A home inspection isn't just a chance to find every last flaw in a home. While everyone has a different approach to their home inspection, buyers should take the opportunity to effectively utilize the process to not only become more acquainted with what could be their new home, but also to evaluate where and how a better deal can be made. Especially for first-time buyers, the home inspection can seem like just a perfunctory roadblock to closing a sale. However, with the right mindset, a professional, high-quality home inspection can deliver much more.
Even if you are confident in your knowledge of homebuilding, or know exactly what to look for, it's still a better idea to hire a licensed, experienced inspector to complete the process. According to Zillow, home inspections should always be done by certified professionals who are not only qualified to perform them, but also possess knowledge of the local market and typical housing trends for that area. The National Association of Home Inspectors recommended that buyers looking for an inspector do some research before deciding on an inspector or their company. The Better Business Bureau or the Department of Consumer Affairs keep tabs on property inspection companies, so contacting these agencies is a good way to vet a home inspector.
Once you've found the right person for the job, Zillow recommended that buyers do even more homework regarding the inspection. Think of a list of questions to ask the inspector and write them down. If the seller provided any disclosures on the property, this would make for a good jumping off point for discussion with the professional. Documents about the home from municipal building agencies can also be researched and used for more questions or concerns.
During and after the inspection
According to the NAHI, home buyers are welcome, and in fact encouraged, to attend their inspection, take notes and walk through the property with the inspector. Some inspectors may prefer to work on their own, but should give at least an opportunity to shadow them. This is a great chance for the prospective buyer to get an inside look and just about every facet of the home and property. Don't forget to bring up any important questions you may have prepared. Keep in mind that inspectors can only survey what is immediately visible in a home. With few exceptions, nothing can be moved or otherwise altered to get a better look. While this limits the spectrum of what an inspector can assess, it still leaves plenty of room for detailed analysis.
Zillow advised buyers to use the opportunity to follow the inspector to the fullest. Take note of any maintenance issues or repair needs the inspector brings up and add them to a comprehensive maintenance plan. Assuming you end up buying the home, this list will come in handy as you begin to assess what needs to be fixed around the property. This can also be used during further negotiation with the seller. If the inspector discovers flaws that were not previously disclosed, the seller may be compelled to add a concession in the form of a repair credit or closing cost reduction.
Making the most out of your pre-sale home inspection means more than just getting to know your new house. It can make future repairs easier to prioritize and plan for, and give you a better sense of the intricacies of the space. Perhaps most importantly, it can end up saving you a sizeable chunk of change.