A Guide to Understanding Home Inspections
Buying a home requires a lot of work. Not only do you need to take the time to find a house on the market, place a competitive offer, and go through the entire pre-approval process, but you’ll also need to complete a thorough inspection before finalizing the sale. To help you better understand what to expect, here is a guide to home inspections.
What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is an essential part of the homebuying process. It’s a professionally carried out visual inspection of a select list of areas within your home. This is done to help define the home’s condition, identify any hazards, and make sure that it’s safe and inhabitable. Home inspections also help individuals confirm the property value or asking price. They’re a way for buyers to gain an unbiased description of any problematic areas of the home they’re putting an offer on before they finalize the sale. In most instances, home inspections are a necessary part of finalizing the sale and are included as a contingency when offers are made.
Cost of a Home Inspection
The price of home inspections varies based on location, the size of the home, and the contractor you use. You should expect to pay anywhere between $300 to $500 for a comprehensive report. Even though this seems like a lot of money, home inspections allow you to avoid major problems with your home after the legal transfer of property and can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
When to Get a Home Inspection
Buyers have a designated period of time after their offer is accepted to schedule a home inspection. Usually, it’s within a week to 10 days, but some sellers have different requirements. It’s important to complete your home inspection as soon as you can to help expedite the purchase of the home. If major repairs or costly damages are found during the inspection, you won’t face a financial penalty for leaving the contract. By completing this within two weeks of making a deal with the seller, you’ll both avoid wasting time in case there are issues that arise and need to be fixed prior to sale.
How to Choose a Home Inspection Company
It’s the buyer’s responsibility to find a contractor to perform the home inspection, so you’ll want to make sure that you hire a reputable company. You can start by asking your friends or family members for referrals on companies in your area. Your real estate agent should also have good recommendations for inspectors that their clients have used in the past. How you find an inspection company is up to you, just make sure that they’re qualified and fully understand the residential process to ensure that you receive an accurate, detailed report.
Some things that you should look for when hiring a professional home inspector include experience, certifications, and insurance. Make sure that you find someone who has been performing home inspections for a while and someone who exclusively focuses on them. This gives you the confidence that your inspector knows exactly what to look for in residential homes. Those who say they’re certified in home inspections but only do it as a “side gig” should be avoided. Always make sure that your inspector will provide you with a written report in addition to any verbal reports that are made. This allows you to keep a copy of the report for your record.
Finally, check to see that the home inspector carries the necessary certifications and insurance. They should be certified or affiliated with the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or other prestigious cooperation like the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. They should carry Errors and Omissions Insurance to protect you in case something is missed in the home inspection. Before hiring anyone, go over everything that’s included in addition to what to expect on inspection day and associated costs.
Some Tips About Undergoing the Inspection Process
In preparation for your home inspection, take some time to understand the process and know what to expect. This can help facilitate a smooth handover and reduce the likelihood that you’ll need to follow up with your inspector after the appointment. To help, here are some tips about undergoing a home inspection.
Make Sure You’re Present
You should always make sure that you’re physically present during the home inspection process. This allows you to gain a better understanding of the overall condition of your future home without having to deal with back-and-forth communication with your inspector. You’ll be updated in real time and be physically shown any problems or red flags. Attending the inspection also allows you to ask any questions as they arise, which can help you expedite closing. At the same time, make sure you give them space to do their job. If for some reason you are unable to attend the home inspection, ask your real estate agent to go and represent you.
Give Yourself Time
For better visibility during the exterior inspection, schedule your appointment during daylight hours. The length of the home inspection tends to depend on the overall size of the property and potential problems. Smaller homes or condos that are in good shape can take a few hours less than larger homes that present problems. To be safe, schedule about three hours out of your day to allow for the home inspection. You can also ask your inspection company for an estimated time based on the square footage.
Ask About Problems
Always inquire about damage or problems identified during the inspection. Ask your inspector the average cost it’d be to fix any defects that are identified so you can make a more informed decision regarding the contract. If the inspector doesn’t know, consider scheduling appointments with contractors before you finalize the sale. This will give you information you may need to negotiate the selling price. If they come down in price, the inspection contingency is removed, and you’ll be responsible for fixing any problems yourself. Some problems may be paid for by the seller, especially in instances of termite damage/infestation and structural issues. The entire process is negotiable, which is why you’ll want to have as much information possible at your disposal.
Ensure The Inspection Covers Everything
A typical home inspection will cover a broad range of areas in your home. This should include, at the very least, the following:
- General construction
- Decks or patios
- Heating and cooling
- Kitchens and bathrooms
- Interior walls
- Lawn sprinklers
Some companies include termite inspections, while others require you to outsource that to a licensed pest control company.
Things That Aren’t Covered in a Home Inspection
Surface level defects are generally not included in a home inspection. Anything that’s cosmetically unappealing, but still working effectively and within certain means, will pass the home inspection. Similarly, inspectors can only report on what they can actually see. They’re not going to be performing an invasive inspection that damages the house. This means they can’t pull carpets to look for rot or damage the walls to see if there is mold in the drywall. The home inspection will give you an approximate age of appliances, HVAC systems, and your roof, but not how long they will last. Since many home inspectors don’t specialize in pests, mold, or harmful substances, these things are not included in the report. For example, if you’re worried about asbestos, you’ll need to hire a specialist to make an inspection.
How to Process the Home Inspection Report
After you receive the home inspection report, you have a few options. You can continue with the sale and finalize everything as planned, you can ask the seller to address certain problems and fix damages, you can renegotiate the purchase price to offset issues found, or you can walk away from the sale with no financial obligations. If you’re not sure how to proceed, discuss these options with your real estate agent for a stronger understanding of each potential course of action. If the inspection looks good and no issues are found, the closing process is much easier.
Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or are ready to move into your next home, First Star Realty can help. Our team of highly seasoned realtors provides five-star realtor services to clients in and around Northwest Arkansas. We’re committed to helping you find the perfect home using a personalized approach from start to finish. Call us today at 479-267-1600 or fill out a contact form on our website.