Buying a home can be an extremely overwhelming process. There is so much on your mind, from hiring the right real estate agent to finding an affordable property in the right neighborhood, to saving up for a down payment and closing costs. There's one thing, however, to make sure you don't let slip through the cracks: a home inspection.
Why do buyers need to get a home inspection?
A home inspection is one of the most important steps in the homebuying process because it brings any issues present in the home to the buyer's attention. Without a proper inspection, you could end up discovering significant issues after you have already closed and moved to your new home. If this happens, you could find yourself in an unfortunate financial position.
Getting a home inspection can avoid this issue because it will allow you to transfer some of the financial responsibility onto the seller before closing. Fresh Home explained that after any issues are discovered during a home inspection, buyers can and should negotiate with the seller regarding who will cover the costs of repair. As explained by the Home Buying Institute, a home inspection occurs after a buyer's offer has already been accepted. Still, if the repairs are too expensive and the seller refuses to pay, a buyer can walk away from the purchase at this point in the process.
Fresh Home also added that the reason buyers pay for the home inspection, rather than sellers, is for their own protection. A homeowner paying for an inspection of their house prior to selling it may create a conflict of interest. Paying for your own inspector instills confidence and trust in a thorough job.
How to make sure your home inspection is successful
The first thing you need to do is make sure you actually attend the home inspection. Because buyers receive a report after an inspection is complete, many don't see a need to actually be there. Your presence, however. is key.
Aaron Flook, owner of A.M. Inspection Services LLC in Pittsburgh, told Bankrate that buyers who don't attend inspections often misinterpret their reports. They may latch onto an issue that is actually not a big deal and fail to comprehend when there is a major issue that should be addressed immediately.
In addition, buyers who attend the inspection have the opportunity to ask their inspector questions. Trulia urged buyers not to be afraid to ask for clarification on anything. Inspectors are not there to judge you, and they don't expect you to have any knowledge on the inner workings of a home. Even more, those present for a home inspection can make sure their inspector doesn't skip any spots that may be difficult to check.
If you are buying a foreclosed home, Trulia said it is your responsibility as a buyer to make sure all of the utilities are turned on before the inspection. Without turning on the utilities, an inspector cannot check if any pipes are leaky or if there are any other issues with a home's water flow.
Fresh Home also emphasized the need to make sure you are using a certified home inspector, not a contractor. A contractor is not trained in catching hard-to-find issues the way a home inspector is.
What kinds of homes should be inspected?
Every kind of home needs an inspection. Trulia said it doesn't matter how old or young a property is: just get it looked at before you commit.
Many buyers wrongly believe that a newly constructed home does not require an inspection. It is hard to believe something could be wrong with a brand new property, but oversights and mistakes are always possible. Spending the money on an inspection could save you a lot of financial headaches in the long run.
What to do after a home inspection is complete
Inspectors will give you a report when their inspection is complete. Fresh Home recommended making two copies, one to use in negotiations with the seller and one to store with your legal records. Make sure to read the report very carefully and call the inspector with any questions.
Kathleen Kuhn, president of New Jersey home inspection company HouseMaster, told Bankrate to make sure to address issues found during the inspection before you close on your home.
"If buyers wait to have a system evaluated until after closing, it can turn out to be more expensive or a bigger deal than what they anticipated," she said.
It is also important to address issues before closing so you can negotiate payments with the seller and decide if you want to complete the purchase. Fresh Home said to consider the terms you settle on very carefully before signing any document. Once the sale of the home is complete, backing out becomes incredibly complicated and will likely result in huge financial losses for you.
Trulia said a home inspector may recommend you hire a specialist to address certain issues beyond his area of expertise. No matter how much you don't want to spend the money, it is best to adhere to the inspector's advice. It is better to spend a little bit now before the issue grows into something far more expensive.
Remember that your home inspector has been hired to help you. If he suggests you take action on something, it is best to listen.