Home Inspections 101

In the bid to buy a home, once there is an accepted offer the next step in the process is the home inspection.  We always advise our buyers to include an inspection contingency with their offer and not waive this important consumer protection.  It is the buyer’s responsibility to hire and pay for their own inspector.  Inspections generally cost a several hundred dollars and the fee can vary depending on the size of the home, its age, and if there are any unusual circumstances at the property.  (It should be noted that even a newly constructed home or a condo in a large building still needs a proper inspection!)  Your realtor can recommend a local, well qualified professional inspector.  You may also consult the American Association of Home Inspectors. Inspections normally happen within the first week after signing a contract, before the purchase and sale agreement has been signed.  So quickly finding someone experienced is important.

A thorough inspection is vital for many reasons.  The inspector will determine if there are any defects, damages, non-functioning systems or repairs needed to the home.  A typical inspection will review the home’s heating and cooling systems; interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components.  They will also test appliances and plumbing such as showers, toilets and  jacuzzi tubs.  Homes are so complex that problems can range from very minor inconveniences to very serious issues that could cost thousands and thousands of dollars to rectify.  Radon, a colorless and odorless gas that forms naturally in rock and soil, is also something that your inspector could test for as part of his review.  At minimum, a buyer should have a comprehensive inspection so that they learn as much as possible about the home they will own!

A “thorough” inspection will usually last about 2-3 hours.  A good inspector will talk to the buyer throughout the process, describing what he is doing and seeing.  He may make recommendations for how to deal with certain findings.  Afterwards, the inspector will provide a detailed written report which often includes photographs showing areas of concern.  This inspection report is vital because it can affect whether the buyer moves forward with the purchase, renegotiates the sale price, asks a seller to make needed repairs or possibly even backs out of the sale. The inspection contingency clause in a standard offer includes the line, “If it is the opinion of such inspector that the property contains serious structural, mechanical or other defects and if the repair of such defects would cost the buyer in aggregate more than (insert $$ amount) then the buyer shall have the option of revoking the agreement by written notice to the SELLER on or before (insert date).”   This clause provides protection to the buyer  – a way out of the deal without losing any money – in case the home is found to have expensive issues over and above that specified dollar amount.

Remember though – no house is perfect!  If an inspection reveals problems, it doesn’t mean the buyer should not buy the house.  A complete inspection will simply be revealing the current state of the home and hopefully a window into what to expect in the future with regard to maintenance.   At minimum, the buyer will become a well informed consumer in what is probably the biggest financial purchase of their life!

For more information or help finding an inspector, contact us at www.mendosabalboni.com or by phone at 978-341-5400.

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