Congratulations! You’ve made an offer on a home and it’s been accepted, so now what? There’s probably an ample amount of time before closing, and that’s no mistake. Don’t take advantage of the time that you have because you will need to use all of that time making sure the home you made an offer on is the one you want to buy. One of the ways you can do that is by getting a home inspection.
What is a home inspection?
A home inspection occurs after you make an offer on a home and it’s accepted. You schedule a time with a qualified home inspector, who will go through the home’s systems, appliances and structure to look for problems, malfunctions and repairs that need to be made in the home. Generally, a home inspector looks at:
- Heating and air conditioning
- Major appliances like your fridge, dishwasher, oven, washer, and dryer.
- Structure of your home, including the foundation and windows
As the inspector goes through the home, they will turn on the systems and check to make sure they’re working correctly and don’t have any major red flags. After going through the entire home, the inspector will create an inspection report detailing the state that all of your systems and appliances are in.
How much does a home inspection cost?
A home inspection can cost between $400-$600, depending on the size of the home and the inspector’s rates.
How long will a home inspection take?
The length of time it takes a home inspector to go through the home depends on how large the home is, how thorough the inspector is, and the state of the property. If the home is smaller, it can take an hour to two hours. If the home is larger or more run down, the inspection can take up to six hours.
Before the home inspection:
Before you get a home inspection, make sure that you research the best home inspector and hire them. Many buyers will take the recommendation of their realtor and not give it a second thought. Of course, as long as you got a good realtor, you shouldn’t worry too much about the home inspector, but it’s always good to find a home inspector you trust, not just one your realtor trusts. Go online, research their reviews, see what they specialize in, and pick the inspector who fits your needs best. Make sure the inspector is property licensed and has been a contractor before. Some states don’t have specifics on what it takes to be an inspector, or even qualifications. Some inspectors just have to read a few lessons online to become a home inspector. If you find a home inspector who has been a contractor in their professional life, you can bet they know what they’re talking about and how things work in a home.
During the inspection:
Make. Sure. You. Attend. The. Inspection. Period.
If your inspector will not let you attend the inspection, then you should hire a different inspector. You should treat the inspection not only as a way to learn what things are potentially problematic in your home, but as a quick guide to your home’s systems and appliances. Your home inspector should be able to walk you through all of your systems in order for you to learn how they operate and what you’ll need to do to maintain them. (That part is especially important if you’re getting a home warranty along with the sale. Of the home.)
A home inspector will also talk to you about any of the problems they see in the home and what you will need to have repaired. This will make it so it’s not a surprise to you when you get the home inspection report. If your realtor is there, you can discuss which things you want to ask the seller to repair or replace before agreeing to purchase the home, or if you want to negotiate on price.
Ask Questions During the Inspection
You should ask questions during the inspection. You have hired us to inspect your future home, and they should be able to tell you the state of the home without a bias. Some questions you may want to ask during the inspection are:
Ask the inspector if the problem is dire, or if you could fix it later on while living in the home. The inspector should never try to make you scared or worried. They should tell you honestly how long they think something will last and when you should have it repaired. If they say it needs to be fixed ASAP, listen to them, but also don’t be afraid to get an expert’s opinion in whichever system or appliance they’re inspecting. As mentioned before, not all home inspectors are experts in their field.
- What should we do with that?
Here is a great question to see if your inspector is worth their salt. If they reply with touting their own knowledge and experience and give you a quote, it might be time to cut your losses and find a different home inspector. In some states, it’s unethical and against the inspector’s code to work on a home they’ve inspected in the past. If the inspector explains an easy way to fix the problem quickly that you can do yourself, you know they’re looking out for you.
Ask your inspector the most pressing issue that you need to have fixed or have your seller fix by asking them what they would repair first if this was their home. Depending on what they say, you can determine what your next step should be.
- Can you show me how (x) works?
The inspection isn’t just a time where you see the home’s flaws, it’s also a step-by-step guide to how your home works. Don’t be afraid to ask how certain systems and appliances work.
- How much time is left in (x)?
If an inspector knows their stuff, they’ll be able to give you a rough estimate as to how long you have left on certain parts of your home. This isn’t a guarantee, but it can help you plan for the long-term repairs by either getting a home warranty to protect your home or by saving for those things that home insurance will have to cover.
After the Inspection
After you have gone through the home with the inspector and they have sent you the inspection report, you must make sure to actually use it. You should always read through the entire thing before doing anything with the inspection report to ensure you didn’t miss anything.
Once you’ve read through it, it’s time to decide what to do based on the information you’ve been given. You have a few options.
- You can decide on if you will walk away or continue on with purchasing the home. Most offer letters and real estate documents have an inspection contingency that states if you’re unhappy with the state the home is in when you go to purchase it, you can leave the agreement and get your earnest money deposit back. If the repairs are too numerous and the home is in bad shape, you may want to decide to back out of the sale.
- If you think the problems in the home aren’t enough to warrant you starting the search over again, then you can either ask for a reduction on price or ask for the seller to pay for the repairs. The seller may not pay for everything you want fixed, so it may be a good idea to state your worst concerns first and then follow up with what you want repaired after.