If you’re buying or selling a home, you probably already know about home inspections. At least, you know that they’re part of the process sometime. But the details may not be clear to you.
Either way – if you’re hiring an inspector to assess the home you’re buying, or if you’re a seller and want to know about problems you need to fix – here are the 5 things you need to know about home inspections
5 Things yo know about home inspections
1. You choose your home inspector
Your realtor or mortgage professional will probably give you a list of inspectors they’ve worked with. Or, you can find one on your own.
Your best bet is to go with a licensed inspector – one who’s a member of the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI). They all finish an in-depth home inspector training course, and have proven experience as competent home inspectors.
2. Home inspections focus on problems, not looks
You’ll gain a wealth of knowledge by following your home inspector and asking questions throughout their inspection. They’ll let you know what matters and what’s just cosmetic.
Since no house is perfect, you’ll benefit by seeing faults firsthand. If at all possible, attend the inspection and follow closely. Hearing the inspector assess them (and reading the report afterward) will help you decide if there’s a dealbreaker – or if you can proceed.
Every inspection reveals flaws. Having an impartial assessment of what needs fixing will help both buyer and seller trust each other. And, since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the inspector won’t comment on the paint job or carpet color.
3. Inspection reports are basic
Your home inspector looks at everything in detail – and then gives you a bird’s-eye view. They’ll inspect hundreds of things, including the home’s exterior, stairs, porches and decking, roof and chimneys, windows, and doors. They survey the attic, crawlspace, electrical system, plumbing, heating and air, driveway, garage, and outbuildings.
For all those separate parts of your home, the report you get will include a note saying that the component is poor, fair, satisfactory, or good. If it needs fixing, they’ll state what’s wrong and which element needs repair. Termite damage? You’ll know. Leaks? Improperly closing doors? They’ll be in the report.
They won’t go into as much detail as you may get out of them during the inspection – which makes attending the inspection even more beneficial to you. The benefit of a concise report is that it’s easy to understand.
4. Home inspectors must tell the truth
Licensing by NAHI requires that inspectors members serve as unbiased, third party reporters and “will discharge the Inspector’s duties with integrity and fidelity to the client.” That means a home inspector worth his salt won’t do a home inspection if the client is asking him to lie.
The inspector is required to keep your report – and your information – confidential. You can choose to share the report or keep it private. Sellers, you don’t have to reveal inspection findings to buyers. But, when you list your home, you do have to disclose problems you know about.
You’ll find it easier to disclose issues since you know the buyer will commission their own inspection.
5. You're responsible for your home's condition
Inspectors won’t open up your walls or lift your flooring. Since they can only go by what they see without demo, they’re not liable for problems they can’t see.
Remember that the inspector isn’t party to the sale. Not responsible. No benefit to them if you decide to close or stop the process. So if you end up with a lemon of a home, the inspector won’t pay. Not even if you take them to court.
If you’re lucky, you may get a kind inspector to refund the cost of the inspection. But probably not. It’s just the nature of the job – call what you see, wash your hands of what isn’t apparent. They’ll do their due diligence, and you’re expected to take responsibility for your choice after reading the report.
That’s why, as a buyer, you use the inspection report as a tool – or a weapon. You need to decide if you can put up with the actual condition of the home. You may ask the seller to make certain repairs. Offers are commonly renegotiated during the closing process.
After closing, you may also use the report to show a contractor exactly what you’d like improved, remodeled, or simply repaired.
There’s only one thing you need to know about home inspections: never, ever skip having an inspection done. The cost is worth it. And if a seller says they’ve had it inspected already and passed with flying colors, just say, “that’s great!” Then, order your own inspection.
Here’s why: a home inspection can save you money long-term. Many lenders (especially for FHA loans) require one. You know the saying, “buyer beware?” A home inspection is your best friend. Through an experienced home inspector, you’ll gain the information you need to make a wise home purchase.