If you’re looking to purchase a home, you will likely make your offer “contingent upon inspection.” By doing so, you’ll gain the right to have a home inspector look at the property on your behalf and make you aware of concerns big and small. But, if you fail to follow these home inspection tips, you might not get your money’s worth. If you’re currently in the process of buying a home or plan to be soon, here are some home inspection tips for buyers to help you make the most of the process.
Some things realized in a home inspection, like the need for a standard outlet in a bathroom to be swapped for a GFCI outlet, may be small and easily fixed on your own. They’re “good to know” so you can make a to-do list after you take ownership. But the real value of a home inspection is that it can reveal costly problems that could cause you to walk away from the deal altogether.
Why Is a Home Inspection Important?
Making a purchase offer “contingent upon inspection” gives buyers the right to have a home inspector of their choosing evaluate a property they are considering purchasing. With a trained eye, a home inspector knows where to look and what to look for, going far beyond anything that you can accomplish yourself.
A professional home inspector will test outlets and faucets, climb into the crawlspace, and spend a good couple of hours evaluating and testing every aspect of the property and its buildings. Home inspectors may also take samples and test for mold and other dangerous contaminants, such as asbestos.
If the inspector uncovers any major problems (e.g., cracks in the foundation or mold in the basement), and you’ve made it a contingency, you’ll have legal grounds to withdraw your offer, walk away from the deal, and get back any earnest money that you put down. This protection is crucial to ensure that you don’t make a costly mistake when buying a home. So, keep these home inspection tips for buyers in mind before you make your move.
Never Forego an Inspection, Even on New Homes
One of the best home inspection tips for buyers is to never forego the home inspection process. While it will cost you a few hundred dollars out-of-pocket, it’s money well spent for the peace of mind you’ll get in return. Plus, the inspection report can be used later for negotiation purposes.
With this in mind, many buyers think an inspection is a waste of money if they’re purchasing a newly constructed home. Unfortunately, just because a home is newly built doesn’t mean it’s without shortcuts or hidden damage.
In fact, one of the most commonly uncovered issues in new homes is the misrouting of ventilation into the attic instead of all the way out of the home. If this problem goes unnoticed and unresolved, the hot air in your crawlspace will lead to condensation, which can lead to mold issues.
So, if you only take one of these home inspection tips for buyers to heart, make it this: Never forfeit your right to an inspection! Even if a house is newly constructed, the inspection can uncover costly mistakes. In the grand scheme of things, you’ll be thankful you had a professional put their eyes on every little detail before you shook hands and closed the deal.
Plan the Inspection Carefully
The best home inspectors have years of experience and, generally, very full schedules. You might find it takes some time to schedule with your home inspector before they’re able to come out. Obviously, no home buyer wants to wait around, but it’s often your best option when it comes to the home inspection process.
Assuming you have asked for referrals and done your due diligence to ensure you’re hiring the right inspection agency, the next step is picking a day that works for both of you. That’s right, another one of our home inspection tips is to accompany your home inspector for at least part of the inspection process.
While you might feel like a nuisance, the reality is that most savvy home inspectors appreciate the buyer being there. It’s their job to inspect and document every small detail, but it can be difficult to summarize the specifics of a problem in their report later on. Being able to show you in person helps them communicate the seriousness of a problem and allows you to pick their brain about the best course of action for remedying it.
Home inspections can last anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on the size of the home, ease of entry into the upper and lower crawlspace, and the number of outbuildings that require inspection. Setting aside time to meet with your home inspector and bringing a notebook of your own to ask questions represents extra legwork for you, but it’s time well spent.
Review the Report in Detail
After the inspection is over, your inspector will need some time to review their findings. They’ve likely taken a bunch of notes, samples, photos, and even videos throughout the inspection process. It’s their job to wait for test results and compile all the information together into an easy-to-read report for you to look through.
Even if you were present on inspection day and all seemed well, it’s important to wait for this report before you move forward with the process. Once you have it, read through it in detail and give yourself time to research and understand any notes or observations the inspector shares within it.
They are not the most exciting thing to read, but an inspection report will tell you everything you need to know, including whether major appliances work, the condition of the roof and foundation, code violations, evidence of prior repairs, air quality reports, and the inspector’s professional recommendations. Failing to review the report means you might as well have saved your money and skipped a home inspection. Remember that one of our key home inspection tips for buyers is to take advantage of this opportunity.
As you read through the report, highlight or make separate notes that tally up all the big issues that stand out to you. For instance, a roof that the inspector says needs imminent repair or replacement, or a mold issue that requires remediation, are all problems you would have to address before moving into the home. These are the problems that deserve your attention.
Leverage the Inspection During Negotiations
If you thought the negotiation process was over, think again. If any major issue was found during the home inspection, you have grounds to lower your original offer, ask the seller to repair the problem at their own expense, or withdraw your offer to purchase the property altogether. That’s why we take these home inspection tips for buyers so seriously.
Once you have a home inspection, you’re empowered to make an informed purchase decision! With your notes by your side, a specialist should evaluate any major issues. For instance, you can bring a roofing contractor out to quote you on a new roof. In response, you can lower your offer accordingly or ask the seller about replacing it. Likewise, if there are dangerous concerns, such as water-damaged sub-flooring, you should take a similar approach.
The seller is ultimately under no obligation to accept a lower offer or complete repairs themselves, but by having an inspection report to help you, you can confidently move forward with changing your offer, purchasing as-is, or walking away. Just keep these home inspection tips for buyers in mind, and you’ll sleep easy knowing you made the right choice.
So, what if you decide to buy the home? With a dose of due diligence and the right insurance policy, you won’t have to worry if things go wrong down the road. LemonBrew Insurance can help connect you with the best policy, too. Click here to learn more.