It feels like a dream come true. You found your perfect home and the seller accepted your offer. Time to start picking out paint colors and measuring for new furniture, right? Not so fast… Especially if you’re a first-time buyer, there’s an important next step that you don’t want to overlook: the home inspection.
Many sellers would prefer that your offer not be contingent on the results of a home inspection. That means they are selling the home “as is” and are not responsible for fixing problems that are not obvious. However, this could hurt you down the road.
Buying a home is likely one of the biggest purchases you’ll make and you want to make sure that what you see is really what you’re getting. Sure you toured the house and it looks great, but there are things that an untrained eye can’t always see. How’s the electrical wiring? Any water damage? How about cracked foundation or loose shingles? These are all questions that a professional can answer. And don’t think a newly constructed house should be exempt from the inspection process – just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
Your Realtor can recommend a good inspector or you can search for one on your own. The American Society of Home Inspectors’ website (www.homeinspector.org) can help you locate a certified professional in your area.
What does the inspection include?
A good home inspection typically takes 2-3 hours and examines both the exterior and interior of the property – the roof, exterior walls, foundation, electrical, heating and cooling, plumbing, water damage, fire safety, etc. It can identify repairs that are needed now, as well as things that might cause trouble for you in the near future. You usually don’t have to be present for the inspection, but it’s not a bad idea to be there, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. It’s easier to understand problems that may arise if you see them up close rather than just read about them in a report.
What kind of problems can an inspection uncover?
One example that recently happened to one of our clients with The Mercado Group: an inspector discovered that the subfloor in an upstairs bathroom was “soft”, which pointed to water damage and mold. According to www.moldremediationcost.com, the costs to remove the mold “can range from $500 to $30,000 depending on the size of the area that is infested with mold.” Besides the cost to get rid of it, there’s also the cost that mold can have on your health. The EPA explains, “mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.”
Improvementcenter.com put together an infographic that shows some of the most common problems discovered during home inspections and the approximate cost to repair.
Source: Improvement Center
What will the inspection cost me?
An inspection isn’t free. It depends on the size and age of the house, but a complete inspection (to the standards set by the ASHI) can cost around $500. While that can seem like a small investment in and of itself, it could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars if it uncovers big problems. The inspector will supply you with a detailed report within one to two days of completing the inspection. You can then either go back to the seller with a list of things to fix or ask them to reduce the purchase price (depending on the severity of the problems). You might opt to fix minor things yourself once you move in since complaining about small problems could potentially cause the seller to go with another offer instead. And if the issues are too extensive, you may decide to walk away all together. Your Realtor can help advise the best course of action.