If you're in the market for a new home, make sure you do a thorough home inspection before your purchase. Here's why...
I’m actually sitting in a home with my buyers right now and today is the big home inspection day. After spending weeks, sometimes months, looking for the perfect home for my clients, getting through attorney review and then finally under contract-it all comes down to home inspection. There is no such thing as a perfect house or an inspection report that says nothing, so I always prepare my clients ahead of time and discuss what to expect. Lets face it, it’s the biggest investment most people will make in their lives, so therefore we need to make sure you’re not buying a lemon- or an actual money pit!
Having a home inspection should uncover any potential issues so you have a complete picture of what you’re buying and what you’re getting yourself into. In most cases, sellers are willing to negotiate any repairs or credits based on the inspection findings, but not always. Every single real estate transaction is different.
The first step is finding a great home inspector. I have my favorites that I refer to my clients, but it’s up to them who they choose to work with.
Many first-time home buyers don’t realize that it’s their responsibility to hire a home inspector. Some people often turn to recommendations from trusted friends and family members. While other people’s opinions are helpful, what’s most important is that you hire someone who is qualified.
Some states require home inspectors to have certifications. For those that don’t, membership in organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors can give you some assurances about an inspector’s history and qualifications.
I always suggest interviewing or calling a few potential inspectors before hiring one. Ask about their experiences and whether they’re familiar with the type of home you’re buying. Find out what will be included in the inspection and report also.
What Your Home Inspector Looks For:
During a home inspection, the inspector should thoroughly evaluate the physical structure of the home as well as critical internal systems. You should make sure the examination of the home includes the following:
● Electrical system
● Plumbing system, any leaks, water damage, etc.
● Heating and cooling systems, boiler, furnace, etc
● Radon detection
● Walls, ceiling and flooring
● Windows and doors
They will also check items included in the sale such as kitchen appliances, washer/dryer, etc.
While a general inspection will give you an idea of a homes overall condition, it might not uncover hidden problems such as pests, mold or asbestos. It also won’t turn up flaws in areas that are below ground or otherwise inaccessible to your general inspector, like wells, oil tanks and septic tanks. To identify those types of problems, you’re going to need additional inspections with professionals that deal with those mechanicals separately.
There are specific companies that check wells, septics, oil tanks, etc. In fact there are contractors that can check just about anything you have a concern about if you need to take an extra step and get a second opinion on something of concern. For example, a Wood Destroying Insect Inspection can identify termites, carpenter ants and other pests.
In NJ its also important to do an underground oil tank sweep to ensure there are no abandoned oil tanks on your property.
What Should You Do During the Inspection?
You should make every effort to be present when the inspection is taking place. You can follow the inspector around the house and ask questions so you can learn more about your potential new home.
If you have questions about potential issues or how to take care of parts of the home, feel free to ask. Learn and explore during this time. It’s also your time in the home so I always tell my clients to bring a measuring tape to measure rooms, and take notes about things you may want to do once you move in.
Your Inspection Report
Once the inspector completes an evaluation, you will receive a report with the inspector’s findings. Don’t be alarmed if you see a lot of deficiencies noted. Home inspections are detailed, so reports can often include anywhere from 10 to 100 issues, mostof which are relatively small.
The report will include information about how severe each problem is. At this time you, your agent and your attorney all assess the report and decide what issues are most important to you. You can ask the seller to make repairs or request a credit for such repairs. This becomes another negotiation in your transaction.
If the inspection finds more problems than you’re comfortable dealing with, you can try to negotiate to have the seller lower the price or worse case-back out of the sale. If you’re satisfied with the condition of the home or the shape it will be in after the seller meets the repair requests after negotiations, you can move into your new home with more peace of mind.
Rule of thumb- if an item, such as your furnace or air conditioning compressor, is past the life expectancy but is in good working condition at the time of your inspection, a seller will NOT be giving you a new unit out of the kindness of their heart. At the end of the day, this is a business transaction even though it can be an emotional process for all.
Word of advice- never skip a home inspection and just breathe. There is no such thing as blank inspection report either!
If you need a referral to some great inspectors in our area I'd be happy to send along some names that past clients have used and have been very happy with. BTW- full disclosure here....I get nothing out of whomever my clients choose to use except peace of mind that they are using the best!