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Inspections 101

Inspections are a vital part to home buying & selling!


1) Inspections are Optional

Inspections are not requested but they are a great idea! They give you an idea of a home’s problems before you buy it and most times will allow you to negotiate with the seller to cover the cost of some repairs. Essentially, they give you an idea of whether or not you’re equipped to handle this property or if you should move onto another that better suits your needs. Don’t rely on the seller to tell you everything that is wrong with the house, they are not always honest.

2) Buyers Are Responsible for Inspections

Most first-time homebuyers don’t realize that they are responsible for the inspections. Besides the earnest money deposit, the inspection is the other out of pocket cost due within the first week or so. It can range from $100-$1,000 (more typically around $250-$400) and payable to the inspector on the day of the inspection.


3) The Inspector Should Be Certified

A real estate company often has a list of home inspectors from which you may choose. This does not mean you have to use one from the list. You can find lists of certified inspectors at the web sites of the two organizations that certify and train home inspectors: The National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).


4) What Do Home Inspections Cover?

Since every property is different, the specifics of what is checked during your home’s inspection may very slightly. But, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) suggests that qualified inspectors will check the following areas:

  • Foundation and basement

  • Any additional structural components

  • Interior plumbing systems

  • Interior electrical systems

  • Heating and cooling systems

  • Condition of windows

  • Condition of doors and door frames

  • Condition of floors, walls, and ceilings

  • The attic and any visible insulation


5) What Doesn’t An Inspection Cover?

Of course, no single inspection is going to cover every aspect of your new home. Be aware that there are limits to what an inspector will check. Here are some areas that don’t often make the cut for home inspectors and may require another professional:

  • Inside the walls

  • Roof or chimney repairs

  • Septic tanks

  • Wells, sheds, or additional structures separate from the main house

Just because something isn’t covered in a home inspection, don’t think that it can’t be inspected. You may simply have to look into other sources. If there is an aspect of your new property that is giving you pause, do some research. Ask your realtor about the possibility of getting it checked out so that you can go through the rest of the transaction with confidence.

6) You Can & SHOULD Attend Inspections

Did you know that most home inspectors recommend that buyers attend their property inspection? They see it as an opportunity to thoroughly answer any questions that the buyers may have about the property’s condition. Most also will provide instructions on how to maintain the property after settlement.

In return for their instructions, it’s your job to be respectful of the inspector’s time. We know that it’s difficult to remain unemotional when it comes to buying a home – especially if unforeseen complications keep popping up – but do your best to keep your cool. Try to keep questions brief and refrain from fixating on tiny details. There will be time to negotiate repairs later.

One more important note: The inspector is not responsible for making any repairs, only identifying them. It’s considered rude to ask your home inspector to perform handy work. It’s better to ask them if they can recommend another professional.

7) Inspection Report

Coming out to view the property is only half of a home inspector’s job requirements. After their site visit, they will provide you and your real estate agent with an official home inspection report, which details their findings in writing. It should include pictures of the damaged areas as well.

Read it over thoroughly before you sit down to negotiate repairs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if there is a portion of the report that you don’t understand or is unclear.


8) Repairs After Inspections Are Negotiable

Determining who pays for the necessary repairs is up for discussion. There are three typical outcomes to these negotiations: the seller can perform the repairs before settlement, the seller can credit you money for the repairs, or they can become your responsibility. There can also be a combination of the three (3) from the inspection repair requests.

Our suggestion for a successful negotiation: prioritize and take market conditions into consideration. 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, especially if you focus on health and safety only.

One exception to this is if a home is being marketed “As Is”. In real estate terms, “as is” means that, for whatever reason, the seller is unwilling or unable to make repairs. If you bid on one, you may want to pad your budget to include potentially extensive repair costs.


9) You Can Walk Away After Inspections

Let’s say that you get the inspection report back and it features something truly catastrophic like toxic mold or severe structural damage. Alternatively, let’s say that you and the seller have gone back and forth in negotiations and can’t seem to reach a satisfactory conclusion. What happens now? Buyers can make the final decision to not continue in the transaction and work with their real estate agent to provide a termination document stating the legitimate contractual reason for termination.


10) Collect Paperwork for Completed Repairs

Based on the inspection resolution, if the seller agreed to make any repairs, they will need to provide documentation that the repairs have been completed and paid for. Make sure to keep these documents on file in case an issue arises and you need to reach out to that vendor for additional repairs or corrections.


Whether you’re in the process of buying your first home or your tenth investment property, home inspections can seem overwhelming. After all, there are many aspects of the property to consider, lots of paperwork to read over and extensive negotiations 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 too worked up about the possibilities, wait until you have had an inspection to make decisions.

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