to be on your game when it comes to your home inspection!
We have compiled a non-exhaustive list of questions, tips and tricks to help you through this process, and hope it helps you get over one of the final hurdles to owning your dream home!
Find a Reputable Inspector
- Ask friends, family, and/or your realtor for recommendations. Or use one of our preferred home inspectors.
- Check reputable websites: Always be sure to look at online reviews (if applicable) for anyone you are considering. The last thing you want is an inspector that isn’t in it to help you!
- Ask questions
“Are you a member of a professional inspection organization?” The most reputable inspectors should be a member of one of these organizations: The National Association of Home Inspectors, The American Society of Home Inspectors or The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.
“What is your experience?” Ensure the inspector has an extensive knowledge of local building codes and requirements. If you’re buying a “fixer upper” or older home, make sure the inspector you choose has experience with such properties.
“How long will the inspection take?” A normal inspection should take 2-3 hours, maybe more depending on the size of the home. If an inspector gives you an estimate of an hour, they may not be the right fit.
“May I attend the inspection?” As the buyer, you should absolutely be at the inspection! This allows you to see what the inspector sees and ask questions along the way. If an inspector doesn’t want you with them at the property during their inspection, take it as an extreme red flag!
Walk through the property yourself, noting any obvious repairs that need taken care of. Doing a visual self walk through the day of or before the inspection allows you to note issues yourself, as well as come up with any questions you may have for the inspector. Here are some things to keep an eye out for:
- Are there any cracks or standing water around the exterior of the property?
- Does the roof look like it is in good shape?
- Is the siding cracked, rotted, or in any other disrepair?
- Are there any strange odors inside the home?
- Are any included appliances (washer/dryer, dishwasher, stove, etc.) in obvious need of repair?
- Do all doors and windows open and shut properly?
- Are there any stains or damages anywhere on the floors? (Note: This is especially important as any stains on the floor could possibly be water damage, especially in bathrooms and kitchens.)
- Are there smoke and carbon monoxide detectors present?
Plumbing, Heating and Cooling
- Are there any leaky pipes?
- Are any pipes rusty, or obviously in need of repair?
- Is the cooling unit rusty, or obviously in need of repair?
- Have all necessary air filters been replaced or cleaned recently?
- Can you smell any gas?
- Are the furnace and water heater easily accessible? (Note: Ensuring everything is clear around these allows the inspector to access them more quickly and easily.)
- Are there any exposed wires? If so, do not touch or attempt to repair them as this is extremely dangerous!
- Is the service panel easily accessible? Ensure everything is clear around the panel, making it easier for the inspector to access
- Are all cables secured and protected?
Now that you have hired a reputable inspector and done your own pre-inspection walk through, it’s time for the full inspection.This can be the most stressful few hours of the entire process for both buyers and sellers alike.
Because of this, there are a few simple things you can do to make the actual appointment go as smooth as possible:
Be respectful of the inspector’s time and space. Ask any questions you may have about the property’s condition during the inspection, but keep them brief and try not to dwell on small issues
Try your best to remain unemotional if any problems arise. It’s understandable to be emotionally attached to a property you fell in love with, but keep in mind that the inspector is there to help you!
Ask for advice about found problems. Many inspectors will help you find the right path to any repairs the home may need!
Note that inspectors are only there to identify any issues with the property, not fix them. It’s considered very rude to ask an inspector to do any handy work. Instead, ask them if they can recommend another professional to do the repairs
Get the inspection report
If you’re working with a realtor, they should receive a copy from the inspector automatically. However, it is a good idea to ask the inspector to also send a copy to you. Once you have the report in hand, make a couple copies for yourself; one to use and one to keep for your records – just in case.
- Look over the report and review everything, including any pictures of damage.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you are unclear on any part of the report.
- Many people find it easier to navigate with a pen or highlighter with them, highlighting any parts that are of most importance.
Negotiate any repairs with the seller
There are three typical outcomes to this part of the process:
- The seller can perform the repairs before settlement
- The seller can credit you money for the agreed upon repairs
- The seller can make the repairs your responsibility
This process can be aided by prioritizing repairs before bringing them to the seller. Try not to send the sellers a list of small, trivial repairs. This can cause the sellers to become defensive and less willing to bear the cost. If you try to focus on a few key points from the report, they will be much more likely to assist in the repairs
Exceptions to this process are homes listed “as is”. An “as is” listing means that, for whatever reason, the seller is unwilling or unable to make repairs. These properties should carry a lower price tag to make up for the lack of room to negotiate. But, if you are looking at an “as is” listing, be aware that the price will not include any potentially expensive repair costs!
We hope that this guide will prove very useful for you during the home inspection process for home buyers. If you have any questions about home inspections that we did not cover, or would just like to chat about your home buying goals, give us a call at 303.847.1868 or schedule your free home buying consultation online!