You’ve found your first home, and it’s perfect – at least from what you can see. Though it looks great and is within your price range, there can be surprises lurking elsewhere in the home that can cost significant amounts of cash when you move in. To avoid these potential pitfalls, a home inspection needs to be done prior to closing. What this money-saving survey can do for you as a first-time home buyer is described below.
Who Inspects and at What Cost?
The home inspector is an individual who observes and provides a written report of the systems and components of a residential building, whether it be a single-family home, condo, or apartment complex. In order to make sure you minimize the risks of being scammed, make sure the inspector is licensed in the state where you are buying your home. This information can be obtained through the inspector or the state’s licensing division. Some home inspectors will provide you with proof of their validity pior to entering the property.
Home inspections aren’t free. Prices will vary, but the average home inspector charges between $300 and $400 for a review that takes several hours. Your real estate agent will provide a list of inspectors they normally use, or you can select one you’re familiar with. Beware of individuals that charge little or no money for their services. Also, check with the local Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints were filed on the particular individual you choose.
During the time the inspector is in the home, he or she will check on a number of items. At a minimum, they will examine the heating and cooling units, plumbing, and electrical system. Items they will consider are the age of the units and systems and if there are any faults like water line leaks or antiquated electrical wiring. Inspectors will also take a look at structural components such as the home’s foundation, roof, and siding for any cracks or missing and worn material.
The thoroughness of the survey depends on the home inspector. Some may do a detailed review of the electrical system, plumbing, etc., while taking a quick look at the structure to detect any visible issues. Other inspectors will climb onto roofs and into attics in order to obtain as much detail as they can.
What to Do With the Results
When the survey is completed, you will sit down with the inspector to review their findings. Sometimes these are notes that will need to be formalize at their office. However, many inspectors these days carry laptops and printers to provide potential buyers with immediate results of the inspection. In either case, the inspector will go through each portion of the examination by system, describing both the positive and negative aspects. When you have signed off on the process, the inspector will present the survey report to your real estate agent.
What happens then is up to you. If the inspection reveals significant damage that can cost thousands of dollars to repair, you may want to consider declining the purchase unless the seller is willing to flip the bill to make the necessary fixes. If the items addressed in the inspection report are minor, you can make an attempt to negotiate with the seller to fix them. You can also forego any of these options and deal with these repairs once you move in. Regardless of your decision, make sure you keep a copy of the inspection report in a safe and dry area in order to reference back to it once you have purchased the home.