Looks like congratulations are in order.
- You made a home buying budget and stuck to it. ✔️
- You got pre-approved for a home loan. ✔️ 💰
- You went house hunting and found your dream home. ✔️ 🏠
- You made an offer — and this time, you didn’t get outbid. ✔️ 🙌
- You’re ready to close on your new home. 🙅 HOLD ON, NOT SO FAST.
Before you close, there’s one more step! A home inspection is one of the most important items on the home buying checklist. Yet, too many new homebuyers don’t fully understand what occurs during a home inspection. Or — even worse — what steps to take afterward.
What are inspections, and why are they important?
In today’s competitive home buying climate, some buyers are forgoing a home inspection altogether, especially if they are flush with cash and plan on doing a major overhaul anyway. But for most of us, home inspections are a must!
As a potential buyer, particularly if you’re a first-time homebuyer, there’s no good reason not to do an inspection. If a seller or seller’s agent pressures you to skip it since other bidders are willing to, just walk away. Losing a home is not as painful as sinking a bunch of money into repairs down the road.
Inspections allow a professional who has no skin in the game to evaluate the house fairly and in its entirety. Everything is given a third-party once-over, from the foundation to the roof to the heating and cooling systems. Furthermore, having issues documented can pressure the seller to fix major problems before you — the buyer — ends up footing the bill.
But, before setting up a home inspection, let’s look at 5 things you ought to know.
Thing 1: It’s not free, so save a little extra
A home inspection is typically scheduled by you, the homebuyer, and your real estate agent when both buyer and seller have agreed on a price and the contract phase begins. The buyer is responsible for the cost, which is payable to the person performing the home inspection on the day it occurs. Prices vary widely by size, age, and location of the home, and according to a quick check at homeadvisor.com, it’ll typically cost between $300 to $415.
However, you can expect to pay a lot more if you need to go beyond the basics, like testing for hazardous materials. Still, these costs are a drop in the bucket compared to what you might have to pay if unforeseen repair costs pop up after the sale. Our recommendation is to start a relationship with a reputable inspector early on so they will be quick on the uptake when you need to move fast. They’re busy these days, so start researching now.
Thing 2: It’s not quick, so don’t rush it
Don’t think you can squeeze this in during lunch hour. A thorough home inspection can typically take between three to four hours, so you’ll want to take the day off. We recommend that you’re there in person. That’s the best way to learn as much as possible about the home you fell in love with and are about to purchase.
After the inspection — usually within a few days — you’ll receive an official report. Don’t get shocked when you read it, as it may include disclaimers and referrals to other licensed experts like structural engineers, electricians, plumbers, mold specialists, and pest inspectors. And just like anything else, they’ll cost money. None of this is meant to scare the buyer away; it’s all about the inspector highlighting potential problems and protecting themselves from potential liability.
Thing 3: It could be a long list, so be prepared
In your home inspection report, you’ll notice a hierarchy of issues. The most important matters are usually listed first. Those are the ones to really pay attention to. We’re talking about things like the condition of the home’s foundation, plumbing, roof, and HVAC systems. Electrical wiring and appliances usually come next, with any cosmetic flaws listed towards the end.
The report will also list any recommendations for improvement. We’re telling you this so that you don’t feel it’s necessary to take notes during the inspection; it’ll all be well documented in the report and given to both the buyer and the seller.
Thing 4: Consult with your agent before moving forward
Make sure your real estate agent gets a copy ASAP. They’ve seen plenty of these inspection reports, and none of these issues will be new to them. They’ll give advice on which issues are deal-breakers and which are not worth worrying about. And they will help you devise a strategy to get the most critical concerns addressed before you get locked in.
Thing 5: Sharpen your negotiating skills
After receiving and reviewing the report and sharing it with your realtor, you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to negotiate the issues the home inspector found. Your agent will be able to guide you through which issues to negotiate — and what to ask for. Negotiations might take the form of a repair, a credit, a price reduction, or perhaps no action is taken at all, which could lead to the deal falling through.
Don’t forget, it’s a competitive environment right now, so if you ask for too much, the seller knows he can probably fall back on another offer — and possibly do even better. On the other hand, asking for too little may leave you with buyer’s remorse and a need to take care of repairs out of your own pocket. Trust your realtor to help you find a happy medium.
Patience is a virtue
And in the home buying process, virtue is its own reward. Since negotiating home inspection issues may require additional inspections by other professionals, it can take some time to schedule a visit and get estimates on repairs that may be needed. Be patient.
You’re close to getting your home, but you’re not there yet, and during this time, you’ll have to decide if the anxiety or if the potential costs (if the seller won’t act on your negotiations) are worth it. If at any time you don’t trust your gut, it’s best to move on. Your realtor will be able to help you gauge if that’s an option. Just have patience. Your dream home is out there somewhere, and if it’s not this one, there will be others.
One last thing
Remember that a home inspection is not required by law in most states. Still, it’s highly recommended before finalizing a purchase, especially for first-time homebuyers. Many home inspections go very smoothly, and after the fact, you might think that you should have skipped it and saved the money. But, as the old adage goes: it’s better to be safe than sorry.
So there you have it, a not-too-exhaustive list of the kind of things you’ll want to take note of concerning a home inspection. Remember, if you’re ready to get your house hunt started, get pre-approved, or just need more information, talk to a local Movement Mortgage loan officer and begin the conversation.