The next step is to professionally inspect the house. Good home inspectors are great allies when it comes to making one of the most important purchasing decisions of your life. Most first-time homeowners don’t have a clue how to kick the tires on a house. Is the foundation strong? Does the roof leak? Is the rear deck up to code? How on Earth do you know if the wiring needs attention? Thankfully, home inspectors can tell you all this and more. The best way to find a good home inspector is to get a referral. Ask around to trusted friends and family who have recently worked with an inspector. Your real estate licensee has most likely encountered the good, the bad the ugly of the home inspecting world and found a few professionals they trust that they can recommend for you to hire as well, but the final decision is yours.
The Purpose of the Inspection
Inspect the major systems in the house (heating, roof, electrical, plumbing, structural to discover serious problems, and
Educate you about maintaining a home.
Each house offers its own quirks and there’s no owner’s manual provided. It’s highly recommended you attend the inspection (it should take about 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours), as the inspector will provide useful information throughout the process of not only the pros and cons of the property, but show you how everything works as well.
An inspector will give you a plethora of information, from which way to point your air filter to where the main water shutoff valve is and how old all your major systems are. While the age and condition of many systems and appliances will be noted in the report, an explanation of how to use everything isn’t standard in written form. Bring a notepad and jot down useful information throughout the process.
An inspection is NOT a warranty of anything and inspectors are not usually experts in any one area. If a major system in the home looks suspicious to the inspector, he may recommend further investigation on your part (e.g., a roof, electrical or furnace certification, well and/or septic inspections). It will be your decision to pay or not to pay for further inspections or certifications.
The cost of the inspection is your responsibility (typically $225 to $325 for a condo/townhouse and $385 to $485 for a Single Family Home). Be sure to find out upfront what the cost will be so you will be prepared to pay at the time of service.
Scheduling can make the difference between getting a house and losing it, so sooner than later is a good rule of thumb. Make sure you’re able to coordinate a time that won’t leave your purchase in jeopardy. The inspection part is just half of the process, so ask how long it takes to get the report back.
After the Inspection
Every negotiation is unique and should be handled as such. That said, there are general guidelines when handling a post-inspection negotiation. First, if there are any major components that are obviously broken and in need of major repair or replacement – such as heating and cooling systems, roof and windows – go after those and don’t sweat the small stuff. You want to make sure you take care of the important items that are needed for your house to function optimally. If you send the sellers a long list of trivial repairs, they will likely become defensive and less willing to bear some of the cost. However, if you focus on a few, key points from the report, they will be more likely to assist you.
If there aren’t any major items to take care of, it’s time to sweat the small stuff. Create a list in order of what you consider most important to least, and present it to the sellers and make sure they understand where your priorities lie.The seller can agree to your request, counter back or reject your request. As long as you are reasonable, the inspection process does not have to be a difficult negotiation.
But what happens if you get the inspection report back and it features something truly catastrophic, like toxic mold or severe structural damage? Alternatively, what if you and the seller have gone back and forth in negotiations and you can’t seem to reach a satisfactory conclusion? What happens now? Luckily, buyers have the upper hand in this scenario. As long as you respond to the seller within the inspection time frame and have a legitimate reason (i.e. you found the repairs too extensive) you will likely be able to walk away from the transaction losing nothing other than your time and the cost of the inspection.
Home inspections can seem overwhelming. After all, there are many aspects of the property to consider, lots of paperwork to read over, an extensive negotiation to consider. Not to mention the gnawing worry that there could be something truly wrong with your ‘dream home’. But don’t let yourself get to worked up just yet! You should now be armed with the knowledge needed to make some informed decisions. And if you’ve made it through the inspection, breathe a sigh of relief. The hardest part may be over!
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NEXT IN THE “ARE YOU A FIRST TIME HOME BUYER” SERIES…
Step 6…The Appraisal
Please bear in mind this is a condensed, simplified explanation of the process. For a more in-depth explanation of what happens throughout the process, please give me a call to arrange a consultation or request a copy of my “Home Buying Guide”.
As with anything you find on my blog or website, feel free to contact me at anytime with questions or for clarification. My cell phone number is 907-529-5275 and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you soon!