Since my wife and I are expecting our first baby soon, I have been reading books like “Dude, You’re Going to be a Dad”, “On Becoming Babywise”, and of course the classic… “What to Expect When Your’re Expecting.”
All of these books have one thing in common…
They provide a guide on what to anticipate during pregnancy, at birth, and up to the first year of life. They’re a roadmap, a point of reference, a list of do’s and don’ts. Super helpful for the newbie parent BTW
Well, home inspections are pretty similar in nature…
Hence, the play on words… “What to Expect When Your’re Inspecting.”
Clever right? Ok – kinda cheesy…whatever, I thought it was funny 🙂
Corny title aside… Home inspections are a VITAL part of purchasing a home or rental property so that you understand exactly what you are getting into!
First things first
There is no perfect house.
Yep, I said it…
I know it is hard to hear, but it is also true.
Homes have so many different components (i.e. appliances, electrical, plumbing, windows, HVAC, roofing, etc.), that there is bound to be maintenance items that pop up from time to time.
You should go into any inspection with the expectation that something will come up on the reports.
But, no need to panic and through in the towel just yet…
Inspectors tend to call out anything they see. This includes small, easily fixable items as well the big-ticket items. The key is being able to exam all of the items noted on the report and determine what you feel comfortable with.
Keep in mind, even new homes are NOT perfect…
There is a reason the sales agent from the front office gives you a blue roll of masking tape and has you do a final walkthrough. The blue tape is used to mark/identify any imperfections you find in the “new” home so they can try to fix them.
Point being… the inspectors will always find something to report.
Why is it important to get inspections?
Inspections are optional, and yes… you can waive them. Seems a little crazy right? Well, certain circumstances may warrant a waiver… but usually, it is highly recommended that there conducted.
Despite being optional, they are so very important and shouldn’t be overlooked! Here are a few reasons why:
1. Inspectors are licensed professionals
Inspectors carry a license and insurance. They’re trained to observe and report issues with a home if/when they locate them. This is what they do on a daily basis, which is why they can usually spot issues from a mile away.
Keep in mind, not all inspectors are created equal. I personally like working with the ones who have a construction background. Mostly because they can provide invaluable insight on the repair process, how difficult it is, and estimated project cost… But of course, they always recommend you call a contractor and get a bid 🙂
2. Uncover differed maintenance items
They will point out items that appear serviceable, but the maintenance looks like it has been differed (AKA – not kept current). This will reveal how the previous homeowner(s) took care of the property. Do the major components of the home appear well-kept or run down? This is important information to have.
3. Reveal the useful life of all major components
A roof, water heater, furnace, appliances, etc. all have a useful life. The inspectors will try to identify how old the each component is. This will allow you to determine approx. how much longer they will last.
Obviously, there are water heaters and furnaces that last decades, but it is important to know up front if you have a 20yr old furnace and its “useful life” of 15yrs has already past.
4. Test the electrical, plumbing, and appliances
The inspector will run all the appliances in the home (if able), test the electrical, check water pressure, etc. Basically, they are looking to confirm that everything is operating within a normal variance.
What type of inspections should you get?
Home, pest, and roof. These three are a great starting point… they will tell a story about the home. You should be able to identify how the home was maintained, immediate maintenance concerns, if all major components are functional, and what items should be repaired in the near future.
Inspections are back… Now what?
Time to review them… go through them with a fine-tooth comb. BTW – I highly recommend having your real estate agent present while going over these reports… or at the very least, having a discussion over the phone to review in detail.
Then, determine what you feel comfortable with while making a punch list of the items that are concerning.
Side note – Overall, if the reports looks acceptable and you are satisfied with the outcome, you may not need any further inspections. However, if the inspector reports major items that raise your eyebrow, it may be wise to request additional inspections from a specialist (i.e. HVAC contractor, electrician, plumber, etc.).
After you have made a punch list and determined the items you are comfortable with, it’s time to assign a dollar value to each item. Your agent should be able to assist you with this. You may also reach out to contractors and vendors to provide estimates on most items. This will allow you to come up with a dollar amount surrounding all of the repairs that are needed.
After you and your agent have the figures… it’s time to discuss a negotiation strategy. Let the FUN begin!
Ok, so… not every deal requires additional negotiations at this point.
If the inspector called out minor items that were visually present when you walked through the home, it usually makes sense to keep any requests for repairs/credits to a minimum.
With that said, if there were larger items the inspectors found (i.e. dry rot, termites, HVAC not heating/cooling properly, etc.), then now is a GOOD time to negotiate!
With the list that you and your real estate agent made, your agent can build a case for a price reduction, seller credit for closing costs, or possibly have the sellers fix the items.
Full disclosure, you can ask for just about anything, but…. It certainly doesn’t mean the sellers will agree. Lean on your agent to determine what makes sense given the circumstances and the market conditions.
Inspections are unequivocally recommended – At least by me 🙂
I view them as an affordable insurance policy to one of your largest investments because they paint a picture and tell a story about the home you are buying.
What you uncover with these reports will help you plan for immediate and future maintenance to make sure your home remains in optimal condition.
They may even help you get a better deal on the home!
All the best!
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